Lexington Farmers Market Spring Opening, April 4 and April 5
BY TOM YATES
Opening day of Lexington Farmers' Market is one of the joyous signs that spring has sprung in Central Kentucky. It allows us to shed memories of the long drab winter months with a subtle stamp of approval.
Although there is also a Winter Market at the pavilion on Saturdays, the spring kickoff is when it’s really back in business.
It seems like an eternity since the vendors sold their last end of season pawpaws, gourds, and winter squash before closing shop for the winter.
At last year’s Spring Kickoff, the atmosphere at the market was upbeat and lively. Although we arrived very early, the market was bustling. Perky culinary students, adorned in their university-issued togs, scurried through the market with amused abandon. With most of the vendors tucked underneath the bolted glass ceiling of the open air pavillion, space was tight. With shoulder-to-shoulder shoppers crowding the various farmstands, we felt like happy human bumper cars. Vendors, shoppers, musicians, babies, and dogs all embraced opening day knowing there was a fabulous growing season ahead.
At last year’s opening day, there was an abundance of gorgeous early cool weather lettuces, herbs, tomato plants, and flowers. A few vendors offered out-of-state selections of tomatoes, corn, cabbages, yellow squash and strawberries. Although locally out of season, they seemed right at home nestled in their wooden baskets.
We usually make a couple of rounds through the market before actually purchasing anything. Not on Opening Day. We were too caught up in the excitement of being there.
We started our trek down the center aisle of the pavillion. It was early. Early enough to score a dozen brown organic eggs from Elmwood Stock Farm before they ran out. Next to Elmwood Stock, a Boyle County farm offered dew dripping red and green leaf lettuces, still with their tiny root ends attached and neatly wrapped in bundles.
We stumbled across a tasting of Sapori d' Italia goat cheese. Tiny nibbles of Agri alle Erbe, young cold-aged fresh goat cheese, were topped with smoked paprika, red pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. They were made the morning before and were very fresh, tangy, and creamy. We bought two.
I was drawn to a Mercer County vendor selling an interesting collection of herbs. Although dwarfed by gigantic leaves of cabbage and broccoli plants, his herbs rocked. The most intriguing was "Salad Herb," a delicate whisper of an herb that "the herb man" said tastes like cucumber. I went back the following Saturday to snag a few of those before they disappeared for the season.
We sampled beer cheese and chocolate truffles before stopping by Quarles Quality Beef from Waddy, Kentucky. After tasting their beer-steamed brats, we picked up a package of brats, a pound of short ribs, corn relish, and jam cake. They had it covered, for sure.
As we strolled around the back side of the market munching on chocolate croissants from Sunrise Bakery, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted huge Bracken County oyster mushrooms protruding from tiny baskets. They were colossal and beautiful. I left with one as big as my head.The market wasn't crowded on opening day last year. Even with musicians and barking dogs, it was pleasantly quiet and calm. Not for long, though.
When the big time harvests start rolling in, the market will explode. I can't wait.
This article also appears on page 13 of the April 2015 print issue of Ace.Subscribe to the Ace e-dition for Lexington news, arts, culture, and entertainment, delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning.