Granted you may have a favorite farmers’ market that you prefer to frequent on a regular basis, but have you ever thought of trying a new one? The market may be in your hometown, the neighboring town, or on your drive home from work. But as with anything in life, change is good. Perhaps every other week, or on an occasional junket, you should consider changing it up and stop at a market that you are unfamiliar with and see what new purveyors you encounter.
Curious about which markets I could stop at within my daily commute one Tuesday, had me checking the Local Pickins listing of farmers' markets and plotting my course of action. My first stop, the grandest of all in Boston, the Copley Square Farmers’ Market. Perfectly laid out around the perimeter of the square are small, white tents of various farms and food purveyors. Local residents, workers, as well as visitors from out of town, are checking out the goods. Samples are offered, while discussions are had between vendors and potential customers. With beautiful weather, it was perfect day to cruise this market situated at a historic Boston landmark. Noticeable here, are the number of vendors selling a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit. The selection is endless, but one unique purveyor that caught my eye was RI Mushrooms. Beautiful, cultivated, colorful mushrooms were displayed in baskets for those that have a fungi obsession. If protein was on one’s shopping list, freshly caught fish or pastured raised meat and poultry could also be found. I ended my morning strolling by Siena Farms where I used my Siena Farms Market Card to purchase some lemon yellow tomatoes, a handful of fairy eggplants, a perfectly sized small watermelon and the additional bonus of homemade pita and Crick Cracks from Sofra Bakery & Café. Genius of Siena Farms to supply their own Market Card, which you prepay for on their website and then use at their stand at the famers' market, or in their shop in the South End. Loved using my market card!
Once I finished perusing this market, I headed over to my office. As the day progressed, I decided to venture home a tad early so that I could stop at the Harvard University’s Farmers' Market, held on the plaza of the Science Center in Cambridge. Luckily for me, I found a parking spot right on Kirkland Street, which allowed for close walking proximity to the market. At the Harvard market, a large white tent is set on the plaza, with the purveyors comfortably set up underneath. A wonderfully, diverse group of purveyors showcase their items here. Although based on a university campus, the majority of patrons are not college students, but neighborhood families and adults, as well as visitors. If one is frequenting this market for dinner supplies, both produce and protein are well represented. The ever-popular, killer donuts from Union Square Donuts were depleted by the time I arrived, but I snagged a donut hole just for a taste. If you are looking for a chocolate fix, head to Taza Chocolate, who never disappoint with their display of stone ground organic chocolate. Handmade fresh organic pasta? Valicento Organico has a healthy selection from penne to gluten-free pasta.
One of my unique food finds of the day – the spiny, Maxixe Brazilian cucumbers from Flats Mentor Farm, which grows a variety of Asian and unique produce. What I will actually do with this defensive looking vegetable is yet to be seen, but I was informed that you do not eat it raw, it should be cooked or pickled. My other absolute most-have from this market was a goat cheese chèvre, with sumac and lemon thyme, from Ruggles Hill Creamery. This cheesemaker keeps a low profile, but makes some of the best award-winning cheese in the state of Massachusetts.
Looking for a special snack? Head to Soluna Garden Farm and purchase one of their homemade popsicles. I sampled blueberry-cinnamon, which was amazingly refreshing on a late summer afternoon. The blueberry flavor was rich, while the cinnamon added a spicy twist. Wandering out of this market, I spied the Churn2 liquid nitrogen ice cream pop-up container. Should I actually treat myself to another summertime treat? Sure, why not? After all, this particular vendor had me fascinated. Two flavors are made each day and I decided on the peach rosemary. Watching a creamy concoction get instantly made into your frozen treat, was quite impressive!
Heading home out Route 2 had me taking a side trip to the Lexington Farmers’ Market, just down the street from the hustle and bustle of Lexington Center. Located on a lawn, just past the police station, this suburban market has quite an impressive array of vendors. The shoppers? Moms with tots, adults, along with others, busy buying for their evening’s meal. Along with the diverse selection of produce from farms, the fish meat and poultry selection from six different purveyors was outstanding. One could choose a different type of protein for the family meal, every night of the week.
Appealing to families with a busy schedule, this market also hosts nine different vendors offering prepared meals. My eyes fell happen to fall upon Nella Pasta. Locally made in JP, this pasta maker does a wonderful job of combining flavors into its' varied selection of raviolis. I opted for the Kale and Currant, knowing kale is one of the “it” vegetables of this decade. Uncommon Feasts displayed beautifully fresh vegetable tarts, perfect for a special party or gathering for lunch, but dessert was still lingering in the back of my mind. Therefore Hedvikas Bakery, with her beautifully made fruit pies, had me salivating as I tried to decide which one to bring home. Being raspberry season, it was an easy choice.
Within the course of a simple summer day, while commuting to and from work, I visited three different farmers’ markets. All were attractively set up with easy access to every purveyor. I even lucked out with parking. Each market, had a vendor or farm that I may not have known about before, allowing me to appreciate the difference between markets. The market manager works hard to keep the logistics of each market working and their vendors diverse. The farm and vendor’s goal is to bring to the market, a product that the consumer wants; something fresh, locally grown, raised or made. Enjoy the bounty of a farmers market this season and try one that’s may be unfamiliar to you. The roadshow of markets is fantastic!