Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Farmers Market Glee

I love my Farmer's Market. I mean it - I really adore it. I love the whole experience, the dogs excited to see each other, hanging out while their owners pick through boxes of peaches, the little kids excited to eat healthy things, happy to see all of the pretty colors. But most of all I love, LOVE the amazing food. And I like the fact that what my family eats is grown, caught, or laid locally. From late May through mid November I buy almost all of the vegetables and fruit and all of my eggs and fish that I eat at the Farmer's market. I walk home from the market and my shoulders are bruised from carrying loaded up netted produce bags.

I'm going to share some of my favorite farm stands with you and show you some pictures but I have to warn you: don't come to this market. This market is definitely not for you. You think I need you to buy that last blackfish fillet? Last weekend they were gone at 7:48 AM. And if you make a run at the already scare baby artichokes at Maxwell's, we will be kung fu fighting, and that's a promise. Honestly, just leave it alone and don't come to this market.

Maxwell's Farm Stand is one of my favorite places at the market. I buy almost all of my weekly produce here. Farmer Bill Maxwell is a former Brooklynite who writes about his experiences as a Farmer in the most recent issue of Edible Brooklyn. Just take look (from your computer pal - do not come to this market) at his raspberries, blueberries, and gooseberries.

Oh, you like gooseberries? Too bad, so sad. As you can see, they are the rarest of his berries, and you're gonna need to stay out of this. I bought a box last week ($3) and they are pretty ripe this far into the summer, but they are still tart and silky with pleasant tiny seeds. Kind of a lot of work, as each berry has a small stem on top that I don't like to eat. I may grab a few boxes this weekend and convince BrooklynLady to make jam with me.

Bill's salad greens are just nuts. Radicchio with green outer leaves and gorgeous fuchsia inner leaves. Romaine, Bibb, and other lettuces that are so healthy and fresh that they have a "lettuce-y" scent. Peppery arugula, pungeant shallots and onions, fresh garlic on long green stalks. Beautiful beets and carrots ($2 per bunch, at right - candy stripe beets have red skins and candycane-like stripes inside), broccoli rabe, Swiss chard, and collards, various types of eggplant, all kinds of summer squash, peppers, and leeks. There are small amounts of okra, loads of potatoes that still have stubborn mud sticking on them. Herbs include all of the regular players, but also unusual varieties like lovage (best herb name in the world) and sorrel.

I should have done a closeup of the collard greens, swiss chard, and green and yellow beans on the left. But I just remembered that you're not coming to this market anyway, so you don't need to see any more than this.

Sometimes Bill sells flowers, just small bunches, but they are very pretty, like these sweet pea flowers:

If you want to talk about flowers, though, Lebak Farms' Fresh Cut and Dried Flowers does a great job each week of bringing whatever is blooming. They charge reasonable prices - their most expensive bouquets are $8, they have a great selection, and they are super nice about explaining how to make their flowers last in your house. They sell branches of peach blossoms in the early spring, and pussywillow and dried


Check out these purple and white beauties called salvia.

And how about these red Amaranthus:

There are flowers that look fake, they're so bright and happy. I bet some artist in Williamsburg made them and the joke is on us.

On Saturday I bought some Globe Thistle for our house. The leaves were thistley as advertised, and I picked up a few nice little cuts that continute to sting several days later. But aren't the purple spikey spheres worth it?

Okay, so now you know - there's a great Farmer's Market in Brooklyn, but you can't go. Okay fine, you can go, but after 9:00 AM. I'll be back home with bruised shoulders by then.


winedeb said...

I have been visiting Oxford, Ohio for the past 2 months (needed a break from Key West) and have visited our Farmers Market religiously every Sat. morning at 7:30. Ours is not quite the extent of yours but those farmers hearts and souls are into providing us with the freshest and most healthy veggies! I keep posting about them on my site and was hoping no one was getting tired of hearing me rant about our farmers market. I cannot help but to spread the news to eat local if possible. I am just sad they will not let anyone sell their home made wines! Rules and Laws! Blah!!
Farmers Markets Rule!

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Deb - first time I've heard someone say they needed a break from the Keys. I remember seeing Key Largo last summer at an outdoor movie festival under the Brooklyn Bridge and I loved it. Made me want to goto the Keys sometime.

Is there a good farmers market in Key West? You should lobby for one.

Lenn Thompson | LENNDEVOURS.com said...

$3 for gooseberries? I was out east last week and the cheapest I saw was $4.75! Who knew that Brooklyn'd be cheaper?!?!

Marcus said...

Hey Neil the B'guy,

I ate local FLOWERS with local produce last night. I had nice lettuces and onions too! I thought you might like to know! (And if you ever thought you can't taste the freshness of farmer's market potatoes, think again!)

Do you have email? Email it to me if you don't want to publish it...


Brooklynguy said...

Maybe you were getting more gooseberries - this is a little pint I think. maybe they have to truck the berries out east? in any case, you clearly need to spend more tim in Brooklyn Lenn.

Hiya Dok - I am a devotee of fresh potatoes, yes. I made a killer potato salad last night with minced shallots and fresh basil.

As for your eating flowers, I am both happy for you and worried about you. Does this mean that there is some sort of food shortage up in Montreal? What's next, red clay from the hillsides of Mont Royale? You too should come down to Brooklyn where we have plenty of food.

Ho do I email you? I have to set up a Brooklynguy email...

Marcus said...


Email is on my Blogger profile page.


P.S. The edible flowers are tasteless -- a kind of presentation thing. I'm not really into them. Your potato salad meanwhile sounds like it's worth swinging by when I'm in Brooklyn.

Brooklynguy said...

call me crazy Dok, but i can't find it.

Marcus said...

Whoops... I think it's there now... Sorry!

Anonymous said...

my little farmers market is one of the highpoints of my week. and yes - you must go early. our bell rinds at 8:00 am and then the farm fresh eggs start selling out - and the berries always go quickly too. i think tn is done with berries now. too hot. bye bye. so sad. hello melons !

Anonymous said...

Ok, Ok, you have me intrigued. Where exactly is this Farmers Market and how do I get there by train from Gravesend. I am new to Brooklyn and from the "country", and by country I mean Buffalo, N.Y. I loved my farmers market back home and have been to the market in Union Square, but was looking for something more local. Just had my kitchen remodeled and it is ready for some sweet summer foods. Will be out this weekend looking for some good produce and hope to find the market you speak so highly of!

Brooklynguy said...

welcome to the borough elizabeth. this is the grand army plaza farmer's market. 2/3 train to Grand army plaza, M/R to union street, B/Q to 7th avenue. the market is at the entrance to prospect park off union street.