Getting fresh

The rains began moving in late yesterday with the promise of a wet weekend.  As the downpour began in the evening, my disappointment with the certainty of no tennis the next day (today) was counterbalanced by the thrill of our first true evening thunderstorm, a gorgeous mixture of sight, sound and water.

I was just sitting down to watch a suitably moody video when the phone rang.  It was an invitation from my friend for breakfast and a visit to our favorite fresh market on Saturday morning.  She knows I always prefer Sunday because of tennis, but she was confident I wouldn’t be playing.  I hedged my bet by telling her I would call her early in the morning, since if there was even the smallest window to get out, I would take it.  She responded by saying that was fine, but either way, she was going Saturday.  That’s the sort of compromises I get with her…which is ok with me, I never expect to “win” on those decisions.

Sure enough, it was soaking this morning, so I rang her up and she told me to hurry because she was hungry.  She said she already had a place picked out which got me to worrying right off.

A bit of background.  My friend (I’ve mentioned her before) is big into veggies.  When we go out, she often picks the places.  After a couple early wins, her last few choices have been succeedingly less enjoyable, culminating with a lunch place that had no meat whatsoever.  Now, I don’t need meat with every breakfast I eat, but I am made more comfortable knowing it exists somewhere on the premises!  I also noted that not a single other patron there was male, but for myself.  Coincidence?  Hardly.

The last few times out, we’ve alternated breakfast places.  We were already halfway out of her development when she told me she thought I would like her choice.  It was a few blocks later when she told me it was “kind of healthier”.  I immediately groaned and she shot me a face and said they had bacon.  I asked her which rare African animal the bacon was made from and she declined to reply (wisely).

Turns out, the place was fine.  The food was tasty and other than having to send my bacon back to be properly cooked, I told her I liked the place.  She made me repeat it several times, much more than a non-married couple should have to repeat it, but hey, that’s our quirky friendship!

It was perhaps the overcast and foreboding sky that created the pleasant surprise of reasonably light crowds at the fresh market.  This is a little jewel of a place in Delray Beach.  Regular readers know I don’t give out a lot of specific information, especially names, in my blogs, but if you’re local and don’t know where I’m referring to, drop me an email.

The produce and fruit at this place is beyond compare.  Anytime I go there I have to restrain myself from loading up beyond my single guy’s capacity to finish off.  Today, they had some excellent strawberries and pristine watermelon.  I found some terrific looking asparagus (nice and thin) and some of those big honking mutant lemons.

My friend knows of my love of brussel sprouts and she pointed out a cart of them.  These things were a bit bigger than I’m familiar with (perhaps grown under the same irradiated farm as the lemons?), but I couldn’t pass up the price.

That brings me to a momentary pause in my tale to wonder, just how can the fresh market offer such high-grade fruit and vegetables yet price them even less expensive than the big-buying-power supermarkets and superstores?  I can only assume they work on seriously thin margins, because the quality is light years ahead of those other locations.

Continuing my resupply run, I grabbed a bunch of oranges and grapefruits for the juicer and then moved on to the salad items.  Fresh romaine, green and red peppers (almost as big as a head of lettuce), cucumber, a radish bunch, a nice Vidalia onion.  I snuck a peek at the fish counter, but they didn’t have a little tub of whitefish.  We used to have a mixed smoked fish breakfast at least once a month back when I was growing up, so it’s always an area of “weakness” for me (considering the prices on those fish choices).

My friend picked me out another eggplant.  I managed to get this one in the house without disaster (last time the bag broke as I took it out of the trunk and that was it for the eggplant).  A quick “guilty” pleasure pickup of some dates on the way to the register finished off the trip.  I had a three-quarters filled cart all for under $25.  Granted I skipped the bakery and deli this time. but it’s still an impressive haul!

My Mom taught me many things that guide me today, but one of the most valuable was to never skimp on food.  Cut corners anywhere else, but always buy and cook good quality food.  Thanks to the little fresh market, I can follow Mom’s advice and still save money.

That’s fresh!

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