Restau­rant Re­view

What to eat at the Santa Fe Farm­ers Mar­ket

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Pa­tri­cia West-Barker I For The New Mex­i­can

There was a time when you could stroll through the Santa Fe Farm­ers Mar­ket on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing and find lit­tle in the ready-to-eat-right-now depart­ment. A cup of cof­fee, a bur­rito, some pas­try — none of it par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing and all of it pur­veyed by the mar­ket pav­il­ion café. For­tu­nately, as of late, the ed­i­ble prêt-à-porter has in­creased in num­ber, va­ri­ety, and range of ven­dors of­fer­ing break­fast and lunch op­tions to hun­gry or cu­ri­ous shop­pers. This is a sur­vey of some of our fa­vorites — and by way of full dis­clo­sure, for the past few years I’ve worked with the Santa Fe Farm­ers Mar­ket In­sti­tute on its an­nual Fall Fi­esta fundrais­ing din­ner.

The kim­chi pan­cakes from Mi Young’s Farm bring a sam­pling of the tra­di­tional fer­mented foods of Korea to Santa Fe. More lacy crepes than doughy flap­jacks, they are light, fresh, and fla­vor­ful on their own or with a va­ri­ety of top­pings — some of which are daily spe­cials — ve­gan-friendly mar­ket mush­rooms and greens, or Red Mesa bul­gogi and greens for the car­ni­vores, for ex­am­ple. The booth is cur­rently open on all sched­uled mar­ket days.

Maria and Thure Meyer sell egg rolls and fresh rolls un­der their Li­ga­ialein Prod­ucts ban­ner. Filled with adzuki and mung beans, the veg­e­tar­ian egg rolls are crunchy but a lit­tle bland — although a squirt of one of the half-dozen sauces perks them up con­sid­er­ably. The fresh rolls fea­ture soft, sticky rice pa­per wrapped around a crisp com­bi­na­tion of chopped raw cab­bage, sprouts, cukes, bell pep­pers, and rice. They hold to­gether beau­ti­fully and are easy to eat while wan­der­ing the mar­ket’s aisles. Both rolls are avail­able on Satur­days and Wed­nes­days — Li­ga­ialein is one of the few fresh-and-fast food ven­dors at the evening mar­ket.

Es­pañola-based Fam­ily Farms brought both a hibis­cus cooler and a very re­fresh­ing, not-too-sweet cu­cum­ber and lime juice to a re­cent Wed­nes­day mar­ket. It was the per­fect thirst quencher for a long, hot sum­mer’s day.

A reg­u­lar on Satur­days and Tues­days, Pollo Real also makes an ap­pear­ance at the still sparsely at­tended Wed­nes­day mar­ket. A new of­fer­ing this sea­son are her­itage turkey brats on a stick. The easy-to-eat grilled sausages are de­li­cious — crispy and per­fectly sea­soned with a cus­tom blend from the Sa­vory Spice Shop. Turkey wings and thighs are also avail­able. A new “Gizmo” sausage is also fea­tured at the booth — some­thing nose-to-tail fans may want to try.

Many peo­ple think of Crumpacker’s Fresca Bak­ery as a pur­veyor of full-sized sea­sonal take-home fruit pies and quiches, but those wares are avail­able in sin­gle-serv­ing sizes that are per­fectly en­joy­able at room tem­per­a­ture. Two quiches — the poblano-leek with ba­con and ar­ti­choke pesto and the corn-green­chile — are cur­rent fa­vorites.

South­west Chut­ney’s Lisa Fox also owns the gluten­free Wil­low Bak­ery, which makes an ap­pear­ance on Satur­days. Her break­fast tarts are an ex­cel­lent vari­a­tion on a quiche, with crusts that are nei­ther gummy nor gritty — the twin curses of many gluten-free baked goods. A re­cent tart blended blue corn­meal with fresh mashed pota­toes in the crust, while white beans, yel­low squash, sweet onions, and feta made for a creamy fill­ing.

Roasted corn from Wag­ner’s Farm is sweet and ten­der, although it lacks the smok­i­ness you might ex­pect (roast­ing it in its husk is more akin to steam­ing than grilling). But­ter and salt are avail­able for those who want to gild the lily. Tru­jillo Fam­ily Farm and Or­chard de Nambé, a three-gen­er­a­tion op­er­a­tion, has added some ready-to-eat foods. In their Frito pie, beans, corn chips, chopped toma­toes, and onions are poured over a layer of cheese that melts as you dig in. The red-chile sauce that pulls the whole thing to­gether is very mild.

The cof­fee, pas­try, and bur­ri­tos are still avail­able in spades. The two cafés — one in the pav­il­ion and Café Fresh in the shops area — of­fer lo­cally roasted or­ganic Aroma cof­fee. You can get a de­cent drip cof­fee in the mar­ket hall; the shop in the back of­fers a full range of well-made espresso drinks, in­clud­ing an af­fogato — a scoop of Taos Cow ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso — the per­fect choice for those (like me) who believe in eat­ing dessert first.

Sweets of ev­ery imag­in­able va­ri­ety still rule both café coun­ters, and all are sourced from lo­cal bak­eries, in­clud­ing Cho­co­late Maven (whose ap­ple-wal­nutcran­berry strudel is a par­tic­u­lar fa­vorite), Amer­i­can Pie, and Whoo’s Donuts.

But if you re­ally want to eat lo­cally, try the bur­ri­tos pre­pared by Mark Fried­man of The Providers. All va­ri­eties fea­ture mar­ket-sourced meats, cheeses, eggs, chiles, and veg­gies. Even the tor­tillas are cus­tom­made by Ali­cia’s Tor­tille­ria from New Mex­ico-grown wheat. The board de­scrib­ing the day’s bur­ri­tos also dis­closes the per­cent­age of home­grown in­gre­di­ents in each — usu­ally about 80 per­cent. An­other board lists the farms from which the in­gre­di­ents were sourced.

The rice-heavy ve­gan bur­rito was a bit soggy; the veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion was bet­ter but still on the bland side. We fell in love with the third vari­a­tion, filled with ba­con made from lo­cal pork and pi­quant roasted chiles. But of course, there’s noth­ing like ba­con to up the fla­vor quo­tient in al­most any dish.

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