Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Favorite Way to Start the Weekend in Sarasota: C'est la Vie Followed By The Search For Local Produce

The weekend before last my mom phoned me to ask if I wanted to do one of my favorite local things: go to the Saturday Downtown Sarasota Farmers' Market! It was forecast to be a freezing cold morning, but I wasn't going to miss out. Armed with warm clothing, scarves, and jackets - we set out bright and early to get the first pick of the market. Our bravery quickly waned once we got down there are realized that the sun was being blocked by tall buildings, and that it was very windy. We decided to do what any sensible person would do: go somewhere warm for breakfast!!! There was only one option: my favorite C'est la Vie. Owned and operated by a French couple, with the majority of staff also French, this authentic cafe is perfect for any Francophile. I was torn by a few things on the menu, but since I was reminiscing about my lunch at the Châlet la Pricaz the night before, opted for the Savoyard crepe. This sublime crepe was filled with thinly sliced potatoes, ham, onions, white wine cream sauce and topped with Raclette cheese. A very generous slice of Raclette cheese, might I add. This put a very big smile on my face! With breakfast behind us and the sun starting to show, we braved our way out to the Farmer's Market. The Downtown Farmer's Market was one of the things I messed the most while living in England. Don't get me wrong, they have lovely markets in England, but they don't have that certain je nais c'est quoi as the Sarasota Market. This could be solely down to the fact that ours has perpetual sunshine. It is always such a happy, vibrant place to be. Smiling faces, dogs' tails wagging, colorful produce - it is just such a nice way to start the weekend. I must have been in the 6th or 7th grade the first time I went to the Farmer's Market. There was a vendor that used to make the most delicious sour dough baguettes. Back then in the 80's, sourdough was still sort of an exotic find in this area. We had bakeries with lovely bread, but I don't remember sourdough being as common. Anyway, I remember that it was such a treat to come down and get a loaf that was still piping hot. That was the beginning of my love affair. Today's market is over twice the size of the original, and they no longer close Main Street (thank goodness), and is home to beautiful finds like these...
Now I must confess that I am a little biased towards Worden Farm. They are a totally organic farm in Punta Gorda. Luckily for us they make the drive every Saturday so we can have a superb selection of fruits and vegetables. They are not the only organic stall at the market, but they are one of the most nicely displayed. They are always THE place to go to for French radishes. The last time I was there they had these gorgeous white beets. Unfortunately I had spent all off of the cash I had with me, but I'll keep them in mind for next time.
On the way home we stopped at Jessica's Organic Farm for some of their divine kale. Jessica's is THE place to get kale in the Sarasota area. Also completely organic, they offer a fantastic selection of produce. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Jessica's is an absolute gem!
This is the first time ever that I have spotted the large Maryland Gourd at the market! Actually, it was my good friend Gloria shopping for her weekly produce.
Yes, we do look slightly deranged, but it was still freezing! We Sarasotans aren't used to such extreme (cold) temperatures.
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