Sunday, May 29, 2005

Farmers Market Finale

This morning, my husband and I headed to downtown Celebration for the last farmers market until fall. I fear that it might be the last farmers market ever, since construction on the adjacent parking lot will most likely be in full swing by October. Shutting down a street to hold the market, and thereby taking over precious parking spaces on a weekend, doesn't sound too likely. Perhaps it could move to Founders Park, but I'm not holding my breath. The latest email propaganda from Town Hall said that the farmers market will return in October, but I noticed that it didn't specify a location, year or town, so we'll see.

The number of merchants was much smaller than usual, but the produce stands and the French pastry sellers were there. My husband was able to stock up on fresh tomatoes and squash, while I was able to fulfill my sweet tooth. Actually, the pastry stand didn't have my favorite cookies, which have a chocolate shell and are filled with either peanut butter or caramel. They did have some other tasty-looking options, so we bought a small pecan pie to share for dessert in the evening.

The farmers market is a weekend tradition for us. I roust my husband out of bed on Sunday morning (he runs on little or no sleep all week, then hibernates like a bear on the weekend) and drag him to Max's (Market Street Cafe) for breakfast. Then we stroll down to the market to do our veggie shopping. He hates buying produce during the winter when he's in Chicago for work because the flavorless hothouse pseudo-tomatoes can't compare to Florida's flavorful year-round bounty.

Max's requires him to roll out of bed at a semi-decent hour because they only serve breakfast until 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Since there can be waits of half an hour, and occasionally longer, that means getting downtown no later than 11. We have a lot of other good (and not so good) breakfast places nearby, such as Cracker Barrel and Perkins, but I prefer Max's because they mix the fruit into the batter of their blueberry and apple pancakes. Most other places just slop some preserves on top.

This week, I opted for the apple pancakes with a side of bacon. My husband never wavers from his order of French toast (has enough time passed since the war began to call it that, or should it be "Liberty Toast?"). I rotate through the three types of pancake: apple, blueberry, and chocolate chip. My side meat varies between bacon and ham, and every now and then I throw in a sunnyside up egg just to shake things up. One of the greatest simple pleasures in life is sopping up a runny egg yolk with a piece of toast.

After we ate, it was farmers market time. As I mentioned earlier, the number of booths was greatly reduced. I did see the fresh-squeezed lemonade stand, but I was too well plied with mango iced tea from Max's to be tempted. I bought the pecan pie and headed to the Town Center Market (the corner grocery on Market Street) to pick up some potato salad while my husband browsed through the produce.

I am used to a convenience mark-up at small groceries, but I almost had a heart attack when I discovered the price for a pound and a quarter of potato salad: nearly $7.00! Ouch! I like to support the businesses in downtown Celebration, but for that price, I'll make the trek across 192 to Publix next time. In their current ad, two pounds of potato salad costs only $3.49. A nearly four dollar premium to shop in town is a bit too rich for my blood.

I headed towards the Celebration Hotel, clutching my gold-plated salad, as I had parked my car down the street so I could check out the flags in Downeast, another local store. I have a flagpole and a garden flag stand, and I like to rotate my banners frequently. Since it's Memorial Day weekend, I am currently flying the Stars and Stripes, but I wanted something new for later in the year.

I found a couple of possibilities: a nautical-themed flag that said "Welcome Aboard" and a garden flag with palm trees and a tropical island. Those might not sound too compatible to most people, but they were perfect for a Disney Cruise Line fanatic like me. The nautical flag would represent my favorite ship, the Disney Wonder, on which we are sailing for the 44th time on Thursday (actually, a few of those trips have also been on the Disney Magic). The tropical garden flag would represent Castaway Cay, Disney's private island paradise.

The clerk pointed out to me that the garden flag lights up. As soon as we got home, my husband and I had to close ourselves off in the darkness of the Harry Potter bathroom to check it out. It was so cute! Normally, I would leave the American flag out from Memorial Day to Fourth of July, but I think I might get too tempted to put my nautical flags out for June.

Actually, since I like to tie my banners in with the seasons, I wish I could have found a hurricane flag...maybe something with that oh-so-familiar National Weather Service hurricane symbol superimposed over a graphic of the state. It could stay up until the fall, unless of course another killer storm visits us and rips it down.

It's late afternoon now, and the farmers market vendors have no doubt packed up their stands for the last time of the season...hopefully not for the last time ever. There is a market in Winter Park all summer, but it's just not the same. Although we sometimes drive, I like the idea of being able to walk or bike downtown and having the market right in my neighborhood. It's part of the ambiance of living in Celebration, and I sure hope that it's not extinct come October.

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