The Charleston Farmers Market is open April through November, and boasts locally grown vegetables and fruits, locally sourced savory and sweet foods and concessions, and beautiful arts and crafts made right here in the Lowcountry by our friends and neighbors.
So many cities around the country are under a beautiful blanket of white snow at the moment, but not here in Charleston, South Carolina where our temperature reached 62 degrees yesterday. I, like many, left the house in a wool sweater and coat, but by 10am, was soon shedding my layers and was wishing I'd rethought the wool sweater. I motored downtown to scope out the Holiday wares at the Charleston Farmers Market, which sets up every Saturday morning and runs until the vegetables run out. In addition to fresh, local produce, an assortment of fresh pastas, butters, artisanal local cheeses, raw honey, and fabulous artists wares also make the Market a Saturday ritual.
No stay-over in Charleston is truly complete without a visit to The Charleston Farmers Market at Marian Square.
In an effort to always support local, I hit the Market weekly with the goal of grabbing my staples for the week. I do this especially during the winter months when the selection is less varietal. This includes everything from sweet potatoes to ginger root. The farmers and artists who woke at dawn to trek in and camp out and wait for people like me to arrive are all too happy to throw a few extra handfuls of okra in my bag. Inevitably, somebody will allow a 'taste test' of some of their delicious honeycomb paired with a local goats milk cheese. Yesterday's haul included extra large brown eggs from Johns Island. I also bought some GORGEOUS radishes, and a whole mess of okra.
Come HUNGRY to The Charleston Farmers Market. You will be enticed to sample any number of deliciously made items. Crepes, breads, pickles, pastas, cheeses, and sweets, are all made with locally sourced ingredients.
The street food at the Market is equally as intriguing. I am always finding inspiration 'people watching' what everybody else is clogging up already long lines to purchase. Yes, I caved. I stood in one of those long lines for a Chuchitos...? A may not have known what it was exactly, but it looked like everybody had one. A Guatemalan steamed tamale, stuffed with meat and corn and OMG! The woman wrapping them in corn husks behind the scenes had no other job than to do just that. She was nearly at the end of her basket of husks when I was next in the line. They closed shop shortly after I jumped into the Crepe line to round out my snack with something sweet and dessert-like...haha.
Charleston Farmers Market vendors are awake and set up early, awaiting people like me, eager for buying.
In between a cup of coffee and a visit to the Charleston Soap Chef, I grabbed a bottle of hickory cold-smoked honey. Yep. Never before had I had, and it was AMAZING. I knew I wanted it before I tasted it, and it was reasonable at only $15. These guys, Holy Smoke, had all sorts of items, their biggie a smoked olive oil, and yes, I bought several bottles of that, too. The honey was incredible and I would soon wish I'd purchased more than just one bottle. It was a huge hit on a Charcuterie board I put together with a particularly sharp cheddar.
Charleston has an AMAZING artisan cheese producer, the Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse. To say their product is incredible is nothing if you cannot taste. I suggest placing an order for their Jalapeno & Blackberry Jam Brie en Crute. The ingredients are wrapped inside a puff pastry and ready to bake after a quick defrost period. The Charleston Artisan Cheesehouse has an online shop for all sorts of Charleston product including their own.
I spent quite a bit of time speaking with Lloyd Mandel learning about his Charleston Grit Sticks. I, not being from the South, wondered if this was something new. Mr. Mandel quickly educated me otherwise! I purchased five of these beautifully hand made grit sticks for family and friends. To me, they represent Southern hospitality by way of their carved pineapple finials. It seemed like they'd make as perfect a gift of graciousness as a Charleston Rice Spoon or rice beads. Mr. Mandel's other works include wooden bowls from salvaged local trees, cocktail muddlers, and the Charleston Nostepinne, used to make center-pull yarn balls for needle arts.
The crowd was festive yesterday, all in the spirit of the Holidays. I found kids with bells on, Dad's with antlers and plaid pants, and pups with Santa suits. It was exactly the infusion of 'merry' that I was looking for before I even planned to go.