It's bigger than I expected. Cooler, too, in more than one meaning of the word.
I stopped by the new Atherton Market at Atherton Mill on South Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon to check out the new local-shopping option. Even on a hot afternoon, the really big ceiling fans and open doors at both ends keep breezes moving, a pleasant change from sweating under the tents at the old open field at Camden and West Park.
And the chalkboard signs, big space and new local-food makers like Duke's Bread, New York Baking and Pasta Wench give it a feel of a refreshed food mission, a very painless stop on the way home from work to add to what you bought on Saturday or to boost your fresh-vegetable quotient. (That's Adam Duke at left. A $4 tub of his incredibly flavorful tomato oil helped with the fast dinner creation at my house. I brushed a little on mahi mahi before pan-searing and sticking it in the oven, then stirred a little more into the skillet to make an instant pan sauce). There were plenty of farmers with a wide variety of vegs -- Carlea Farms with cukes and a big pile of garlic, Barbee Farms with potatoes, Fisher Farms, Laughing Owl and several more.
Of course, keeping all that variety depends on people coming out to buy it . . . You know that old saying, you get what you pay for? With local-food markets, it's also true in more than one way.
In other market news:
- The York Downtown Market in York, S.C., is adding a new midweek market day, 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays. Details: http://www.themarketinyork.blogspot.com/.
- The Matthews Community Farmers Market starts its new Wednesday hours next week, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. June 9. Reports on the Saturday market include blueberry, potato and tart-cherry spottings (there seems to be a veritable cherry explosion at all the markets this year), and promises that corn and blackberries will be in within the next few weeks.
- As always, you can find our searchable database with information on markets all over the region at www.charlotteobserver.com/food.