AT HOME IN HEATH: THE ROCKWALL FARMERS MARKET
Well, we’ve been living in our new home for about four months now. It’s beginning to feel like home. One thing I’ve learned is that grocery shopping is a whole lot different out here than it was back in Dallas. A couple of years ago, when Trader Joe’s came to Dallas, I explained how I was smack dab in the middle of grocery store heaven. That is no longer so.
Grocery Shopping in Rockwall
I’ve had my ear to the ground for things to enhance my life on the eastern edges of the DFW Metroplex. Though I don’t remember when or where I first heard of the local farmers market, I knew immediately it was something I wanted to check out. I adore vegetables, especially the kind you get from real farmers, as opposed to the water-sprinkled display in the local supermarket.
In Dallas, with Market Street, Central Market and Trader Joe’s just around the corner from me, I really had all my produce needs taken care of. In Rockwall, we have Walmart, Target, Kroger and Aldi. I refuse to shop at Walmart, our Target doesn’t have a produce section and Aldi is hit or miss. That leaves Kroger. They have an extensive produce section, but it falls short of what I’m used to. One day when I asked after shallots, I was directed to the seafood department.
We also have a Costco out this way and their produce is absolutely gorgeous. However, there is only two of us in this household. I’m just now figuring out how to cook. I’m not ready to take up canning. Everything at Costco is super-sized. I’d have to open a restaurant to justify purchasing one of their gi-normous offerings. That left the farmers market.
Visiting the Rockwall Farmers Market
The Rockwall Farmers Market is held every week, rain or shine, on the square in Downtown Rockwall. (That’s at 66 and 205, for the non-locals). They’re just about to finish up with a major renovation down there, so on my visit I had to maneuver around some construction hazards, but that frustration will soon be gone. It looks like the finished product is going to be lovely and a boon to the farmers market.
The market is open 8 AM to noon and that, in part, is why it took me four months to get there. I’m always up early, but I come up here to my office and get distracted by a project. Before I know it, the morning is gone and I’ve missed the market again. This week, I was determined to leave my office and get to the market by 9. I did it.
I made my way through the construction and found a parking place without too much effort. I grabbed one of the shopping bags I keep in my car and headed to the row of awnings around the square. Right away I could tell this was going to be a treat. I could have gotten everything I needed, and more, at the first booth, but what fun would that have been?
The mix of vendors is about one half farmer and one half other stuff. The other stuff is everything from toffee and coffee, to honey and tamales. I plan to give the other stuff a closer inspection on my next visit, but on this particular day I was on a mission. I’d been looking forward to this visit, because the only thing in my crisper was a wilting stalk or two of celery.
I had planned to walk through the entire market before buying anything. It’s not like it’s all that big, but about halfway to the end of the first row, I was stopped in my tracks by some of the most beautiful basil I’d ever seen. The gorgeous stems seemed to be growing out of an ice chest and the air was full of their appetizing aroma. The price was a dollar a stem. Thinking of the sorry excuse I get for fresh basil at the grocery store I asked for two. I could have gotten by with one and had plenty to share. Lesson learned – and I’ll be back. I may get the Australian basil next time. The vendor said it had a hint of cinnamon to it.
I made it to the end of that row and turned the corner. There was only one half of a row more. At the end of that row I spied some chubby cucumbers that had my name on them. Bill eats a lot of cucumber, but I’m not fond of those huge waxed creatures offered for sale at the grocery store. These nubby chubbys looked good enough to bite, right then and there. A basket of them was $4. That seemed a little steep, but then I thought of the last foot long green thing that followed me home from Kroger. Sure it had been cheaper, but it hadn’t sung to me the way these guys were doing.
I headed back towards the basil, when some big juicy blackberries halted me in my tracks. I found myself standing next to the delicious looking berries wondering what it would take to make them mine. “Five dollars a basket or three baskets for $12.” I started wondering what I would do with three baskets of blackberries when they let me know I could mix and match the baskets. That sounded pretty good, because some strawberries were already flirting with me. Not wanting to overload myself with fruits, I ignored the grapes and glanced towards the vegetables. That’s when I saw a mixed basket of squash. “I’ll take three for $12, the blackberries, some strawberries and the mixed squash.”
Walking back toward where I had entered I watched for any kind of lettuce, but I guess that’s not a Texas crop. I knew I still needed some tomatoes and purple onions. Then I saw the asparagus. Yep, you guessed it. Four dollars a basket. Another $12 invested in local farmers.