Smile Politely

Market Watch: July 24, 2010

Well, well, well — it’s the Lucky Thirteenth Market of the season, and the heirloom tomatoes have arrived — so it’s really lucky! Not just the heirloom cherry tomatoes, either, but the cute ones with the stripes, the big and beefy red ones, the smoky-tasting purple ones (try them in fresh salsa and you’ll see what MW is talking about), and the stately (yes, stately) yellow and orange ones. Tomatoes! FOR REALS!

As I’m sure you realize, tomatoes are not just for salads or slicing and putting on your burger anymore. Nay, the awesome and versatile tomato is good for so many other things, including the aforementioned fresh salsa, sauces to be canned or freezer-canned, roasted on a skewer… the mind boggles. But one of MW’s favorite and simple things to do with a tomato:

  • Get a nice, big heirloom tomato
  • Fetch some basil leaves from the garden
  • Find a baguette
  • Find some extra virgin olive oil
  • Find some fresh mozzarella cheese

Slice the tomato, cheese, and baguette crosswise. Layer the basil, cheese, and tomato (not necessarily in that order) on top of the baguette slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Eat.

That’s it! It’s simple and incredibly satisfying and very, very fresh. You can thank MW later.

Here’s a little list of what you’ll be able to find this week: broccoli, beets, green beans, radishes, rainbow chard, kale, okra, green onions, cabbage, fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, turnips, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, early apples, eggplant, kohlrabi, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, sweet corn, potatoes, garlic, fresh whole onions, and who knows what else. MW is hoping for a few more melons this week. It’s a safe bet that blueberries are done, that other berries (except blackberries) are close to done, and that the heat has not been so great for the salad greens. If you’re after the rabbit food, it’s a good idea to come to the Market early.

If you dig plants, flowers, art, crafts, performance, and the best people watching in town in addition to summer’s bounty, the Market is a good way to spend your Saturday morning. This weekend is especially good for the youngsters, as the Market’s Sprouts at the Market programming is back for another round. This month’s theme is all about EATING YOUR COLORS. Kids will have a chance to sample from all the color families of fruits and vegetables, learn why these foods are so darn good for them, and with luck, be able to talk to a farmer about the food they grow. Sprouts events are free and open to kids ages 3-8 and their caregivers. All participants will receive a certificate of participation, and that certificate can be presented at Art Mart in Lincoln Square until 2 p.m. Saturday for 15% off a purchase in the toy store. What’s not to like?

Once again: The Market’s merchandise for the season is finally available — there’s this great “I Heart MY farmers market” design on the front of the t-shirts (the heart is actually the Market’s rooster logo); on the back is a groovy bike/tractor design. Nine bucks, people! The very durable and sturdy and BIG tote bags made from recycled cotton — those have the “I Heart MY farmers market” design, too — are hopefully back in stock for the low, low price of $8 apiece after a massive run last Saturday. Seriously, this is an awesome deal, especially because, if MW is doing the math correctly, one can get a shirt and bag for under $20. MW hears the City is accepting cash and checks only for these items, not their own Market money, which is kind of funny. MW also hears the City is considering shipping these items outside the area for former residents who desperately miss Urbana’s Market. Email Lisa, the Market’s Director, if you’re an out-of-towner who needs some Market merch.

That’s probably it for now. Come to the Market ready to shop.

Have a great weekend… and eat well!

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