“Back when I was growing up, there were no farmer’s markets in San Antonio.” This should be said using your grumpiest old person’s voice. For my recent visit I wanted to know: where can you get local produce? Is there a Slow Food chapter? What restaurants are doing local sourcing? Where can a food nerd like Persephone get really excited? Crickets. I realized I had to get my old Texan-do-it-yourself attitude and figure it out for myself.
I had heard that there was a farmer’s market at the old Pearl Brewery, so we headed there Saturday morning with the full intention of spending 15 minutes making a quick round. I was not expecting to see that old lot and building transformed into a vibrant space being used simultaneously for a morning farmer’s market and a tamale festival.
Walking in, I passed il Songno and was lured by the views through tall windows to the kitchen where the chefs were making pasta, into its entryway to study the menu. When I come back to San Antonio, this eatery run by James Beard nominated Andrew Weissman, will be tops on my list.
We wandered towards the market and passed the Twig Bookshop (where Cherub was just in time for story hour). The covered alleyway had vendors from Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, and Sol y Luna Bakery. We walked a bit further into the open courtyard that overlooks an extension of the Riverwalk and hit the motherlode. Dozens of farms all from a 150 mile radius with everything from vegetables, to pecans to grass-fed bison, to yard eggs, and heritage pork. I wept just a little bit. It’s here. I am so happy that San Antonio has this. Now every visit home will include a trip to Pearl on either Wednesday afternoons or Saturday mornings.
The fact that Pearl is anchored by a CIA campus (one of only three in the US with the other two being in Napa and Hyde Park) says to me that San Antonio has made a real committment to food. It is not just bar-b-que and enchiladas anymore. I’ll say it again: not that there’s anything wrong with that. Demeter made enchiladas yesterday and I’ll be posting her recipe for the enchilada “gravy” in the next few days. And as I write this post, Zeus is smoking a brisket.
To wrap up the trip to Pearl, we stopped at the demo tent where Steven McHugh, executive chef at the three-week-old Lüke, was sampling his Bluebonnet organic greens salad with Humble House baby blue cheese (HH is a vendor at Pearl), cane syrup dressing, spiced pistachios and candied beets. We talked local sourcing, which he is very passionate about, and who’s doing it in San Antonio. Turns out there’s not too many, but it’s growing. I told him we’d be by later in the afternoon for lunch and I can say easily, it was the best meal (outside Demeter’s enchiladas) I’ve ever had in San Antonio. I’ll do a post about it in full, complete with pictures, a bit later.
I’m having fun down here in San Antonio. You should come.