When you go on vacation do you eat out every meal? Once a day? With three weeks to explore the Bluffton, S.C. area, I figured I’d mix it up some. I mostly prepared my own breakfast and lunch (leftover pizza warmed by the sun on Hilton Head’s Coligny Beach, anyone?), and ate dinner out. I maintained my Weight Watchers lifestyle, albeit bending it some days so I could sample some of the local Lowcountry favorite foods.
I was delighted to find out Bluffton has a weekly Farmers Market, every Thursday. I attended it twice and hauled back some fresh goodies both times. Located in the historic section of Bluffton, the Farmers Market is easy to find; follow your eyes and ears — look for the colorful tents and listen for the live music (Elvis the first time I attended and Country the second; both sung by the same older man). And parking isn’t a problem: People just drive their cars off the side of the road and sometimes onto someone’s lawn. Try parking like that where I live in Montclair, N.J. and you’d return to (1) find a parking ticket on your windshield or (2) find that your car was missing since it had been towed away.
The Market is an eclectic mix of vendors, many sell fresh vegetables and plants; three, by my count, sell organically grown veggies. The prices are reasonable and the fruits (strawberries and peaches were prevalent for my visits) and vegetables (onions, carrots, cucumbers,the first tomatoes) are beautifully presented and reasonably priced. And shrimp season had just begun so succulent fresh-caught shrimp was available too. I enjoyed walking from tent to tent, local honey sold in one tent, Master Gardener advice doled out at a shaded table, homemade pastas lovingingly displayed at another, fresh-made sausages and other meats available at another. In addition, local cooks sold ready-to-eat food: traditional Gullah food, Chinese dumplings (vegetarian or pork), Indian curries, seafood and Southern BBQ. The smells wafting from the food tents made my mouth water.
I brought home a number of yummy tasting fresh vegetables: a large bunch of miniature carrots, yellow squash, green beans, new potatoes, a huge ripe tomato, fresh basil and kirby cucumbers. And that was on my first trip! I roasted the vegetables and enjoyed a number of delicious meat-free meals while sitting on my screened porch looking out on Hampton Lake.
P.S. Have you tried Tulsi tea? At the Farmers Market I had a chance to sample tulsi tea that was made by the folks at Bear Island Farm, an organic grower. It tasted…different…so I bought a small bag and took it home to brew: immerse the leaves in hot, not boiling, water; let step for a couple of hours; strain; drink over ice. It’s tasty in an astringent sort of way. And it’s suposed to relieve stress, among other ailments. You can read more here.