Rachel Haynes is, among other things, a writer, devout foodie, and former caterer. She lives in an apartment with a comically small kitchen.
Farmers Market Update: St. Stephen’s New York
by Rachel Haynes
Many most people think of NYC farmers markets, they think of the huge one in Union Square. With over 140 vendors each week, it’s not hard to understand why. However, it’s about a 30-40 minute trek for me via subway and unless you get there right when it opens, the crowds are insane.
So instead I usually opt for my tried and true St. Stephen’s Green Market just a few blocks away from my cozy (tiny) apartment on the Upper East Side. This market recently became year-round, much to my delight. Another thing I love about it is that they allow dogs.
A great thing the main GrowNYC information stand does is provide delicious recipes for current produce. This week I took the roasted beet and chevre grilled cheese recipe card.
I always hit up Samascott Orchards for produce first. Though they’re about two hours from the city, I am going to try to go up there some time this summer because you can pick your own produce.
Being that it is late spring, we got treated to the new arrivals of beautiful broccoli (hooray for leaving the leaves on!) and sweet and crunchy snap peas.
The strawberries here are the sweetest I have ever tasted. In addition to eating them on their own, I have been mashing a couple up with a fork and serving them with champagne at brunch, which people have gone absolutely nuts for.
I love asparagus and am trying to savor every wonderful stalk during its short season. I was inspired by the NY Times article about asparagus and eggs, and have been making that combination for dinner in some fashion almost every night this week.
They also have absolutely amazing baked goods and jams.
For the rest of my produce, I hit up Gajeski Produce, which comes down to us from Riverhead NY.
They always have a beautiful assortment of lettuce, spring mix, kale, arugula, spinach, any salad leaf you could ask for. Today I also found beautifully bright little new potatoes.
Gajeski always have something a little quirky, and this week it was elephant garlic. This stuff is as big as a tennis ball and it is STRONG.
And then out of nowhere – scapes!
These were my favorite find this week. Garlic scapes are the shoots of the garlic bulb. As the bulbs start to harden underground, the farmer can ensure further growth by snipping the shoots. They taste amazing. They are like garlic but milder and somehow greener and brighter. I have mainly been using them with my egg and asparagus combos, but I hear that scape pesto is not to be missed, so I will be attempting that this week as well.
The rest of the market, which is in a parking lot of St. Stephen’s church, consists of smaller stands which carry meat, cheese, eggs, bread, fish and flowers.
Farmer Dan from Rabbits Run Farm in Pennsylvania introduced me to the delightfully named Goumi fruit.
Despite looking like little tadpoles, these things are nutritional powerhouses. Originally from Asia, they have the highest lycopene content of any food, and contain vitamins A and E. The seeds can be eaten and contain essential fatty acids and proteins.
They also help other things around them grow as they are nitrogen fixers and pull the nitrogen out of the air into the soil, which makes it more fertile. They are both sweet and tart and the same time.
Farmer Dan also sells beautiful goat cheeses, goats milk soap and lotions, as well as goat meat.
I don’t eat much beef, but when I do, I don’t mess around. I get it from Rising Sun Angus Farms, who carry free range, grass fed angus beef. The farmer showed me some amazingly lean ground sirloin (2% fat).
It’s gotten to the point where I can do about 70% of my shopping at the farmer’s market, which has not only been a lot healthier, it has been SO much cheaper. (To give you some idea, a quart of orange juice and a quart of milk at the supermarket will cost you $10).
My purchases this week (~$50):
- Romaine Lettuce
- Spring Mix
- New Potatoes
- Garlic Scapes
- Goat Cheese