Anyone who has visited the Pepper Place Market on a Saturday morning has wished they could bottle up the exciting buzz of vendors sharing fresh, local produce, the scent of the foods being prepared by a chef, and the general sense of goodwill that pervades the whole area (maybe it’s all those friendly dogs wagging their tails).
The closest thing to having the Market on a shelf in your pantry is the General Store at Pepper Place, which made its debut last Saturday. It’s so new they are still setting up some of the displays in the back area, but suffice it to say that the best of Birmingham and surrounding Alabama products have been curated here for you at the General Store. In fact, most of the products represented are by artisans, chefs and vendors who maintain booth space at the Market.
Where do you go when you take a notion to try a new recipe and need the best of ingredients? You could hunt for stone ground corn meal at the grocery store, but what if you could find fresh organic, stone-ground corn meal grown just down the road in Wilsonville? Maybe you’d like to wow with a meal of the southern classic, shrimp and grits. The General Store at Pepper Place has locallly grown blue corn grits. How triumphant would you feel serving those?
There are several culinary treasures here that are far from the standard, mass-produced variety. A jar of tomato base from Blackjack Gardens. Fig jam from Petals from the Past. Local distributor Tsitalia offers large cans of marinated artichoke hearts, red peppers, capers or olive oil on these shelves. A particular value is the 32 oz. bottle of vanilla extract for $12.95 (and I thought I was getting a bargain on a much smaller bottle at a specialty store for that price).
The best of the local and southern cookbooks are here, as are books on green living and almost forgotten arts like canning and homesteading. Give your nose a tour of the luscious soaps handmade with sweet-smelling herbs. If you’re being more deliberate about how far your food travels, the General Store at Pepper Place brings you products within a cozy radius of home and helps local farmers market their products.
Of course a BirminghamMom’s first choice would be to visit to the Market on Saturdays (market days end Oct. 10 this year). Since birthday parties, ballgames, and other family commitments may tie up your Saturday, you can still enjoy the best of the market at the General Store at 212 29th Street South near iCantina, a Upromise participant, and o kafes coffee house. They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 until 4.
Dr Pepper fans note: Hours are in keeping with the original Dr. Pepper logo suggesting a Dr. Pepper break at 10, 2 and 4. Most of us are probably just thinking of the a.m. and p.m. infant feeding schedules we’ve survived.