Thursday, March 20, is the vernal equinox — the day midway between the two solstices, when the earth is tilted neither toward nor away from the sun, and the official first day of spring. (Though as Free Times goes to press, the thermometer reads 35 F.) Relentlessly we march toward a Columbia full of blooming azaleas and pine pollen.
And so, this Saturday, March 22, Soda City Market is celebrating spring with an extra-fancy edition of its downtown market. In addition to the usual farmers’ stands, crafts and other good things for sale, vendors will be giving spring-themed demonstrations, showing off tips for cooking, gardening and more. There’ll also be live music, a hairdo contest, and face painting and other kids activities.
But the most exciting reason to stop by Springfest? A South Carolina beer tasting. Columbia’s River Rat and Conquest breweries will be represented, as will Freehouse, Palmetto and the inimitable Westbrook Brewing.
The market will span the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Main Street in downtown Columbia. For more information, visit sodacitysc.com.
Spring also means other farmers markets are cranking into gear. So if you’re not a Saturday-morning marketer (sorry, Soda City), you have plenty of good options in the Midlands. See the Farmers Market section under Events at free-times.com for lots of options. You could start right in downtown Columbia: Healthy Carolina hosts a farmers market at the University of South Carolina. This Thursday, March 18, it’ll run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of the Russell House. Vendors include Heather’s Artisan Bakery, Gin’s Juice (which serves fresh fruit and vegetable juices) and McCaskill Farms (for all your goat and lamb meat and cheese needs). Anybody can visit the market, not just students.
If you’re more the DIY type, Matthew Kip, local forager and permaculturist (and the subject of a 2012 Free Times http://www.free-times.com/archives/urban-foragers) is hosting a series of workshops this spring on how to find, grow and cook your own foods. Among the topics: Fruit Tree Pruning for Absolute Beginners; Getting Started Composting; and the amazing Edible Wild Plant Walk. Pricing is on a sliding scale; visit matthewkip.com for a complete list of classes and registration information.
Every year, the Taste of Lake Murray is held to raise money for the massive 4th of July celebration on Lake Murray, and every year I make a stupid joke about hoping the food and drink doesn’t actually taste like Lake Murray. Let’s not meddle with tradition. Swing by the Doubletree by Hilton (2100 Bush River Road) this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to feast on fine fare from 14 restaurants and vendors, many of them local to the lake: Allstar Pizza Company & Italian Eatery, Alodia’s Cucina Italiana, Arkos Mojo Grill & Martini Bar, Bistro on the Boulevard, Blue Marlin, Blue Marlin Signature Catering, Columbo’s, Especially For You, Ganbei, Jimmy’s Steak & Seafood, Liberty on the Lake, Midlands’ Food Art at Columbia Marriott, Natura Wine, Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse, Rocks at Midlands’ Lounge at Marriott, Rusty Anchor, Three Olives Vodka and Travinia’s Italian Kitchen. Tickets are $60; visit tasteoflakemurray.com or call 781-5940 to buy them.
PDQ, a regional chain restaurant specializing in chicken fingers, is now open at 4456 Devine St. We hear it’s slammed. Visit eatpdq.com for more information.
Michael’s Café and Catering on Main Street, which Jonathan Sharpe wrote about in this space last week, is now open.
Motor Supply Co. Bistro has a new chef: Tim Peters is moving on, and owner Eddie Wales has been searching for a new chef to run the hallowed kitchen (indeed, a friend ran across an ad for the position on the Charleston Craigslist). We hear he’s found one. Expect to hear more soon.
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