I recently drove to Commons Beach for the Tahoe City Farmers’ Market in search of the more unique items offered locally. I was among many people mulling from white tent to white tent under sunny, blue skies with the lapping shores of Lake Tahoe as a backdrop. We had baskets in hand and healthy green leaves of chard and red lettuces sticking out. A group of shoppers sifted through boxes of fresh peaches, nectarines and cherries.
READ MORE: Tahoe’s farmers’ markets
Daphne Hougard, the organizer of the market, sat amidst a display of colorful woven baskets. I explained my mission and she directed me to find the farmer with alien tomatoes. I didn’t get far because I was pulled to the Il Gusto booth manned by owner Hye Su Lee, whose card read “Food Designer.” Jars of jams and spreads displayed offered an unusual product selection: vanilla latte spread, Earl Grey spread and a green tea latte spread prepared with matcha tea. They grabbed my attention. She spread the vanilla latte and her strawberry balsamic jam on a cracker for a taste: the combination of flavors was delicious. She also prepares spice rubs for meats and fish — the espresso rub looked interesting — along with fresh fruit syrups and teas.
We had baskets in hand and healthy green leaves of chard and red lettuces sticking out.
Next stop was to connect with Mitch Pavel and Kayla Morisoli the owners of Crêpe Hearts for a specialty crepe. Their food truck menu offers savory and sweet crepes. The Loco Coco Bacon crepe caught my eye: coco bacon, Nutella and coconut whip. I was intrigued, but savory was what I craved. I asked Kayla to choose for me. She suggested the Mexicali crepe made with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and house-made cashew cheese.
While she made the crepe, Mitch made me a Nitro Coffee, a Japanese version of iced coffee. The espresso is poured in an iced keg with nitrous gas. It is served in a stainless steel cup, with a deposit required and a Guinness-like head of froth. This cup of java needed no cream. With coffee in hand, my Mexicali crepe was passed to me filled with a lovely array of colors. It tasted fabulous, full of cilantro and delicately spiced potatoes and vegetables and laden with cashew cheese. It was the perfect choice for breakfast.
Kayla also prepared a mini-Coco Loco Bacon crepe for me to try. It was amazing, filled with creamy coconut whip and a smoked vegan bacon. The crepes are prepared with organic, local and sustainable products: vegetarian and gluten and soy free.
I passed Anna Harvey, who was spinning wool on an old-fashioned spinning wheel Sleeping Beauty style. Her booth, Anna’s Got Wool, offers wool products, including yarn and sheepskin throws.
My next stop was the Dinner Bell Farm. They sell pork and flowers: bouquets of deep purple lavender and jars of lard (yes, pork lard), which is an unusual combination of products. They were sold out of flowers by 9:30 a.m. The farm raises Mangalitsa and Mulefoot pigs for their cuts of meat and sausages.
Honey from Harmony Honey Co. feature Tahoe Blue Honey, uniquely prepared at 6,000 feet. Patty Spiller only produces a small amount for the first weeks of the market season but has a wide selection of other honeys. Flavored honey sticks included watermelon, peppermint, cinnamon and blueberry.
If chocolate’s your thing, Raffiné artisan chocolates has a wide variety of dark and milk chocolates, including the Palet D’or made with chocolate and crème; the camouflage bar, a blend of dark and milk chocolate and dark chocolate Himalayan sea salt. Owner Mona Keady also makes Mendiant bars. The history of mendiant chocolate evolved in France. It is prepared with scraps of chocolate and nuts for people who couldn’t afford to buy the French purveyors decadent chocolate. Raffiné’s spin on the mediant bar has four sections with pistachio, raisins, candied orange and almonds. Do try the dark chocolate Belgian-dipped Oreo. It’s to die for.
Little Fish Company has some wonderful fish products, including salmon dips and poke. While the Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill sells wines and infused olive oils.
Many booths offer beautiful fresh produce.
There are booths selling homemade scarves and hats, bags and baskets.
If you’ve sampled and eaten your way through the market, check out Tahoe Mountain Soap Company and their display of crazy sponges.
From South Lake Tahoe to Incline Village and Truckee to the Sierra Valley, there is an abundance of markets to check out.
For a list of local farmers’ markets, click on Locavore under the Local Flavor tab, or check out the Events calendar in each issue.