Report from the Other Coast: Part III

Market 3: Summit, NJ

Well, I survived the heat of the city and returned to visit family in New Jersey, where I was greeted with a delicious and peaceful meal. While I didn’t get to visit the Summit Farmers’ Market, I was treated to some of its delicious produce. They were stocked with fresh greens, beans, melons, tomatoes, and beautiful flowers.

You, too, can enjoy this meal, which included a superb lentil preparation. (We suggest you add a little crisp bacon to the lentils after stewing.)

Something else newsworthy? After months of only dreaming, I tasted my first corn this summer! Thanks, Summit!

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Report from the Other Coast: Part II

This is the second installation of my ‘eating my way through New York’ report.

Market 2: Brooklyn, Borough Hall

Saturday morning found us in Brooklyn, faced with the possibility of cooking dinner for 6. We found the nearest market, thanks to Greenmarket’s nifty map, and walked down to see what was fresh. I convinced my companions to do the market my preferred way: survey the entirety in one swift pass and then dive in! The choices were abundant:tomatoes, greens, herbs galore, beans, carrots, and so much more. Since there was too much to choose from, we decided to have it all and do a vegetable pasta. We picked up some cherry tomatoes, a zucchini, an eggplant (yes!), cippollini onions (yes, yes!!), and the world’s largest bouquet of basil. (We also bought some arugula but even in water, it was wilted past usable by dinnertime, due to the heat.) I couldn’t resist a few heads of fresh garlic and committed to making a focaccia bread. (Who chooses to turn the oven on during a 90°+ day? People who love bread, that’s who!)

And…joy of joys! There was homemade cheese! Our plans for a picnic lunch instantly formalized, and the people at Valley Shepard Creamery. generously plied us with samples, allowing us to pick just the right cheese. It all tasted absolutely amazing. You can tell that these people care about their cheese. We finally decided on some gouda and cheddar to accompany the peaches and white plums that we found at the opposite stand. I picked out some of their parmiggiano and the Jersey Fresh Mixte, which is a mozzarella-like cheese. I cubed this firmer cheese and tossed it with the pasta. It leaned towards mozzarella, but with a saltier and tastier bite. I wish I had bought more!

After our purchases were made, I took a moment to look around the market and consider a big difference between the markets that I have visited on each coast. Here, in New York, it was hard to find signs that told you the name and location of the farm, and proud signs declaring various levels of organic status were conspicuously absent. In fact the closest thing that I spotted was a sign that, under growing practices, listed, “We try not to spray.” This seems to be the biggest difference between the NY markets and the West Coast markets. The prices were lower, but the organic produce was definitely absent.

However, we all thoroughly enjoyed the two meals that we sourced from the Brooklyn market, where these heat-resistant farmers set up right outside the subway station.

Report from the Other Coast: Part I

Since most of our observations take place out here on the west coast, I thought it would be interesting to bring right to you, my hungry audience, a report from the other side of the country. I was recently in New York and connived to convince my traveling pal to visit a few farmers’ markets with me. It was interesting to see what was fresh, available, or absent, as compared to our markets here in Seattle.

Market 1: Rockefeller Center

The market here serves up fresh veggies, products, and even homemade juices to busy people in the summer time, Wednesdays through Fridays, 8AM to 6PM. We arrived in the early afternoon (sometime between lunch and giant cupcakes), and the market was crowded. It was so hot that both the farmers and the produce were beginning to look a bit wilted. There were tables of tomatoes, greens, beets, turnips, and even corn.

We bought some honey and delicious smelling soap as souvenirs and spent some time talking to the woman at the stand. She told us about their program, Bees Without Borders, an organization whose mission is to “educate and train individuals and communities living in impoverished areas in beekeeping skills and the value of beekeeping for poverty alleviation.” Check out their website and find out how you can help this group. Their idea of hosting a honey tasting sounds like a unique party idea and a fun way to spread the love of local honey.

We didn’t buy anything else at the Rockefeller Farmers’ Market, as we had a whole day of tourism and restaurant-eating ahead of us. It looked like a lot of shoppers were picking out their produce for dinner, and it was good to see so many taking the time in the middle of their day to seek out small farmers in the big city. Next time….shopping in Brooklyn! (There will be cheese!)