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Markets & Stores 10

Oak Park Farmer's Market 6/29/02

Vital Information | Jun 29, 200204:45 PM

Today, may in fact, have been the perfect day at the market, although I reserve the right to declare a perfect day again before the season ending stone soup in October. What constitutes a perfect market day?

Of course the weather plays a strong role, both in what it produces at the market and what it produces strolling the market. This morning, the humidity stayed away, leaving a beach boys worthy warmth of the sun, without out our miserable stickiness. On top of that, the warm weather has yielded an array of traditional "spring" crops, which I'll get to later.

But here is another reason for a perfect market. One of the vendors, I forgot their name, shame on me, an older couple, were offering samples of their walnuts. After the chowhounditas somehow opened the walnuts (don't ask how Hannah did it), Ms. VI decided she wanted to purchase some. Purchase? They were happy to get rid of the box so they could get home. A wonderous compromise that left us with a huge supply of crinkly old Michigan walnuts. I know that will not happen again.

Finally, a perfect market needs donuts, coffee and tons of neighbors. Much improved today on last week's dismanl donut doings. Enough neighbors to chat with and a blind eye to the inferior coffee.

On to the produce. No wait, before I forget, I've been meaning to mention that the last few weeks, neither the cheese people nor the Avedon-photoed bald honey man have been around, anyone know why? Also, the soy nuts people have been MIA the entire summer. This still leaves plenty of stuff.

As I mentioned above, today was probably the peak day for "spring" crops. It is probably the last day we will see strawberries in the market (or at least I was warned). We stuck with Nichols again. We got two varieties: jewel and all-star. What jewels the jewels, tiny nibs of intense flavor, perhaps like eating warm jam. These are as close to the famed wild berries of France as you will find locally. We only got the all-stars for the sake of variety.

Nichols had a bunch of other spring things. The first (and only?) fava's of the season, three kinds of sugar snaps which they were offering as tastings. We ended with, something called, like, quesadillas. The onions and similiar products are still small. Beets in two colors were there and gobs of gorgeous brocoli.

Michigan fruits are being trucked in now in greater numbers. Cherries are every where. We like the people at Barry's Berries and took their cherries along with their bright blueberries. The fact that they let me slide a quarter contributed to the perfect market day. They also had sun-ripened tomatoes, which she cannily explained to me were clandestinely traded for blueberries at a midnight rendevous in Kentucky. Skibbes had some really expensive raspberries, but the Raspberry Queen could not pass.

Over at chi.eats someone noticed that one of the vendors scales was hinky. I looked today and noticed it's maybe an ounce or two past tare. I do not know if it makes much of a difference to me. Speaking of other farmer's market reports, I've linked to Jes's recent gooseberry fueled Daley Plaza spree below. Also, Local Palate writes about some markets, Skokie sounds especially interesting, can anyone provide more details?

See you next week.



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