Midtown Farmers’ Market: Season Opener
By Tom // Posted 2 May, 2009 in: Farmers Market, Minneapolis
The first weekend in May marks the opening of my farmers’ market of choice in Minneapolis, the Midtown Farmers’ Market. Because our national food media is so dominated by California and New York, I had all kinds of high expectations for tender asparagus, fresh peas and other spring goodies. As it turns out, that is unrealistic for Minnesotaâ€”we are only now starting to see sure signs that life will return to the fields, but evidently nothing is ready to eat yet. As far as I could tell nobody was selling fresh vegetables unless you count Honey Creek Farm, who were selling plants from which vegetables might one day grow.
Despite the lack of fresh produce, there were quite a few vendors. There was the usual group selling crafts, which I avoid (no offense to them, just not my thing).Â Brett Laidlaw was there with hisÂ real breadÂ which I was very impressed to learn (last year) is all produced in a home oven. At least two vendors, who I didn’t recognize from last year, were selling home-canned produce. Â Another bright spot among the new faces was the SalsaLadyÂ who was selling four kinds of homemade salsa: mild, green, chipotle and habanero. I’veÂ complained before about the lack of a good replacement for Jack’s salsa in Minnesota, but I think I may have found it and then some in SalsaLady. I bought a half-pint of the green salsa, but not for being very tempted by the chunky habanero.
Being that this was the opener, there was a slightly more festive atmosphere than usual (although, it’s always pretty festive). There was a petting zoo that featured a rooster who kept cock-a-doodle-doing as well as what I took to be an adult and baby goat. It’s more than a little perverse that upon seeing a cute baby goat the first thought in my mind is, “Mmm… I bet that cabritoÂ would be tender.”
I had also heard that (Minneapolis mayor) RT Rybak was making an appearance to christen the activities. I must have gotten there a little early because he wasn’t speaking when I arrived. As I was leaving, however, I passed a pleasant looking white-haired man who, instead of doing the standard Minnesota greeting of averting his eyes looked at me and said “Hi, how are you doing?” I knew this had to be a politician! (I more or less answered with the standard Minnesota greeting, I’m afraid). Consultation with field guides upon my return home confirmed that this was a Rybak sighting.
Given the lack of fresh vegetables this early in the season, I left with just a few items. I almost always end up buying some form of meat from Chase Brook Natural Farms; in this case I was lucky as I was looking for a small chicken and those were just the kind of chickens they were selling. I am also a fan of the ground mutton from Native Oaks Farm; it has more flavor than ground lamb, none of the textural problems associated with mutton since it’s ground and is priced to move at $4/lb. Lastly, as mentioned before, I couldn’t resist a half-pint of the SalsaLady’s salsa verde.
Not exactly an impressive bounty, but it’s still a bit early in the season. I’ll be back next weekendâ€”cross your fingers for asparagus!