From the Mediterranean to the Middle East
How do you go from the Mediterranean to the Middle East and then back to the Southwest in one day? Visit the Fountain side Farmers Market of course. Start with the Sogno Toscano booth specializing in infused olive oils born and bred in Tuscany on the company’s own farm. I tried the aged balsamic vinegar. The sweet, tangy robust flavor is highlighted with a woodsy note. It truly is aged for 12 years and tastes nothing like what you find in the grocery store. This is not the vinegar you use for marinades or in salad dressing but as a finishing touch or a glaze. Olive oils come plain and infused with basil, lemon, fennel, pepper or truffle, among other flavors. Buon appetito!
Next amble over to the Middle East to Claudine’s Kitchen. You’ll find pita chips, houmous aka hummus, tabbouleh and baba ganoush. My lunch was the chicken tawoo. Marinated grilled chicken — did I taste a light dusting of cinnamon and allspice — accented by sweet juicy tomatoes, the snap of red onions and the sourness of lightly pickled fresh cucumbers. All topped with crunchy lettuce and wrapped up in a thin bread, that’s a cross between a tortilla and a pita. What makes these so yummy is the garlic spread she uses. I should have asked Claudine exactly what the bread is called, but I was seriously distracted by the urge to devour the wrap then and there. No need to share when I get home.
So back to the Southwest. Have you ever wondered what those prickly pear cactus fruits taste like? Well wonder no longer. I mean prickly pear is all over the desert. The trick here is getting those nasty, little, nearly invisible needles off the fruits. I’ve tried heavy gloves, peeling and burning with no luck. Anne Marie Hansel the owner of Tonto Basin Cactus has mastered the process sand offers prickly pear as jellies, syrups and marinade.
Fountain Side Farmers Market Wednesday from 9 AM to 2 PM.
Tomorrow more on the Avenue of the Fountains Farmers Market which takes place Thursday.