Things I Am Loving This Week (Exploring a New Farmers Market, Local Ice Pops & a BLT Salad for Bacon Lovers)
Posted Jul 06 2010 1:37am
It's time for the Things I Am Loving This Week, my semi-regular Tuesday feature with the (mostly) food-related items and experiences that I am enjoying and want to share. This week it starts at the new(ish) Hawaii Kai Farmers Market--where great local real food and real food products like OnoPops abound, and ends with a bacon-lover's BLT Salad, made from some of the fresh produce I picked up on my market visit.
I love exploring a good farmers market--it is the best way to kick off a Saturday morning in my opinion. This past weekend I finally managed to make it to the new (OK, it has been open over a month, but still pretty new), Hawaii Kai Farmers Market at Kaiser High School. Although I usually attend the KCC farmers market on Saturdays, I have been getting a bit weary of fighting the large crowds and I was happy to have a new market open up so close to my home. The market has a little over 30 vendors currently, many from the Hawaii Kai area, and like the KCC market, the items the vendors sell must be made or grown here in the islands. This market is also green-inspired with vendors using environmentally-friendly serveware, and there is an easy to follow recycling system in place. Unlike some of the other farmers markets, it really emphasizes a spirit of community with live music, a cafe tent with tables and benches, and a keiki (kids) corner with crafts and a bounce house to play in.
It was a breezy and somewhat grey morning at the market, but there was a decent size crowd (they were expecting about 1000 that morning.) There was a nice blend of some favorite and new vendors to chose from. Otsuji Farms (the farm is behind the high school where the market is held) was there with plenty of greens and other veggies. (I bought basil, cilantro, corn & baby romaine.) They also had their well-known $10 veggie box where they put $13 of whatever is fresh that week into a box and sell it. Naked Cow Dairy had their flavored butters and also fresh yogurt, a new item they are carrying. Although their curry compound butter is my favorite so far, I tried and bought some of their butter with toasted coconut, thinking it would go well with fish and on the ears of the sweet corn I picked up
Of course it is always nice to have some island flavor with Kona coffee, fresh pineapple, (wait until you see what I do with my pineapple later in the week!), orchids, sugar cane and coconut juice. The group from Downes Grounds were very friendly and offered coffee samples in little eco-friendly ceramic tasting cups. Their Kona coffee is very smooth and has good flavor, which they say is from the sun-drying. Although I am not drinking much coffee these days, I bought a 1/2 lb bag for $13 for my freezer and a couple of ripe mangoes too. I also nabbed a large GMO-free papaya from another vendor and that and the pineapple rounded out my fruit purchases.
Northshore Farms was at the market with their bright tomatoes (and parsnips and leeks), and were serving not only their famous pesto pizza, but their fried green tomatoes too. This will make my mom very happy on her next visit in September--she loves her some fried green tomatoes ;-) I bought some of their sweet cherry tomatoes and a few Heirloom tomatoes too.
My breakfast was a veggie crepe (mozzarella, organic baby spinach, tomatoes, sweet basil and green onions) and EaudeJouvence or "Water of Youth" (a blend of organic lemon juice, organic cane sugar, fresh mint and strawberries with orange blossom water) from Le Crepe Cafe. Both were delicious--although I am not sure I looked or felt any younger after the water. ;-) My meal was enjoyed at one of the community tables available under the cafe tent, while listening to a little live guitar music. The plate, serveware, and cup are all compostable and there are recycling bins at one end of the tent that make it easy to sort. It was so nice to enjoy a bite to eat at a table without needing to juggle a plate and my market purchases. I even got a chance to sit and chat for a few minutes with Pam Boyer and Ann Suite, the founders/owners/operators of this market and the one in Haleiwa on the Northshore. They are pleased with the growth since they have been open and they look forward to adding more vendors including more organic produce and more food options, especially breakfast items.
The sun finally came out as I was leaving the market, purchases in hand. There were plenty of people coming and going, and I wouldn't be surprised if they surpassed their estimated attendance for the day. Anytime you can bring a community together, support local farmers and vendors, and get fresh, healthy, real food, it's a good thing. I will be back.
Hawaii Kai Farmers Market
Saturdays 9am-1:00pm Kaiser High School Parking Lot 511 Lunalilo Home Road Hawaii Kai, HI 96725
After sampling their salty-tart Ume-Thai Basil flavor, I had been wanting to try more locally-made OnoPops and I was happy to see them represented at the farmers market. As the label says, these are "Fresh Local Hawaiian Paleta"--paleta means popsicle in Mexico, and they are made from locally sourced ingredients, many in some very creative combinations. OnoPops is a family business started by two brothers (I'm not sure whether it is Joe or Josh in my picture), and it's great to see their business growing and find them in more places.
There were 17 different flavors of ice pops for sale Saturday and I took home a half-dozen to try; Guava-Tamarind, Fresh Lychee, Honeydew Mint, Mango-Habanero, Kalamansi-Coriander (all water-based) and an Apple-Banana Banana Cream Pie (dairy-based). I love that they are made with natural, pure ingredients sourced from local growers and amazed at the variety of unique flavors. I have only tried 3 of the flavors I bought so far (I am allowing myself one a day!) The Apple- Banana Banana Cream Pie was creamy and delicious, the Honeydew Mint was cool and very refreshing, but my favorite so far has to be the Mango-Habanero. It has the perfect combination of sweet creamy mango with a nice kick of the chili at the end. A fun and tasty treat.
So, what to do with farmers market bounty like ultra-fresh local basil and baby romaine, tomatoes so sweet they are like candy, and a creamy avocado? Make Mark Bittman'sBLT Salad of course! It's Better With Bacon week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and once again I am cooking out of "Kitchen Express." (While I love all my Bittman books, this is hands down my favorite for its simple, quick recipe sketches.) This is an indulgent salad to love.
Bittman says, "The avocado dressing really sets this apart"
Fry a few small cubes of slab bacon for about five minutes or until crisp. Puree an avocado, a handful of basil leaves, a clove of garlic, juice from one--or more--limes, about one-quarter cup of olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a food processor or blender; if you like thinner dressing, add a few drops of water. Mix a head of Bibb or romaine lettuce with sliced tomatoes and chopped red onions. Add the bacon to the vegetables and dress with the pureed mixture. Serve with warm, crusty bread.
Notes/Results: Yum! The combination of the fresh vegetables with the crisp bacon topped with the creamy basil-avocado dressing is fantastic and really makes this simple salad special. Rather than buying slab bacon, I used my favorite nitrate-free pepper bacon and I also chopped some extra avocado to add to the salad. Bittman knows bacon! Here I thought his Pasta with Breadcrumbs and Bacon was my favorite bacon-filled dish from "Kitchen Express"--but this delicious salad certainly holds its own. I will make this again, especially the creamy dressing.
You can check out the other wonderful Bittman bacon creations the other IHCC participants made by going to the website and following the links.
So these are the Things I Am Loving This Week, and since they all represent wholesome, natural, real food, I am linking this post to Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival, hosted by my friend girlichef along with some other wonderful bloggers. If you want to see and read about "real food"--go to one of their sites and follow the links.