Thursday, October 13, 2005

The country mouse goes to Atlanta

When did I turn into a country mouse? Nowadays I'm not in a city for more than five minutes before I start grumbling about the traffic. I guess that's why I used to be such a fan of public transportation when I lived in St. Paul! (I suppose I still am a big fan of public transportation. I know I believe in it; it's just that I have zero opportunity to use it.)

Yesterday afternoon found me waiting at a series of interminable red lights in order to visit the Midtown Whole Foods, one of several Atlanta retailers that carries Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses. As some of you might recall, I mail-ordered their Lucille, Georgia Gouda, and Green Hill during August's Eat Local Challenge. They were excellent; I wanted more. I was especially interested in their fresh chevre, which hadn't been available via mail order because of the hot weather.

Well, the chevre is good. Really good. But the Thomasville Tomme, which I have seen referred to as the best cheese made in Georgia, is definitely the one to seek out. After my trip to Whole Foods, I met up with my stepsister, her husband, and their two daughters, and we devoured some cheese together. We all agreed the tomme was All That.

Stepsister and co. introduced me to the Dekalb Farmer's Market, which isn't a farmer's market at all, but is rather a large, cavernous warehouse-style grocery store. You can find a lot of fantastic bulk foods there--especially a lot of organic nuts and grains--but it's not the kind of place where you spot, say, mahlab or black salt or fresh fenugreek. It's not that fancy. But it does have a spectacularly large selection of produce, meats, and seafood. And here's the real kicker: EVERYTHING IS LABELED WITH THE LOCATION WHERE IT WAS SOURCED.

It's like a happy dream for a local foods aficionado.

After some wheeling around with my cart, I came away with (among other things):

• Florida Fallglo tangerines
• Florida white grapefruits
• Georgia pink-eye cowpeas
• Georgia banana peppers
• Georgia green beans
• Georgia Red Rome apples
• Virginia hard-shell clams
• Alabama watercress

At the end of the day, I also returned home with eight pullet eggs from stepsister and co.'s young flock of Wyandotte chickens. We sat around and talked about chickens, bees (stepbrother-in-law is a skilled amateur beekeeper), and fruit and vegetables until it was time for me to head home.

Having experienced all this bounty, I think I might have to drive in to Atlanta every couple weeks or so to get provisions. There were all kinds of beautiful Florida fish and shrimp I didn't buy, simply because we couldn't have consumed them all while they were still fresh.

P.S. I drove home in the wake of a semi truck, not changing lanes except when it did, just to make sure no errant deer ended up in my path.