It’s almost hard to believe that a little over five months ago that Atlanta was practically shut down for a week with schools closed, buses shut down, ice covered streets, and even the mailman took a few days off. Thank God for central heating and Netflix.
We’re lucky in this city that we have a farmer’s market or two that is open year-round, but the wares on display during the winter pale in comparison to the bounty we enjoy in the summer. Weekly e-mails from the markets are teeming with lettuces, potatoes, okra, fennel, cucumbers, and the list goes on.
I have a huge sweet tooth, and when it comes to summer at the farmer’s markets there’s one booth I have my eye on, and it’s the one that’s packed sky high with peaches. We can of course find them year-round from South America, and even in the summer the supermarkets contain the cobbler staple trucked in from California, but I do prefer to grab a bag of Georgia peaches when I hit the markets in the summer.
My first bite of this season’s pleasures came from a peach cobbler at Meehan’s Public House downtown and was topped with caramelized peach ice cream made by High Road Craft. As you can imagine, it was a double whammy of tasty goodness. Since then, I’ve picked them up from roadside stands, and from the new Grant Park Farmer’s Market a few Sundays ago. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve know doubt seen photos of me putting ice cream on peaches, gelato on peaches, greek yogurt on peaches, peaches on waffles — you get the idea.
I received a some peaches from the Georgia Peach Council and didn’t expect the large case that I did receive and put out a call on twitter for help on what to do with them. Shortcake, cobbler, ice cream, and various libations were all suggested. I’d love to say that I made a big batch of cobbler & cakes and shared them with everyone, but in all honesty with 90+ degree weather we’ve been having I didn’t feel like strapping on an apron. I added them to salads with fresh goat cheese from Decimal Place Farm in Conley, blended them in with a bit of orange juice and crushed ice for smoothies, and with fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar and rum (Ron Zacapa 23 is my current favorite) for daiquiris.
Sister farmer’s markets East Atlanta Village and Grant Park both have events this coming week to celebrate our state’s fruit. In East Atlanta, professional mixologists will meet this Thursday at 6pm to choose their ingredients and battle it out for a $200 cash prize & their winning drink will be featured at Midway Pub for a week. Details on the Peach Cocktail Mix-off can be found here. Not to be outdone, the Grant Park farmer’s market hosts a peach cobbler competition that’s open to everyone and will be judged by a panel of judges, winners receive a peach tree and peaches from Pearson Farm all season. Details for Grant Park’s contest can be found here.
My other favorite summertime market staple is the tomato. I posted some photos on facebook a few months ago of heirloom tomatoes and had a number of inquiries as to where they came from – since the tomatoes you often find in the winter are less than perfect. The tomatoes you see here are from Woodland Gardens and are grown in a hot house there year round near Athens, GA. I picked them up at the Star Provisions farmstand.
When you have tomatoes this beautiful, you don’t need much more than a few basil leaves, some good olive oil and some freshly cracked black pepper.
As perfect as the above is for me, Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen had a different idea a few years ago, and this year will mark the third year of the Attack of the Killer Tomato festival. The festival brings together chefs and mixologists from across the city and the South to give you their take on the tomato.
Tomatoes in ice cream, tomato sliders, on oysters, in pastries – you name it, you’ll probably find it there. The festival benefits Georgia Organics and tickets are on sale now.