A taste of summer

Photo By David Robert

Although this space is generally devoted to local restaurants, I would be remiss to let the summer pass without making mention of the best family eating event of the week. The Sparks Hometowne Farmers’ Market has a little bit of something for everyone, from the budding gourmets to the picky-eater kids.

This week, I’ll run down some of my favorite eats and treats. The obvious disclaimer here is that I don’t have enough room to mention every vendor. The overall experience is what makes the Farmers’ Market great, and each booth contributes its own flavor. It is possible to go every week and have something different.

Produce: There is something wonderful about seasons that we all miss out on in these days of Mega-Corporate-Super-Huge-Market fruits and vegetables. I wish it were illegal to sell tomatoes in January, when they taste like cardboard. Tomatoes are gloriously in season now, as are corn, summer squash, peaches and other stone fruit. One of life’s greatest pleasures is eating food at its peak of natural ripeness. Most of the vendors will gladly provide a taste of their wares, knowing that you won’t be able to resist buying those super-juicy nectarines once you try them. Maybe you will even become inspired to cook at home, with all the fresh ingredients at your disposal.

Cooking demonstrations: Speaking of cooking at home, check out the demos, given at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Local chef Joe Eidam hosts some of the area’s best talent and makes corny jokes, while some truly wonderful dishes are produced live onstage for everyone to taste.

Cheese: Special mention goes to the Oasis Farmstead Dairy in Fallon for its wonderful, tangy, creamy goat cheese. Spread the dry chevre (French for goat cheese) on crackers, put it on homemade pizza or slather it on thick slices of toasted sourdough bread with roasted garlic. Mmmmm.

Savories: Angelo’s Famous Tacos still serves up a mean top sirloin taco ($2.50 each), with all the sloppy fixings that make them hard to eat but easy to become addicted to. B.J.'s BBQ works magic with pork, making a killer wrap. For the upscale set, Viaggio holds wine tastings and has gourmet snacks. Paisan’s Deli puts out a tri-tip and pesto sandwich ($6) that is to die for, as well as roasted corn on the cob ($2). If you want some Thai food, Bangkok Cuisine has lava-hot shrimp rangoons (three for $2) and a pile of pud Thai ($5.50). And you can’t beat a corn dog on a summer day ($2.50 at Wise Choice concessions).

Sweets: If you are on that dreaded low-carb diet, skip this section. As for the rest of you, get ready to scarf down big-time. MeMe’s makes brittles and other handmade candies ($2-$14). Bernard and his amazing syrup-filled waffle cookies are here again this year. There are various kabobs of chocolate-dipped fruit, root beer floats, fudge and huge sticky pecan buns (Dave’s Bread & Desserts, $2.25). I like to buy a big Rice Krispies treat at Tahoe House Bakerei and put it in my lunch the next day. Hooray!

Crowds: The one drawback is that everyone packs into the same small area, and the crowding can put a bit of a damper on the fun. Perhaps next year, the city of Sparks would consider stretching to the next block to make more room? Go early to avoid the peak time that starts around 7 p.m., and go after that to party.

One last point: Although there is alcohol being sold, please drink responsibly. You wouldn’t want to go home with a trunk full of rhubarb just because of a loss of good judgment.