Tomatoes are at their glorious peak right now, with farmers’ tailgate-market vendors offering dozens of varieties. Wherever you are in the Asheville area, this week will offer a delicious opportunity to taste tomatoes, with six markets offering special events.
Wednesday, Aug. 15: • The Wednesday Downtown Asheville Tailgate Market is holding a Salsa Celebration Wednesday afternoon. Chefs from across-the-street favorite Mamacitas will be at the market preparing creative salsas using unusual tomato varieties and other delicacies. The market is held from 2 to 6:30 p.m. in the BioWheels parking lot next to the French Broad Food Coop in downtown Asheville.
* The West Asheville Tailgate Market, which gave away tomato plants to customers in May, is inviting everyone to come bring a tomato from their garden. Vendors and shoppers will combine forces to offer a tomato tasting and declare one tomato the flavor favorite. The market is held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot beside the West End Bakery on Haywood Road in West Asheville.
Saturday, Aug. 18: • The new Big Ivy Tailgate Market is held at the old fire station on Route 197 in Barnardsville, each Saturday from 9:00 a.m. “until the vendors sell out, usually around 11:30,” says co-organizer Kate Mathews. This Saturday, the market is offering a blind tasting of tomato varieites.
• The Black Mountain Tailgate Market is holding a tomato festival on Saturday, from 9 a.m to noon. Vendor Elaine Hamil says: “Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Black Prince, Roma, Mr. Stripey, Green Zebra, cherry equals TOMATOFEST! We’ve got some surprises up our sleeves on the subject of tomatoes. … Guess you’ll just have to come and find out.” The market is held at 500 Montreat Road in the yard of the Unitarian Congregation.
• Chef Adam Bannasch from downtown Asheville restaurant Zambra will be on hand at the French Broad Food Coop Tailgate Market on Saturday morning, cooking and sharing recipes made with tomatoes and other fresh foods. The market is held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the BioWheels parking lot next to the French Broad Food Coop in downtown Asheville.
• The Madison County Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market is celebrating tomatoes this Saturday as well. The market is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Mars Hill College campus.
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer