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Farms 2 Market in Round Rock, the Hottest in Texas (No, Really)

This entry is part of a series, Market Days»


The residents of Round Rock, Texas are blessed with several opportunities to “go loco” with their vegetable-shopping. They have two farmers markets in town, you see, and they’re not far from Pflugerville and Georgetown, which each have a farmers market as well. They’re all on different days, so Rockavores can get good, fresh local produce and other goodies most any day of the week. For instance, Pflugerville holds their market on Tuesday afternoon, Georgetown’s is on Thursday, and the city-sponsored market in Round Rock is on Saturday morning. (If you’re willing to drive 30 minutes or so, there’s nearly a dozen nice markets within reach.)

I went to the other Round Rock fair, which is held on Wednesday afternoons near the Dell Diamond, to see what all they had to offer. They’re a sister market to the big one over in Cedar Park on Saturday mornings. Anyway, I got there about 5 P.M., and boy was it hot. It was 102° in the shade, in fact. How hot is that? Well, you can make instant sun tea in heat like that. You learn that asphalt has a liquid state. You don’t turn your car off because it overheats unless the engine’s running.

Yeah, it was like that.

The market has relocated just a short distance west, in the parking lot north of the Salt Lick, rather than right next to the Dell ballpark. Why? Shade! There are at least a few trees in the alternate location. Good thing, too, or everything would have been melted by the time I got there.

ShishitoThis market is nicely arranged, and there’s live music. Only thirty or so vendors, which is a nice size fair but not a large one. This fair, like most of the other regional ones, shows a strong commitment to local vendors and growers, and prohibits resellers of anything. I’m all for that, frankly. If price is your overriding concern, then maybe hou need to shop elsewhere. However, I will say I’ve found some nice bargains at the markets this spring and summer; don’t automatically assume you’ll pay more. Besides, you can bet whatever you buy is the freshest available.

Johnson’s Backyard Garden has the largest presence, and they always have a nice selection of fresh-picked produce. I learned about a new chile pepper there: the Japanese Shishito, sometimes known as the Russian Roulette pepper. They’re small, mild and sweet, and the Japanese cook them tempura-style as snacks. About one in every ten peppers, though, is hot. Quite hot! Hence the Russian Roulette aspect. (There’s a similar pepper in Spain, the Pimiento de Padron, with about the same sweet-hot statistics. They simply pan-fry them in olive oil until the skin blisters a bit, salt and serve as tapas.)

Now that I know how to cook them, I’ll be getting some next time around.

It was too dang hot to consider buying chiles on Wednesday, though. Instead I went for a coconut popsicle bar from the Mom & Pops cart. I’ll tell you how hot it was: I skipped right past their Mango & Chile ‘sicle! You ever seen me turn down a chance to try out a chile treat? See what I mean?

I scored a really nice looking cantaloupe from the Two Happy Children Farm and had a great chat with the nice fellows from Dish a Licious. I’d never heard of them before, although they’ve been in the area for a few years now. Louis Singh, one of the founders, was working the booth, and I got some really good vibes from him. He knows food, and he knows cultures. He’s Vietnamese by heritage (just skip right by the Indian-looking surname), Texan at heart (a UT grad, but we’ll forgive him that), and a true cultural omnivore. I really enjoyed talking food with Louis, and seeing what great stuff they’re cooking up. They do a lot of home delivery (it’s a key part of their business model), and they sell at local foodie events. They’re expanding too. So if you’re looking for great flavors and maximum convenience, look these guys up on the Web (or at the farmers market) and order some meals.

I stuck my nose into visited every booth, but only a few minutes each. I beat feet out of the heat and hurried home with my plunder. I didn’t want that cantaloupe to explode from internal steam pressure, you see. (That’s my story…) Besides, I had to get dinner started.

I hope to visit this nice market at least once a month. It’s a convenient drive for me, about ten minutes each way. I just hope they get the message and turn down the furnace…

Enjoy the (Great Small Market) Heat!


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