Thursday, December 28, 2017

Outdoor Market at Lakewood Ranch - Worth a Visit

We've just enjoyed a visit to the new weekly outdoor market at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch, and found some very interesting vendors with terrific products.  We bought items from five of them.

One surprising vendor sells a variety of Italian Tuscan salumi produced at a farm just north of Florence near Barberino del Mugello. He had at least six types of salumi - which are salt-cured meats primarily made from pork.. The ones sold by this vendor included Tuscan-style prosciutto and finocchiona - fennel-flavored salami, which is uniquely Tuscan. He also sells Parmigiano Reggiano cheese which he cuts to order from a giant wheel of cheese which has been aged for 36 months. We sampled and purchased both prosciutto and cheese. He accepted only cash.

Another surprising vendor was a seller of Italian truffles, oils, dried porcini mushrooms, and other products from the Alba area of the Piedmont Region in northwestern Italy. Alba is famous for its white truffles. The vendor will obtain fresh white truffles from Alba at a cost of $300 per ounce plus $65 for shipping. The cost of truffles at this year's White Truffle Fair in Alba in November reached an all-time average high of about $3,200 per pound. At this vendor, we purchased a towel that was nicely decorated and displayed all the wines produced in the Piedmont, which is one of the best wine-making areas of Italy.

One vendor I was delighted to find was Peperonata Pasta, a Sarasota company that makes great empanadas and fresh pasta. They had about nine types of empanadas. They did not have my favorite lamb empanadas with them. We bought steak and onion, beef, and cheese and onion empanadas for dinner. They were terrific. Pasta and empanadas are a logical mix of products for the owners of Peperonata Pasta because they are Italian immigrants from Argentina, which has a very large Italian community.

Another vendor sold various types of fresh poultry, eggs, cheese, and butter. The poultry and eggs come from one farm on Fruitville Rd. and the cheeses and butter from another. They offered three types of cheddar cheese - plain, pepper, and cajun. We bought the plain.

From a fifth vendor, we bought a jar of gallberry plant honey. They also have wildflower honey.

One main player at the market is Worden Farm, which brings boxes of mixed vegetables to its subscribers and has some available to other buyers. This week, they also sold beautiful bouquets of large sunflowers. The farm specializes in organic foods.

Other sellers included a baker offering at least six types of fresh bread, and others selling salsas, soaps, and pet products. There was also a knife sharpening service.

The market is open every Wednesday afternoon through April 18 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. It is located off Lorraine Rd. just south of University Parkway. For more information about the market, see: