Farmers Market finds: The best eats at the popular weekly event
With only three more Marco Island Farmers Markets to go until the event is closed for the season, we decided to look at some of the best foods we found there.
But first, a reminder, the market has relocated to Mackle Park, 1361 Andalusia Terrace, Marco Island, while a construction project is ongoing at Veterans Community Park. It’s held from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., every Wednesday through April 20.
How would you like something that’s healthy, good for the body but tastes like a dessert?
Yes!? Then make the Sweet Blendz stand your next stop.
We sampled the “Superhero Bowl.” You’ll find a blend of acai, strawberry, and blueberry in the bottom – it tastes like a cross between ice cream and sorbet; topped with granola, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, mango, raspberry chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, cacao bibs and bee pollen.
Sweet Blendz also offers the “Amazon,” a blend of acai, strawberry, and blueberry topped with granola, strawberry, banana, blueberry, orange, and kiwi.
Also, the “Dragon Bowl,” a blend of acai, strawberry and blueberry topped with granola, strawberry, banana, blueberry, mango, chia seeds and hemp hearts.
What is acai, anyway? Found on acai palm trees in South American rain forests, the berries are like grapes. The seed takes up about 80 percent of the berry, but the flesh and skin pack a bunch of vitamins and other nutrients. Giving them their super food status.
One cup of blueberries, another main ingredient in these bowls, contains 14 percent of your daily fiber needs; and is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, folates, and vitamin E.
Chia is the edible seed of salvia Hispanica, a flowering plant native to Central America. Chia seeds are a rich source (20 percent of the daily value) of the B vitamins, thiamin, and niacin.
It’s not every day that we can treat ourselves and help our bodies too.
At Pilar’s Empanadas Argentinas & More you can pick from Argentinean-style beef, chicken with touch of barbecue sauce, spinach and mozzarella, onions and provolone cheese, blue cheese and mozzarella or sweet corn and provolone. What great combinations!
There are also sweet selections, including sweet potato and cream cheese or quince jam and cream cheese.
There’s are also vegan options ranging from $4 to $5, including: Argentinean-style Beyond beef, kale with mushrooms and corn, lentil with potatoes and bell peppers, mushrooms and sesame seeds, spinach and vegan cheese, caramelized onions and vegan cheese and sweet corn with vegan cheese.
We brought home the Argentinean-style beef and chicken with touch of barbecue. As instructed, we reheated them for six minutes in the oven.
I’ve had my fair share of empanadas, and my two favorites are Colombian ones, featuring a corn meal pocket and Argentinean ones, made with flour pockets, and stuffed with all kinds of goodies. Pilar’s are contenders, especially when you consider they are premade and are reheated later.
The beef had olives and raisins in the mix which made for a nice sweet and savory taste. The barbecue sauces are nearly undetectable and serves to just add a little flavor and moisture to the chicken – a plus, especially when making them for later.
A gourmet Greek bounty filled with European, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences.
Greek Grille has a wide assortment of take-home entrees and desserts so relax and leave all the cooking to them. Available items include gyro wraps, baba ghanoush, tabuli salad, fatouch salad, Greek salad, hummus, chicken kebabs and dolmades.
You can also pick from some tempting desserts, including baklava.
First, I sampled a gyro, with lamb, fresh onions, lettuce and tomato and a yummy tazatziki sauce. My only regret is I didn’t have a second one.
Next up was the spanakopita, a phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and feta cheese. This was my favorite item from this visit.
Last, but certainly not least, was the baklava, a phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
And if you are at the market early enough, you might want to grab one of the Grille’s egg croissant breakfast sandwiches. It’s on my “to-do” list for next time.
Greek Grille accepts cash or credit. And I credit them with making me one heck of a Greek feast.
SWFL International Gourmet Foods
SWFL International Gourmet Foods has a a huge selection of breads, desserts and dessert breads.
We took home some cinnamon raisin bread ($8 per loaf), chocolate chip walnut cookies ($1 each) and some cronuts ($3.75 each).
The cinnamon raisin bread was a moist, bountiful delight. We sliced it up and topped it was mascarpone cheese. Yummy!
The cronuts were the star of the show. I’m not sure how they compare with the famous New York ones, but with the rich chocolate on top and the cream inside, these fresh goodies were an instant favorite for me.
The stand also featured French bread, ciabatta, sourdough, Italian and twisted batard, kalamata olive bread, walnut raisin bread, sticky buns and assorted Danishes, to name a few.
If you’re looking for a specialty bread or morning pastry, make sure to stop by the SWFL International Gourmet Foods stand.
This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food.
If you go
Marco Island Farmers' Market
- 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., Wednesdays
- Mackle Park, 1361 Andalusia Terrace, Marco Island
- Information: cityofmarcoisland.com