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Memphis Farmers Market Great Eats
July 11, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

Farmers market trip gets cooking juices flowing

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

July 11, 2007

My family has eaten like royalty all week long. Instead of dreading cooking after a long day's work, I have energetically jumped into the task of preparing dinner. Cooking has been fun and easy.

The source of my inspiration was my trip to the Memphis Farmers Market last Saturday.

Cooking takes on a whole new meaning when using fresh ingredients.

Now that the market is finally in full swing with a bounteous selection of produce and handmade goods, it is without a doubt worth the trip Downtown.

I have to admit that when my husband was helping me drag my seven overflowing bags of groceries around the market last weekend, he was questioning my enthusiastic shopping. "But look at how beautiful everything is," I kept telling him. I was also extolling the importance of eating locally grown and raised food products, thanks to the book I'm currently reading, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Collins, $26.95).

We bought okra, Ripley tomatoes, tender candy-cane striped eggplant, jalapeno and serrano peppers, corn, crowder peas and juicy blackberries. I also picked up some tasty pies from The Pie Lady, fresh goat cheese, strip steaks and ground beef from Neola Farms, and a huge bouquet of fresh flowers.

The beauty of using these fresh ingredients is that everything tastes so wonderful you don't need to do much except add a little salt and pepper.

My favorite dish this week has been one a farmer shared with me. She told me to slice the small eggplant in half, grill them and then top them with fresh goat cheese from "the goat cheese guy." I added some diced Ripley tomatoes and minced fresh mint and, with hardly any effort, I had a meal that rivaled any restaurant dish in town.

To see what's in season each week, visit memphisfarmersmarket.com.

The Peabody celebrates ice cream

The Peabody is celebrating National Ice Cream Month with special ice cream desserts in both Chez Philippe and Capriccio Grill, as well as with a new investment in a state-of-the-art ice cream machine.

"The machine was $27,000, if that gives you any idea how serious we are about our desserts around here," says Kelly Earnest, the hotel's director of publicity.

Cooking classes at Encore

Summer cooking classes at Encore Restaurant & Bar will help home chefs hone their talents for everything from preparing crepes and Cuban delicacies, to brunch menus and more.

Beginning Saturday, chef/owner Jose Gutierrez will share how to create a wide array of dishes as he demystifies recipes and shares skills that can be used in the home kitchen.

Of seasonal interest will be a monthly Farmers Market Foraging class (for the duration of the market season) which convenes at the Downtown market for a shopping tour led by Gutierrez and then adjourns to Encore, where the local produce will be the inspiration and mainstay of a spontaneously created seasonal meal. Classes are $50. For more information, call 528-1415.

Goings-on at La Tourelle

La Tourelle will be featuring a special Bastille Day menu this weekend in honor of the French independence holiday. The three course menu is $38 per person. For reservations, call 726-5771.

Also, La Tourelle owners Glenn and Martha Hays previously announced that they would close after the Bastille Day celebration. But they've decided to keep the restaurant open until the end of July.

The Grove Grill goes smokeless

As you probably know, on Oct. 1 smoking will be banned in all restaurants in Tennessee that serve to or employ anyone under the age of 21.

In anticipation of the ban, Memphis Restaurant Association president Jeffrey Dunham decided to go ahead and make his restaurant, The Grove Grill, smoke-free on July 1.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.

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