I have a confession to make. I’ve lived in Birmingham for over 20 years, and I’ve never been to The Market at Pepper Place. (While I’m confessing things, I have also never seen any of the Superman movies and don’t like sweet tea.) However, I have at least now redeemed one of those by visiting Pepper Place on a recent Saturday morning. And boy, have I been missing out! If there are any locals out there like me who have never visited the market, let me give you a newbie’s perspective.
The market was founded in 2000 to help connect local family farmers with the people of Birmingham. They have grown from just a few vendors to hosting over 100 vendor tents on any given Saturday spread across two parking lots. At the height of the growing season, the market is host to over 10,000 visitors! The number and variety of vendors change weekly. There is a list of vendors on the market’s website, categorized by type. You can even click on the Saturday you plan to attend to see what vendors will be there. Local farms bring their freshest produce each week, of course, but you can also find local artisans, restaurants, and bakeries as there as well. There’s even a curbside pick-up option for some vendors! There is plenty of room for strollers everywhere, and dogs are welcome.
I visited the market on a recent Saturday morning in April. It was a lovely day outside, just warm enough for shorts. I arrived around 8:00 a.m. and had purposefully waited to eat breakfast so I could try one of the breakfast options on site. (Although I did have some coffee at home before I left my house, because 1- I’m not crazy and 2- coffee is life.)
I started out on 29th Street South and perused all the vendors on that side before I settled on my breakfast choice, which was an Asiago Rosemary bagel from Homewood Bagel with their Zesty Green Onion cream cheese. It was amazing! The hint of rosemary was just enough. Of course, you can’t have a bagel without coffee, so I chose a cup of the Iron Fist blend from Seeds Coffee. Iron Fist is a blend of Guatemala La Esperanza and Brazil Edson Tamekuni beans, with tasting notes of chocolate, caramel and cherries. I drink my coffee black, and I tasted the cherry note right away. A nearby table was the perfect place to sit and eat, positioned near local Rockabilly band The Martini Shakers playing the tunes of artists like Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.
After breakfast, I migrated over to the second, even larger, parking lot full of vendors, smelling the fragrance of fresh strawberries for sale as I walked over. Wanting to be prepared, I had checked out the market’s website the day before, so I had a game plan in mind as I meandered through the tents. Being a market newbie and a bit of a foodie, I had chosen a recipe from the market’s website to try. It was tomato and pimento cheese fritters. (And all God’s people said, “AMEN!”)
With my ingredient list in hand, I wandered through the market, picking up things off my list as I went. There was so much to take in—beautiful wildflower bouquets, candles, and locally made jewelry. This was in addition to the pastry vendors, which, judging by their long lines, are very popular. I picked up some pimento cheese from Montgomery Super Suppers and a couple of green tomatoes from Green Leaf Farms out of Cullman. I also left with one other fun purchase, a strawberry balsamic vinegar, which was a specialty small batch from Guntersville based vendor Epicurious Infusions. You’ll find that in my next summer salad dressing or poured over some cheese on my next charcuterie board!
The Market at Pepper Place is a magnificent way to spend a Saturday morning. It’s like a trip to your local restaurant, bakery, grocery store, and gift shop all in one! You can pick up breakfast, lunch, most of your weekly groceries, and even a gift for a friend or a treat for your dog, all while listening to live music! So, get out your calendar and plan your next visit to Pepper Place. Oh, and I do recommend the fritter recipe; you won’t be disappointed!