Friday, September 4, 2009

Flartus' Friday Fragments (featuring friendly farmer facetime!)

I never do this.

But tonight, after vacuuming and cooking dinner at the same time, I was feeling a little crazy. So I popped open a bottle of beer to go with my fried 'taters & sausage. I'm not much of a beer drinker, and I'm strictly a social drinker (i.e., it never crosses my mind to have a drink when I'm alone), but damn, that first sip tasted mighty good! My latest favorite is, obviously, Yeungling; I've also been a fan of Newcastle, Bass and my fallback beer is Killian's. Usually, though, I'll order a Coke.

So, here I am, installed in front of the computer with a bowl of dinner and a frosty bottle...just a couple of fragments 'til we get to our feature tonight.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have long been my favoritist candy in the whole wide world. But they sure do taste a million times better when you haven't had one in a while! I had a sudden chocolate craving at work this afternoon, and there was a choice between Almond Joy and the last Reese's! No-brainer. And it was worth every calorie.

Speaking of guilty pleasures, about a month ago I happened upon a Pepsi Throwback when we ordered Chinese. It's an old/new version of Pepsi that uses "natural sugars" instead of corn syrup. Researchers debate whether we are really capable of tasting the difference between fructose and sucrose, but I thought this version tasted a bit more refreshing than the usual one.

To be fair, however, I am a staunch Coke fan, so figured, what the heck do I know? When I found and purchased a 12-pack of the Throwback style at the grocery store, I brought in a can to work, and had a few Pepsi drinkers try it out (have I ever mentioned I was raised by scientists?). They all thought it did taste different--less "strong," less sweet, maybe a little flatter. And I find it less cloying; that it still tastes refreshing when I get down to the last, warmish bit of the can.

So I'm enjoying this 12-pack, because we stopped bringing soft drinks into the house a while ago, plus I haven't seen any since, and I don't expect to be getting any more. Has anyone else tried this out? I'd love to try a throwback Coke. Are you listening, Coca-Cola Inc??

The Farmers' Market has been only a fond memory for me for many, many weeks now. Miss Chef has been going more weeks than not, even volunteering once or twice, while I go into work on Saturday mornings. Lately, she's been bringing home just a bag or two of produce, since neither one of us has time to cook (tonight's dinner was supposed to have been cooked on Monday).

So, really, there's not much point for us to drive half an hour to not buy food we won't cook. Except...except it's pretty much our only social outlet. It's taken several years, but we've gotten to know a few of the farmers, and Miss Chef knows all of them by name. And I really find them a fun, intelligent and fascinating group of people. Sure, there are a few, erm, strong personalities, but I don't have to work with them or live with them, so who cares? And we all share a passion for sustainable living and supporting local businesses.

So here's a tip of the hat to all those folks I've been missing....Michele, from Bosky Acres, who gets to see Miss Chef more than I do, and enjoys her sense of humor as much as I do. We went to the Shakespeare festival with Michele's two eldest kids, and I've been to the farm to work a day, so she's much less of a "Farmer behind the counter" than a friend and another transplanted Ohioan with an outsize passion for animals.

Natalie from Grateful Growers (here in a pic from their website).

She can be a little crazy, in a fun way, and she also frequently gives Miss Chef outrageous discounts. We can't figure out if it's because she's a chef, or if it's some kind of Lesbian Mafia discount (she and her partner Cassie run the farm together). Either way, it's nice to have an inside track, and as Natalie has pointed out, nothing says "love" like free pork. (Hey, guess whose sausage I'm eating as I write this, hmmm?)

Dane of Fisher Farms, who has the best tomatoes in the universe. He's even developed his own varieties (including one named after his son, Gregori). Here he is, manning his booth behind the Chef Demo stage.

When we first started patronizing his stall, I thought he was a bit standoffish, but Miss Chef and I eventually realized he's just painfully shy. Which makes him stand out from the rest of the gregarious farmers we know, and makes me that much fonder of him. His fabulously sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes don't hurt, either.

Regular readers have already met Sammy, from New Town Farms.
This picture is from the farm tour I went on last May. Sammy still doesn't know me, but his wife and daughters do, and he knows Miss Chef from the restaurant (they order from most of these folks during the summer). He's a big mover and shaker at our little market, being one of the founders. His is also, I believe, by far the largest farm.

I don't know this guy's name, but...well, damn, doesn't he just look awesome in that hat and overalls?

I just hope his grandchildren appreciate this fascinating character. There's another older, tactiturn farmer named Pat, who mans the stall next to this one. I often get them confused, but Miss Chef knows to keep them straight, 'cause Pat has arugula far longer into the summer than anyone else. Plus he had great blueberries this year.

I don't have pictures of the rest of the folks, but there's Mindy of Tega Hills, who grows all kinds of greens, including the baby fennel Miss Chef adores (she braises it and it's really delicious). The couple who run Carlea farms are young, friendly and have an open innocence that used to be what made Americans so fascinating to the rest of the world. They also had gorgeous radishes this spring. I can't forget Christine from Down Home bakery, and her assistant Marla, from whom I buy breakfast religiously (well, when I'm not buying it from Lucille across the way).

There are non-farmer characters I miss, too. Pauline, the market manager, is everywhere, all morning long. She always seems flustered and about to run out of time or supplies, but still has time to stop and talk to anyone who needs her. Bruce is a volunteer who shows up every single week to help set up, assist with the demos and whatever else is going on (tomato tasting, corn roasting, biscuit contest...), and stays 'til the end to help shut down. I learned at the farm tour that he used to weigh over 300 pounds--you would never guess it today. He credits it all to buying & eating local, whole foods.

There are the chefs, too--Adam, Miss Chef's chef, who sometimes shows up in his bike-riding gear, much to our dismay. (Those are some pretty tight shorts there, Chef.) Chef Bonaparte, former dean of Miss Chef's culinary program, and one of the strongest advocates for local food in Charlotte. (Also a truly talented chef, instructor, and curer of meats!) Chef Tany sometimes shows up for the demos, bringing his two gorgeous pre-adolescent sons to assist, which they do quite happily. And we often spot some of the other restaurant owners whom Miss Chef recognizes by sight, and I only by name.

Happily, Miss Chef has convinced me to turn my Saturday schedule around a bit tomorrow, and join her for the Matthews summer festival. We'll go to the market quite late (like around 9), but we realized we don't care if all the baby zucchini is gone. The people will still be there, and that's what's really worth the drive.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!


  1. Don't punch me, but I only read the first few paragraphs of your post before I scrolled down to comment. You deserve better than that...

    BUT! I am a Coke girl too (Coke Zero now, on occasion, but if I could, Coke Classic all damn day long) AND I love Yuengling. AND Bass Ale. AND Killian's.

    You are my twin! I knew I loved you for many amazing reasons. LOL

    Now, I"m off to read the rest of your post.

  2. My folks made Almond Joy Ice Cream at their ice cream shoppe. It was AMAZING!!!!! But i wouldn't want to eat ice cream with beer :-)
    Have a great long weekend.

  3. Yep. I agree. The people may be the best part of the Farmer's Markets. And I do believe that all farmers at the markets should be required to wear old worn denim overalls and plaid shirts....oh..and a baseball cap..or even a straw hat. I love it!

    I do love a cold beer, too. It's been months though. I've stopped buying soda to sit in the house, too. I'm addicted to coke. Whenever we go anywhere I convince myself that I can drink coke because it's a treat and we don't keep any in the house. But it makes me want to plan more road trips. lol!

    I'd enjoy throwing back a throw-back coke, too!


  4. I really enjoy Coke and Pepsi, I'm one of those that can't tell the difference. I know, you will shame me by saying I have no palette. :-)

    I love Diet Sunkist, and only drink a soda occasionally, but the Splenda or something has been giving me UTI's.

    As you know, we sell eggs at a tiny Sunday Farmers Market, and I can't tell you how much I enjoy my fellow vendors. Yes, that is some rare social time with some like-minded folks.

    You've been so busy, you certainly deserve to kick back and drink a good beer.

    I'm enjoying these Friday fragments.

  5. I forgot to comment when I read your blog yesterday, because I immediately sent a link to the post to one of Diane's friends who lives in Charlotte. Found out she had not yet visited the market, but she was thrilled to learn about the vendors - so you may have drummed up more business for them!!!

    Hope you're having a great weekend.

    Nancy in Iowa

  6. I just love hearing about your farmers market and what fun to get to "know" some of the farmers there! I wish the farmer's market here had a few more people. I am a Dr. Pepper addict and I am trying to give it up (again!) this week. Not easy!

  7. So we only get you on Fridays now? Is that the sitch?

    (If so... me no likey the sitch!)

  8. Alix, someday the sitch will change, but as my 9/11 post reminds me, be grateful for what ya got!

    Besides, if I wrote any more frequently, it would only be boring stuff about how tired I am and how dirty the house is.


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