My wife and I have been going to this farmers’ market for years, and for years, it’s been very literally a farmers’ market: a place to buy produce. This year, it seems to have gotten much better – particularly because there’s more things that I can eat while I am there.
While it’s all fine and good to have a lot of produce to buy, I think that if you’re going to call it a farmers’ market (you know, in contrast to say, a regular market), there not only needs to be a good selection of food in the garden state, but there also needs to be a good selection of food in the cooked and ready to eat state. And heck, when was the last time Anthony Bourdain ever went to any kind of food market where there wasn’t really great street food?
This year, the farmers’ market seemed to have gotten a little bit of a reorganization. A lot of the produce vendors are still in the same place, but now there is a larger and more distinct food vendor section. And this made me happy.
The first thing we got were the zeppole. I’ve seen them in years past. In fact, I wrote about them in last year’s post on this same market. These are delicious little doughnuts, covered in sugar and cinnamon. Every time I have these, I lament the fact that there isn’t also an organic coffee roaster that goes to this farmers’ market. My wife really loves the zeppole, too.
Next, we got the crepes. Ever since we went to Paris and had late-night crepes and french fries, my wife and I have loved crepes. Growing up, my wife ate a lot of crepes, actually. Although, she and her family calls them egg pancakes, and they insist that they are different, although they really aren’t. On this particular day, I got the maple crepe because the other options just seemed like way too much money to be spending on a crepe. My wife ended up not-liking this crepe so much. Maybe it’s because we just had a lot of sweetness with the zeppole. Or maybe it was because the crepe was a little too pancake-y.
Next, we had tamales. The flavor options they had were exciting. We got a mushroom and bacon tamale, and I was super excited. Everything at this farmers market has to be compostable, so the forks were way weird and made out of wood. The tamale was quite good, but expensive. And for $6, I wish the consistency were a little better. But likely, it is because they couldn’t find a good, organic lard or shortening to put in the masa. It all kind of crumbled apart, as if I had tried to mush together cous cous. On the other hand, the flavors were exquisite, and the next time I make cous cous, it will have bacon and mushrooms.
At this point, my wife and I were quite full. This was a shame because there was a hamburger place that I had never tried before. But, I guess, there is always next Saturday.
Having eaten, I could now focus on buying food to bring home. Our first purchase was bread. I generally feel that buying artisan bread is just way too expensive. But these guys are good. And organic. And I am loving ciabatta these days. This bread would later become part of a bacon sandwich. Not a BLT. A bacon sandwich.
We next stopped at the Becker Lane tent. I love Becker Lane. Last year, I bought a pork shoulder from them, and it was good. Damn good. My wife is from the next town over from where this farm is in Iowa. Some day, I hope to take my daughter there, although I have no idea whether they do tours.
This year, in addition to meat, they were also selling pork rinds. Now, I have never had pork rinds before, but I know what they are. And deep fried pig skin from an organically raised heritage pig sounded marvelous. I handed over my $5 and picked up a bag.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I didn’t like it. Maybe this makes me lose points on my porkaholics membership card, but this was just too porky. It was like a mix between bacon flavored potato chips and licking an actual, live pig. I could only eat one or two at a time before I needed a break. But, like smelling the stinky end of a pen, I couldn’t resist going back again and again for it.
At this point, we had been at the market for hours, and money seemed to be burning a hole in my pocket. So, we got some fingerlings. I love fingerlings from these guys. A little olive oil + grill = deliciousness.
Also from my potato guys, I got this. Microwave popcorn on the cob. They say that you take the whole ear or corn, put it in a paper bag, and microwave it. I bought two. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am dying to know if this works. I wonder if I could put it in tin foil and cook it on a grill, jiffy-pop style.
Later, I picked up some zucchini. I love zucchini. They make me think of summer and also of my dad. Before he retired and they downsized to a highrise condo, they used to have a garden where the only thing that would grow would be weeds and giant zucchini. He never knew what to do with it all and ended up giving most of it away, although I suppose that is the best part of having a garden in the first place.
The farmers market also had a nice kids area. There were activities for kids and even some scavenger hunt type cards for the kids to ask all the different famers questions about how they grow stuff. All this makes sense because everyone at this farmers market has a dog, is pregnant, has a kid, or likely is all of the above at the same time. There were so many strollers, it was like going to a stroller product expo.
Most of the strollers had gathered around the musical guest for the day: Polyphonic Marimba. I actually loved these guys. They are hippies from Santa Fe, and they are travelling the country with their very unusual sound. It was like walking around in live-action video game. And because their sound is perfect for either getting kids excited in a good way or sleepy at naptime, we decided to buy their CD. If they had ended their set with an excerpt from Super Mario Brothers 1, I would have bought two.
This was the first CD I have bought in about five years.