Splashy. That was the first word to come to mind entering the San Antonio Farmers’ Market at the Pearl Brewery. Originally built in 1883 on the East bank of the San Antonio River, the site has a colorful history:
July 4th, 1887 – “City Pearl” beer, named after its refreshing bubbles.
1899 – Otto Koehler becomes Brewery president.
1914 – Otto Koehler is murdered by former mistress Hedda Bergemeister.
January 16, 1920 – Prohibition begins. Pearl manufactures near-beer, soda water, dairy products and ice.
September 15, 1933, at 12:01 a.m. – Prohibition ends. Everybody gets drunk.
June 2001 – Facility ceases production of Pearl, Lone Star, Pabst. Hipsters everywhere shudder.
Fast forward to the new foodie complex with restaurants and other food related businesses. Glass, steel, old bricks and farmers setup in a side parking lot. I don’t get it. Is that the best place they could have put the farmers? The facility has a large, open-air structure, crushed gravel winding pathways with hundred year old buildings. I can understand the convenience of vendors setting up on asphalt, but it doesn’t do much for me the customer. I know what you are saying, “Hey Christian, you’re an idiot.” (And, you are probably right.) Austin has it’s share of parking lot farmers’ markets. But, do you also remember this past Spring, walking into Republic park for the fist time to get your veg on. Felt more appropriate, didn’t it? I think so.
That being said, Pearl market has a deep vendor list (CKC Farm cheese, Kitchen Pride mushrooms, Oak Hill Farms, Shape Ranch bison, et all), and is well attended by the public. Bottom line: any farmers’ market is a good farmers’ market.
Culinary Institute of America has just opened a campus at Pearl. The most revered cooking school in the country putting down stakes in San Antonio? How did this happen? Not that I’m bitching about it. (Everyone is probably asking the same question about Austin’s Formula One track.) It’s the CIA’s third location behind Hyde Park, NY and Napa, CA. Pretty good company to be in. A 30 week Certificate Program is offered to aspiring Chefs to learn the basics. Credits can be transferred to the CIA in Hyde Park, NY, where students may earn bachelors and associate degrees in culinary arts. They also offer “foodie” classes for the renegade home cook and win the prize for the coolest frying pan chandelier I have yet to encounter.
Pearl Farmers’ Market : Saturdays, 9:00am – 1:00pm (Rain or Shine)