I am on vacation for part of this week, so in the spirit of going new places and seeing new things, I took myself for a late lunch at Judy’s At The Market at the South Carolina State Farmer’s Market in its new location in Lexington County. I was expecting Judy’s to be empty at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon but it was pretty hopping. Lots of different people were there, including some of Lexington’s finest, some older couples, and a few people sitting at the bar or picking up desserts.

I was seated at the bar, decided on the veggie plate and was served within seven minutes. SEVEN MINUTES for fresh, amazing food. A veggie plate is a choice of 3 sides. I started with the Market salad with the house vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was so good, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar style dressing that pickled the raw onions just enough to take out the evil tasting sting of a raw onion. The salad itself is simple, but so fresh and clean tasting. No sprouts, no nuts; just crisp lettuce, cool cucumbers, tomato chunks, red onion rings, grated cheddar, and your dressing of choice.

Then out came the Fried Okra and Mama’s Potato Salad:

Mama’s potato salad is a mayo based salad with no frills. Fresh red potatoes, covered in the creamy mayonnaise, with dried dill throughout and perfectly salted. It was the perfect counterpoint to the fried okra. The breading was crunchy, the okra insides were soft, there was minimal grease left on the plate, and can I iterate enough how fresh everything tasted? Just fresh. I can’t quit with that word in reference to everything here! I tried my hardest to sit and savor the flavors, but it was all so good that I ate it like a starved dog. Full disclosure, this meal was my breakfast and lunch because on vacation, I sleep in and don’t eat a real breakfast.

To round off my meal, I ordered a chocolate iced palmier to go and paid the cashier up at the counter.The only crazy thing about Judy’s was that an iced tea was nearly two dollars. Next time I will go for water so that I can spend more on fresh fruits and vegetables down at the other end up the building. Prices on all of the others foods and desserts were definitely reasonable and you can feed you and your love very well with fresh foods for less than twenty bucks, no problem.

 

Feeling satisfied and full-but-not-stuffed, I wandered to the end of the Corbett Building opposite Judy’s and came across a few stalls full of fruits and vegetables. I  started off going to the first permanent stall to the right (I can’t remember the name of it- I think Jacob’s General Store?) and loaded myself down with bell peppers (2 for a dollar), big tomatoes (.99 a pound), and a personal sized watermelon ($2/5 or $3 apiece).

I almost couldn’t resist these SC grown peaches from McLeod’s Farms. The scent was heavenly.

 

It was starting to sprinkle outside at this point, so I grabbed everything up and wandered through the Market Pavillion and Creech’s Produce on the way out to my car with my full arms. Their melon prices were more than the stall I had just left, but their tomatoes were a beautiful deep red. If my arms weren’t full, I’d have snapped a picture.

Now, here is where I will fully admit that I got lost in the maze of roads trying to get out of the Farmer’s Market. They will hopefully have better signage the more it progresses out there. To save anyone the trouble, to get to the Corbett Building, where Judy’s and the small scale produce sales are, enter the Farmer’s Market by going down Farmer’s Market Lane (but of course) from Highway 321. Once you pass the security building, take the first left onto Whitener Lane. Take a right at the stop sign on Whitener, then you can access the Corbett Building’s parking lot. There are spaces on both sides of the building. You’re welcome. Any farther down into the Market and you are on your own.

Once I was out, I was lured in by a sign just outside of the Cayce Farmer’s Market, just about two miles closer into town, also on 321. What made me stop at another market?

Dollar strawberries! I also picked up a small basil plant in addition to two pints of strawberries for a whopping four dollars.

Isn’t this such an idyllic scene? I love Cayce.

 

And finally, here is today’s big haul from the markets:

Basil, watermelon, 3 tomatoes, 5 bell peppers, 2 pints of strawberries for a estimated total of… Fourteen dollars for fresh, local (ish- the melon is from Florida) food.

Today’s plans include tropical gazpacho for my husband, and strawberry basil ice cream for me. Or watermelon ice cream. I’ll have to flip a coin to make that decision. And on that note, farmer’s markets are awesome and a great way to get fresh, local food into your belly.