Monday, November 26, 2012

Sarasota Farmer's Market: A Locavore's Paradise

Established in 1979, The Sarasota Farmers Market is a non-profit organization with a 30-year tradition of providing Sarasota with local produce, plants and prepared foods. Held every Saturday from 7am to 2pm in downtown Sarasota around the area of Lemon and Main, the market is buzzing with local residents and visitors who are drawn to the area, taking advantage of the pedestrian friendly streets, fresh produce and popular food trucks, that cater to everything from hot Grouper Sandwiches, authentic Argentinian Empanadas, fresh ground coffee and local fresh grown fruits and vegetables.

LuLu's fresh cut flowers

Open all year-round, there's never been a worry about seasonal availability in this temperate and fertile area of Florida. The Farmer's Market expands in numbers also during the cooler local growing season and tourist months, even in November, when there was everything available from fresh fruits and vegetables, to organic meats, local seafood, fragrant baked goods, beautiful flowers, crafts, street performers, homeopathic remedies, and pungent artisan cheeses. This was the first time I had discovered this local gem, and I was overwhelmed with the quality, scale and popularity of the market — and all outside of one of my favourite shops, Sur La Table, one of the premiere kitchenware retailers in the U.S.

Maggie's Seafood with daily specials including shrimp, scallops, lobster tails, mussels, 
clams, fresh fish, stone crab, soups and of course, Grouper Sandwiches!

Argentinian Empanadas by Sarasota's Peperonata Pasta

The Java Dawg's Double Decker Bus Coffee Shop with unique daily choices of brewed coffee, seasonal speciality drinks, fresh baked muffins, pastries, crepes, and free wi-fi

Barbie-Lu's Sassy Salsa Stand

We bought some lovely fresh vegetables at Kinsey's Produce, a family business, owned and operated by Philip, Debbie, and Travis Kinsey, who, on any given Saturday at the Farmers Market, serve fresh cored pineapple and cold coconut drinks, along with an enormous variety of local and seasonal fruits and veggies. They also prepare gorgeous mixed vegetable kabobs, perfect for grilling outdoors with fresh Florida seafood.

Local beets, kale and lettuce at Kinsey's Produce

Local Bradenton cilantro, mint, parsley, basil and fresh vegetables

One of the highlights of the market for me was The Pineapple Man at Kinsey's Produce. A lovely, gentle and friendly man, he prepares local pineapples and coconuts while you wait. While some eagerly awaited fresh coconuts, which he opened and served with a straw, I had my eye on his sweet and juicy fresh pineapples. He carefully picked out a perfect pineapple, set it on a mechanized corer, pulled dow the lever and voilà, wonderfully ripe, sweet and unbelievably juicy fresh Florida pineapple. From now on, whenever I'm in Sarasota, he's going to be one of my first stops. And of course, the Sarasota Farmers Market.

The Pineapple Man at the corner of 1st & Lemon

In goes the pineapple...

...and out comes our breakfast!

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