I was in Atlanta last week on a media mission for the State of South Carolina. While it was fantastic hanging with Brandon Velie of Ridge Spring, SC’s Juniper and Orchid Paulmeier of Hilton Head’s One Hot Mama’s, I didn’t have a lot of spare time. But if you’re familiar with Atlanta and are an even somewhat regular reader of the blog you can guess where I beelined it- the Buford Highway.
To the uninitiated, Buford Highway is a busy thoroughfare leading out of Atlanta and up towards Chamblee. For whatever reason, it has been for years the epicenter of primary and secondary migration to the area, and it is thick. A non homogenized mess of kebab stands, taco shops, carnicerias, papusarias, mercados, Asian and African markets, dumplings and noodles and oil drum grills wafting their wares of pollo al carbon. (You know the Valentina wings at Minero? Pollo al carbon was the inspiration.)
On the North end of Buford Highway just above 285 sits the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market. It seems counterintuitive, but the market is inside a strip mall in what appears to have been an old Burlington Coat Factory. Unlike other such large “ethnic” markets one may visit with questionable hygienic practices, the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market is immaculate and superclean. There’s no odor of dried shrimp and the air is filled with light downtempo chill out music.
Produce, dried goods, fish, shellfish, meats, baked goods, specialty products all extend in pristine row after row. There’s even a food court with a demo kitchen. As a chef, it’s pretty inspiring. Even if you don’t buy a mess of stuff (I didn’t) it’s worth it just for what it does to your creative process. In this case, the little bundles of sesame leaf they had bundled up had me thinking of rolling up little snacks of Lowcountry goodness in our own SC Benne leaves and serving them as an app like the Indians do with betel leaves.
Worth the price of admission right there. This is the stuff that fires my creative processes.