I apologize for the delay in getting this report up, but I also note that I do not know if I will be as diligent in "blogging" the market as I was last year. I hope that whenever I falter, others can quickly and easily pick up the slack. The primary purposes of the market reports, besides the ever present indulgance in my fantasy-sluiced life, is to glorify the benefits of seasonal eating, encourage the use of local foods, and otherwise glorify these weekly events. The Oak Park Farmer's Market and other like it are huge boons to our chow-munity and should be vastly supported.
Last year, I noted that at various times of the year, the market took on certain dominant hues. For instance, in late September, the market seems all yellows, browns and oranges. Well, on this, the delayed first day of the Oak Park Market, the dominant color was black. That is black as in the freshly paved blacktop of the Pilgrim Church. The first market of the year is always notable for what is not there, and one can easily and accidently wonder what all the fuss is about. There aint no fruit yet, and there are hardly any flowers, so there are gaping vacancies where these stands will be. In addition, "The Farm", those folks from Plano that bring in a trailer of corn straight from the field do not come for several weeks, so that big space remains empty. A lot of black around.
Actually, the Oak Park Farmer's Market contained much less stuff than its prime rival, Evanston. Reports over at e-Gullet note that spring flings sugar snaps and strawberries have already been sold. Not at Oak Park. We were all about greenhouse greens, the first onionish things, and those earliest of risers, asparagus and rhubarb. Some of the vendors stretched out their offerings with things like dried fruit, soap (!) and leftover apples (!!).
The big news this year at Oak Park is the reported crackdown on faux farm stand stands. The NE and SE corners of the stand always featured large operations that sold vegetables that looked remarkably like those seen at Jewel. These places always seemed to have tomatoes early and such non-local items as portobello mushrooms. Both were not present on the first day, and may be gone for good. In their place, Oak Park picked up two gourmet-ish vendors, Blue Hills Farm and Scotch Hill Farms. Blue Hills purports to be fully organic, and on Saturday had some exotic greens, enormous spines of dill and other interesting items. Hat Hammond noted of their spotted lettuce, "looks dirty." Scotch Hill promised "European" food in weeks to come, but had nothing edible on opening day. I should be plenty happy with the changes, but I felt slightly chagrined that anything would be changed. Hopefully, over the year these newbies will bring in such good things, that I will forget that I will get convinced that they were there forever.
Most important, the donuts suffered from no early season kinks, and we had to stand in quite a deep line at 9:00 to get some.
See you next week