January is a perfect month for enjoying fresh local produce from area growers. Happily, Sarasota has a brand-new Sunday organic farmer’s market to complement the long-running Saturday morning market on Lemon Street downtown.
The new market, open Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, pitches its tents in the parking lot of Davidson’s Plaza in the heart of Siesta Key Village. Gorgeous veggies, specialty breads, ready-to-eat food and beverage booths, fresh fish, potted herbs for your garden or windowsill, maybe even an old-fashioned lemonade stand, await early risers. And if your eyes aren’t quite open yet, Local Coffee + Tea in the plaza now opens at 7 on Sunday to brew you a nice double espresso to sip as you shop.
We took an experimental $30 to the new market to see what it would buy. Turns out it financed a feast. Here’s what we wound up with in our big cloth shopping bag:
1/2 lb. of earthy and fabulous locally grown shiitake mushrooms, just right for two fungimaniacs when sautéed in red wine with shallots and herbs and topped with baked eggs;
1 lb. of organic ricotta cheese, perfect for a dinner of homemade gnocchi in a vodka cream sauce;
1 huge and savory purple, organically grown heirloom tomato, enough for two simple salads;
2 beautiful pale yellow organic summer squashes, which we sautéed in butter for a delightful side dish;
1/2 pint of pluperfect smoked mullet spread from the Walt’s Fish Market stand, which made a just-right appetizer with sliced baguette rounds;
1 locally baked baguette;
1 jar Key lime citrus salsa for later;
5 pretty plums, 2 ripe kiwis and 1 plump starfruit, all organic, for a quick weekday breakfast;
1 cup of java to sip and share as we scored the bargains.
A darn good haul, we decided, which warranted a celebration. Fortunately, we had to pass the welcoming patio of Sun Garden Cafe on the way to our car, which made a late breakfast of swoony sweet potato pancakes (pop for the real maple syrup upgrade) practically inevitable. What a lovely Sunday morning!
For updates on vendors and events like live music, consult the market’s Web site at www.siestafarmersmarket.com.