Summer is full of sensory pleasures. The sun warms our skin, breezes arrive freshly-scented, and nothing beats hearing peals of playful laughter as we all take life a little less seriously. One of the greatest delights of the Jersey Shore is easy accessibility to fresh produce. Our own gardens and those of our generous friends yield bell peppers, pickles, kale, heirloom tomatoes, squash, and a profusion of peppermint, basil, and other savory herbs. With an abundance of farms in the area as well, the Asbury Park Inn delights in whisking local seasonal products into our menu.
Several farm and craft markets converge on Asbury each week. On Saturdays, you can get your fresh fix early from 8-11 a.m. at the Asbury Park Sunset Farmer’s Market on Main Street. Recently, we surveyed the scene, sun ripe stone fruit and heirloom tomatoes nestling amongst ears of sweet corn and striped watermelon, bourgeois zucchini yielding to their more exotic cousins, patty pan and ghost scallop squash. Potatoes, waxy and crisp, strutted their feathers in deep shades of yellow, red, and purple, and at at least one stand, curious visitors discovered herbs and vegetables so unique they will never find their way to supermarket shelves. There’s always something new and unusual to enjoy.
The biggest farm market in the area is Asbury Fresh, recognized by the Asbury Park Press as one of the “Best of Monmouth County.” Open Fridays and Sundays, it is New Jersey’s fastest-growing farm and makers’ market. Asbury Fresh hosts over 60 farmers and merchants, including local artisans and food purveyors. On a recent Sunday afternoon, we found the market burgeoning with organic produce, locally-raised meats and eggs, handmade clothing and jewelry, pickled vegetables, scrumptious baked goods, colorful floral arrangements, and even special treats for Fido. We selected some tasty organic sausage featuring pasture-raised pork from Green Duchess Farm, several Robson’s Farm’s succulent yellow peaches, and a jar of balsamic fig jam from Holly Jolly Jams that is, according to the label, made with love. (And we’re pretty sure we can taste it!)
A friend once remarked that she thought the folks to our north built factories there as a barricade so those from metropolitan areas would get the wrong impression and not venture into central Jersey, leaving this glorious bounty for the locals to enjoy. But all that we have here – the sandy beaches, the restaurant scene, the shopping, and yes, trees and farms and gardens and wide open spaces, well, it’s all too resplendent not to share!
So please, join us for the just-picked flavors of summer – we’ve built our menu on its tasty bounty. Even better, grab a canvas bag yourself and plan a visit to one of these incredible markets. You’ll return home with some delicious mementos of your stay here, plus memories of the sweetest taste of our beautiful and bountiful belle, the Jersey Shore.