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DeKalb Farmers Market


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An informative, sometimes poignant story about an Atlanta institution and the people behind it, by Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer John Kessler. The 25-year-old DFM is the prototype for many of today's urban markets.

Jayshri Joshi doesn't notice the smell anymore -- that fecund overload of fish guts and wet mops, of mangoes with their memory of the tropics, of chickens roasting and samosas frying. Of cheese, of meat, of half-sour pickles and of people. People riding forklifts and people pushing buggies with drowsy children inside. People sitting in dark, lonely corners stocking boxes of pasta, and people raking their fingers through the cool promise of Georgia green peanuts, looking for the tiniest and sweetest to surface in the pile.

Full story, with photos by Rebecca Reid, here.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I can't believe that no one responded to this. This has to be the best grocery store in America, at least the best I've ever been to. When my sister lived in Atlanta I would make her take me every time I visited.

I didn't know about the cooky beliefs of the owner :wacko: .

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In case you don't believe Dean and me, here's a follow-up sampling of what you can find there:

100 Ways to Fill Your Cart

A sampling of the sampling:

7. Shirasu furikake: Japanese crunchies meant to be sprinkled on steamed rice; consists of tiny dried sardines, seaweed and sesame seeds.

16. Oil-packed cilantro: Much truer flavor than dried; pack for a camping or beach trip to make salsa.

31. Fresh lychees: Peel the bumpy red skin with your fingers and eat the honeyed white flesh.

43. Hot rotisserie ducks: Shred the rich meat over a spinach salad, add a handful of dried cranberries and a sherry vinaigrette.

74. Twenty choices of shrimp: Every size, from comma to monster.

89. Staropramen Czech beer: Like Pilsner Urquell, this lager beer is a traditionally made pilsner.

91. Quadrucci pasta: Floppy little squares with a pebbly surface and fresh taste; as close to fresh pasta as you can find in a box.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Every bit as good as Kessler describes it. I've been going since 1985 (back when it was in a small warehouse on the corner of Medlock and N. Decatur), and it just keeps getting better. Still room for improvement, as the bread is not fantastic and a wider selection of Asian things would be great. But there are other bakeries in town, and lots and lots of Asian markets, so I won't whine too much.

Great people watching, including the tourists.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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It is a remarkable place for the way it functions as both an international market and a gourmet market in one weirdly seamless fell swoop. I'm always surprised that it hasn't gotten more national attention, though I did see it made the most recent Saveur 100 list. Are there any other markets like it in the country? The only one that comes to mind is the Berkeley Bowl in the S.F. Bay Area; it's a fine place, but not as strange and sprawling as DeKalb. Others like Reading Terminal Market in Philly and Eastern Market in D.C. seem more like Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Curb Market, but with more bustle.

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I'm with davethomas, I'm printing this list off and seeing what new things I can horrify my friends with over the next few months.

I don't get out to the Market as much as I'd like these days, being stuck in Vinings. But used to live nicely situated between DFM and the Whole Foods on Ponce and it made grocery shopping so easy. I'm not too sold on DFM's cheese and cured meats, I've found Whole Food products much tastier, but you can't beat the produce and the meat at the Market.

Also, on Sweet Auburn, it's a great place for being right in the city, but most of the produce people there only seem to stock staples, I couldn't find basil or scallions last time I went over there.

Having a party this Saturday, so I know I'll be heading out to Scottdale first thing for supplies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

god i love dekalb farmers market.

unfortunately, one day i realized it was 50 miles roundtrip to drive there, and stopped going, except to prepare for thanksgiving (that's a ritual). ( i live in vinings too)

Edited by tryska (log)
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I think of the Farmers Market (and Dekalb is the farmers market) as a grocery mecca. We make trips to Atlanta from Savannah (about 4 hours) to periodically stock the pantry. I have occasionally pondered moving to Atlanta (which most Savannahians would never admit) because living near the Farmers Market would insure that we ate better. I always assumed other big cities had something similar.

For anyone who has never been, "farmers market" is a misnomer. There are no stalls, no bushels of corn. It's a huge ethnic grocery store with produce, fruits, meats, seafood, cheeses, coffee roasted on premises, spices, etc. It has with good prices, an amazing selection and is huge. For anyone who enjoys cooking, this place is not to be missed.

Two cautions: its pretty cold in there, and they don't take credit cards (but debit cards will work). If you bring a cooler, ask for ice in the fish department; they'll give you a bag. It's just inside I-285 on Ponce de Leon (forget your fancy Spanish; de Leon is two words, the second being Lee'-on). They also have a pretty good wine department, but remember this is Georgia, so never on Sunday.

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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Aah, the DFM. When I lived in Decatur and Va-Hi, I did all my grocery shopping there. I'm in Vinings, also, but I willingly make the trek to Scottdale to stock up for dinner parties. You can't beat the produce prices and the seafood department, and once you learn the lay of the land in the grocery department, shopping there is a breeze.

That cannot, however, be said for the Harry's in Marietta. I wish they'd turn that place into a full-on Whole Foods, already, because navigating it is a nightmare.

And yes, the owner of the DFM is a kook. A colleague of mine was his attorney several years ago - he kept getting into trouble when he made his employees join his religion.

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i was in Harry's last night - what's up with that big plyboard wall you can see from the window's. I agree they should just go ahead and convert if they are converting, altho i would be said to see the old Harry's go.

there is a really cute baker there as well. My heart races everytime i see him. *lol*

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  • 3 months later...

Absolutely the best place to shop for goodies in Atlanta.

Love the unusual and inexpensive imported wines.

Love the unusual produce.

Can't drink coffee at home unless it's ground from their Sumatra beans.

Just love DFM.

:raz:

Patti Davis

www.anatomyofadinnerparty.com

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Um, you mean like a tour? DFM may not be what you're thinking of when you think of a farmer's market. It's not different purveyors with different wares to offer, so there's no need for somebody to come along to point out that Mr. Smith has the best apples and that Mrs. Jones has the best pies. It's large and laid out very clearly and consistently, so really all you need to do is roam through it systematically.

Some tips:

1. Dress warmly. It's cool inside all year 'round.

2. No credit cards. If you want to use a check stop by the information desk first thing and have your account set up (they'll use your driver's license number, or maybe some other number if you use different ID, I suppose) so that you don't have to hassle with it when you're checking out. Checks are the easiest, as you don't even have to fill them out: you sign your name to a check, present ID, and the cash register prints the remainder of the info on the check.

3. Grocery carts are in the parking lot. Get one before you go in.

4. As you enter the market most of the dry goods (candies, dried fruits, teas, canned stuff, pasta, etc.) will be to your immediate right, extending all the wau tp the far end of the market. Wine and beer are at this end of the market. If you're new to Georgia you need to know that you CANNOT buy any alcohol by the bottle between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday. The entire middle of the market is mostly produce. As you work your way back towards the other side of the market you'll come to bread (okay in a pinch, but there's much better in Atlanta), coffee, flowers, fish, and finally deli/meats/dairy.

The staff doesn't always speak too much English, but generally know the stock pretty well. Many of the shoppers are very familiar with the market and will also chime in. You might even meet me...

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Well, there's the fridge and pantry capacity to worry about, and then there's just the fact that you'll have to consume the food at some point. Though at least we're in a bit of a lull produce-wise, citrus and cabbage-y things being the most prominent. If you go hungry you can try out the cafeteria as well.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I nominate ari's idea as one of the best ideas ever. it was a real treat exploring the market with other people who are truly interested in food. much different from going by yourself, or with someone who isn't a foodie.

the cafeteria wasn't bad either. highlights for me were the spaghetti squash, and the samosa. the wrapper was truly authentic.

ari - did you wind up finding room in your fridge for everything?

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I make a point of giving visitors to Atlanta (particularly those who are considering moving here) a trip to DFM. Even the relatively non-food oriented find it pretty cool.

Tryska, was it just you and Ari? I was there early Saturday afternoon and thought I saw a couple of people who might have been the right demographic. Of course there were also about a bajillion other people there---it was possibly the busiest I've ever seen the market, including Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving. Hmm, something about a trip to stock up for Superbowl being pretty much useless on a Sunday?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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There were actually three of us - a tall gay man (me), a not-so-tall gay man (my friend Jason), and an indian woman of about the same height as the not-so-tall gay man (tryska). We had a fantastic time (if I may be so bold as to speak for my shopping buddies). I've been eating kumquats and perusing meyer lemon recipes since we got back. For me, the most remarkable area was the fish section. There were fresh, whole fish that I'd never even heard of. If I'd had my wits about me I would've bought one and cooked it with some of those meyer lemon slices stuffed inside. As it is, I think I'm going to make a lemon buttermilk pie.

...and I thought the cafeteria highlights were salt cod fritters (never having tried salt cod before) and the roasted mushrooms - simple and perfect. Eggplant curry was kind of bland, as were chickpea-walnut burgers; even with baba ghanouj on top.

I want to be the person at the cafeteria who decides who gets to make what each day. "You - come up with a Moroccan fish dish. You, make a side dish from Ethiopia. You, how about something with beef from Afghanistan."

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oh the baccalao! i'd forgotten about the fritters. i knew there was something other than that chickpea thing that i had liked! yeah the salt cod fritters were really good.

you know if i'd had my wits about me i would have gotten some of that goat meat, and maybe made a curry or a biryani with it. (my roommate had lamb stew in the crockpot - but i don't eat lamb).

the fish section was pretty cool tho - especially watching the people trying to catch crabs. hee!

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The people I saw were an Indian (or similar) woman (under 30) with long straight hair and a guy of indeterminant height with curly blond-ish hair. I've got pretty good gay-dar, but wouldn't have been able to say. No extra guy in evidence, though of course he could have been left behind marveling at the fish.

There were some nice looking Meyer lemons, but I opted for key limes (half of one is just perfect for a glass of Lillet). We used kumquats as part of the decoration for Christmas, so I'm a bit off kumquats at the moment. I shop there so much that I tend to fall into a bit of a rut, but new items this trip included stevia (which tastes about as artificial as artificial sweeteners, so Splenda is still my favorite) and pomegranate juice.

I haven't eaten in the cafeteria in a while---let's hope they've got bacalao on offer when I do.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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The people I saw were an Indian (or similar) woman (under 30) with long straight hair and a guy of indeterminant height with curly blond-ish hair.

was the woman in grey? if so it was me. i was wearing a grey wool sweater, and cords.

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