Despite her absence, we had an incredible time. Cheese makers, fishmongers, bakers, fish smokers, organic butchers, pasta makers, and farmers all packed the square. My favorite stand was O'Conaill's Chocolate, which served their famous hot chocolate (dubbed "the best hot chocolate in Ireland"). When you order a cup, he scoops chocolate chips (white, milk, or dark) into a mug of fresh milk and froths or steams the mixture until it turns into liquid heaven. You can even add a shot of espresso if your 6:30 AM wake-up is starting to sink in. To top it all off, he hands over your drink with a petit four wrapper filled with chocolate chips placed on your lid! A party favor, if you will. I was sold!
It was a great experience to observe how a farmer's market runs behind the scenes. Really anyone can start one in his or her area. It just takes some organization, commitment from local producers, and, admittedly, a lot of hard work! Our headmistress says that farmer's markets provide a great platform to "market test" a product. Rather than spending lots of money to hire a market testing analyst, make a few batches of your product, hand out free samples, and see if people buy. If customers come back for more the next week, you're onto something. If no one returns, back to the drawing board!