This morning, we will return to the Oktoberfest market, but this time to buy produce and honey. We pack a couple of grocery bags into my panniers and head to the elevator with our bikes. We’ve worked out a routine to fit both bikes in the elevator, but I always forget what it is, enter the elevator the wrong way, and end up having to pick up my bike (heavy with gear) and swing it around the make room for Pat. Each time this happens, I think I should let Pat go into the elevator first, but then I forget the next time. This is partly because he stands back to let me go in first, which I think is a secret ploy to amuse himself because he laughs at me every time.
We do make it into the elevator eventually. And the elevator, which has been remarkably better behaved of late (or else we’ve just developed our elevator button pushing skills to its liking), takes us to the first floor with only a slight pause after closing the doors before it starts to move. We roll our way out the door and down the ramp to the parking lot where we stop to put on helmets and sunglasses. Unfortunately, I put my helmet on first and then remember that I can’t fit my sunglasses under my helmet unless I put them on first. I take the helmet off, put on the sunglasses and replace the helmet.
I think it’s taken us longer to get ready to ride than the ride will take. But, finally ready, we hit the road and head up towards the Walnut St Bridge. Having safely crossed the river, we work our way through downtown, back towards the Tennessee Pavilion for the second day in a row. Pat comments as we approach the Pavilion only a few minutes later about how much faster it is to ride a bike 2 miles than it is to walk. Even at our slow riding pace, it’s about 3X faster.
When we get to the market, it’s far more crowded today than it was yesterday. I guess all the regulars of the Sunday market are here today along with the extra crowd attracted by Oktoberfest. There is no place to put our bikes and we didn’t bring a lock anyway, so we walk them through the pavilion with us. This works well in that it allows me to use my panniers as a shopping cart.
Pat crosses in front of a woman who is, predictably, out of shape. She has to pause for a couple extra seconds while Pat rolls his bike by. He overhears her comment to her friend “they shouldn’t allow those in here.” Pat tells me this and I look around. There are parents pushing strollers, people in wheelchairs, even a man pulling a wheeled cart with oxygen on it. I find myself thinking I’ll be walking around her wheelchair in a few more years if she doesn’t start taking care of herself and decide it’s OK if she has to walk around our bikes in the interim.
We work our way around the produce section, picking up some gorgeous bib lettuce (and I don’t call bib lettuce “gorgeous” often), watercress, and another lettuce whose name escapes me. I also pick up some goat cheese and then we head over to see Eddie and Lou, the honey and candle makers. Eddie gives us tastes of three different honeys and we end up buying a jar of sourwood honey with a hint of blackberry juice. Apparently, there were overly ripe berries that attracted the bees enough that it slightly changed the flavor of the honey. It’s really good. I had no idea that there was that much control over what the bees collect nectar from that you could end up with honey that was from only one type of flower. Eddie and Pat are busy chatting about other things or I would have asked more questions about how this works. Along with the honey, we also buy a honeycomb, which Lou tells us is really nice to slice and serve with cheese.
Next we look for bread. We’re disappointed by the first bread vendor in that all of their crusts are soft. We walk/roll over to the second vendor and find only their baguette has a crisp crust, so that’s what we buy. Next, we look for apples and tomatoes. We’re disappointed to learn that the vendors there don’t have heirloom tomatoes and the first vendor doesn’t grow their tomatoes organically. However, the second vendor doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides, although she’s not certified organic. We buy some of her tomatoes and then head over to the apples.
This is where I get into trouble. I have a very specific way of placing my fingers on apples and exerting gentle, even pressure so that I can tell if an apple is crisp without bruising them. The woman selling the apples gets upset with me because she doesn’t want her apples bruised. While I can understand that she can’t have everyone coming over and squeezing her apples all day and, therefore, she can’t let me squeeze her apples even if I have a special talent for it (is this starting to sound like it’s no longer rated PG?), she really didn’t have to be rude.
Unfortunately, she is having troubles with her inner jerk today. And this causes my inner jerk to rise from the little snooze she’s been taking. Imagine the introductions: “Inner Jerk, meet Inner Jerk.” Fortunately, before my inner jerk can get one word out, I say, “OK, Thanks,” and run off as quickly as I possibly can, leaving Pat standing with both our bikes, unable to follow. I recognize that Pat is not behind me relatively quickly and circle back around realizing I’ve left him stuck. As I get close to the apple stand, I approach from an angle where the woman is unlikely to see me. I explain to Pat that I need to get out of there and we head off, apple-less.
We ride back a different route, working our way up to Walnut St early so as to avoid a very steep climb up to the bridge. Unfortunately, it turns out part of Walnut St is one-way the wrong way and we have to take a detour to get back to it. But, we make it to the bridge safely and navigate the tourists successfully, returning home with our goodies in a much better mood.
I can’t wait to try the honeycomb and immediately slice up some bread and start spreading goat cheese and honeycomb on it. The bread is more of a “if you can’t find good bread and you need something in a pinch” variety of bread and the goat cheese is good but typical, but the honey comb makes it all seem special. I am hooked.