The average Saturday is busy for the West Palm Beach Greenmarket. But after a few days of foul weather, the stir-craziness was at its peak. Add in the finally fantastic winter weather, and this past Saturday meant that the waterfront was packed to the water’s edge with folks strolling, snacking, sipping and stashing the produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, pickles, breads, honey and anything that meant good eating for later.
Now in its 22nd year, the market has over 70 vendors on Centennial Plaza, offering everything from fresh pasta, organic pet treats and anything imaginable pickled and brined to imported cheeses, Indian foods and Italian biscotti. You can come down early for breakfast crepes or bagels, hang out for a Cuban sandwich or steamed shrimp at lunchtime and take home every single item you need for dinner, from salad fixings to grass-fed beef.
Among the favored vendors who return year after year, there are some new products to try, and established locals making a new mark at the market:
Bedner’s Farm is a landmark in Boynton Beach, but it’s a long way for most coastal residents to drive for fresh produce, dairy products and meats. Bedner’s has brought the best of the farm to the greenmarket, with a big display of fresh, local produce.
Nisha’s Flavors of India is based in Fort Lauderdale, and offers lovers of the subcontinent’s cuisine homemade samosas, naan bread, paratha (a wheat-based flatbread) and a large variety of chutneys, packed in plastic and glass containers.
André Gourmet Sauce Company isn’t just a name. Andre Lewis is sauce maker and salesman, and he does both very well. His barbecue sauces come in three heat levels, Smolder, Flame and Blaze, and they aren’t just about the heat and sweet. They taste like the all-natural ingredients in the bottles, and they are made locally.
Loïc Autret Bakery from Delray Beach continues a proud tradition of artisan French baking, and brings a small but stunning selection of breads and pastries to the market. The bakery calls itself a “destination bakery,” and with handmade products that look like fine art, it’s no surprise their tent draws a crowd.
Le Coin à Crépe, operated by Palm Beach Atlantic University business students, makes ghost-thin crepes and fills them with your choice of sweet or savory: the classic Nutella, bananas and strawberries or ham and eggs are big favorites in the morning.
And in the southeast corner of the market, the no-name tent getting a lot of attention is Wonders of the World Exotic Fruits. You’ll find tamarind, lychee, mangoes, mandarins, dragonfruit, rambutan, passionfruit, papayas and many others you will probably point at and ask the vendor, “What is that?” And they will not only tell you, they’ll explain what it tastes like, how to use it and if you want, you can pick a variety of fruits and have them prepared as a fresh fruit salad to go.
And when you’re done with food, walk a block north to the flea market, where you’ll find a riot of handmade, antique and vintage clothing and jewelry, ironware, glassware, fabric, linens, books and art.
It’s always nice to have the perennial favorites back, but it’s a distinct pleasure to diversify and recognize the new food kids on the plaza.
West Palm Beach Greenmarket, on the Flagler Drive waterfront at the east end of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, FL. Open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April. Parking is available on the streets and in city garages; note that fees at city, private parking lots and meters are in effect on Saturdays.