Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There are No Bad Farmer's Markets

FEDERAL (NOT) Daley Plaza Market May 13, 2008

Update: Good comment the other day about putting in some market basics, and I tried to do that with my report on Green City, but God, I never paid enough attention to the fact that I mis-wrote the name of the market on this post. For the record, the Federal Plaza market is on Tuesdays and the Daley Plaza is on Thursdays.

It's time to bring on the maiden Oak Park Farmer's Market story again. About how when we moved to Oak Park in the Spring of 2000; hit the market as soon as it opened; great donut scare, etc. The punch line, as always, is that the market left us unimpressed and almost lost us to the path we follow today.

Granted the market back then was not what it is like today. No Farmer Vicki. Stands with supermarket produce (how one of these places survives I do not know). One thing, though, has been pretty constant. Little produce at the beginning. It bothered me then. Not now. There are no bad markets.

If a few vendors withstanding below zero in Ann Arbor can make a market, then what was at Federal Plaza today was down right splendid. Asparagus, a lot of asparagus, including expensive stalks from Nichols Farm and purple stalks from Mick Klug, where Chef Virant gets his 'sparagus(maybe Chef Virant will have Mick Klug with him on Iron Chef) [ed. Are you going to stick your Vie Iron Chef scoop in every post?]. It was not all asparagus. Nichol's had last year's potatoes holding up quite well and a few other green things. This market has honey and two bakeries and Stovers canned goods and River Valley mushrooms who were long sold out of morels at 1:30, and Chicago Coalition for the Homeless coffee, which is everything I want in coffee: organic, fair trade and for a great cause; and there were two guys selling cheese, not cheese they made or farmed or had any special connection to, but rather cheese they thought would sell at a market. They had Pleasant Ridge Reserve and a few cheddars. Still, these were all side shows to the asparagus.

What really does a market need about now beyond asparagus. Eat it now. I'd say buy some from each farmer, but that does not really work with asparagus. Asparagus is one of those crops that needs to be eaten fast, now. So, unless some is going into the freezer, don't buy too much. It does, however, freeze pretty well after a short blanch. Makes a nice pasta in January. Get your asparagus. Eat local. Eat seasonally. There are no bad markets.


sdritz said...

Nichols also had purple asparagus in the morning when I first looked (but before I had cash in hand). It was gone when I got there at 12:30.

Carlene said...

Hi! I just moved back to the Chicago area (Skokie) and I'm so glad I found your blog. I have a request, or maybe I just don't know where to look.

When you write about a market you've been to, such as the Daley Plaza the other day, would it be possible to put a little note at the bottom about when the markets are held, or maybe a link to a web site where we can find that information? I feel like we're learning about them after the fact, and it's kind of disheartening.