Saturday at the Green City Market

February 22, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Rob Gardner

There are simple Saturdays.  We get up.  We go to the Borders in Oak Park.  We read magazines and cookbooks.  Drink so-so coffee and listen to the best free show, a cadre of five or so local musicians, a few guitars, a mandolin, a bass and ideal pre-noon harmonies.  Then there are other Saturdays.  Mom needs to see the Reader to finish her Oscar study.  One daughter plays lacrosse (GLax!) at noon; the other wants her hair cut despite Dad’s pleas.  That Dad, he wants to see Pat Sheerin give a 11 AM demo at Green City Market.  With much time spent on repeating warnings/instructions to the kids, something eventually gave.  Dad walked up to Green City Market about the time Pat wrapped up.

Read about a visit to a winter market in Old Irving Park.

Quite a show still.  Dad opened with Three Sisters who bring an interesting mix of  to the market.  They sell things no one else does including black beans, pecans (yes!) and our local truffle a/k/a corn smut a/k/a huitlacoche.  I skip all of that–well I would have purchased more nuts if they had them whole instead of shelled–for something I actually already have, sprouts.  See, I figure the girls need, even if not expressed, a vegetable in their lunch besides carrot.  A bag of sprouts will do.  Or I can make the Sheila special: cranberry-cheddar, jam and sprouts.

With Farmer Vicki sunning away, I need a source for eggs.  I generally like the products of Mint Creek so go for their eggs.  One of the Mint Creek guys open my dozen to ensure wholeness.  They seem assured but I espy something.  Looking like a crack, it’s just a bit of grass, nice proof of the natural-ness of these eggs.  I think real hard about the croissants at Bennison’s, wondering if they will be as good as they look the next morning.  The croissant thought dissipates when I see Floriole has canelles.  I will always go for the canelle.  This one was good but cannot erase (can any?) the canelles from New York’s Balthazar.

On one side of me is Heritage Prairie Market.  They put on a strong show of four season farming with a range of grown now and grown then products.  They are also baking and making candy.  On top of that they have several types of honey.  I just buy a couple of caramels though.  On the other side is Nichols Farm, the encyclopedia of growers for Green City.  If Northern Illinois grounds can support it, they have it during the seasons.  This time of year, they have a small supply of apples and more than decent supply of potatoes.  From their hoop house, they had some arugula, but that went much earlier to people with less complicated mornings.  Although the bungalow is fine with potatoes, I cannot resist buying more Yukon Golds at $1/per.  I’m hoping my wife will try this potato shingled fish recipe I saw in some recent mag.  Nichol’s promised beets and green onions (Louisa) and a bigger supply of arugula when the market reconvenes in two weeks.

I do not know if Joe Burns has made money off of me over the years.  I cannot resist sampling his Brunkow/Fayette Creamery cheeses when I ever I pass him, either at GCM or Saturdays in Oak Park.  This week, he got the better of the deal as I believe the block of bandaged cheddar, really one of the best cheeses around, and just damn proof of the worth of something like GCM, cost more than the taste of melting bread cheese I sampled.  Joe also foreshadowed some new cheeses including washed rind cheeses.

My final stop was to Blue Marble Dairy, positioned in the entrance hall.   While waiting, a daughter called.  Next thing you know, I’m collecting my bags and walking to the car.  It was a Blue Marble man racing from his truck back to the market, coat-less, that shocked me back to the notion that I never did get that cream I wanted.  Next thing you know, the rather chilly Blue Marble man is making the time to sell me some dairy direct from the truck.  What a company.

A great food day.  The path of local really leads to the best foods.  What did you buy at Green City?  Or Sunday’s Winter Market?

Follow this link to the second winter market report in this two-part feature.