Leanne Battelle lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and with her blog The Real Deal Marin reports on food system reform efforts and shares flavorful recipes prepared with seasonal ingredients. The blog serves as a link to The Whole Pantry, a service that simplifies and inspires home cooking by improving efficiency in the kitchen. You can subscribe to the blog or follow on Facebook and Pinterest.
Baa is an Ossetian, born in Turkey and currently living in Austria. Vacationing in Istanbul, she checks out markets to hunt down delicious greens. A software developer with a soft spot for academic research in that field, an avid knitter (baahar.etsy.com) and reader, she makes time to cook meals with real food and advocates a lifestyle of moderation so that you can enjoy the foods you love longer. You can also find her on Pinterest and Twitter.
Farmers Market Update: Istanbul
Istanbul. An overly satiated city of 13 million. There are several ways fresh and local produce finds its way to us in this chaotic but wonderful city: weekly markets in each district, produce shops on almost every street, and finally street vendors who walk around with their carts and shout. You can hear them from afar, with their intriguing calls, because they distort the words to make their call sound… better? harmonious? Beside the occasional riddle as to what they are actually selling, they provide people with top-notch service. You can lower down a basket from your window with the money, shout your order and get your goods without even leaving your apartment.
There are no words for how good it felt to get back to the farmers market this week. The past few months have been a complete blur, preparing for the wedding and the book. I haven’t had time to breathe, let alone admire the seasonal produce.
Elyse Kopecky is an Oregonian living, working and playing outdoors in Geneva, Switzerland. She’s a passionate food and health blogger who enjoys inspiring friends to live fresh. Next month she’s leaving the corporate world to study health supportive culinary arts at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.
The Market Mazes of Marrakech
by Elyse Kopecky
In Marrakech every day is market day. In fact, in this city of a million people, every minute of every hour of every day the streets are alive with the sights, sounds and smells of vendors hawking their wares. Even for a serious foodie the city’s food and spice markets are a force to be reckoned with. Pass through the red walls of the Medina and you will soon find yourself lost in a maze of markets.
As a food and health blogger, I’ve developed a craving to seek out extraordinary markets. Discovering farmers markets in faraway places is an adventure in both food and culture.
I also have an affinity for spices. To me Moroccan food celebrates the range of sweet, bitter, fiery and aromatic spices better than any other cuisine. In fact, Morocco’s most famous seasoning, Ras el Hanout, is typically a blend of 35 spices. 35! Oh la la! Therefore, it was no surprise to my husband when I told him that for my birthday, I wanted to go on a culinary excursion to Marrakech.
The old fortified city of Marrakech is truly one giant market. In any direction you look someone is selling something. Anyone visiting for the first time should be prepared to get lost, and lost, and lost again as you search for the true foodie corners where local Berber farmers sell their homegrown specialties. Luckily, on our first day, my husband and I stumbled upon a small square packed with elderly men selling local produce.
We bought some oranges and pomegranates that looked bruised and battered, but tasted fabulous. I especially loved the giant weathered flour sacks stuffed with bundles of fresh mint. For Moroccans, mint tea is the cornerstone of every gathering. They mix fresh mint leaves with green or black tea for a midday energy boost (healthy alternative to coffee!).
For our second day of exploring the markets we hired Eben Lenderking, owner of the fabulous cooking school at Sanssouci Collection and author of the cookbook Tanjia Marrakchia, to guide us through the maze of food stalls. Our culinary adventure continued with a tour of the spice markets, where we were guided to a wholesale shop in a small back alley of the old Jewish quarter.
There we bought spices for the tajine and couscous dishes that we would be cooking later in a class taught by Eben’s Dada (aka head chef). We also bought a few Moroccan specialties to bring back home, including beautiful threads of saffron, savory cumin, the shop’s own house Ras el Hanout blend, cinnamon bark and the famed nutritious Argan oil.
After stocking up on spices, we headed to the impressive Marche du Mellah, a covered food market where we picked up fresh vegetables. A traditional Moroccan vegetable couscous dish contains seven vegetables (so nutritious!). The version we cooked at Riad Kaiss included onion, cabbage, zucchini, tomato, carrot, turnip and pumpkin. We also scoped out the fresh fish for a monkfish tajine, which ended up being our favorite dish of the cooking course.
Marrakech is not for everyone. It’s loud, dusty and chaotic. But Marrakech has a magic, energy and excitement that I have never experienced anywhere else. And it has the flavors to match its unique vibe. For a food lover, Marrakech is a true culinary adventure. An adventure in finding your way through the maze of markets and an adventure in endless spices, oils, grains and vegetables. I left Marrakech inspired to continue my drive to explore the amazing and wonderful food markets of our world.
You can continue to follow my culinary adventures and get inspired to live FRESH at www.freshabits.com.
Matthew Denos of WeightLossTriumph.com is a biologist who lives in Greece. He enjoys the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle after spending 6 years in the US working as a research fellow in academia. He believes that health is our greatest resource and therefore it’s worth keeping it optimum. When he doesn’t review diets and gourmet food delivery programs he is outdoors biking, mountain climbing or windsurfing.
Farmers Market Update: Pteleos, Greece
by Matthew Denos
I am blessed to live in Greece. Yes, the economy sucks, unemployment is at an all time high, the cost of living is expensive, and basic salary is a joke. Yet, I wouldn’t trade the Greek islands, the beaches and the mountains for any of the strong economies up north or overseas. I wouldn’t trade the Greek food, either—the healthy Mediterranean diet. The extra virgin olive oil, wine, feta cheese, seafood, olives, unique herbs and spices—the Mediterranean lifestyle in all its forms has a top place in my heart.
Fortunately, the Greek food chain is not as industrialized as it is in other Western countries. Of course, food is nowhere what it once was. But Greece is a relatively small market in Southeast Europe (the gate to the East), and, thankfully, has not yet totally assimilated the Western diet. Our traditional diet still holds strong, and healthy soils abound, especially in Greek islands and villages.
Last summer I spent a few weeks in my grandfather’s village in Pteleos, where I had the opportunity to visit the local farmers market. Pteleos is a picturesque village nestled among curvy hills on the west side of Pagasitikos Gulf, in Thessaly, Greece, not far away from gorgeous beaches facing Aegean Sea. Thessaly is the birthplace of Greek hero Achilles (think Brad Pitt in the movie Troy).
Olives and olive oil are the farmers’ main produce in Pteleos, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise given that there are over half a million olive trees planted within a radius of 3 miles from the village center. The village is basically embedded in a huge plantation of olive trees. The local farmers, which are mostly olive oil producers, own the plantations. Yet, it’s impossible for them to harvest all these fields by themselves, which is why each year in November, when the olive tree harvest begins, they hire workers from Bulgaria, the neighboring country, to help them out.
As I headed to the market that Wednesday morning, I was excited to meet the farmers. It was my first visit ever. Some of the farmers live and work in Pteleos while others come from nearby villages (Sourpi, Valestino, Almyros). Most of them have their own plantations and are proud and passionate about the quality of their products. Others are simply re-sellers of produce they bring from distant parts of the country. Farming is for them a family business. One can sense the care and passion that goes into cultivating the land, sowing the seeds, growing, protecting, and harvesting the plants, and finally selling the product. It’s a long and strenuous process which the family is proud of.
The market takes place outdoors in a car park every Wednesday. It starts at 8am and goes until noon. It’s worth getting to the market early, so at 9am I was there, with my Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 in hand, greeting the first stall owner with a smile.
He thought I was a tourist and greeted me in English. Pteleos, and the broader area, is a popular summer vacation destination. When I told him I am just taking pictures for an article I am going to publish at a California-based health site, he gladly pointed me to his colorful and fresh produce. I loved his beautiful array of groceries of the nightshade family. Peppers of different shapes and colors drew my attention, as well as the shiny, ovoid, dark purple eggplants. I bought two pounds of peppers. Pepper is part of my daily high-protein, veggie-rich omelet.
A little further down there was a stall full of melons. The football shaped ones are called “Thrakiotika” (Thracian), because they grow in Thrace, the northeastern section of Greece, bordering Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east. I bought one and it was really sweet. In the summer, production of watermelons is in full swing. The stall owner was thirsty this sunny day and was feasting on a half watermelon.
Across the way was a stall displaying a beautiful assortment of apples. Did you know that green apples have fewer calories than red? 30% less to be exact. This is because they contain less sugar. The same holds true when you compare the green and non-green version of almost any fruit or vegetable. Green olives have 38% fewer calories than black olives. Green peppers are 29% less calorie dense than red peppers.
As I had approached the apple stand, thinking about the calorie content of green and red apples, the farmer behind it greeted me. I introduced myself as a reporter for local Greek farmers markets. “Can you take a picture of me, too?” he asked. “Certainly,” I replied, “people in San Francisco and around the world will be glad to see your produce.” Another lady from a nearby stall heard the conversation and came along for the shot.
As I wandered around the stalls, picking my weekly groceries, I stopped to buy some tomatoes. I love tomatoes, especially if they are produced organically. This was not an organic farmers market (like the one I visited in Patras), still the farmers try to use as little pesticide as possible to grow their produce. Some grow the produce in their backyards without using chemicals at all, mainly for their own household’s needs. They then sell what they don’t consume themselves. Tomatoes sell for 1 euro a kilo (USD 59 cents a pound).
In general, organically produced tomatoes are less attractive than conventional ones. Take a look at these two photos below and compare the looks and the taste. Well, you cannot actually taste them, but I did. The difference is like day and night.
The ones on the top tasted much better and were full of flavor. If you look at them you will notice that they are not as pleasant to the eye as the ones beneath. They are not evenly colored. They have patches of green. They have scars, too. Obviously, in the absence of pesticides and other chemicals, appearance is compromised in favor of taste.
At this point, I heard somebody coming from behind me and I turned around. “Take a look at these gigantic beets! You should feature them in your report,” a vendor said as she held these huge beets proudly in front of my camera. Her request was hard to beet.
Peaches, nectarines, and vanilla plums make it to the list of my favorite summer fruits. Their distinctive aroma and color drew my attention. The ones I purchased had really juicy flesh. They were highly flavored and had a sweet and sour taste.
Potatoes and onions are always displayed together in any Greek farmers market I have visited. I like onions because they add to the tastiness of many foods. I eat one a day as they are one of the healthiest vegetables. Being aware of the enormous health benefits onions, famous American chef Julia Child once commented “I cannot imagine a world without onions.” I got a few from the stand below.
As my Pteleos farmers market trip drew to an end, I looked around for grapes. Grape is regarded by many in Greece as the king of fruits. Here grapes support a vibrant wine industry which is rich in native varieties. Grapes are a seasonal fruit that is available in the market only from August to November. The variety I bought is called “σταφίδα” (stafida – raisins) because it is the variety used for the production of raisins.
I was about to leave when I noticed two of my favorite medicinal herbs. Mountain tea (sideritis) and oregano. Both are native plants. They grow in Greek mountains. The vendor opened a bag where he kept the oregano, and the aromatic oils, which are strong enough to numb the tongue, filled the air.
The farmers market in Pteleos is a lovely place to go shopping if you ever happen to visit Thessaly, the homeland of hero Achilles.
Tora Cullip and Donna Richards are Weight Control Experts based in Sydney, Australia. They teach people how to get in control of their weight by mastering their mindset, motivation and metabolism. They believe that eating real, whole food is not only delicious, nutritious and satiating, but also allows you to easily control your weight without diets and deprivation. They prefer to eat local, seasonal and preferably organic and believe the only diet anyone should ever follow is the Upgrade Diet —always be upgrading to better quality food!
Eveleigh Market, Sydney, Australia
by Tora Cullip and Donna Richards
Although Sydney isn’t a huge city, we are typical Sydneysiders in that we don’t always venture too far out of our own stomping ground on weekends, so we didn’t come across Eveleigh Market until about a year ago. Since then, it’s become our firm favourite and the one that we visit every Saturday. In fact, during our first trip to Eveleigh Market we had a mixture of excitement and disbelief: how could we not have known about this fantastic market only 20 minutes away?
Over the past year, we’ve come to know a lot of the stall holders at Eveleigh Market and we are always amazed at their stories. One of the things we love the most about farmers markets is discovering how everyone came to be growing or making their own produce. Without fail, each of them is driven by a passion and belief in health for their families, community and the environment. We love that!
We know that people can find getting their groceries for the week a real chore and hassle, so we like to think of our farmers market trip as our ‘hunting and gathering’ time. That may sound a bit silly, but it makes our weekly trip to get all of our fresh produce seem fun and enjoyable rather than humdrum. Of course, it helps that we always pick up a piccolo latte before we get started.
We made this particular trip to Eveleigh Market in November, which for us down under is Spring. We’re not quite into stone fruit season, and our favourite organic farmer doesn’t come back until Summer, but apart from that this is the perfect time for us to enjoy all the wonderful local produce from the State of New South Wales.
After a stop at the coffee bar, we picked up our vegan falafels at Naturally Falafel. Josline runs the stall and is also the founder and head chef of the business. She started making falafels because she loves cooking and wanted to do a small job while she was having her three children. With a Middle Eastern background, her passion is for this style of food and she found that people quickly took to her delicious falafels. Her business has grown from running one little stall at a farmers market selling falafels to, three years later, having 30 shops on board and a range of different flavours of falafels. Despite that growth, she still makes all of the falafels by hand and they are all gluten free, 100% vegan and contain all natural ingredients. If you’re in Australia, these are definitely the best tasting falafels in the country.
There’s nothing better than a falafel and fresh green salad, so our next stop was Salads Direct. Jason runs the stall and the farm, and gets up at precisely the right time each day to get the maximum nutrition out of his range of lettuce and edible flowers. On market days, he’s still up just as early to ensure his customers get the freshest produce. And all that hard work pays off. His salad leaves are the best we have ever tasted; you can literally eat a bowl of his salad leaves with no dressing or any additions because they are so full of flavour. Delicious!
Margin’s Mushrooms are a family run business, so each week it’s a surprise as to which dynamic duo you’ll see running the stall. On this trip, wife Christine was there with a member of their picking team. Although Donna has always been an avid mushroom eater, Tora’s only been a convert since discovering the non-watery, full flavoured variety. And that would be Margin Mushrooms. The family are also such happy and delightful people that we think they send these positive vibes into all of their mushrooms.
We always like to start the morning with some lemon in hot water. We don’t like those waxy ones you get when you’re at the supermarket, so we always pick up a big pile of organic lemons from Champion’s Mountain Organics. That’s not the only thing they grow, of course. They also have a fantastic range of produce that is always changing because they only sell what’s in season. Cucumbers, zucchini, leeks and lots of greens were also on offer this trip.
A few months ago, we were a bit disappointed that our favourite ‘Egg Man’, also known as Egganics, seemed to have disappeared from Eveleigh Market. These are the best tasting eggs and have the brightest, deepest hues of orange and yellow yolks—we couldn’t believe they had left. Thankfully, they are now back with their weekly stall so we can enjoy these true free-range and certified organic eggs again. If you check out their website you’ll see that the chickens (or chooks as they’re known in Australia) are free to roam in huge amounts of pasture space. They are also incredibly fresh, thanks to a family effort at getting the eggs delivered fresh to the market each week.
We did discover one interesting new fact this time: the color of the egg yolks change according to the seasons, so in summer they are lighter because the pastures are lighter. You learn something new every day.
Macadamia Nuts are a popular nut in Australia, but most people only eat them when they’re chocolate coated or dipped in honey, not realising that they have so many health benefits. However, Hand ‘N’ Hoe organic macadamias come to the rescue with their spread of oils, natural and roasted butters as well as the ‘treat’ style macadamia. Owners David and Kerrie Flinter first started planting in 1997 and lived in a tent for three years before they got things off the ground, trialling various types of macadamia until they discovered what was most suitable to their soil and climate. They now proudly employ people in the surrounding area, which is a high unemployment area, to help with their hand harvesting and offer a fantastic product. We often chat to David about the benefits of macadamia oil. He couldn’t believe we weren’t using it on our skin. He’s also very generous with his free chocolate covered nuts.
As our Eveleigh Market trip drew to a close we had a lovely chat with Kemps Creek Farms, which is a co-op of six to nine farmers providing seasonal vegetables. Many of the farmers are retired or don’t speak much English—Italians, Cambodians, Chinese, Lebanese and Nepalese people all contribute their produce to Kemps Creeks Farms, and they have the most amazing mixture as they often grow produce that’s unique to their origins and not readily available in Australia. For example, this is the stall where we finally found purslane, which has the highest omega-3 content of any green vegetable. They all try to use as little pesticide as possible to grow their produce, so we know to always expect to find a little snail or worm hole when we return home with our produce.
Although we enjoy our weekly trip to Eveleigh Market, we particularly loved this one as we got to spend more time chatting to the stall holders about their wares. If you live in Sydney, or ever make the trip to Australia, do be sure to pay Eveleigh Market a visit. We think it’s the best Farmers Market in Sydney.
Bruce Bradley is a former processed food marketer turned food advocate and author. After working at some of the world’s largest food companies, Bruce now blogs about the tricks, traps, and tools big food marketers use to get you eating more and more processed food.
His first book, FAT PROFITS, has just been published. It’s a thriller about a corrupt food company that will stop at nothing to fatten its profits and become a Wall Street darling. Who knew food could be so dangerous? To learn more about Bruce Bradley you can visit his blog, follow him on Twitter @authorbruce, or check him out on Facebook.
Farmers Market Update: Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, Minnesota
On the shores of the mighty Mississippi wedged between the Mill City Museum, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, and Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theatre, something amazing pops up every Saturday from mid-May until the last weekend in October: the Mill City Farmers Market. Although it’s not the largest farmers market in the Twin Cities, it’s definitely one of the best. With an inspiring mission “to support local, sustainable and organic agriculture, increasing economic opportunities for farmers, urban youth, small businesses and food artisans,” a visit to the Mill City Farmers Market makes you feel better about the world you live in.
Entertainment abounds at the Mill City Farmers Market. Each week there’s a different theme, live music, and product demos. This week’s theme was Oktoberfest and featured a beer garden serving a variety of Lift Bridge beers and a German band playing some bierhaus classics.
Adding brilliant, jewel-like colors to the market, flower bouquets and cockscomb filled one vendor’s booth. If you haven’t been to a farmers market in a while, you definitely need to give it a try. It’s not just about produce anymore.
Of course it’s always good to see some of the classics like corn. There’s nothing better than fresh corn on the cob, and it’s one of my son’s favorites. I especially enjoyed the sign on Nistler’s corn stand: no GMOs, no fungicides, and “worms, yep.” I’ll gladly take a little worm damage to the tip of the cob (which can easily be cut off) in exchange for GMO-free, pesticide-free corn. And I found it refreshing how honest and upfront all the vendors were about their products. In contrast to many of the big food companies that peddle their processed foods in grocery stores, these folks had nothing to hide.
A tomato is just a tomato, right? NO! I spotted over twelve different varieties during my visit. One vendor was sampling a tomato that was so juicy that I dripped it all over my pants. Oh, well. It was definitely worth the taste. With fall temperatures already getting below freezing in some parts of Minnesota, these beauties won’t last long, so I grabbed several.
It’s always fun to discover new treasures, and the Mill City Farmers Market had several. Although sour lemon cucumbers and tomatillos have been in my kitchen many times, this was my first time trying a Mexican sour gherkin cucumber. These little guys are the size of a grape tomato but look like a tiny watermelon and pack a sour punch. Mmm, mmm, delicious!
Two more favorites in my family are classic green beans and delicata squash. These organic veggies were just picked yesterday. You just can’t beat this kind of freshness.
I love squashes of all kinds, and the butternut, sweet dumpling, and carnival varieties are on my go-to list in the fall. Butternut squash soup is a personal favorite, and carnival squash makes an easy and delicious side dish. Just split them down the middle and bake with a touch of butter, maple syrup and a grind of fresh pepper.
Beautiful root vegetables were all over the market as well. One vendor was sampling their carrots and they were amazingly sweet and crunchy. Despite wanting to buy some, I passed since I still have plenty of potatoes and carrots leftover from my summer CSA share.
Probably one of my favorite parts of fall is apple picking. I grew up in Florida, and apple picking just wasn’t an option (although we did have some amazing orange, key lime, and lemon trees in our yard). My family hasn’t had a chance to make it out to the orchards yet, so I enjoyed sampling a couple different varieties. It’s hard to beat the crisp, juicy white flesh of macintosh apples, so I picked up a bag. There’s nothing like the perfection of an apple for a great, portable snack.
With October here, ’tis the season for pumpkins and squashes. I loved how this booth not only featured the classic pumpkin, but also shared some great information about varieties of squash you might ordinarily be afraid to try. With my bag already pretty full, I opted for a smaller pie pumpkin. Not only will it add some fall color to our home, but it will make some wonderful pumpkin bread or cookies.
Beyond the traditional fare, The Mill City Farmers Market has some very cool surprises that you don’t find at most farmers markets. This mushroom kit was one of them. Sold by Cherry Tree House Mushrooms, each kit includes an fungi innoculated piece of wood that will grow fresh mushrooms for you right in your backyard. I enjoyed learning all about the process but wasn’t quite up to the adventure that day. Fear not, if you’re not up for growing your own, Cherry Tree House also has fresh and dried mushrooms available for sale.
Wild Idea Buffalo also had a booth at the market. I’ve had a chance to try their products before, and they are delicious—a lot like beef but with a little sweeter, earthier flavor. 100% grass-fed and American Humane Certified, Wild Idea Buffalo roam free on over 100,000 acres in South Dakota, just as nature intended. Lower in fat and cholesterol than boneless skinless chicken, and high in omega-3′s like salmon, Wild Idea Buffalo proves that if you choose to eat meat, there are alternatives out there you can feel good about.
And here’s what I bought (mostly pictured above):
- Delicata squash (for my favorite Summer Tomato recipe—Darya’s Roasted Delicata Squash. It is simply AMAZING!)
- Green Beans
- MacIntosh Apples - Amador Hill Farm at WEI (Women’s Environmental Institute)
- Butternut squash - Amador Hill Farm
- Pumpkin - Nistler Farms
- Corn (not pictured) - Nistler Farms
- Tomatoes, onion, eggplant, and red peppers
What did you find today at the market?
My name is Ashley Mason, and I’m a graduate student who lived in Tucson for five years while working on my PhD. My husband Evan works in tech. We love to play scrabble, frequent farmers markets, drink wine while cooking, and eat dark chocolate while watching The Daily Show. We’ve been novice weight lifters for about four years. We are leaving our treasured Tucson to move to Palo Alto in just two weeks’ time for his work and my residency.
Farmers Market Update: Tucson
by Ashley Mason
When people hear “Tucson,” they often think, “hot, unbearable heat” and “dry, cactus-filled desert.” Indeed, these are both true, but a whole lot of wonderful produce grows here, and there is quite a bit of pasture on which to raise animals. Tucson is a relatively small town, and home to a variety of small farmers markets.
The good news is that no matter where one lives, there is a market nearby. Here, though, one has to come to market early, or risk missing some of the best picks—to other people, or to the heat, whichever arrives first. My husband and I generally like to purchase our eggs, vegetables, cheeses, beef, fruits, and bacon at the markets, so we generally cover two markets each weekend. This was our last weekend venture to these markets before our move to California.
The Philips Plaza Tucson farmers market, located north of Tucson proper, is a Tucson gem. One can find a variety of eggs (duck, quail, peacock, or chicken), local cheeses (especially goat cheeses), breads, and of course, fruits and vegetables. The market this August was brimming with peaches and squash. This week I hosted a brunch for several friends who love spicy food and wanted to make a quiche, so I was particularly after eggs and anything I could incorporate into the quiche or as a side.
The Fiore de Capra sells goat’s milk cheeses that are just to die for. From spreads to solid cheeses for slicing, they have quite the variety. Their cheeses are tangy and have a fabulous texture, not a bit grainy. One of the best things is that the marinades that the cheeses are packed in (olive oil and various peppers, peppercorns, etc.) makes a wonderful marinade for chicken or other vegetables long after the cheese is gone. I opted for a baked goat brie wedge and a goat cheese marinated in a mixture of olive oil and jabanero peppers. Who doesn’t want to wake up to a goat cheese quiche?
The Village Bakehouse is a famous-to-Tucson local bakery that specializes in breads. At this booth if you ask for olive bread, whichever baker is working will likely ask you what type of olives you prefer. They also make excellent pecan rolls. My husband has a soft spot for these, so we picked one up.
Maria of Durazo’s Poco Loco Specialty Salsas has something for everyone. Our favorite? Her chunky pico de gallo, made with home-roasted local chiles. Although one might think of tomatoes as the primary ingredient here, Maria focuses heavily on the natural oils in the chiles when she describes each of her offerings. She also makes wonderful fruit salsas with peaches and mangos. Evan actually plops this salsa in the pan with his eggs every morning, and the smell of roasted green chiles floods our apartment.
Right by Durazo’s is Tortilla Arevalo, which sells mesquite flour tortillas, corn tortillas, tamales, and homemade chips deep fried in olive oil. These are a real treat.
Grammy’s Garden, located in Wilcox Arizona, always has wonderful produce. The sweet potatoes are awesome, especially when roasted with a mixture of coconut oil, paprika, and cinnamon. They also grow a variety of tomatoes and other well-known vegetable varieties. I picked up a few sweet potatoes and started dreaming up a curried sweet potato hash side dish.
These cherry tomatoes were delicious—flavorful, sweet, and perfect for roasting or simply eating drizzled with balsamic and olive oil. We decided these would make a lovely roasted tomato side dish. We picked up a couple of pints of cherry tomatoes.
George and his grandmother oversee the production of a variety of pickled and preserved vegetables, as well as jams and jellies.
My husband and I normally buy a lot of yellow squash, and frequently make Darya’s “pasta” recipe by using a peeler to create large fettuccine noodles, but this week we held out for some different squashes that are not as frequently available. Larry’s Veggies is an excellent place for all things squash. They always have a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes of squash, and this week I was in the mood for something different.
Crook-neck squash and large summer squashes are excellent both cooked and raw. The smaller crook neck squashes are actually on the sweet side this year, and when sliced, make excellent “chips” for salsa or guacamole dipping. We like to thinly slice the larger squash and layer the slices with goat cheese and homemade marinara sauce, and bake it into a sort of “lasagna.”
Larry’s also has eggs from their small flock of chickens, and the yolks are almost the color of a florida navel orange. I picked up a variety of squashes and the last dozen of eggs, along with a hefty bag of baby lettuces and a couple cloves of garlic.
I’d already gotten cherry tomatoes, but these looked good too!
We picked up several squash from Leo Big D Farms. The purple okra looked beautiful, too.
Wilcox peaches, which are actually cling peaches, are a must if you can find them in August in Tucson. They are the most delicious peaches I’ve ever had. They are small, but the flavor is intense. Delicious (and a sticky mess) in the car on the way home, but also when sliced and mixed with fresh blueberries. I purchased a few pounds from Grammy’s Farm. We cite these peaches for our complete disinterest in store-bought peaches.
It would not be a Tucson market without some chili offerings. These jalapeños were on the cusp of becoming the hottest that they ever will. A lone jalapeño was the first to start to turn color. We chose a very small one to mince for the quiche.
Since we knew we would need a good deal of eggs, and had some hopes for bacon and homemade beef breakfast sausage, we had also driven 10 minutes north to the Oro Valley farmers market the previous day (Saturday), just outside of Tucson city limits, to get some eggs and meats.
The grassfed beef from Sombrero Butte Beef company is unbelievable. Laurie, the ranch owner, and her husband, raise the cattle and slaughter approximately two per month. For over a year, Laurie set aside tenderloin roasts for me, and we used them at our wedding this past June in Chicago. The TSA at the airport got to know me as “the beef lady” as I carted frozen beef to Chicago four times over the course of the year! Laurie also occasionally has local bacon—a real treat. We picked up a couple pounds of ground beef to make into beef sausage patties, along with a couple pounds of bacon. Earlier in the week, I’d gotten some spices from Penzeys that I use to make “sausage.”
This family runs the Rancho Chico Eggs, which specializes in a variety of eggs, from chicken eggs to peacock eggs. The couple who run this booth are engineers who also have a knack for raising chickens and other birds, and bring their five children with them every week.
The children are often over by Laurie’s beef stand, snacking on whatever she’s cooked up to sample, but always come back to greet customers. I average two hugs per visit from the little girls. We picked up a dozen chicken eggs here.
In total, we had wonderful ingredients for the brunch. We made a goat cheese quiche with baby greens and pico de gallo, curried sweet potato hash, bacon, grass-fed beef sausages, roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, and sliced peaches. Everything was a hit, not a leftover in sight! Later that week, we made the above-mentioned “lasagna,” also delicious.
- 2 pounds grass fed ground beef from Sombrero Butte Beef Company
- 2 pounds local bacon from Sombrero Butte Beef Company
- 3 pounds Wilcox (cling) peaches from Grammy’s Garden
- 1 pint mild pico de gallo salsa from Durazo’s Poco Loco Specialty Salsas
- 1 spaghetti squash from Sleeping Frogs Farms
- 1 bag mixed lettuces from Larry’s Veggies
- 1 tiny jalapeno from Leo Big D Farms
- 1 dozen eggs from Larry’s Veggies
- 1 dozen eggs from Rancho Chico Eggs
- 1 package goat cheese marinated in jabanero peppers and olive oil
- 1 baked goat cheese brie wedge from Fiore de Capra cheeses
- 3 large sweet potatoes from Grammy’s Garden
- Several two-tone squash from Leo Big D Farms
- Several summer squash from Larry’s Veggies
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes from Grammy’s Garden
- 1 pecan roll from The Village Bakehouse (didn’t make it home! Devoured in the car.)
What was at your farmers market this week?
I checked the weather report this morning and apparently most of the US is experiencing 100+° weather. You may be suffering, but I’m jealous of all of you. It was 57° here in SF this morning, and I wore a wool sweater and windbreaker to the farmers market, but once I got there I really wished I’d had my scarf and hat. Burrrrrrr!
The grass is always greener, right?
I love sun and heat, but the one advantage I had this morning was that pictures turn out much better on overcast days. Since no one told the sunny farms around the Bay Area that it isn’t actually summer here, we had all the bright, beautiful produce a warm summer would promise. We just have to eat it in the cold.
It has actually been weeks since I’d last been to the market, due to the extensive travel schedule I’ve had this summer. And despite my shivers it was sooooooo nice to be back.
Gosh vegetables are beautiful this time of year. Have you ever tried purple beans?
Needless to say I bought everything I could carry in two Mercado bags, doing my best to take advantage of the produce peaking this time of year. Stone fruits like peaches, nectarines and plutos (plums) are working their magic right now.
Summer squash is something I look forward to all year. I was particularly excited today to find bitter melon, a vegetable I ate a lot of in Okinawa earlier this year.
Honestly I may have purchased more than we can eat, but we’ll do our best.
Today’s purchases (~$40):
- Cherry tomatoes (Everything Under the Sun)
- Sungold tomatoes (Everything Under the Sun)
- Israeli melon (Everything Under the Sun)
- Summer squash (Marin Roots Farm)
- Italian peppers (Happy Quail Farms)
- Cucumbers (Happy Quail Farms)
- Bittermelon (Chue’s Farm)
- Purple basil (Chue’s Farm)
- Garlic (Chue’s Farm)
- Green shallots (Dirty Girl Produce)
- Curly kale (Green Gulch Farm)
- Salad greens (County Line Harvest)
- Assorted carrots (County Line Harvest)
- Tokyo turnips (County Line Harvest)
- White nectarines (Bella Viva Orchards)
- Dill (Star Route Farms)
What did you find at the market this week?
Elyse Kopecky is an Oregonian living, working and playing outdoors in Geneva, Switzerland. She’s a passionate foodie lifestyle blogger who enjoys inspiring friends to live fresh. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.
Farmer Market Update: Beaune, France
by Elyse Kopecky
Beaune is a historic ville surrounded by vineyards and small organic farms spread across rolling hills. It’s known as the wine and gastronomic capital of the Burgundy region, and for good reason. The tiny town comes alive on Saturdays with an impressive local food market featuring specialties from the Burgundy region.
I have a passion for farmers markets (borderline obsession) and often drag my husband to obscure places just to check out the local market. I first fell in love with Beaune in March when my husband and I planned a fun Burgundy-wine-and-cooking weekend excursion to celebrate our 7th anniversary.
My husband and I returned for a second visit this June. Our trip was well timed. The bountiful spring harvest had begun, and the stands in the market were packed with an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. I loved all the variations of fresh berries, including wild sweet strawberries, tart currants, blackberries, and cherries.
The Beaune farmers market takes over a historic square in the heart of the walled old town and overflows into the surrounding cobbled side streets. Within the square there is a well-worn covered food market where you’ll find the butchers, artisan cheese makers, and fishmongers setting up shop.
Don’t be alarmed that the meat actually resembles the animal, meaning the chickens, ducks, and pigs still have their endearing heads attached. That’s how the French spot quality and freshness.
Outside, the square is packed with rows of tables where the farmers sell everything from seasonal produce to olives, dried herbs, cured meats, farm-fresh eggs, crusty baguettes, creamy honey, hand-pressed oils, freshly picked flowers, and of course Burgundy wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the specialties of the region).
One of my favorite stops was the stand of a young organic farmer from the Ferme duJointout, where they grow a rotation of seasonal vegetables and raise grass-fed goats and sheep. By the time my husband and I got to the Jointout stand, all that remained were a small selection of cheeses and a few bouquets of herbs, spring greens, and lettuces. With dirt from his farm caked beneath his fingernails, the young farmer looked as if he had arrived at the market straight from the field. A sure sign of farm-to-table!
I bought one of his last heads of deep purple romaine lettuce and my favorite chevre frais (goat cheese). The chevre frais was the first item we polished off when we arrived back at our home in Geneva. The Jointout artisan cheeses are so fresh and creamy that they alone are worth driving to Beaune to discover.
The French are serious about their food. They will happily talk about their produce, where it comes from, how it was grown, and how best to prepare (cook in butter, top with cream of course!).
Burgundy is proudly a leading region for organic food (called agriculture biologique) and most of the surrounding farms open their doors to visitors (you can buy half a lamb directly from the farm). Although, you do have to be careful that you’re buying from the “producers” and not the “traders,” just as you have to be in any market in Europe, but the traders are fairly easy to spot because their stands are usually full of bananas and pineapples, items clearly not native to France.
I made my way up and down every aisle and easily filled my basket to its brim. Luckily I had my husband tagging along to carry the load.
Here’s what we purchased:
- wild strawberries
- charentais melon (French variety)
- baby potatoes
- green dried lentils
- wild asparagus
- romaine lettuce
- rhubarb stalks
- coeur de boeuf tomatoes
- sunflower honey
- chevre frais
- whole grain baguette
- Burgundy Pinot Noir
Thankfully, Beaune is an easy two-hour drive from Geneva. My husband and I are already planning a return visit during the fall harvest. You can read more here to explore the impressive organic farmers and winegrowers in the Burgundy region.