Experience the Nutcracker Market

General, H-town

I am going to miss the Nutcracker Market this year. For me, this is a catastrophe. I look forward to this event all year. I anticipate the shopping experience that can only be found there — a combination of fall bazaar, upscale flea market and boutique stalls. I love the sheer diversity of wares being offered, from the handmade to the antique and everything in between. It’s an exhilarating and exhausting activity that will leave you wondering how you could have spent so much money in so little time. It’s wonderful.

If you’ve never been, you have to go at least once. Take a shopping bag (tote or something), cash and good walking shoes. They do take credit cards, but paying cash gets you through the lines faster. And the place gets so full that they don’t allow strollers, carts, rolling bags or wagons. Go early; by noon the place will be so full you’ll have trouble making it from one side of the hall to the other.

Since I do go every year, I have list of favorite things I buy while there. My list is comprised of food items.

2013.11 nutcracker market loredana sienaPumpkin fudge. I cannot remember the vendor’s name, I never remember the name of the vendor, but there’s a specialty candy vendor who makes the best pumpkin fudge. I usually buy a few boxes, one for me and some to give away.

Loredana’s Italian Cheeses. In particular I buy the Siena — with marinated Asiago & other cheeses, as well as garlic. The stuff keeps well in my refrigerator and is absolutely great to use for cooking everything from pasta to scrambled eggs. And I recommend the Strawberry Vinaigrette for salads.

2013.11 nutcracker market cherry republicCherry Republic’s Cherry Salsa. The first time I tried this I couldn’t believe that anyone could make salsa from cherries. Then I couldn’t believe how good it was. I promptly bought a few jars, to keep and to give, and added it to my yearly list of “must buy” items. And while you’re at their stall, pick up some chocolate covered cherries.

Texas Tamale Company’s Jalapeno Jelly. This stuff is absolutely addictive. I spread it on top of crackers and cream cheese. It makes a fabulous holiday treat for get togethers and parties.

And the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, my pantry will have to go without these yearly staples this year.

I do have non-food memories of the market. Taking my niece to her first visit to it and shopping until we were both sitting on the floor in the “food court” exhausted and munching on pizza slices. The two separate years I spent all morning choosing, then buying, holiday tokens for my brother who was serving overseas. Unfortunately, there won’t be any new memories this year.

The Nutcracker Market continues today and tomorrow, Saturday, November 9, 2013 & Sunday, November 10, 2013, 10 AM – 6 PM. It’s being held at the Reliant Center, One Reliant Park, Houston, TX 77054.

Admission at the door is $14. All proceeds from the market benefit the academy and scholarship programs for the Houston Ballet Foundation.

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