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SOCO Virtual Farmers Market makes shopping local easy and quarantine-friendly 

click to enlarge Bougie brunch for five, from scratch. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Bougie brunch for five, from scratch.


W
hile in-person Farmers Markets will resume this summer with precautionary measures in place in the interest of public health — Check out how Colorado Farm and Art Market in particular has adjusted around COVID-19 — another farmers market recently got underway to serve those who prefer a closer to contactless experience.

Shopping at the SOCO Virtual Farmers Market resembles any other kind of online shopping. Operated through Local Line, a site designed to help food suppliers sell online, the market maintains an up-to-date list of what its suppliers have for sale. That changes as regularly as typical farmers markets, given what’s available throughout the growing season. When we shop we find only microgreens and leafy greens listed under vegetables, though there’s a variety of both. As the summer progresses, this category will surely grow. 

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To try the market out, we plan brunch for five and build our shopping list from there. We start with a loaf of 15-grain sourdough from Springs-based Sourdough Boulangerie and a dozen chicken eggs, though we also see eggs from other birds like quail and geese for sale. From there, we add blue oyster mushrooms from Rocky Ford-based Megan’s Mushrooms, a 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Springs-based Sette Dolori Winery, and pickled onions from Springs-based Azteca Gourmet. To top the bread, we pick a jar of apricot-ginger jam from Springs-based Carriage House Art and Farm and a tub of chevre, a French-style goat cheese, from Breen Mesa Farm Creamery in Hesperus. Though tempted, we pass over bulk raw meats from many producers and pre-cooked offerings from Island Style BBQ — nothing wrong with vegetarian brunch.

Since SOCO has a single digital storefront, we purchased from seven vendors and “checked out” only once. After the virtual store closed that Thursday, we received an e-mail showing a half-hour time slot when we could pick up our purchases.

On pickup day, we showed up with a cooler and were greeted by a volunteer who told us to park in a numbered parking space, and text the name on our order, the order number and our parking space to a provided phone number. Within a few minutes a volunteer brought our order, having us check it over — a painless process overall.

Everything we purchased satisfied us with freshness and flavor during brunch the next day. We scrambled the eggs soft and melted in a healthy scoop of chevre, making some of the creamiest eggs we’ve ever had, only improved by savory sautéed mushrooms. Standout pickled onions paired beautifully with the eggs and the soft cheese both, and that runny jam captured the taste of autumn. The Cabernet Sauvignon has good body and fruitiness with low residual sugars and balanced tannins, a lovely wine that sips friendly and substantial. The bougie brunch, with leftovers, ran us $75, offered lower risk of COVID-19 transmission and supported local agriculture. In 2020, that’s a grand slam. 

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