The spring farmers' market season is here. On Wednesday, February 19, Urban Harvest's City Hall Farmers' Market returns, kicking off at 11 a.m. The market will include most of the vendors from the previous season, including Angela's Oven, Blackbird Foods, Melange Creperie and Sinfull Bakery, to name just a few.
"They are one of our popular vendors," he says. "She does sort of like an inspired take on the traditional banh mi sandwich. Her name is Dawn Burrell. She is cool."
Horne is also excited to announce the return of a fan-favorite vendor, the Eatsie Boys, as well as an exciting demonstration with Underbelly's Chris Shepherd and Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.
"When I begged him [Chris Shepherd] to do it, he was like, 'Okay, cool! I'll bring a Texans player,'" Horne says. "Yeah, it kind of just started as a conversation one Saturday morning. He is there [Eastside Farmers' Market] pretty much every Saturday when he's in town. It's pretty cool about Chris that with all this success at the restaurant, he still manages to drag himself out of bed on Saturday mornings and come to the market and support our vendors."
Cushing and his wife will join Shepherd on the steps of City Hall for a live cooking demonstration beginning at 11 a.m.
"He is a good friend and a good customer, and he is one of these guys who is like, 'I just want to cook,' and so we've been talking about him learning more and more about how to cook personally, and so it just seemed like it made sense," Shepherd says.
Shepherd and Cushing haven't yet officially decided on a dish to prepare for the demo, but Shepherd assures that it will be an easy one featuring what's in season at the markets.
"He [Cushing] comes in and he'll eat pretty much anything," Shepherd says. "I might do something with some beets and greens; there's a lot of kale out right now. I just want to see, you know, as far as a list of farmers that are going to be there on Wednesday, to kind of promote the market more and try to get as much product as we can from there so that people are able to purchase as well."
Shepherd frequents the Saturday Eastside Farmers' Market, and encourages more Houstonians to support local vendors and come out to the Wednesday City Hall Farmers' Market to gather produce for the remainder of the week.
"What happens during the middle of the week? Generally, people go Saturday -- they buy stuff for Saturday, Sunday, Monday. But you've got to get through the rest of the week," Shepherd says. "And you're already downtown. It doesn't take much to have a little with you to keep...just swinging by there and picking up stuff for that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday part of your week."
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Along with vendors like Saint Arnold serving samples of root beer and beer and Eatsie Boys selling their delicious food (Frank the Pretzel, anyone?), Zydeco Dot will provide the tunes throughout the morning and afternoon.
Churrasco To-Go will serve a variety of meats and seafood, such as pork, lamb, shrimp and beef. Horne explains that this vendor cooks everything on Rodizio skewers; expect some super-tender, juicy Brazilian meat.
"We have a pretty good round-out offering," Horne says. "We've got fresh cheese; we've got a guy that does just salads and smoothies; we've got Mexican food. Grilled fish! That's a new thing. Airline Seafood is going to bring out a plancha and do grilled fish. It's real simple grilled fish with salt, pepper and lime. That's all you need."
Local baker Chad Fry's new business, Wood Burn, was set to sell wood-fired pizzas on Wednesday, but will be delayed for approximately one month.
"In the baking world, he has the Holy Grail of skill sets, like he can do traditional pastries, he can do baked bread," Horne says. "He has already opened a company -- it's called Wood Burn -- and he is using a wood-fired oven to cook all of his breads. He is selling mostly to Revival [Market] right now, but he was supposed to come out and have things open for opening day, but his mobile oven broke."
Along with all of these prepared-food vendors, the City Hall Farmers' Market will also feature a few farms selling produce.
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"It's really hard for us to retain farmers. They just don't do all that well because people are there on their lunch break; they aren't thinking about bringing back a big thing of cabbage back to the office with them," Horne says. "We have had some amazing farms come through, but keeping them season to season has been a challenge, so we have Atkinson Farm there and Swede Family Dairy; they sell goat cheese and kefir and yogurt. And hopefully -- and this is just because it's cold -- we will have some of our seasonal tomato people out during the season."
The following Wednesday, February 26, the market will challenge Houstonians to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days during the Recipe for Success's VegOut! Challenge. Head to the market at 11 a.m. to register for the monthlong challenge and watch several local chefs demonstrate how to make a variety of dishes.
Bring the kids to the market on March 19 for Rodeo Day. Vendors will have baby farm animals, such as pigs and goats. Horne says there's a possibility a Longhorn will be on site. And in true rodeo fashion, the market will bring in a real rodeo clown.
The City Hall Farmers' Market is open from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday for the spring season at 901 Bagby.