Friday, May 18, 2012

Dallas Farmers Market

I took my first trip to the Dallas Farmers Market ( on Saturday.
The Market consists of four large “sheds,” one of which is enclosed, along with an adjoining floral area. At the open sheds, farmers and produce vendors sell everything from fruits and vegetables to eggs and meat.  At first, it reminded me of a place Anthony Bourdain might go to in a developing country on “No Reservations.” There was a crowd, cars attempting to maneuver through, and one vendor barking about out how he had the sweetest strawberries while a competitor offered a taste of her tomatoes.  

It was quite different than a suburban farmers market you might find in the middle of a planned development with balloon animals and face painting. After thinking about it, It only made sense that a city surrounded by agriculture would have real farmers trying to make a living rather than just growing plants to be green or cool.   
After taking in the physical structures and the lay of the land, what really struck me were the colors. From the bright reds of the strawberries and tomatoes to the deep greens of the cucumbers and zucchinis, the colors almost made me want to be a vegetarian (until, of course, I talked to the cattle rancher selling his grass-fed beef and I made it inside to the Old World Sausage Company, but I’ll get to those later).  
It was nice being able to talk to the actual people who grow the food I’m about to buy and know where my food is coming from. One shed is full of produce vendors who get their food from wherever and I had little interest in spending much time there. If I were going to buy pre-packaged produce from California, I’d go to Tom Thumb and get a rotisserie and two-for-one toilet paper to go along with it.  
After walking some more, I decided on some great tomatoes and peaches from “Betty’s Tomatoes” and some tart, green plums.  I also decided on a steak from Northstar Ranch ( They raise strictly grass-fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics. Along with the farmer’s market, Northstar Ranch also sells its meat at a supermarket in Denton.  I really enjoyed talking to the ranch’s owner; he even gave me some tips on grilling the steak: add a little bit of lemon pepper and garlic and only add salt after the meat is cooked since it pulls moisture. The steak certainly did not disappoint the next day! It was very tender, and because the meat itself had a lot of flavor, a little bit of seasoning was more than enough. (This beats anything at Tom Thumb!). 
After exploring the outdoor sheds, I made my way inside.  There were a few vendors selling crafts in addition to different kinds of food, including craft cheese, honey, and meat. There were also a few places to eat. 

I got lunch from Old World Sausage (, a Chicago-style deli. Along with sausages you can eat there or take home, Old World Sausage has a bunch of great-looking sandwiches, including corned beef, pastrami, and Ruebens. I ordered the roast beef sandwich … and it was a whole lot of roast beef.  It was made thinly sliced to order and served with a choice of sides. I chose the coleslaw and pasta salad.  The sandwich was so thick I couldn’t fit the whole thing in my mouth.  I was pretty much full by the time I finished half of it; I felt like Adam Richman from “Man v. Food” when I started the other half (food won).  The sandwich only consisted of roast beef, provolone, lettuce and tomatoes, but each bite tasted amazing.  
Not that I had room for it, but I also got a piece of cheesecake.  The cheesecake was very creamy and rich without being heavy.  
Here's an interview with the owner Al Cappua

I was a bit disappointed by the options inside; half of the space was empty.  I feel like there is a whole lot of potential with that space. Apparently, the Dallas Farmers Market has been struggling financially and the city has been considering different options with what to do with it.  I have also been to the Deep Ellum Market and the Urban Bazaar in the Bishop Arts District, and while both had a better variety of vendors, neither could compare with the Dallas Farmer’s Market’s produce. So I hope the Market can continue to grow because, although I enjoy pre-packaged salami and cheese Danishes filled with who knows what as much as the next guy, I also really like being able to buy food straight from those who actually grow it.   

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