This place is like no other in the area, because it offers a restaurant and gourmet groceries. When you walk in the door, you can just sense that you are in a really cool place. For me, it's a rustic/gourmet feel...if that makes any sense at all! I know that I'm in the presence of legit Foodie-ness when I am in the Neon Pig...and that's a feeling I like! It was recently named the Best Burger in America! Check them out: http://neonpig.net.
This is Seth, the owner. He gave me the rundown on all the available produce. It was all very exciting to me, because I get very enthusiastic about that particular food group. Salt and Pepper Cucumbers, Easter Egg Radishes, Patty Pan/Butternut/Spaghetti Squash, Purple Potatoes, and other interesting selections are available here. I'm sure the market menu, as well as the restaurant menu, changes based on what's in season.
Right beside the produce fridge is the butcher counter. Red meats and cheeses are on offer, along with fresh seafood. I've been really wanting to cook mussels lately. So I asked if they ever sell them. Guess what! They do!
Will you just look at that ruby red Tuna steak in the back corner!! I'm currently fantasizing about a quick sear on both sides and my knife cutting through it like it's butter! Maybe I'm a little strange. But I'll just say, rare Ahi Tuna is delicious and I enjoy cooking it!...and you should too!
So, how could I decide what to purchase out of all these wonderful treasures?? It was hard, but I already had one thing in particular in mind!...Peruvian Sweetdrop Peppers! More on them in a moment. This is the selection I came home with:
Salt and Pepper Cucumbers, 1 white and 1 yellow Patty Pan Squash, Peruvian Peppers, and Tupelo Honey Butter
We had spent the weekend in Memphis, so you can imagine the hearty, heavy food we consumed while there...Can anyone say RIBS?? A quick story on that topic: I had never in my life, tasted ribs until I was pregnant with my daughter. I had one taste (at B.B. King's on Beale St.) and that was it. Ribs became my pregnancy craving for two whole weeks of my second trimester. I mean, I would eat a whole rack for dinner, most nights of those weeks. I lived in Jackson, MS at the time and there was a gas station (of all things) that served up really delicious ones. So a very vivid memory of that time of my life, is standing in line for ribs at that gas station. Ha!! I've loved ribs ever since...especially Memphis ones.
Back to my original thought: After some good Memphis eating, I was ready for a veggie meal. So my goodies from Neon Pig became this:
Socca (Chick Pea Crepes) with Garlic Sauteed Spinach and Parmesan Cheese, Balsamic and Tupelo Honey Butter Roasted Patty Pan Squash and Salt and Pepper Cucumbers on the side. And as you can see, the most wonderful garnish in the world: Peruvian Sweetdrop Peppers!
Which leads me to a very exciting discussion...
I'm seriously obsessed with these little cuties! To describe their flavor, I would have to say first, savory (almost garlic like) and then sweet. It is a very unique flavor. It's hard to describe. You just need to try it! They are so versatile. You can definitely add them to a salad, top any meat with them, serve them on a flatbread, or on top of a cooked vegetable (the first time I tried them, they were on top of Fried Green Tomatoes). They even work with breakfast!
...with my hash browns and fried eggs this morning!
So far, Neon Pig is the only place I know of to buy them. If you know a place in Birmingham, please let me know! I've checked Whole Foods and Fresh Market. I didn't find them. Maybe Bottle and Bone? Tell me, friends! I thought about ordering them from Amazon, but they were like a million dollars (as in not really 1 million dollars, but more than I wanted to spend). Any way you can make it happen, try these! They are a very interesting and delicious food. You could simply make any dish gourmet by adding beautiful and tasty Peruvian Peppers as a garnish.
If you want to know how I prepared the Squash, here it is:
I just preheated the oven to 400 degrees, sliced the squash, threw the slices on a roasting pan, topped with splashes of Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and dollops of the Tupelo Honey Butter, and Salt and Pepper. Then I roasted it until it looked done and topped with Parmesan Cheese. Yum!
You might be wondering about the Chick Pea Crepes as well. They will have to be another blog post. I have a lot to say about them!
On Reading Rainbow (a show I was obsessed with as a child and that my kids are now obsessed with, thanks to Netflix), Levar Burton always says, "Until next time...", at the end of the show. He then fills in something that goes along with the theme of that particular episode. I'm feeling a bit like Levar right now. Ha! Until next time...Either go shop at the awesomeness that is the Neon Pig Cafe in Tupelo, MS, or find a place that inspires you like the Pig inspires me! If nothing else, find a way to experience Peruvian Peppers. They really are gorgeous!