Satisfy your meat pastry craving with a trip to the Charlottesville farmers market

With the multitude of stalls, there are ample opportunities to purchase savory morning treats

lf-farmersmarket meatpie-Lindsay Smith

The bacon quiche from Family Ties & Pies was disappointing, with no cheese and an underwhelming amount of bacon.

Lindsay Smith | Cavalier Daily

Early on a rainy Saturday morning, all I wanted was a hot and satisfying breakfast. With fog coating the streets and sleep barely shaken from my mind, I was not prepared to face the day without some nutritious grub. So, I decided to take a trip to the Charlottesville farmers’ market to search out a nice meat pastry, and perhaps a carrot or two.

The market is located by the Downtown Mall, in the outdoor Water Street parking lot. It’s only open from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., and nearby parking is not easy to find, so when I finally made it out of bed, into a car, downtown to the market and found a place to park, there were only 15 minutes left before the vendors had to pack up.

With just a quarter of an hour to peruse the dozens of available stalls, I was concerned that I would not have enough time to find something good to eat before the best spots closed down. As soon as I stepped inside the market, however, I could tell that there were plenty of stands still open and ready for business.

The first stall I passed was Family Ties & Pies, a family business that sells — as can be inferred from the title — different types of pies. I recognized the stand from one of the farmers markets that was held in the University Amphitheater at the beginning of the year — they had sold me a delicious pecan pie, so I decided it would be safe to invest in a bacon quiche.

Rarely do I say this, especially when it comes to meats wrapped in dough, but I was disappointed in the dish. There was no cheese, and the egg was very dense and thick with no air bubbles. It looked and tasted like a solid block of non-scrambled scrambled eggs.

Seeing as the small pie cost $10 — it was about eight inches in diameter — I was expecting to get $10 worth of filling. However, the slice I ate had only one chunk of bacon in it. I cut a quarter piece out of the quiche, so perhaps there was more filling in the 75 percent that I didn’t get to, but one piece of bacon floating in a sea of egg doesn’t really cut it for me.

The crust was tasty — the perfect mix of being flaky without being thin — but on the whole, the unfiltered and overpowering eggy taste of the contents left my stomach a little unsettled. The next time I purchase something from this stand, it will definitely be sweet instead of savory.

As I continued walking around the market, I came upon the MarieBette Bakery & Café pop-up. I was still in the mood for some flaky dough-wrapped protein, so I dropped $4 on a ham and cheese croissant. The stand only accepted cash, so it was lucky I had thought ahead and brought paper money with me — most college students rely solely on Venmo and debit cards, so having a cash-only stand is pretty risky.

The croissant hit the spot. The dough was properly risen with plenty of air holes — the outside was crisp and the inside smooth and even a little chewy. The ham folded up inside was just the right amount, and tasted very fresh.

The cheese had dripped to the bottom of the pastry, so when it baked a few corners became hard to bite, but the middle was easy to chew and the flavor of the cheese worked well with the flavors of the ham and bread.

All in all, this was a perfect treat. Especially after heating it up in the microwave — just for 10 or 15 seconds — the steaming croissant paired well with a cup of coffee and a cold day.

After visiting the first two stands, I spotted a cute Filipino food booth called Little Manila. On the table was a pot full of steaming pork egg rolls — I asked the older woman behind the counter how much it would cost to sample one.

Before she could respond, the man behind her stepped up and lifted the lid off the pot. The smell of savory meat and fried floury crust smacked me in the face and I started salivating. He handed me one of the rolls to try, free of charge.

The filling was perfect — not too much meat, not too much vegetable. The wrapping was crisp and oily, which is exactly the way I like my egg rolls. It tasted very fresh, and even the small sample — it was only about two inches long — was enough to make me smile.

By the time I had walked around to all these stores, the market was almost closed. I decided to head home, but on my way out I spotted another stand that was packing up its wares. The Pie Guy also has a food truck that comes to Grounds most weekdays — it sets up right by the dumpling cart — so I was familiar with their goods.

Sadly, I was unable to sample another pie from them before they left, but I have eaten and enjoyed their “breakfast pie” many times on my walks between classes. This pie is exactly what it sounds like — a little crust stuffed with eggs, bacon and “sharp” cheese.

Spending $6 on the three or so inch pie always leaves my taste buds smiling, but it leaves my stomach aching for a little bit more — and it definitely leaves my wallet angry. The on-Grounds The Pie Guy truck accepts Plus Dollars, but I ran out of those weeks ago and thus have not bought a breakfast pie in a while. However, when passing by one of The Pie Guy stands with an extra six bucks to spend, I encourage sampling one of their pies.

After wistfully visiting this last booth, I made my way back across the train tracks to the free two-hour parking spot on Monticello Avenue. I came away with the impression that the Charlottesville farmers market is a great place to go for a good hearty treat — in just 15 minutes I was able to spot four different stands, each with their own piquant breakfast goods. 

In this sea of lettuce, homemade jewelry and jams galore, a meat-pastry enthusiast like me could find sanctuary. And maybe I just have poor eyesight, but I never did find a carrot.

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