Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Farmers Market

It is that glorious time of the year again when local fields come alive with edible local delights. Yes we struggled through hot house tomatoes, asparagus from Peru, and corn from god only knows where, but once again our window of opportunity has opened. The Cleveland Plain Dealer today examined the supply and demand game between local farms and their cousin the farmers market. With chain grocery store prices soaring an even larger section of people will be at the market in search of reasonably priced fresh produce. Tie this growing customer base with the emergence of two competing local produce distributers, Fresh Fork, and Syco. This summers markets could prove to be quite volatile.

In any case, I'm sure you are like me and just want to get out there to the closest farmers market as soon as possible, get some fresh produce, and survey the situation first hand. The PD also put together this seemingly complete list of markets, you can view it here. I can tell you this much about the following 3:

In the past I've regularly visited the Lakewood farmers market due to how close it is to my home. It is a mid-week market with a solid 6-8 produce farms, plants, honey, and bread available every week. It's likely to not be very crowded with ample parking.

Kamms Corners farmers market is on Sunday, which is very unique. They attracted a short list of farms that looked very different from the Lakewood make-up. The Kamms market includes a chef demo, a mobile kitchen serving hot food, and musical entertainment. This market seemed rather crowded for it's size, but they do offer more of an experience for a Sunday afternoon.

Lastly, I've been to the Westlake/Crocker Park farmers market. This is by far the largest market I've been to on the west side. There are 20 plus produce farms, along with everything from soap to popcorn. The crowd does grow by noon on Saturday, and parking isn't nearly as easy as the other two, but this is a one stop situation. Whatever you need that isn't at the market can be found at Trader Joes a stones throw away.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The pickle

Tiss the season to put down some gerkin cucumber, some baby zucchini or peppers into a brine that will eventually become the fairly familiar 'pickle.' The word is not only a noun in the professional kitchen, it's more of a verb in most senses. We are likely to pickle things like ramps, cippollinis, strawberries or even salmon or brisket, which would also be known as corned beef.

While there alot of spices that work well in pickling, cloves, cinnamon, corriander and dill are the most favorite ones, and they are added to a very well described ratio of one to one to one: water, vinager, sugar.

Some things I prefer to blanch before pickling, like garlic, onions, califlower, other can be hurried along while being added to a warm pickling liquid like onions, carrots, peppers. On the other hand, things like meat, fruits, tomatoes, and mushrooms need a chilled liquid pickle to survive in peak condition.

In any case, I suggest you mix up a pickle liquid, go directly to your closest farmers market, purchases something that won't be available in 6 weeks, and pickle them. You will thank me down the road.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Foie for everyone!!!

The ban of Foie Gras in Chicago has been abolished and it turns out there never was much concern for the ducks. This NYT article explains things perfectly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Food Creativity

While most of us have found a mis-shaped potato or other vegetable the quickly reminds us of something different, these professionals take food sculpture to another leval. Practice must make purfect.