Our community has some awfully connected people, and one of the most connected is Cathy2. Cathy2 seems to know about a ton of great food activities, and she is mightily generous in cluing us in to them--a good reason to be on the listserv. Yesterday, for all those (like me) who did not know, Cathy2 told us about a special winter edition of the Green City Market.
We rushed off to the market this morning, actually forgetting to feed one of the chowhounditas and Ms. VI. Luckily, the really excellent bagels at NYC Bagel, along the way saved us. Here's a place that fits into the artinisal spirit of the day to come. You can pretty much walk into their bakery and see hundreds of bagels being boiled and baked as tradition. Then, just as easily eat a bagel still warm, with both crust and heft. This is a bagel worth eating, even, if too the astonishment of my yet not fully trained daughter, they make nary a cheese bagel.
OK, fortified we soldierd on to the market. Not before I had to rant and rave about why this market gets to be treated as so special and sustainable when I think there are many more farmer's markets of interest that do not get the cred--no MAG I am not wanting to debate this again, it was just a rant. I was also predicting in this semi-tirade, that the market would be all tons of nothing and plenty of fro-frou. Luckily, I am a big enough sport to thoroughly enjoy being so damn wrong.
It was a gorgeous market. Fruits may have been limited to mostly keeper apples but great veg. First, cold weather crops like beets and cabbage and brussel sprouts and rhutabagas. Second, stuff that lasts pretty well, like onions and potatos and squash. Finally, there was the hot house things, greens and lettuce and all. High example of the worth of a winter market. There was also the usual Green City range of speciality folk: Red Hen, the cavier woman, more on her in a second; Benneson, the flaxseed meat people. One meat stand really caught my fancy. Jim Peterson, one of a few chowhounds we ran into at the market said these guys were Mennonite. Maybe. They were dressed kinda austre, but surely not in the classic beard but no mustache and bonnet way of the Amish. The thing that really got me, I believe, was the way these guys used the whole beasts. There is something I find insincere and false about some of the fancy-schmancy foodie meat, the way the sell only ground meat and a few cuts. I mean where does the rest of the cuts go. The fact that these guys had brought pretty much everything, even the lungs, just felt right.
Dennis and Emily Wettstein were both at the market talking about their organic farming and their meats. Maybe because we have so little reaction with those that produce meat that I found them so special. I had to buy something. And fretted about which cut. I ended with a sirloin tip roast that I am going to try on the grill. It was not cheap meat, $7/lb, but no more expensive than Whole Food. And I felt good buying it. Then, it turns out that these guys come monthly to, of all places, Oak Park. Apparantly there is some secret confab of cool foodies in my Village who get supplied with what ever they want from these downstate farmers. More suprising, I also learned that Ms. VI is on the mailing list of these secret foodies. This is a long way of saying, if anyone is interested in getting ANYTHING from a cow, pig or lamb, organic, from Wettstein, I know how to procur it, and can help you. E-mail me or call them at 309-376-7291.
The other thing I have begun to process of procurring, is wild caught, hot smoked, American sturgeon. I spent a good portion of the time at the market sampling American caviers and chatting with Carolyn Collins. She is hardly a secret, neither to me, who is always willing to shell out for some caviar for the Condiment Queen, nor to most of the Chicago foodie community. She has been well covered in Slow Food, the media and through such dishes and Rick Tramato's cavier staircase. Still, it is always fun getting re-aquainted. During this time, she told me that from the true American sturgeon that they are catching for caviar, they also have true American sturgeon meat, meat that they are hot smoking and offering in a limited quality. The price is absurdly cheap. Contact me or her if interested.
A great maket, but especially great for the meat and the sturgeon. Also, I must add, not only was Jim there getting an heirloom turkey--how cool, but I ran into Shannon and DJ4J, and I met Slow Food's Kelly, who tasks masks many of us. What tirade?