On Sunday my friend Annah and I went to the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, a year-round market that runs every day, regardless of the season. Since we are in high summertime there was a lot of fresh produce, and the open-air produce areas were packed. Annah came away with quite a haul: the last of the in-season strawberries, blueberries, okra, tiny red-skinned potatoes, white peaches, some pattypan squash and a lovely gardenia bush. I came back with a smaller haul of sugar snap peas, a jar of honey, and a small rosemary plant which is now sitting next to its basil siblings on the back patio. I know I should be shopping at more farmers markets but the general hubbub and mass of vendors and farmers and choices is extremely overwhelming. I am glad I went with Annah, as she’s a farmer’s market veteran. One of my goals is to eat more produce, and local is the way to go (fresher, cheaper, better for the environment etc.) so I guess I should make it my mission to get to more farmer’s markets!
After doing a bit of shopping we went to lunch at the nearby State Farmer’s Market restaurant, which has the atmosphere of an upscale Cracker Barrel. The menu is primarily Southern soul food so I decided to go ahead and get the fried chicken, which comes with two sides. Annah got the side sampler platter. The meals also came with a basket of biscuit and hushpuppies (both very good), because lord knows we didn’t order enough food.
My fried chicken was fantastic: a huge portion, juicy and tasty and crunchy. I ordered a side of sweet potato casserole (on the sweeter, gloopier end of the spectrum, if you like that sort of thing) and string beans (soggy and pork-water logged). Annah seemed pleased with her side sampler, which included macaroni salad, fried okra (although she said this wasn’t her favorite), a picked cucumber dish, and a corn and bean dish with which she was very happy.
Both our meals came with dessert: banana pudding, also on the sweeter, gloopier end of the banana pudding spectrum. Needless to say neither of us finished our meals and we both left the restaurant extremely full.
We spent a bit more time wandering the Farmer’s Market. There is an indoor, air-conditioned area selling sweets, baked goods, dried goods, meats, dairy, and out of season/out of state produce. There is also a seafood restaurant that mostly does fried seafood combos. After a bit more wandering we were quite hot (and sleepy from our enormous meals) so we headed back to the car.
We also took a detour to the Grand Asia Market in Cary, where we looked but didn’t buy. It wasn’t as big as the new Li Meng’s Global Market in Durham, and I am no judge on Asian markets but I think they’re comparable, although Li Meng’s might have more in the way of standard grocery store fare. However, Grand Asia Market has DURIAN which is amazing because I haven’t seen it anywhere but on the Travel Channel. Both markets have a wide variety of fish…but the fish smells a little fishy, so I’m not sure I’d buy it either way. I mostly love looking at the varieties of produce, and also the prepared food sections up front (whole roasted duck!). Grand Asia Market had two gentleman behind glass making dumplings and pork buns, all of which looked yummy. I’m sure you could get a decent lunch in the prepared food sections of either market, but I’m betting Grand Asia Market’s prepared food section is a bit better, just by the look of it.
So that was our very foodie Sunday!