Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Produce Bonanza

June 9th may not carry any significance for you. But what if I told you June 9th (TODAY) is the opening of the Arlington Farmers Market? Still nothing? Well, when you do an inordinate amount of shopping at Trader Joe's, you'll appreciate vegetables that don't spontaneously liquefy upon leaving the store. I'm exaggerating, but if you've ever purchased their "mixed greens", you are likely nodding in agreement. SOME people buy a CSA and have to eat salads for breakfast. I go to the farmers market.

The Arlington Farmers Market runs from 2-6:30pm in the Russell Common parking lot in Arlington Center. Most vendors deal in more produce that you could shake a stick at, but I would be remiss if I left it at that. There are 2 bakeries, a stand specializing in goat cheese, another with an intimidating variety of Gouda, a restaurant, a salsa stand, a table of fresh fish in styrofoam, a bustling chocolate-caffeine booth (Taza?), and more. Maybe farmers market is a bit of a misnomer; perhaps "yummy boulevard" will catch on.

I leisurely biked down this afternoon (sans helmet, sorry mom and JL). hitched my bike to a parking meter (HA), and surveyed the merchandise. Lots of scary leafy greens that brought to mind adjectives like "sharp" and "itchy", but being the adventurous sort, I bought a few with the hopes that I could find a recipe to make them palatable. The critical part of this, of course, is remembering the name of the vegetable long enough to search for it when you get home. Otherwise, you will spend 20 minutes Googling "pointy lettuce" like I did, trying to find something that looks like it.

Here are my wares:

This is Tatsoi. Tatsoi is an Asian green. It was $2 a bunch. This is the one I couldn't remember and had to Google. I'm pretty sure it is Tatsoi. Most recipes I found for it involve the word "saute" which is French for "fry in butter", which is my favorite way to cook things I might not like. I found another recipe for Tatsoi that involved some sort of salad, but it looked complicated and I didn't have any of the other ingredients.

This is Bok Choy. It's not the finest specimen, and there were stands with better looking bunches, but the girl at this booth looked particularly forlorn to be selling Bok Choy on a Wednesday afternoon. I doubt my $2 and half-hearted smile made her day better (especially since it started raining as I was leaving), but who knows. I'm sure you know Bok Choy, but how do you cook it? When I saw this recipe entitled Bacon-y Bok Choy, I knew my recipe search had ended.

This is Garlic Scape. They look like something found on Fawcett's boot in the Lost City of Z. They smell like garlic. I asked the nice lady how to prepare them and she said "use it like Garlic" and then yelled "they are good in pesto!" as I was walking away. If you are going to sell a plant that looks like an infestation and sounds like an injury, you should have recipes queued up in your head for inquisitive minds. Well, wouldn't you know it, but I found a recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto. I need to buy some almonds and Parmesan, but it looks hard to mess up.

This is an "Provencal Marinade" goat cheese that is out of this world. This is the reason I wait for the farmers market with bated breath. I think Provencal is a French word French people made up to make American's feel stupid. I tried to pronounce it with nobility, but when the guy said "What?" I said "the P one" and pointed. I bought one for me and one for my friend Stefany because I told her I would and I don't like her when she's angry.

This is an Apple-Almond something. It's huge and I'm going to eat it for breakfast tomorrow. The sign for it said "better than Apple Pie!" which is unfathomable to me. What they should have said is "it's dessert you can eat for breakfast!". I ate a couple almonds that fell off when I put it on the plate and they were good. I'm probably going to forget it in my fridge or crush it in my backpack tomorrow, but at least I'll have this picture.


  1. Mike, seriously, wear a helmet. What's wrong with you? It's not even funny . . .