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federal plaza farmers market 9/16 - heirlooms made my day!

j3s | Sep 18, 200212:16 PM

this is a somewhat truncated version of the review i posted on fcg; full review is linked below (no relevant info was omitted, just extraneous rambling).

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yesterday i trekked across the loop to the federal plaza farmers' market; usually i just go to daley plaza because it's closer, but i'm glad i made the hike.

the first stop i made was at the river valley ranch stand, which drew me in with their gratuitous mushrooms. huge portabellas, baskets-full for three dollars; i bought a one with four mushrooms, ate one raw for lunch when i got back to my office. side note: their site has an abundance of good looking mushroom recipes.

i was just about to move on to the next booth when i saw that river valley ranch had heirloom tomatoes. heirlooms have been much-touted here, so i had to see what all the hype was about. as i head read, none of them looked great, but whatever. i picked out a good sized one, paid $1.23 for it (can't remember how much per pound, but it struck me as pretty cheap), and spent the rest of the day safeguarding my prize to make sure it arrived home unsmooshed. first thing i did after work was to slice it up: perfection. this was the only tomato i've ever eaten that i can honestly call a fruit. tangy but balanced taste, with a soft, full texture. i ate a few slices with salt and pepper but really, it didn't need any; it tasted seasoned, naturally. oh, i want more!

the next stand i visited was stover's, from berrien springs, michigan. they pulled me in with some terrific, full heads of broccoli and a sign saying they were picked at 1:35pm the previous day. i love signs like that. anyway, the broccoli was good, big florets but not too big, like some organic broccoli tends to be. sweet stems, peppery heads, two dollars for a bundle. also at stover's, i couldn't resist a jar of cherry amaretto jam, five dollars.

after that, we headed over to a bread stand, where i tried some challah. it was good, but not the challah i want; for one thing, it wasn't braided or glazed on top. i spent many weekends of my thirteenth year attending bar and bat mitzvahs, where i usually spent the entire reception by the challah, devouring fistfuls of the sweet, soft bread. i haven't had challah like that in a decade, though it doesn't stop me from looking. i called skips on the loaf and moved on.

next stop was lehman's. in june i bought some garlic onion soy nuts from them, which i keep in my desk because a few handfuls are the perfect mid-day protein boost. yesterday, i saw that they had their own wasabi peas, and asked for a taste. watch out! these are some of the hottest wasabi peas i've ever had, more so than any store-bought or homemade brand, real nose-burners. i bought a bag, but can't remember how much it was. three bucks maybe?

then alicia wanted to look at soap, so we headed over to the cream city soap table. they seemed to have good stuff, all soaps suitable for sensitive skin. they even make one for dogs, but people can use it too. i debated oatmeal-honey, or the spicy ginger, but ended up going with the eucalyptus soap. i tried it when i got home and it was great, menthol-y feeling when i was done washing my face.

by this point i was pretty loaded down with stuff to lug back across the loop; too bad that's when i spotted the green acres stand. the sweet corn ("shucked yesterday at 8pm") got my attention; i was about to buy when i realized i had dinner scheduled for last night, today and tomorrow. as it is, my roommates are going to have to help me use the portabellas before they go bad, so i decided not to buy any more stuff, not even a luscious sack of mescalun greens. next time i'm hitting the green acres stand first, then nichols; i'm dying to try some of their potatoes and garlic.


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