Guest Post: Monday Night Adventures
Guest Post by Evan Dobkin – Orlando, FL
When traveling, the best way to learn about the area you’re visiting is to eat what the locals do. So to me, as someone who loves to cook, the best way to eat in your area is to get your food from the people that are producing it. In my neighborhood, the best way to do that is a trip to the Monday night Community Market at Audubon Park near downtown Orlando. I hadn’t been in a few weeks, so Monday night I went with an open mind, a reusable grocery bag, an empty stomach and was handsomely rewarded.
The Audubon Park market hosts a number of vendors selling Orlando’s freshest produce, seafood, beef, dairy and ready made items including dinner from Big Wheel Provisions (twitter: @bigwheelMCO). Keep in mind that many of these sellers are bringing the food directly from their own farms and kitchens, so you’ll get to talk to them about how the food is grown, how it’s prepared and what ingredients are going into your dinners. Last night I visited a few of my favorites and a couple of new folks to do my early-week shopping.
First stop was to see Tony Adams from Big Wheel Provisions. Tony serves multiple hot food items each week perfect for those of us just getting off of work and always has vegetarian options, as well as a meat-based dish. Last nights options were a local pork or vegetarian flatbread and a local shrimp nicoise salad. As well, he sells a variety of charcuterie (cured/dried meats) and other products that are all hand made by his company. I picked up some okra pickles, bacon/herb butter and he included a tub of herb salt after I brought him herbs and hot chili peppers from my personal garden. Next were a small bunch of carrots from the Univ. of Central Florida Arboretum who also had organic seed packets from plants they had grown. Heart of Christmas Farms grows a substantial number of salad greens, herbs and edible flowers which they use to create a delicious salad mix. Mixing all of those together makes a salad that easily stands in for a vegetable side with many new tastes that I hadn’t previously tried raw (it’s that good).
My last stop was not just for dinner, but for advice. I’ve recently started a vegetable and herb garden in my yard and decided on container growing as most of the yard is covered by shade trees. This booth was setup as a fund raiser for the Maitland Middle School Eco Club who had milkweed and popcorn plants for sale. After buying 4 popcorn plants (just $2!), I spoke with the lovely woman running the booth about how to setup my containers. The advice was invaluable and will allow me to make the design of my planters even more efficient.
To me, that kind of interaction and exchange of ideas is what a community market is all about. You meet people with a common interest and a willingness to share their experiences and ideas. At the same time, they’re making a sale and keeping money in the community.
Find Florida Farmers Market listings here.
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