Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Second Market
Oak Park Farmer's Market June 11, 2005

Sorry for the delay. I've been eating thin crust pizza and otherwise getting bogged down in various foodie forums.

Week two brought slight but distinct incremental changes in the market. In fact the whole point of blogging weekly is to capture these slight but distinct changes, because I think otherwise they get lost easily.

By week two, the market looks bigger. Empty spaces fill with Michigan fruit vendors who now have a crop to sell. Strawberries or asparagus. In fact if you went around to all the vendors, it was Christmas in June in Oak Park. Pretty much the entire output of the market was green or red. Of course Oak Park's premier vendor of variety, Nicholl's farm, offered a wider range of spring items. There was the first sugar snaps and shelling peas of the season. Nicholl's Farm, as they are wont, offered not just strawberries, but varietals of strawberries including "All Star," "Prime Time," "Honeyoye" and "Jewel." Amongst the other vegetable vendors, one could find the first broccoli, lotsa greens, radishes, snow peas, and these. We actually got these turnips the week before, but they are wallowing away in the fridge as I cannot decide what to do with them.

We went to a dinner last night for the group, Seven Generations Ahead at 312 Restaurant. This dinner featured dishes from Oak Park's market: a tart from Nicholl's Farm's garlic shoots and greens, roasted Nicholl's fingerling potatoes (keeper potatoes!), a dish of Nicholl's beets with goat cheese (what an advertisement for beets), another salad featuring Genesis Farm's asparagus and mizuna greens and a final salad of Nicholl's peas over lettuce. I joked that there was about $100 worth of peas on my plate given the high price of farmer's market peas. For dessert there was strawberry tarts and rhubarb cobbler and a rosemary panna cotta (which was gone by the time I got there). If you all do not believe that there is a significant taste advantage in fresh, local produce, well you should have been there last night to try.

I should digress to point out that while Seven Generations Ahead is an Oak Park based group, and the farmer's who provided the produce for the dinner, Nicholl's and Genesis Growers, are at the Oak Park Farmer's Market each week, the food itself was donated for the event by the Green City Market, where Nichols and Genesis also vend. Also, the dinner featured roast pork from Wettstein's Farm. Again, what an endorsement for non-commercial stuff. Chef Dean Zanella roasted the pork with nothing more than salt and pepper. Really allowed the natural pork flavor to shine. The pork was actually a bit leaner than I would have expected, but as I said, it was much more delicious than typical pork. Chef Zanella also served on side, the crisped up skin. Crisped up natural pork skin. Obviously, I took seconds.

OK, let me return to the market with this important note: the donuts were better this week. There was a clear layer of crisp against a softer donut, just what I like in this breed of donut.

See ya next week.

No comments: