Spring has sprung in the high country, and even though we’ve seen our share of rain, it’s safe to say that things are finally starting to warm up. This time of year I love watching the green make its way up the mountain. As April comes to a close, we’re excited about welcoming the warmer, sunnier days of May. And we’re incredibly excited that it’s time for the Watauga County Farmers Market to open! Market opens the first weekend in May, and it lasts through October. You can find all kinds of wonderful spring veggies, herbs, and plants at the market this time of year. The Watauga County Farmers Market is truly a Boone experience that you don’t want to miss. Read on to learn about some of our favorite spring market picks and local restaurants where you’re sure to enjoy spring’s brightest flavors.
Support your local farmers
Why go to the farmers market? When you support your local farmers market, you’re building community. You get to build relationships with local families when you buy from farmers at the Watauga Market. It’s a great cycle: your money goes directly to a local family, and they’re taking care of land that’s part of our community. In turn, you’re supporting healthier, more sustainable food systems. Locally grown food also has a much smaller carbon footprint, and rest assured when you’re buying from the Watauga Market, you’re getting food that’s been grown responsibly.
Flavors of spring in Appalachia
Rhubarb: if you find yourself at market this spring, make sure to look for rhubarb. What exactly is rhubarb, anyway? If you’ve never seen it, it looks like celery, but has a beautiful, pink hue and is only in season for a short time (April-June). There’s some debate over whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, but it is often prepared in many of the same ways that fruits are: there’s nothing like fresh strawberry rhubarb pie in the springtime!
Ramps: a true Appalachian delicacy. If you’ve never had ramps before, you MUST try them this spring! Chefs all across the country seek out this garlic-like, wild onion-y hybrid that is native to the mountains of eastern North America. Ramp season comes and goes quickly. Some years it lasts a mere two weeks, but if you’re lucky it can last for up to six weeks around March and April.
Mushrooms: it’s mushroom hunting season in the high country! More specifically, it’s Morel season. Morels are nutty, meaty, and truly unique mushrooms. We’re not quite sure if you can find these mushrooms at the Watauga County Farmers Market, but you’re sure to find them on the menu of at least one of the farm to table restaurants below. Morel season typically lasts from March to early May.
Farm to Table Restaurants in Boone, NC
There are so many wonderful farm to table restaurants in Boone, NC and surrounding areas. We recommend checking out as many as you can, but here are a few who’ve left us feeling hungry and inspired with drool-worthy Instagram posts and absolutely amazing looking spring specials!
Reid’s Cafe & Catering Company: one look at their beautiful website or Instagram feed and you’ll be hungry, instantly. Don’t miss their spring wine dinner coming up on May 2nd. There WILL be Morels! Call for reservations. This is the perfect place for a romantic dinner date.
F.A.R.M. Cafe: located right next door to us at the Horton Hotel & Rooftop Lounge; it’s a staff favorite! If you find yourself walking around downtown Boone for the day and are looking for a place to grab lunch, we highly recommend F.A.R.M. Cafe. Their lunch menu changes daily, and so much of their food is sourced locally.
Vidalia: another great spot for a romantic dinner. Vidalia is located just up the street from us, and has strong commitment to sourcing as much locally grown food as possible. They serve both dinner and brunch.
See you at Market
We hope you find time to make it to the market this spring, and hopefully you’re also able to try out some spring specials at one of those farm to table restaurants we mentioned! Know another great restaurant that we should try? Message us and tell us all about it! And don’t forget to sign up for our email list to stay up to date on all things Horton, including special offers.
Author: Megan Biddix