This little piggy went to market | Rock Candy

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This little piggy went to market

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Kajun Kitchens peach cobbler
  • Kajun Kitchen's peach cobbler

One of the greatest things about living in Little Rock is the plethora of farmers markets at our disposal. Our family has made it a tradition to get to the market every Saturday morning...and now there's rarely a weekend that my 2-year old doesn't heckle us to take him there. Generally speaking, if it's Saturday AM, you'll see me dragging my crew to the Hillcrest Farmer's Market. By now, I know just about every vendor there. But the great thing about HFM is the fact that there's such a steady arrival of new farmers and craftsmen nearly every week. Inspired by the success of other popular vendors (Mylo, Little Rock Pie Cycle, Katie Connally Confections), many talented folks around Arkansas are realizing that now is an opportune moment to introduce the world to what they love producing.

Recently, my regular wallet-drainer, Mylo Coffee Co., was out of town. This afforded me the opportunity—for a couple weekends—to check out some of the newest vendors at the market. The results have been rewarding, though I'll still find it incredibly difficult to pry myself away from an early morning kouign amann.

Breads of Ethans Heirlooms
  • Breads of Ethan's Heirlooms
At Ethan's Heirlooms, Ethan and his wife began making a name for themselves based on selling their heirloom plants—tomatoes, jalapeños, etc. But recently, they've decided to expand their operation to a number of breads and other baked goods. I'd highly recommend grabbing some of their large loaves of focaccia. They're light and airy, but with a nice dense chew and a lovely aromatic note of olive oil and rosemary. If you'd really like and over the top experience with this stuff, head out to WLR to our beloved little Promenade shop, Strippaggio, and pick up some fine olive oil and balsamic. Bring it all home and treat your guests to some of the finest eating Little Rock has to offer. Ethan's Heirlooms also does a smattering of other quality baked goods including a moist, soft, fudgy "Mississippi Mud Cake," which is excellent if you take it home and add a scoop of Loblolly double vanilla (which you can also pick up at the market). And for the cookie fans, grab one of their twin packs of peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies. They’re dense, and are a bit better with milk, but they're enjoyable and worth a sample.

Portuguese donut
  • Portuguese donut
Portuguese baked goods are certainly not getting as much attention nationwide as, say, the cupcake. But one woman at the HFM is trying to change that. Portuguese Pastries operates from a small table in the center of the market. It's small and somewhat inconspicuous, but each weekend she's baking up dishes from her homeland, hoping to bring to Little Rock a small taste of what she grew up loving. A lot of her baked goods, like many of the Latin American pastries we see here in America, are rather dense, not so sweet, and plain. They're not for every taste, but if you enjoy what you'd typically find at your local panaderia, you might think about stopping by the Portuguese pastry corner. I particularly enjoy her version of the Portuguese donut. It's a thin, pressed disk of dough, fried in coconut oil and sprinkled in sugar. Simple but delightful.

Lastly, you may want to round the corner of Kavanaugh and Cedar to check out some of the most recent additions to the market. Often camped out next to one of my new favorite market friends, Geek Eats, you'll find a little husband and wife team known as Kajun Kitchen. Now I'm typically dubious about places that get cute with the spelling of their name, replacing letters like a failed first grade spelling test, but the enticing aura of their home baked fruit cobblers...err, I mean "kobblers," could not keep me away for long. The baker is a burly, bearded guy, with a big heart a knack for cobbler. I snagged a peach last time I was at their table. I took my cobbler home, wrapped up in its own individually baked foil container, threw it in the oven to reheat, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Expectations were exceeded, and I enjoyed what I had brought home. The bottom of the cobbler was soft, creamy, and gooey—forming a sweet, chewy pudding like mixture punctuated by fresh, whole peaches, while the top was slightly toasted and crunchy. Kajun Kitchen uses fresh fruit from the market in their recipes, offering seasonal variations of their fruit cobblers.

Get to the market and see for yourself why farmer’s markets are one of our greatest resources for fresh, organic produce and meats while simultaneously inspiring growth, variety, and the self-made spirit among Little Rock producers and artisans. You too will be singing, "wee wee wee wee wee!" all the way home.

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