SporkThis! is taking a departure from restaurant reviews to showcase a new market providing the community, as well as some of the area’s top chefs, with local, organic products: Bickett Market.
The localvore paradox is a complicated one with rightful arguments on both sides, but for this food-crazed writer it boils down to common sense: A cut of flank steak or basket of peaches grown nearby will inevitably be (and taste) fresher than those shipped in from across the country, or world for that matter. When you’re planning to roast a pork loin or make a rhubarb pie, why not choose a locally raised item? The price? Yes, it’s true, the price will most likely be higher but it’s a small price to pay for outstanding quality and craft.
We could ramble for days and ultimately the foods you choose to consume are your choice alone, but if you love eating as much as I do and rifling through various cuts of meat and mounds of veggies sounds like a good time, you’ll love Bickett Market.
The brainchild of Jason Stegall and Mike Harrigan (also the gentleman behind Southport Seafood found at the Five Points Farmers Market each Saturday), Bickett Market can best be described as a Local Wholesale Food Distributer. Farm to Fork. Located in what was once a swanky art gallery, the newly renovated space feels more akin to a barn or farm house. Dark, warm brick walls, low ceilings coated in burlap bags, soft lighting and hand-written chalkboard signs take you back to a simpler time when all of your meals ingredients came from a mile or so away. Although it’s not meant to be a conventional grocery store, Bickett Market is a place where chefs and citizens alike can choose from an array of North Carolina grown ingredients and order in bulk, or just grab a fish fillet or two.
The veg, an array of Carolina staples like tomatoes, greens, peppers, potatoes, and squash are all grown within the Five Points area. I don’t know about you, but I never thought of Five Points as an agricultural center, but thanks to a collection of small backyard farmers and green thumbs Bickett Market recieves bushel after bushel of organic, nurtured produce at the peak freshness.
Next to the produce section are two large freezers and a display case full of glorious, glorious meat. Frozen beef ribs, calves bones and hanger steaks line the freezer while the display case holds a meat lovers eden of freshly butchered, grass-fed strip steaks, t-bones, porter house, and rump roasts. The beef, Jason passionately explained, was dispatched from the cattle that morning, never seeing an inch of a walk-in freezer. Also in the case are house-cured anchovy filets, cleaned calamari, artisan cheeses, and heirloom chickens.
Farther down there’s the fish. Two shallow tables covered in ice hold over a dozen varieties of filleted NC treasures like Spanish Mackeral, Black Bass, Catfish, Grouper, and Snapper along with beautiful little neck clams and oysters. As a fish fanatic, I prefer to see the fish whole so I can check the eyes and gills for freshness, but trust me when I say the scaled and cleaned fillets provided by Jason and staff are as fresh as it’s gonna get. Seafood is what the owners know best, and all of the Market’s maritime wonders come directly from Brunswick County. Don’t forget to ask the guys about the day’s catch or freshest cuts of beef, they’ll be happy to show you their top products and even offer cooking suggestions.
But that’s not all folks! The market is only a month old, but along with the fine selection of proteins and produce Bicket Markett also has a collection of jarred products, a tasting table laden with samples of cheeses, meats, and fruits, and will even construct and install Chicken Coops or Cold Frames for you. Not only are they providers, they’re enablers. And lucky for us, the one’s they’re enabling most are the chefs and owners of some of our favorite establishments like Buku, Busy Bee, Helios, and J. Betski’s to name a few.
I’ll admit the prices on items like the meat and seafood are…steep. But again, are a few dollars going to stand in the way of you enjoying some of the best products this state has to offer? To know your food has been cared for just as much as the dish you’ve turned it into is a rare thing indeed, and I, for one, welcome the new found respect for the age-old profession and the harvest.
To see how I transformed some of Bickett Market’s world-class products visit my personal food blog.
219 Bickett Blvd.
Raleigh, NC, 27608