Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 7:40 a.m.
The other farmer's market (Riverwalk) can't compare to Sundays at the chemist parking lot on 12th Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard. Typically frou-frou gourmet offerings aside, this feels like a small street festival more than a farmer's market. Didn't used to be you could find five kinds of fancy salt at a farmer's market. Now you can.
On one visit, it was busy enough to make navigating a stroller through the crowd slightly challenging. Plenty of other strollers too, doggies on leashes, birds on shoulders, and a bottle-brush tree full of squawking parrots.
The artsy/crafty side of the market, in general, isn't as interesting as the stuff you can actually eat.
One gentleman proffered an olive oil dipping sauce with herbs and spices that had us dipping far more than what was called for. Fresh bread with caraway seeds, chopped into chewy sections, disappeared into our hungry gullets.
In fact, artesian bread abounds everywhere. Small batches of fresh vegetables from little local farms sell out quickly. While leaving, we found a guy selling stone crab claws from a large white cooler. At only $10 a pound, they were outstandingly sweet once they got home and had a hammer taken to them.
A trombonist wearing a tie steps up to the mic and begins to softly play along to a bebop backdrop. Scoops of multicolored organic pasta spill into plastic bags. More bread is dipped, and more herb-infused oil is poured.
Homemade empanadas sit on a tray awaiting inspection. Beef, spinach/cheese, and even guava/cheese look delicious.
The gourmet salad dressings and fancy pepper grinders have less hand-hewn appeal than the pitted queen olives stuffed with harissa from up in Port St. Lucie, the beefsteak tomatoes from Delray Beach, or the tapenade or the hummus.
But it is Las Olas, where pricey ceramic bowls certainly have their part to play.
Every Sunday, under the parrot tree, you might feel like you need a Key-lime-scented candle. But don't count on it.
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