Striking Gold in a Desert Farmer’s Market

Wait a minute. A farmer’s market in the desert? I couldn’t believe it myself. The idea itself is an oxymoron. I was in Phoenix over the weekend, not exactly hunting down farmer’s markets, but to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest cousins. Amid…

Striking Gold in a Desert Farmer’s Market

Wait a minute. A farmer’s market in the desert?

I couldn’t believe it myself. The idea itself is an oxymoron.

I was in Phoenix over the weekend, not exactly hunting down farmer’s markets, but to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest cousins. Amid family reunions, rehearsal dinners, and the countless gluttonous feasts that come with a traditional Filipino wedding, my sister and I found time the morning of the wedding to explore one of Phoenix’s most unique farmer’s markets. When we learned that the the Gila River Farmer’s Market at Rawhide was a mere water taxi ride away from our hotel, we didn’t even hesitate.  We were going to have to explore and see for ourselves what they had to offer. Can you really grow things in the desert?Rawhide Farmers MarketApparently yes. We found hydroponic green tomatoes and lemons the size of mini Nerf footballs. Being the Southwest, there were, of course, peppers galore. But there were also lettuce, lemongrass, squash, carrots and beets, as well as curiosities such as chocolate and pineapple mint.Rawhide Farmers Market

Set in an 1880’s Western town, the farmer’s market at Rawhide provides a quaint setting for locals and tourists alike to have access to local Arizona produce, experience the Rawhide organic garden, and explore Native American culture through demonstrations and handicrafts. The market is not overwhelmingly large, but there is so much to explore, and you can’t help but be drawn in as soon as you see the sight of fresh tortillas being lovingly formed and fried by well worn hands. You can even take in a cooking demonstration!Gila River Farmer's Market

The market was filled with energy from the live music, and we decided to listen while eating a hearty brunch from the grill. My sister and I tried a vegetable frittata smeared with a tangy goat cheese that made for a perfect pre-wedding meal, along with some of the excellent fresh citrus that we purchased from one of the vendors.The market was also a fantastic place to find handmade jewelry and handicrafts from the area, and to scout local prepared foods such as artisanal breads, salsas, and pickles. But there was one in particular that stood out.

In that dusty, gravely, old western town, we struck gold. Liquid gold.

It was honey.

Honey GoldNot just any old honey. Forget about those kitschy bear-shaped squirt bottles with the familiar tasting honey. This was unlike any other honey we had ever tasted.

They came in varietals, depending on the bee’s primary source of pollen. I never thought about it before, but the flavor of the honey is affected by the blossoms from which they gather pollen and nectar. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You are what you eat, as they say! But who knew that the honey that results from a bee that lives among orange blossoms could be so vastly different in color and taste from one that lives among meadow foam?

We tasted about eight different varietals of the aptly named Honey & Gold. Each one was so delicious, so different, so unlike the honey I grew up eating. Even my daughter, who is not exactly one to dip her finger in the honey jar, was a veritable Pooh Bear, sampling each one with such enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but laugh!

And really, the warmth of the Arizona sun had warmed those honey jars to just the right, drippy, gooey, delectable consistency, it was like eating candy.

Actually, one of the best sellers (indeed, it was sold out), is the Meadow Foam varietal, which tastes like pure marshmallow.

That day, we sampled Creamy Wildflower, Eucalyptus, Avocado, Mountain Wildflower, Snowberry, Strawberry/Raspberry, and Palo Verde.

Honey & Gold-VarietalsSo, would you like to know which one I brought home? My pick for the day was the Avocado Honey and Gold.

The Avocado varietal had such a fabulous depth of flavor, it was delicate yet powerful, a dark color reminiscent of molasses, but with a flavor just so unique, I hope that one day you’ll be able to try it. I envision using this in everything from marinades to oatmeal to scones. But to be honest, I’ll probably just eat it plain.

According to the The Health Foodie, the parent company of Honey & Gold, they are working towards having their honey available at national natural food markets such as Whole Foods. I hope they do. Until then, I’ll have to fly back to Arizona or beg my cousins who live there to bring me back some bottles when I run out.

Comments

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  1. Divina

    I love spending them at the farmer’s market. I can stay there the whole day. Those bottles of honey are really worthy trying.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Aren’t farmer’s markets so much fun? It’s so very easy to wander and spend all day at one!

      Reply
  2. Amy

    Avocado honey? Yum! Sadly, all I’m familiar with is a plastic bear-shape squeeze bottle of honey (LOL). Looks like it was a great market from your vivid photos and probably a very memorable morning with your sister. A very nice write-up!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Amy, thanks for stopping by! Yes, it was amazing to discover a world of honey beyond the plastic bear, LOL. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post and hope you get a chance to try this honey yourself soon!

      Reply
  3. Spicy Green Mango

    You’ve done it again, Liren..striking gold with this amazing post and I had to ask WTH to myself a few times b/c when I was at the SF farmer’s market, I was in love with their honey. I picked up the orange blossom honey b/c I really love the scent and sweetness of it and I cannot believe you also fell in love with it in the desert of all places! And you are soo right b/c the source of the blossom really does wonders on the final product of the honey. So happy you ventured outside of wedding festivities and into town for this–beautiful and vibrant photos, but you already knew that. Don’t you just thank the heavens for natural lighting? It really can’t be beat!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Chandara, I know, it took me a trip outside of the Bay Area to really appreciate honey. Funny how that works. I really am glad that my sis and I squeezed it in – and wow, photography wise, I have to say, this was a new lesson for me in photographing outdoors in the blazing desert sun. Different challenges!

      Reply
  4. Crepes of Wrath

    I lived in Mesa, AZ for 8 years and I never once went to a farmer’s market because they were all so far away. The products there look absolutely fabulous and I’m super jealous!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Oh wow, you lived in Mesa? You know, it’s amazing…all these years, I would visit my relatives in the Phoenix area, and this is the first time I stumbled upon a farmer’s market. It was really pretty cool. Low key but brilliant!

      Reply
  5. denise @ quickies on the dinner table

    Oh wow!! It’s AMAZING what can grow in a dessert region. Oops! There I go chanelling Jenn ;)

    I wish it had been me walking around that Farmers’ Market! So much to see, taste, touch, sniff LOL I am a very hands (and mouth and nose!) on kind of person! My mum thinks I need psychiatric help because I have to sniff EVERYTHING! Maybe she’s right…

    Avocado honey sounds wonderful. I’d love to try it over really thick, really cold yogurt. Fantastic pictures and an incredible post!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Denise! I can totally picture you at a market — sniffing all the produce! I’m very touchy when I shop — always feeling fabrics, so I can understand the urge to handle the fruits and veggies, lol. Oh, so I tried the honey over my favorite cold plain yogurt. Mmm, delicious!

      Reply
  6. Cristina (TeenieCakes)

    Avocado honey? Yum! Sadly, all I’m familiar with is a plastic bear-shape squeeze bottle of honey (LOL). Looks like it was a great market from your vivid photos and probably a very memorable morning with your sister. A very nice write-up!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Cristina! This was very enlightening for both my sister and I – to learn that there could be such a variety of honey was so much fun! I’ve been eating more honey these days, that’s for sure!

      Reply
  7. Juliana

    Oh! Love the pictures…really enjoy looking at them…thanks! Unfortunately I do not have a chance to often go to farmer’s market.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Juliana, I’m so glad you really enjoyed the photos! I love a good farmer’s market, big or small. Each one is unique!

      Reply
  8. Stella

    Hey Liren, I’m glad you had a good time. It is odd how some foods grow in the strangest climates. I would imagine there are a lot of hydroponics though, since so many foods don’t grow in deserts and such.
    Oh, and real, fresh honey from small apiaries is so nice! I live in Florida, and we have a lot of Apiaries around here. The honey is wonderful. I’m glad you and your daughter got to experience this enchanting wonderment!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Stella, you’re so lucky to have access to many apiaries and fresh honey where you live! This art of beekeeping is slowly making a comeback, thank goodness! And yes, it was definitely fascinating to see just how much they are able to grow in such an arid environment. Definitely eye opening!

      Reply
  9. Lazaro

    What an interesting post. Really cool framers market in the dessert. Visiting farmers markets, and small farms are not only great days in the sun, but also a wonderful opportunity to educate future generations on where their food comes from. Wonderful photography by the way. Great job all around. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Lazaro, glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, farmers markets are so great for kids – my daughter is always more adventurous with her foods (and trying new ones) at the farmer’s market.

      Reply
  10. norma

    Never head of avocaho honey…tell you cousins I want some too. I will be asking Whole Foods to bring it in. Amazing! LOL

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Liren

      They should start a mail order business – if Whole Foods doesn’t step it up, that is! Hope you’re able to access some soon, you would totally love it.

      Reply
  11. Jenn

    sorry, just realized that i OVERused the word “amazing” in previous comment. Usually i’m better with the words; but tonight my brain is fried rice. :p

    Reply
    • Liren

      LOL, no worries, it’s just because you’re amazing! I do the same! For me, it’s exclamation points! (See?)

      Reply
  12. Jenn

    I heart honey!!!! When I was reading the list I was thinking… “ooooooh, Avocado would be amazing” and it was your pick too!!!
    Isn’t honey amazing though??? Right now in my pantry I have lemon and blueberry.
    Can’t believe you went to an amazing farmer’s market. Can’t wait for the weather to get nicer so ours will be open for the season. Hope the wedding was fun! Great pics ;)

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Jenn! The wedding was absolutely amazing – it was such a fun weekend to see relatives and especially my own brother and sister. She and I had such a fun morning at the farmer’s market and wished we could have brought home all the honey. And great minds think alike – the Avocado is such an alluring honey!

      Reply
  13. TinyGatsbyKid

    I wish it came in 3oz bottles so I could fill a quart bag and put it in my carry on. oh TSA. It would be nice if it does become available on a national level. Otherwise i will have to make another trip there.

    Reply
  14. Casey Angelova

    I absolutely love honey! For me there is nothing better than locally produced honey. Our neighbor in Bulgaria keeps bees and I swear it is a cure all. The slightest cold I feel coming on, a cup of tea and I feel better!

    Reply
    • Liren

      Honey really is amazing – I think the first ancient bee keepers were definitely on to something! Amazing to think humans have been harvesting honey for thousands of years.

      Reply
  15. Tracey@Tangled Noodle

    Such vivid colors bursting from these photographs – just beautiful! What a wonderful visit to the farmers’ market, on top of a family celebration. All of the honeys you described sound delicious, but even before you mentioned which one you chose, the avocado one caught my eye! Mmmmm . . .

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi, Tracey! Thanks – it really was a wonderful weekend full of food and family. And yes, the avocado honey is eye catching! Had some with my breakfast this morning, oh, it’s divine!

      Reply
  16. MaryMoh

    Oh…I really like farmer’s market. Thee are always so many interesting stuff to see and buy. I can spend the whole day there :P

    Reply
    • Liren

      I agree – it is easy to spend a full day in a good farmer’s market! It’s especially fun when traveling to see what is available locally.

      Reply
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