The growing season is here, and chefs and consumers are taking advantage of all the goodness farmers have to offer.
■ This summer, shoppers on the south side of Lexington can find farm-fresh produce nearby. Azur Restaurant & Patio, 3070 Lakecrest Circle, in Beaumont Centre will open its patio and sidewalk for a farmers bazaar. The set-up is free to local growers, and the market will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, beginning in June. Call (859) 296-1007 or go to Azurrestaurant.com.
"The response has been incredible from both interested buyers and Kentucky farmers," executive chef Jeremy Ashby said.
■ The Kentucky Market Pavilion in Owingsville kicks off the season with an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday. Participating vendors include Ruth Hunt Candies, Ale-8-One, Bloomfield Farms, Bramble Ridge Orchards, Rolling R Farms and Townsend Sorghum.
Spring market hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The market is off Interstate 64 at Exit 123. Call (606) 674-6688 or 1-855-717-3633, or email email@example.com.
■ Opening day for the Bluegrass Farmers Market is Saturday. The market features 100 percent homegrown or farmer-produced items. It's at 3450 Richmond Road, in the parking lot of Pedal the Planet and Fast Signs. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Go to Localharvest.org/blog/29529.
■ Alfalfa Restaurant has bought a wagon, which has been decorated by an artistic employee, to be used to load up at the farmers market. "We'll buy as much local stuff as we can," Jake Gibbs said. "Each weekend we'll have a farmers market omelet depending on what I find there. We'll be using eggs from Home Pickin's of McKee. Last week, the omelet was an Asiago cheese (from Boone Creek Creamery) and asparagus."
Alfalfa's beer selections include local and craft, and the restaurant now serves some organically produced wines. Alfalfa is at 141 East Main Street. Call (859) 253-0014.
■ Della's Diner, 124 North Upper Street, will open at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays during farmers market season. The diner will be open Thursday nights when Thursday Night Live returns. Call (859) 281-1141.
Changes and additions
■ Chef Patrick Wilhoit is back at The Metropol. He opened the restaurant at 307 West Short Street in 2001 and left to pursue other interests. He again will serve some of his original favorites, which focus on Kentucky-grown produce. Artists featured at the restaurant are Linda Horvay and Joan Judah. Call (859) 381-9493.
■ Chef Elizabeth Maggi is warming up the dinner menu at Natasha's Bistro with Caribbean flavors.
Maggi, formerly of Miami, has family roots in Spain and will prepare Latin specials for Friday and Saturday. Included are Havana pork marinated in mojo sauce and served with black beans, rice and fried plantains; and Jamaican jerk chicken served with pilaf and fried sweet potatoes. There will be a Latin dance party on Saturday night.
Maggi's key lime pie is back on the menu for the season. Call (859) 259-2754. Natasha's is at 112 Esplanade.
■ Thai Orchid Café, 1030 South Broadway, is having a seafood fest through Easter. The menu includes butter and garlic shrimp, coconut curry shrimp, emerald shrimp with garlic sauce, ginger shrimp hot pot, four-flavored shrimp and seafood curry rice. Call (859) 288-2170 or go to Thaiorchidcafe.net.
■ The Julep Cup, 111 Woodland Avenue, has put some new items on its menu for Keeneland fans. Included are jumbo button mushrooms stuffed with crab meat; New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp; and certified Angus steaks with choice of Diane, au poivre or Oscar preparations. Call (859) 226-0300. John Hedger will entertain Friday; harpist Carolyn DuPont will play on Saturday.
■ Fritanga Nicaraguan Latin Grill, 1205 Versailles Road, is celebrating its first anniversary Saturday and Sunday. Nicaraguan beers Toña and Costa Rican Imperial, and Dominican beer Presidente will be served. Call (859) 225-3004.
■ Patrons at Onizim's Restaurant can get a bowl of soup — for the price of a cup — during happy hour. Featured soups are chicken gumbo, seafood gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish and corn bisque, and jambalaya. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Onizim's is at 735 East Main Street. Call (859) 266-9000 or go to Onizims.com.
■ American Legion Man o' War Post 8 will have a fish fry from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $5. Proceeds go to help veterans. Post 8 is at 1230 Man o' War Place, one block off South Broadway at Legion Drive.