5 years ago you couldn't convince me that Traveler's Rest SC was cool. In fact, even 3 years ago, TR (as it's affectionately known by locals) wasn't a place anyone would go...unless you were visiting my grandma who seemed to be the only person who lived there. Three years ago, when passers through came barreling off the highway on the way to Asheville they might not even have known they where a stone's throw from a dying main street: and those who did notice, saw only a few store fronts and many, many deserted businesses. We are talking ghost town material. What was left of struggling TR was killed off by sprawl; many big box stores and restaurants popped up, killing what little heritage was left of TR's Main street. TR just wasn't cool, because it was dead.
The people of the upstate here in SC know how to make a comeback and TR is no exception! Following in Greenville's footsteps, TR has made great strides to become one of Greenville County's most happening places and until this weekend, I really had no grasp on just how charming it had become. Apart from passing through to see Granny, I hadn't made an effort to really check out the big things happening in TR. The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a hub for cycling, running and walking and has turned TR from ghost town to a Main Street Paradise. It's continuing to grow daily and many local businesses are now calling TR home: the pharmacy where my grandma use to let us buy candy is now a micro-brewery, the old tire store has been transformed into a hipster pizza joint and just off main street is the Traveler's Rest Farmer's Market!
On Saturday, I decided last minute to make the trip out to TR when I thought the Greenville SC Downtown Market was closed (it wasn't come to find out, but I'm happy with my trip regardless). I pulled up to find a quaint covered market with beautiful signage and all kinds of bustling around. There were meat vendors peddling grass fed beef and veggie farmers displaying some of the most beautiful produce you've ever seen. Local bakers serving up some killer looking breads and artists creating right on site. I was not surprised by the warmth of the faces I saw. Perhaps it was the live blue grass band, or the massive outdoor yoga class going on, but I felt quit relaxed in the sea of veggie patrons.
We were served more-than-ample samples of fresh goat cheeses, pork breakfast sausage hot out of the pan, and robust organic olive oils seasoned with roasted red peppers. My one year old enjoyed sampling all that there was to be tasted. He was very upset when I wouldn't share the jalapeno pimento cheese. My little foodie loves a good cheese. I am a semi-foodie. I wouldn't turn my nose up at a box of chicken nuggets and I also have a deep appreciation for seasonal root vegetables. I will eat a $5 pizza as fast as I'll eat one covered with Tuscan figs and prosciutto. And I LOVE to cook. So there was more than enough to satisfy my chef's brain.
Beechwood Farms had some perfect zucchini which was my only must-purchase for the day. I'll be making Mesir Wat with those! It's a curried lentil dish traditionally served in Ethiopia. Here's a great recipe. I add whatever veggies I have on hand to mine to add some texture. I also sweeten it up a little by adding some coconut milk to my rice. I discovered it during my brief obsession with vegetarianism and it's still one of my go to meals. It's fast, hearty and makes me feel warm and toasty. Even in 90 degree weather, there's something to be said for comfort food.
Although I came for veggies, I couldn't escape without a few specialty items! Spinning Spider Creamery had some amazing samples. My little boy couldn't get enough of the feta goat cheese. I went with the rosemary and fig goat cheese spread and we ate half of the container for our afternoon snack.
My husband's choice for the day was fresh pasta. Always the adventurous type, he was eyeing a squid ink linguine from Naked Pasta. As he always says, "you are the master of your own destiny" so I told him to choose whichever variety he wanted (I would have gone with the roasted red pepper) and he took the plunge. The pasta artisans suggested to serve it seafood and cream sauce. So tonight I have a spinach alfredo with grilled salmon on the menu. We will see how the squid ink tastes. If you never see a blog from me again, you'll know why.
The Traveler's Rest Farmers Market is a definitely a must add to your Saturday schedule. And if you aren't near Traveler's Rest SC, search for local farmer's markets in your area. It's a great way to support your community and the people in it. Also, getting a feel for the unique produce, products, and places that your community has to offer is an easy and fun way to enrich your knowledge of the area you serve.