Great food comes from great ingredients, and often the produce found at the local grocery store leaves much to be desired. As any chef will tell you, the solution is to buy direct from the farmer, but that's often very difficult to do.
If you live on the North side of town, it just got a bit easier, thanks to Neal's Berry Farm & Farmer's Market.
Located on Gosling Road a couple of miles south of the Woodlands, Neal's is a comfortable, air-conditioned farmer's market, and a sprawling berry farm, where intrepid cooks (or their kids) can harvest fresh berries straight from the vine.
The indoor market features a variety of produce that's either grown on the premises, provided by local farmers, or brought in fresh from Neal's network of producers. The selection changes frequently, and everything is remarkably fresh.
To guarantee maximum freshness, the more perishable produce is stored in a climate-controlled cooler; a rarity at farmers' markets.
Neal's also offers a variety of prepared homemade gourmet items, including dressings and sauces. They also offer a complete make-your-own blackberry cobbler kit, taking the guesswork out of home baking without resorting to the industrial mixes found on your grocer's shelves.
The kit has everything you need, except for water, butter, and the blackberries. Of course, Neal's can help with the berries, too, thanks to the large blackberry orchard behind the store. You can purchase packaged blackberries recently picked by Neal's staff, or you can pick your own, strolling down the rows of tall blackberry plants.
Even during our end-of-season visit, the blackberries were plump, plentiful, and very sweet.
We got the full tour from the proprietor, and his pride in the beautiful grounds was infectious. A restaurateur for many years, Mr. Neal is familiar with the challenges of getting fresh produce, and he created this farmers' market as a solution to that vexing problem.
We were impressed by the quality of the produce at Neal's, and think you will be, too. If you're in the area, come check it out.
Neal's Berry Farm & Farmer's Market
24527 Gosling Road
Spring, Texas 77389