A market with heart

Produce was on hand at the market, but not the main focus.In these days of greed and consumer manipulation, it’s not often something lives up to its hype. Billed as a community gathering celebrating food, art and conviviality, the first Independent Marketplace in Sand City was all that and more.

Thursday’s mostly indoor event provided a venue where like-minded souls could mingle and feed their souls. It was packed with happy people, and it quickly re-invented the concept of a farmers market.

The tagline for this event? Four simple words: Devour. Imbibe. Create. Explore.

A nest provided by the Big Sur Spirit Garden (photo by Jenna Hale).

I spent nearly three hours there, and there was nothing laborious or tedious about it. I saw good friends and quickly made new ones, I spoke to purveyors who seemed genuinely interested in sharing their stories and philosophies, I sipped wine and suds and ate great food at a modest price point.

There were few rules, but everyone remained civil, it was a bit crowded but people dealt with it. In short, it was a casual, free-form event that must have been meticulously planned but never showed it.

You could eat a double-double cheeseburger from Chef Dory Ford of Point PInos Grill in

Point Pinos Grill served double-double burgers for $5 (photo by Jenna Hale).

Pacific Grove for $5, or go lighter with his mini Belizean tostadas called salbutes, crispy, puffed-up masa rounds tinged with achiote and topped with stewed chicken and a bright pico de gallo (two for $5). Next door, our region’s most famous chef, Cal Stamenov, braved the wind putting together fried chicken boxed meals for $10. You could sip a beer poured by Jeff Moses, founder of the Monterey Beer Festival, for four bucks. Thomas Perez (Kristi-Lynn Wine Group) and other vintners handed out generous pours at a free wine-tasting bar. Food trucks such as Babaloo (with that lucscious Cuban cuisine made by hospitality maven Gladys Valenzuela) and San Jose visitor Arabian Bites, did their thing.

 

Food from the Bakery Station in Salinas (photo by Jenna Hale).

Serendipity Farms stacked up its amazing organic produce, and I found bunches of fresh pea tendrils for $2. The Bakery Station in Salinas stood toe to toe with Big Sur Bakery a few booths down, and I turned its amazing brioche into French toast the next morning for my daughter Jenna.

I could go on, and on, and on about this beautiful event, part neighborhood block party, part farmers market, part food festival. All heart.

On May 3, it will honor the Latino community with a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, with an entirely new round of hand-picked purveyors.

It runs from 4-9 p.m. Be there at 4. Lingering is encouraged, and almost impossible to avoid.

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