For two Saturdays now, we have hopped on our bikes and ridden the arduous (I kid) two mile trek to downtown Roanoke. Every Saturday, the "City Market" is bustling with local vendors offering a multitude of fresh fruits, veggies, and other fun stuff. They even have live music! Riding our bikes in this area is a breeze because we are heavily respected by drivers and we do not have to deal with parking.
The only downside is that we cannot bring home fresh watermelon. Oh well.
So this morning, we made the rounds and picked out some fresh peaches, tomatoes, and peppers. It is so neat to go around and see all the beautiful shapes, sizes and colors of fruits and veggies that were not mass-produced. They are seriously homegrown. I wish grocery stores offered produce like this but, alas, America tends to emphasize quantity not quality.
We also stopped by our new favorite bread store appropriately named "On the Rise." The last time we stopped by we picked up a giant French batard which we used to make mozzarella-tomato-basil open sandwiches.
Today we got a big roll of sourdough and I made gourmet grilled cheese with slightly roasted green peppers, onion, and fresh tomatoes. This was not the healthiest recipe I've ever created, however, the sandwiches were delicious and contained a nice sample of our farmers market goodies.
To re-create this familiar sandwich, slice up some green pepper and onions. Soften them in a skillet with a tablespoon of butter (I use unsalted). Slice 2 pieces of sourdough bread and layer sharp cheddar cheese on one slice. Remove the peppers and onions from the skillet and arrange on top of the cheese, along with 2 tomato slices (seeds removed). Transfer the entire thing on the greasy skillet and let it simmer. Meanwhile, lightly butter the other slice of bread and sprinkle with garlic powder. (I stole this flavoring trick from my brother-in-law Adam.) Close the sandwich on the skillet and continue to flip until you reach a desired crispiness. I like mine to be ever so slightly burnt. You will bite into a crunchy bready sandwich filled with gooey cheese and fresh veggies that will put Texas Toast to shame.
So Mr. PT and I have now experienced two successful trips to the Roanoke City Market. And in case you were thinking I was acting un-American before by criticizing the produce in grocery stores, I will now redeem myself by admitting that Mr. PT and I enjoyed an American staple for lunch. Apparently, this particular stand was a Roanoke relic, so how could we resist?
I know I am probably repeating myself, but eating healthy and staying well is not about denying yourself. It is about making good food choices 80% of the time and letting yourself LIVE the other 20%. Mr. PT and I shared this tray of deliciousness and left feeling happy and content that we had officially experienced The Roanoke Weiner Stand.
In summary, I encourage you to get out and explore what your city has to offer in terms of local, homegrown food. You will be helping the farmers that need our support and become more in touch with your food and where it comes from. You might even learn something new about your area and make some new friends. Either way, it's a good time.
Combine with an easy bike ride to your destination (to avoid overly sweating) and a more challenging ride home, filled with hills and sprints, all while hauling your valuables in a satchel on your back.