Thursday, August 27, 2009

Full English

I go the Sunset Valley Farmers Market almost every week. While I'm usually going for veggies, fruit and fresh pecans, other stuff sometimes finds itself in my bag. This can be hot sauce or pesto from Sgt. Peppers or teas from Sesa, but more often it's sweets from Full English.

The booth at Sunset Valley Farmers Market

Owned by a charming couple, Alice Bachini-Smith and Shad Smith, Full English makes traditional English pastries in small batches from scratch, using good ingredients like unrefined sugar, Callebaut chocolate and unbleached flours.

The stall always has a good variety of sweet and savory pastries, and sometimes chutney and lemon curd.

Savory pastries

I haven't tried anything I didn't like there. The cheese pasties are savory and flaky.

The flapjacks are slightly chewy, kind of crunchy oat cakes that are nothing like American pancakes. The sweet and moist cakes have a great oaty flavor.


My favorite, though, is the rock bun, a tiny muffin-shaped crumbly cake. It's crisp on the outside, and has an amazing toasty, buttery flavor. The light crunch of the outside of the pastry is well balanced by the crumbly texture of the interior, which is chock-full of plump, juicy raisins.

The humble but mighty Rock Bun.

I remember my first rock bun, from when the stall first opened at Sunset Valley about a year and a half ago. I had bought one for me and the man to share, not knowing how delicious it was going to be. After we shared that bun later that Saturday evening, we were both upset that we a) didn't get at least two of them, and b) had to wait a whole week before getting another one.

Since then, we're been buying them in 6-packs, except for when they run out (sometimes early!), when we shake our fists at the sky and hope for better luck next week. For a while, we were getting them once a week. Now it's more occasional, but we usually try to get them when we know we're having out-of-town guests.

Full English sweets are available at:
Sunset Valley Farmers Market
Farm to Market Grocery
Thom's Market
Live Oak Market
Cafe Caffeine
The Hideout Coffeehouse

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tasting Home

A couple of weekends ago (before the Great Motherboard Death of 2009), I escaped the heat of Texas for a long weekend in upstate New York. My sweetie and I visited his family and attended a wedding on Lake Seneca.

The cool breeze off Lake Seneca, and later in the trip, off Lake Ontario was refreshingly crisp, and a kind of chilly I forgot I could feel in the never-ending heat we're been experiencing in Austin.

I attended the large Rochester Public Market one Thursday morning. At the first table, I saw pineapples. Why are there pineapples in a farmers market in New York, I asked myself. I asked someone manning a table where the farm was, and was answered "We don't have a farm." So, this isn't a growers' market, I guess.

I did find plenty of farm tables, including one with a towering pile of fresh sweet corn that I had to sample, raw, right at the market. Coming from the Midwest, I miss big, juicy ears of sweet corn, and that one did not disappoint.

Probably the most abundant fruit at the market were New York apples. There were varieties I'd never heard of, and they were all incredibly inexpensive. Had I had more time in NY, I would have bought baskets and baskets of them.

On the way home, we had a short layover at O'Hare. Being a Chicago native, I miss the airport (or, I miss living in a hub city where I don't have layovers on every trip). It's familiar, and I know I'm in for a treat whenever I visit home or have a connection there because of the Garrett Popcorn shop.

Why I love the airport

When I was a kid, my grandma worked downtown. Sometimes, as a treat, she'd stop by Garrett's and buy a small bag of their Chicago Mix, a sweet-salty blend of their homemade caramel and cheese corns. The caramel is buttery and sweet, and the cheese is tangy and salty and a finger-staining shade of orange. Together, they're one of my favorite foods from childhood.

Salty-sweet goodness