Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's the Farmer's Market time of year!

A few weeks ago all of the farmers' markets in the city started up again - including two right by my work on weekdays, which is so convenient. It's true that sometimes the prices are a bit higher - but you're paying for fresh, local ingredients. I really like being able to talk to the people manning the booths at the farmers markets - hear about their stories, their food. The first of the season for me was the farmers' market at the Charles Hotel courtyard in Cambridge (held on Fridays and Sundays). It's grown since last year apparently - there are local vineyards, fresh fruits and vegetables, local cheese chops and even fresh meat and baked goods. The Still River Winery, from Harvard, MA was there sampling their Apple Ice Wine, which I've never seen before. Similar to regular Ice Wine, it's a thicker, sweet dessert wine that you only drink in small portions. Because it takes so many apples to make small amounts of the drink, it's a bit expensive but nice for a special occasion.
On Tuesdays the second farmers' market in the area is held on Harvard's campus. This one is a bit bigger with more variety - their rule is that each type of food item can only be sold by one vendor. For example, there are two fresh pasta companies but they alternate the week that they bring their fresh ravioli. Valicenti Organico was the fresh pasta vendor not allowed to sell their ravioli this week - but they'll have it next week. In place of their ravioli, they offered their fresh pastas - and in so many varieties, including whole wheat options! They sampled their oversized elbows with their homemade tomato sauce and arugula lemon pesto - which were delicious. Their website tells their great story of how they found themselves with this fresh pasta company and has amazing pictures of them making all of their fresh pasta varieties.

Most of these vendors offer samples of what they're selling too, which was nice. Nella Pasta, based out of Jamaica Plain, was offering their ravioli this past week and sampled some of their ravioli fillings. The packages are perfect for two - so grab a friend and try out their ravioli. My coworker and I have a standing date to try these out in a couple weeks - the Smoked Mozarella, White Bean and Sage filling had a great strong flavor that I'd like to try in ravioli form.
In addition to the savory, there are also lots of sweet options here. I didn't try any of the baked goods but my coworker was happy to see that Christina's Ice Cream had a post and got their Coconut Almond Chip. Taza Chocolate was also there sampling a half dozen of their different organic chocolate bars. I think I've had their chocolate before but I was reminded just how good their specialty chocolate is. You can also tour their factory in Somerville - 45 minutes, just $5 and you can reserve a spot in advance. I liked the Cinnamon bar the best I think.
Our last stop was Q's Nuts. Dozens of different kinds of flavored nuts - all delicious. I remember their chocolate raspberry covered almond in particular. This was the same booth as Christina's Ice Cream.

So what are you waiting for - check out this site and find the farmers' market closest to you! This time around I left with homemade Baba Ghanoush from Samra's Homemade - Authentic Egyptian and Lebanese Food. Mm - they were sampling, it was fresh and delicious and my parents love it - which was enough to sell me on a small container of it!

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