The Market Report: November 18, 2012

November 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Berck Ville, France

Last weekend, we drove to France. From London. Literally.

The secret is the Channel train, which leaves from Folkestone four times each hour. We drove directly onto the train, which swiftly took us to Calais, France in just 30 minutes. With minor alterations to the car – namely adding a breathalyser kit per EU law – we were on the road to fruits de mer and Calvados.

We missed the Saturday morning market in Montreuil, famous for the setting of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, but woke early for the Sunday market at nearby Berck.

Beautiful church in the town of Montreuil, where we spent the night — right across from the Victor Hugo bar!

Here is a market where the locals shop. Baskets piled high with potatoes, children clamouring for sweets, an elderly woman paying for her Camembert with food stamps – there was no pretence, just an appreciation for the local fare as sustenance as much as it was also the makings of a delicious week.

Turnips glittering in the morning sun.

Odd-shaped Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes — one of my favorite things to eat after tasting them in a salad at St John Bread & Wine in Spitalfields, London.

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Black Radishes: there’s a first time for everything.

The secret to French cuisine: shallots

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Coquilles St Jacques — scallops, with their shell!

A few recipes:

Roasted sunchokes with hazelnut gremolata: Good sunchoke recipes are few and far between, but Food52 saves the day with this incredible preparation for the tuber.

Scallops with herb broth, braised radishes, & bacon: We enjoyed a similar dish the evening before our market excursion — fresh scallops barely need more than a sear in brown butter.

Potato leek soup with buttermilk: A British classic, potato leek soup highlights the oft-overlooked member of the Allium family. Put this relative of the onion to work!

The Market Report: November 10, 2012

November 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Amherst, MA, USA

Last weekend was the type of weather than farmers and football fans alike dream of. And it so happened that I was up at Amherst College for those two reasons: a farmers’ market and a football game, in that order.

It was Homecoming at Amherst College, a place where family ties run deep. My little brother and sister are current undergraduates, and my other brother, mother and grandfather are alumni. We wear a lot of purple.

While the College isn’t known for football (although the team logged a win over Williams), it is known for its farms. My brother is even starting one on campus! So the local Saturday morning farmers’ market is packed with local produce, as well as grass-based meats and dairy.

“Feast your eyes” never held more meaning than in the packed produce stalls of Amherst’s farmers, even in fall. I’ve never found more varieties of turnips, carrots and radishes in one place, and with such color!

Early start at the Amherst Farmers’ Market

The market sits in the center of the town green, equidistant from Main Street and the College’s campus.

Fresh ginger, grown organically in greenhouses to survive the harshest Northeastern winters. Its skin is so delicate, I didn’t even need to peel it when I made green curry!
Old Friends Farm in Amherst, MA

Another surprise from Old Friends Farm: fresh turmeric, also grown organically.

A panoply of colors among the carrots from Simple Gifts Farm, an organic operation where a pair of oxen sometimes help!
Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst, MA

A single variety of radish produces this colorful array — another bright surprise from Simple Gifts Farm.

A side of popcorn few people see anymore — on the cob!
Astarte Farm in Hadley, MA

Flying Amherst colors: these turnips capture the Lord Jeffs’ hue as if by design.
Atlas Farm in Deerfield, MA

Curious about the funny name for this radish? Cut into it and you’ll understand — their inside is a shocking shade of pink! Another organically-grown heirloom variety from Atlas Farm

Inspiration in the kitchen:

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup: Fresh ginger is the secret ingredient in this flavorful soup, a simple recipe that takes no more than 5 minutes to make. And from Williams Sonoma of all places!

Spicy Carrot Salad: Show off different varieties of carrots with this elegant yet easy preparation — especially if you like cayenne pepper!

Pickled Radishes: Let radishes become the exotic pickle on your next gourmet burger or even just a garnish on a garden salad. This recipe adds vim and vi(ne)gor to the humble root.

The Market Report: November 3, 2012

November 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Phoenixville, PA, USA

We all have weekend rituals, and mine is going to the farmers’ market. I use the definite article loosely, because the market may be near our family farm in Pennsylvania, in New York City, in London, or wherever I happen to be traveling.

The market used to be just a routine. Back in 2002 when my parents started our local farmers’ market in Pennsylvania, we had to go, or there would be no shoppers. By the time I left for college, it was thriving, and I couldn’t imagine a week without one. It wasn’t long before I started a campus farmers’ market at Princeton. By now, the morning market has become more than a routine: it’s a ritual.

Wherever I wake up on Saturday morning, the local market is my first destination.

No two markets are alike, but a good farmers’ market features good local food. Selection changes with the seasons, and every growing season is different from the last. One year’s bumper crop of apples is next year’s time for cherries to shine. At home on the farm, our beets are tiny this year, but our sweet potatoes have thrived. I harvested 15 pounds of glittering yams from one plant alone!

It’s this dependence on the seasons, and the variety they bring, that turns a farmers’ market into an edible treasure hunt.

Here’s a weekly peek into my market basket. At a good market, what’s good at the market? I’m on a perpetual search for fresh, delicious finds, led by chats with producers, occasional taste tests and constant cooking with the bounty.

This post marks the first of many notes on highlights from the market.

Phoenixville Farmers’ Market
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This fall has been an incredible season for sweet potatoes. I was fearful that the largest ones would be the least flavorful, but they’ve proved me wrong. Weighing up to 4 or 5 pounds a piece, the giant yams are a super-sweet and an efficient choice in the kitchen.
Jacks Farm in Pottstown, PA

These giant candy onions bleed a milky juice when I slice into them, a boon to the caramelization process. They also store well, so I stock up when I find them.
Farmer Aaron Esch in Quarryville, PA

Some of the finest mushrooms in the world come from Pennsylvania, and Joe and Angela grow some best. This week, they brought four varieties, harvested that morning. Clockwise from the top left: Criminis, Shiitakes, Portobellos, Oysters.
Oley Valley Mushrooms in Oley, PA

I can’t get enough of Sue Miller’s raw milk cheese, and was excited to discover her newest, Clipper. It is a hard cheese aged for 8 months, with the sharpness of a cheddar and slight sweetness of gruyere. And check out the legs on that table. . .                                                                                 Birchrun Hills Farm in Birchrunville, PA

It was a great year for cabbage at our family’s CSA, Charlestown Farm. These leafy brassicas are particularly sweet this late in the season.
Charlestown Farm in Phoenixville, PA

The end to my farmers’ market haul is signaled when my bag comes to a breaking point. With a sigh, I have to leave new delicious finds behind, until next week. . .

A few favorite recipes:

Caramelized Onion Sage Tart: I’ve been making this recipe from Jerry Traunfeld’s cookbook, The Herb Farm, for years. With one bite, dinner guests refuse to leave without the recipe in hand!

Homemade Sweet Potato Fries: They’re one of my favorite quick and healthy snacks, and Cookie & Kate includes great photos for the best way to elegantly tackle a monster sweet potato. You won’t be able to return to normal fries.

Grilled Oyster Mushrooms: Joe from Oley Valley has always suggested grilling his oysters, and this recipe from Gourmet is foolproof. Let the mushrooms get crispy around the edges.

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