I never cease to be amazed at how each farmer’s market I attend has its very own vibe and personality. Since I have been covering them for PIE, I have been to Coppell Farmers Market and four others, and each has been completely distinctive. White Rock Local Market has a decidedly funky vibe, McKinney really capitalizes on the historic nature of their town square, and Celebration is truly a neighborhood market. There is an overlap in some vendors, but I like knowing that whichever I choose to visit there will be a very healthy selection of vendors, new and old.
Like the others, Coppell had its very own feel. As I exited off of Highway 635 and drove through the millions of square feet of industrial and warehouse spaces I had no idea what to expect. But at the Corner of Freeport and Bethel, I took a right at the Hard8 BBQ, and suddenly I wasn’t in an urban setting. I was in a small town. A moment more down the road and I was greeted by the view of people and dogs and bikes all crossing at the light next to the barbershop, heading over into a small field festooned with pop up canopies and box filled trailers. The kids and I parked in the adjacent field, grabbed a shopping bag out of the back and headed into the fun.
At this point, Ford has figured out that farmer’s markets mean cookie samples and he was totally bummed out that neither Kessler Cookie Company, nor Wackym’s, nor Stephanie’s were at Coppell, but he brightened up significantly when he found that Great Harvest had cinnamon rolls and blueberry scones as big as his head. In a bit of “good parenting” that I will not soon live down, I made the kids wait until I had secured all of my pictures and vegetables in an air of brotherly and sisterly love and good behavior before purchasing treats. When we returned there had been a run at the Great Harvest tent and there was not a cinnamon roll to be found. Oops.
Fortunately the canopy next door, Savoy Sorbet had treats. We sampled a non-dairy coconut sorbet that was out of this world. The company calls it “catnip for humans”. Speaking of fur persons, there was a dog friendly vibe in Coppell and I saw the floppiest beagle with the biggest eyes and several other perky and happy dogs that were having a morning out with their people. I dig a dog friendly atmosphere. And Biscuit Head Baking Co. was there with treats for the pooches.
Who made me smile this week? Well, some of my favorite vendors were in attendance. Abundantly Aromatic was there. In fact, Renee Mitchell of Abundantly Aromatic is the person who recommended that I put Coppell high on my “next up” list when I met her at White Rock Local Market. The Tamale Company was also there. Incidentally, I received an email from them the other day stating that they do tamale fundraisers where you sell tamales instead of, say, crappy chocolates and I thought that was an idea I could really get behind. So if any of you are looking for a new fundraising plan, try the Tamale Company. I have a closet choking with wrapping paper already. I’d rather have a freezer full of tamales. The tamales are gluten free and lard free, so my belly will thank you as well. The tamales come in a vacuum sealed freezer bag that you just drop in boiling water. I can get behind that, too.
Round Rock Honey was there. They always have really nice people working their stands. They are happy to give you a little taste of honey and show you information about the zones in which the bees operate. They also gave us a recipe card for Grilled Shrimp and Watermelon Salad with Honey-Balsamic Dressing that looks out of this world. I also found out, thanks to Karen Pearsall, a Coppell Farmer’s Market Volunteer, that the folks from Round Rock Honey are collaborating with the folks at Lucido’s Produce & Herbs, and Round Rock now has some of their hives out on the Lucido farm. It’s all in the family. Lucido’s had a ton of interesting looking sauces and other jarred fare that looked mighty tempting along with their fresh pastas.
Let’s talk about produce. There was actually more produce at this market than at most of the others I had been to. In fact, there may have been almost as much as you typically find in the local shed at the Dallas Farmer’s Market. I was very impressed. J&S produce had portobellos and pears and peaches. Finley Farms had, well, everything. I bought a giant container of beautiful grape tomatoes from them…and they gave the kids an apple each just because. There were pepper vendors, and other farmers with melons and squash and zucchini and tomatoes. Walnut Creek Farms had corn and Mexican vanilla and agave nectar. I liked the Walnut Creek guy because he let me buy a half a basket of squash and I know they hate to do that. It was a vegetable bonanza.
There were two new products that I had not seen before at other markets. I wasn’t able to walk away from either one empty handed. First, C.J. of Good Spice out of Arlington was selling several really great spice mixes. I bought the Jalapeno Season Salt. It has a kick to it and I am looking forward to using it in a salsa or something.
And speaking of salsa, Victoria Hooker makes a line of Chips and Salsa that are wonderful. She makes those really thin and crispy chips that are so darned good but often poorly executed. She has it figured out. The salsa was great, too. I bought both, which I will be eating tonight with some of the Tamale Company’s black bean tamales that have been waiting in my freezer for just this moment. If you go to a market that has her chips and salsa, I highly recommend that you buy some. I got the “hot” variety of salsa and it was perfectly addicting. I kept going back for another bite of the cold salsa that then morphed in my mouth into perfectly fiery salsa that required me to take another cold dip of salsa to put out the fire which then, again turned hot on me…you get the pattern. Very good.
And, one doesn’t expect to see wild Salmon sold at a farmer’s market in Texas. But Kathy Johnson and Sara Wilson were there with a deep freeze that was totally sold out save one lovely, flash frozen filet of salmon. Apparently, and I’ve confused all of the names at this point, one of the women has a son who lives in Alaska and is the source of the fish which is caught there and shipped overnight to TX. Good plan, I say. There was also an outfit called Magnolia Seafood selling seafood straight from the Gulf with all manner of great sounding fare.
I liked the Coppell market a great deal. My market to front door time was 22 minutes at a fairly good clip on a no traffic Saturday in a very very not green SUV. I’m not sure I could justify making this my “go to” market as all of the feel good farmer’s market factors are pretty well blown out of the water when I have a sweet little market right down the street. But we had a lovely morning and tried a lot of new products and met some more lovely people. I found myself thinking about how lucky the people of Coppell are to have this market. You see, within 3 blocks of this rural-feel market you are back into an suburban residential environment with big pretty houses standing cheek to cheek. But in this little oasis is a really neat market that is walking and biking distance for thousands of fortunate people. The creators of this market were even smart enough to offer a small shaded area of picnic tables for anyone who came out to have my son’s cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee on a sunny but still cool Saturday morning.
If you live in Coppell, you MUST go to this market. If you live further away but you want to see all of the local markets, put this one on your list because it is worth a visit. The market is from 8:00 til noon during the season. It is located at the corner of South Coppell and Bethel Road. There is a good map on the Coppell Farmers Market website if you need more information.
I think we should start a Farmers Market Passport and get it punched at each market during the season…for the grand prize of a big juicy tomato. The D/FW area has a ton of great markets!
Note: this is slightly unrelated, but I thought I would share it anyway. I mentioned salmon that had been frozen and shipped from Alaska. I have to say that I always assumed that where fish was concerned, fresh was always better than frozen. I have had an opportunity to revisit that opinion. A noted seafood expert, Jon Rowley, wrote an article for Gourmet last year about the dangers of eating raw salmon that are eliminated by freezing. Cooking fish thoroughly works too, but the danger (gross…of getting a tapeworm) by consuming undercooked salmon are eliminated when it is properly frozen. Since I love smoked salmon I sent Mr. Rowley a “tweet” and asked whether smoked salmon was “cooked” enough for these purposes and he responded that most smoked salmon is previously frozen and therefore safe. What a relief. I promise never to bring up tapeworms on this blog again.