Last weekend I was invited to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Monument Market in Georgetown, a small, precious “Main Street of America”-type town north of Austin.The Market is located in a small, bright, airy warehouse building behind the well-established Monument Cafe. [I did not get a chance to dine there, but some ladies I met at the market told me their lunch had been "divine."] To get to the Market, you can sneak in the back entrance, or walk behind the Cafe…passing the newly opened Biergarten on your way.
Called The Garden at Monument Cafe, this “traditional Texas biergarten” promises live music on weeknights, local brews on tap, and hearty offerings of burgers and fries.There’s also a koi pond. So that’s fun.I’m also pretty sure that this “herb maze” is designed to keep small children entertained while their parents grab a beer. (Just a thought.)If you manage to make it past the tempting lunch specials at The Cafe, and the promise of a cold one in The Garden (and you don’t get lost in the maze), you’ll find yourself at The Market.
It is not a large space, but it is airy and clean.
There is nothing flashy in the presentation of local produce and product, just wooden tables and simple trays offering up seasonal goods.
But that’s really quite all right, don’t you think?
The Market prides itself in offering local, seasonal, fresh, and minimally processed wares to its customers. Some items are so local, they come from the newly planted (and slowly burgeoning) garden growing out back!You’ll find more than just fruits and veggies at The Market…I was intrigued by locally-made Greek yogurt in the dairy case……lots of local beers and wine for sale……and the meat and seafood cases stocked with enticing cuts and catches.Wait. Could it be?!?! Was I finally finding yak for sale after my yak-tastic, “I’m a believer” (in meat) moment last year, when I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten made from this odd-but-incredible, difficult to find meat?Why yes, yes I was. In all honesty, if you live in Austin, you can probably find most of The Market’s offerings closer to home, but yak? I’ve YET to see that anywhere else. [Maybe I've been looking in the wrong places?]Of course, one cannot have a Grand Opening celebration without offering some tastings. [Well, I guess you could, but who would come?] Lucky, for me, there was some yak cooked up for sampling.Sadly, this wasn’t as moist and succulent as the burger of my memory, but I’ll let it slide this time, and still carry a torch for the unsung and undiscovered. The pork chop, grilled plain, was amazing, however.Fresh, steamed shrimp were pretty good, too. [To be frank...they were-well--shrimp. Nothing fancy, but they were fresh and pure-tasting, which is a good thing, yes?]I, of course, stalked the tall boy carrying around the melon samples. [You know how I love my melons.*]
*Not THOSE kind. Get your mind out the gutter, people. Of course, maybe if I actually had anything substantial in the way of that kind of “melon” I would love them too.Locally made Apricot Honey was sweet and surprising……and the gazpacho made with local tomatoes was refreshing. (But when is gazpacho NOT yummy?*)
*Actually, I can tell you when. It’s an Ina Garten recipe for Greek Gazpacho involving about 12 cloves of garlic that sounds like a good idea at the time…but it does not go down so well.The Homestead Gristmill in Waco has a proportionately large number of products available at the market, from cookie and pancake mixes to cereals and flours. I loved the bites of their Cowboy Cookies……and the freshly baked cast-iron cornbread.Of course, it’s probably no surprise that the most lovely treat to me was the house-made (at The Cafe) vanilla custard, turned into a Blueberry-Ginger float using Maine Root sodas.It was my idea to combine both the Blueberry AND Ginger Beer, and while I have to give credit to the chef for thinking of using blueberry soda for a float…ginger beer floats? That’s so 15 months (or so) ago.*
*Although I do love looking back at these empty promises^ I make to you and myself, about making ginger ale floats all summer. That totally didn’t happen.
^And looking back at seeing how often all I showed pictures of was the creation of 200 different variations of overnight oats and salads. Seriously, no WONDER no one read my blog back then.
Did I mention there were goodie bags?
I brought home some chocolate chip cookies from Monument Cafe that were the softest cookie I had ever touched. They didn’t make it past my roommates, who said they were a tasty combination between cake and cookie.I can’t wait to try this maple pecan granola……and put this apricot honey to good use. [Perhaps in some Honey Bunches?]If I lived (or still worked) a little farther north, I could see Monument Market being an invaluable link to local produce, especially on non-farmers-market days (not that there are many of those in Austin). I also do hope to one day return to the cafe and try that out. It has a very linear, 1950s diner feel (although strangely modern at the same time) with a diner-style menu featuring local, fresh ingredients that is appealing to my tastebuds’ curiosity.