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May 15, 2010 01:46 PM

Birmingham -- Pepper Place

It's officially Pepper Place season now, although a smaller version of the Saturday market at the old Dr. Pepper plant in Birmingham has been going on for several weekends.
Pepper Place, to me, always has been one of the greatest things about Birmingham, a community focal point that also has spawned many other markets around town bridging the gulf that had existed between farm and table.
But this year's Pepper Place has hit full maturity.
Because finally you can buy meat down there. Grass-fed beef. Grass-fed pork, Alabama made sausage (Monroe Sausage made in Beatrice Al.) Here's hoping that expands to lamb and chicken, as well.
Boutwell's Beef was down there this morning. So was Sequatchie Farms, which has been selling frozen packages of its Tennessee-raised beef and pork through Jones Valley Urban Farm. Every other week, Owl's Hollow brings some of the Alabama raised pork it has been providing its customers in the off-season. I think McEwan's also offered some meat today.
Farm fresh eggs have been around at the market for a few years, but at least four vendors today were selling them (including the fine folks at Rora Valley Farm, which also offers twice-a-year chances to buy free-range chickens they raise on their farm near Sylacauga).
The chefs who do the cooking demonstrations also are getting more diverse. I see this year, the folks of Taj India will be there Aug. 7, while Nabeel's will be there in September. Guillermo Castro, who has done demos at the market for several years, now has company in preparing ethnic fare.
Check it out (Saturdays 7-noon on 2nd Ave. S at between 29th and 28th streets). To borrow a jingo: Pepper Place has kicked it up a notch.

Taj India
2226 Highland Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205

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  1. Love Pepper Place, glad to hear the meat producers are in on the game now. I really need to get that deep freezer.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jannae

      I bought a pork/beef package from Sequatchie Farms recently and I have to say that it was well worth the money. The pork sausage is very tasty and the ground beef very lean. I think ot averaged about $6.00 a pound.

      1. re: smithareeny

        I can give the same testimonial, only for Sequatchie's pork package. In fact we're going to have some of their pork chops tonight.

    2. I am from Alabama and use to live in Mountain Brook Al. Use to vist Pepper Place
      every two weeks, now I live in Toronto Canada and miss it sooo much.
      Thank's for the reminder.
      HAPPY to know that it is still going STRONG !!!!!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: icmac01

        Dude, have you been to the St. Lawrence market in Toronto yet? That place is awesome:

        Check out the peameal Canadian bacon. MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm.

      2. Big daddy - thanks so much for the tip! I have been looking for grass-fed beef for a while (WF carries it, but i live Southside and bike everywhere, so it is a trek). I am there. Actually, I often volunteer there, so I am there anyway...


        Southside Restaurant
        843 Highway 43, Jackson, AL 36545

        1. I know that Jones Valley sells their locally grown vegetables there and at their After Work Farm Stand. Has anyone been to the Farm Stand? Any great finds?

          Also, anyone going to their slow foods gig this weekend? Sounds like a reasonable donation ($20) but I don't know much about the quantity of food that will be provided. Anyone been before? I'm ok with lots of apps.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Dax

            I have been to the Farm Stand in previous years. It is a good way to supplement your farmer's market buys during the week, though their selection isn't as large as at Pepper Place.

            I started a thread about the Slow Food Fair yesterday, but it was apparently removed. I went last year when the tickets were $50, and it was well worth it. I don't know if the reduced ticket prices will affect the quantity of food, but I imagine the prices were lowered to increase turnout and most of the food/drinks is donated. Last year, I left full of food and drinks. I remember one highlight being Jim and Nicks cooking a whole hog at the farm that was delicious. Plus the booths were pretty spread out, so it didn't feel like I was waiting in line the whole time. I would definitely recommend that you check it out!

            1. re: Dax

              I really want to go, and think I should be able to make it. I'll have to check the family schedule.

              1. re: Big Daddy

                word of warning for Sequatchie fans: Their rep said they only plan to come every 3-4 weeks at the beginning of summer. Here's a link to their Web site, where they can keep you up to date on Birmingham visits:

                1. re: Big Daddy

                  Looks like they won't be back until June 19. For anyone who went last weekend: are they only selling meat in the packages of 11+ pounds, or can I buy less?

                  1. re: bluemoon4515

                    If you go early, they have individual packets of both beef and pork. I bought a package of three pork chops, about 1.33 lbs. They sell the sausage and ground beef by the pound, steaks, etc.

            2. Made the trip to Pepper Place this morning and picked up some beef, chicken, and pork from Boutwell Farms. I've got to say their beef is what I remember from my childhood when my parents would purchase a cow from a farmer they knew and had it butchered. So flavorful, and that was without any seasoning.

              I see a deep freezer in my future and orders to Boutwell and Sequatchie Farms keeping it full.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Jannae

                Had another great trip to Pepper Place yesterday. Picked up the usual from Melissa and crew at the Boutwell Farms booth, stopped by the Wright Dairy farms booth and picked up some Wanda and Truffled Fontina (yummy). In addition to the great early fall veggies I picked up, I stopped by the Working Cows Dairy booth and picked up some of their organic, low temp pasteurized, non-homogenized milk.

                I'm thrilled with my purchases, and can't wait to get back next week!

                1. re: Jannae

                  Do they sell gallons or half gallons?

                  1. re: bluemoon4515

                    Both. I picked up a half-gallon. Next week, I'm going back for the gallon.

                    1. re: Jannae

                      Gallons, I think, were $7, maybe $7.50. Half gallons were $4. Whole milk only (they tell how to separate out the cream to make a skim milk.Very good milk.
                      BTW: They're going to have a smaller fall market that will go into December, after the main market shuts down in about a month. Several vendors have said they plan to come. Hopefully Owl's Hollow will stick it out all winter, too, to keep us supplied with fresh, locally grown hydroponic veggies and (every other week) pork.

                      1. re: Big Daddy

                        Thrilled to hear they'll have the later year market as well. There's something about Pepper Place, the atmosphere I guess, that I just don't find at some of the other farmers markets I've been to.