Monday, May 28, 2007

Eating Local ... from the Williamsburg Farmer's Market

I feel a lot like the fisherman who tells about the one that got away. I actually took some decent pictures of the dish at the end of this post, and it turned out phenomenal, and I was so excited about this post, but my USB cord to transfer my pix to my computer is still MIA. So I have decided to post anyway and I will insert the pix later to prove that I actually can take a decent picture (playing around with some features on my digital camera really made a difference!)

Eating local is always a good idea, for the environment, for flavor, for culinary variety, for the local economy, but also for fun and a good time. We experienced this just this past Saturday when we braved Memorial Day weekend crowds to go to the Williamsburg Farmer's Market on Colonial Williamsburg's Duke of Gloucester Street. While there is a lot to choose from food, to flowers to baked goods to bison, what makes the Williamsburg Farmer's Market special is that it is less a market than an event! Each week besides the incredible local food and plant vendors, there is always live music and a guest chef serving food samples and handing out recipes and answering questions. This week the music was supplied by the Runaway String Band, who provided a toe-tapping soundtrack that temporarily distracted both lookers and buyers from the wares all around them. The Catering Company prepared a variety of cold salads perfect for the heat of the day. While I can't mention all the vendors there (a complete list is on the website linked here), I can tell you that we bought some delicious oriental greens and Korean radishes from Evergreen Springs Farm (they don't have a website but they can be reached at, and a bouquet of beautiful roses that are gracing my dining room table. But believe me, whatever you might want from hydroponically grown vegetables to heirloom tomatoes to honey, you can find it at this market! You want to grow your own (really local)? There are vendors selling all manner of plants, and herbs for your home garden.

Whether you are looking to buy or just looking, the Williamsburg Farmer's Market provides a fun and unique experience. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, and there are always animals to see (my favorite this week was a pair of Mini-Pins whose owner couldn't walk two steps without getting stopped!) If you feel the need to duck into real retail (and AC in the summer heat) there are shops that line the street that provide an experience of their own.

On our way back home we stopped to check on our friend and fresh vegetable supplier extraordinaire "Tractor Joe" (I wrote about him in an earlier post) where we purchased some freshly pulled (from the ground while we stood there!) beets, and spring onions, and some freshly cut spinach.

Needless to say, dinner had to include the bounty of the day. A chicken recipe I got from a Southern Living provided the protein for the meal but the stars were a salad I made with roasted beets, honey goat cheese, and walnuts on a bed of oriental greens with a mild dijon vinaigrette, beet and Korean radish greens sauteed with garlic and olive oil. I know from blogging that a lot of people don't like beets but this salad was incredible and I would have been happy to have paid for it in a restaurant. All in all, a successful day of playing with (local) food, and I swear I will have the pictures to prove it!

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

(made two large salads for beet lovers, you could stretch further with fewer beets per person)

6 fresh whole beets with greens

2 1/2 inch slices of honey goat cheese broken in chunks (I bought this at Costco and the slight sweetness was great with the beets but you could use plain or herb goat cheese instead)

2 tablespoons walnut pieces

1 handful of salad greens per salad (we used oriental greens but baby spinach or other baby salad greens would be fine too)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt to taste

Dijon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

Wash the beets well and cut off the greens about 1 inch from the top of the beet, and cut beets into quarters. Toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Let cool to room temperature. Mix ingredients for dijon vinaigrette.

To Serve: place greens on plate, add roasted beets, sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over and then add walnuts. Dress with 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Eat and learn to love beets!


christine (myplateoryours) said...

Sounds like a great market, Deborah! I love the beet and goat cheese recipe. I always wrap beats in tin foil when I roast them -- reading this I wonder if it's necessary.

Barbara said...

Love the salad recipe. They serve one like this at our favorite restaurant.

Sara said...

i love farmers markets! lucky you, this looks like a great one.

Karen said...

You're lucky to have such a nice market in the neighborhood.

Beets and goat cheese rock!

Deborah Dowd said...

Christine- I think as long as they are coated with olive oil, tin foil (showing my age here) isn't necessary!
Barbara- I'd like to go to that restaurant!
Sara- While buying is fun, just people watching is a great way to spend a Saturday morning!
Karen- Finally, someone who also likes beets!

Elise said...

This is one of my favorite salads. We get beets from the local farmer's market every Saturday, yum!

BTW, did you see Alanna's free blogger graphic for shopping at farmer's markets? It's pretty cute. Check out Food Blog S'cool

s'kat said...

I just love the WFM! We haven't been able to make it up this year, but should remedy that this Saturday.