2 For 2 at Winter Markets
This Local Family did not leave for the winter market on the near West Side of Chicago with the intention of being the first inside. Rather, the coffee monster on my back led me to where I could get a fix. Once out and about we found ourselves at Robin’s latest market. And we found Robin displaying her first set of winter strawberries, grown inside on vertical vines. I should say that the visual presence of the berries hit us at about the same time as the olfactory presence. If these did not look like Spring’s finest strawberries (too big, too not so red), they surely smelled as such. We had Robin put one pint aside. Then two.
This market did not feature a brunch. Instead they had a cafeteria line of home-made (literally!) baked goods: muffins, lemon bread, scones, cookies, a few other things; plus the winter market staple strada and some individual tins of Sugar River yogurt. Me, I’m a cake and coffee kinda morning guy anyways, so these very well made pastries hit the spot. With the fix in, we returned to Robin to buy the strawberries. Good thing we had made arrangements as all the rest of the strawberries were accounted for by the time we ate. Almost, maybe more attractive than the strawberries, were giant heads of fennel. I took the full stock for my renown fennel jam. We also got enamored with a big head of iceberg-ish lettuce; that and some yogurt finished our order there. We moved down to the Ackerman Farm stand to get another bag of lettuce, some shallots, and some wheatberries (find me some bulger how-to’s please). In between these two stands was a man selling squash, and we bought two butternut. On the other side of the sanctuary–unlike most Church based winter markets this was there instead of the community hall–we got apples from Seedling and a French Nun baked baguette that we cannot stop kvelling about. We’ve had much success so far at these winter markets.
I said to my daughter today, oh your friends will kid you tomorrow when your lunch has strawberries. Sadly, she said that no one would quite notice that something seemingly so non-local would show up in her fare. A new set of shoes…that would cause some fifth period chatter. Others, however, may be more impressed with local strawberries in mid-November. Of course, you have to get there early to beat me to the pick of the market.
Note: Next week the winter market moves in with all the other fine folks at the Family Farmed Expo as if people needed more reason to attend that local extravaganza. The following week the winter market will make the first of several visits to the Oak Park area being at Pilgrim Congregational Church 460 Lake St., the same location as the Oak Park Farmer’s Market. In addition to the things listed above, there will be local meats and eggs, mushrooms, herbs; grains including wheat flour and corn flour; cheese and much, much more!