Creating, designing, exploring, eating and breathing deeply.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
We Should Be So Lucky: The Rhode Island/Pawtucket Winter Farmer's Market
We should be so lucky. Two years ago they had 10 vendors. By 2009 it was over 30. And this year, the Rhode Island Winter Farmer's Market in Pawtucket can boast that they have over 50 vendors selling food that is truly local. Located in a fabulous building (it was a 19th century mill and is now the Hope Artiste Village), be prepared to spend a few minutes hunting down parking as this market is understandably popular.
First, there is the selection of food. They have many produce vendors.
The week I went (February), there were many types of apples and hard to find unpasteurized apple cider. There were many root vegetables, onions, shallots and greens galore.
I was overwhelmed by the options for free range eggs (including blue ones that were some of the lightest I have made).
I lost count at 5 of the meat and poultry vendors. You can get heritage pork, organic brisket or whole chickens. There are scallops from Stonington or lobster and oysters from Mantunuck.
You can buy homemade queso fresco and yogurt from the Narragansett Creamery. Dessert could be scoops of micro-churned ice cream from Kafe Lila in flavors like white pepper or peony. Owner Karen Pace also offers a wide selection of tasty vegan ice creams.
The Farmstead, an artistanal cheese store in Providence had samples of their amazing cheeses, or, for just $5.00 you can get one of the best grilled cheeses you will ever have.
Still hungry? You can buy some Jamaican turn overs or get a made-to-order crepe from the Creperie.
My recommendation: Don't miss a chance to start the feast off (or end it) with a stop the amazing Chez Pascal Food Truck which has incredible hot dogs and homemade sausages. I followed the suggestion of a customer and loved my homemade pork and bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandwich. It was served on a perfectly squishy roll with spicy fig compote and homemade coleslaw.
In terms of speciality items, I was fascinated by the honeycomb from Aquidneck Apiaries. Head beekeeper Jeffrey Mello explained that he uses no pesticides at all with his bees. He (and his son) also taught me to slather the comb over bread and asiago cheese and bake it at 200 until it melted. I am embarrassed to say that I have already demolished by honeycomb. It tastes like sweet molten lemons and is heavenly. I also enjoyed the samples of Purple Pear of Providence's huge spiced pecans.
If you are aren't already full, you can eat your full of some of the best baked goods around. I have blogged about my love for the 7 Stars Bakery and their fantastic bread. I grabbed a loaf of the cheese bread (which was great toasted with the honeycomb.)
You can buy their bread, and then get more sweet treats from Olga's Cup and Saucer, another fantastic bakery and cafe in Providence.
Finally, you can treat the kids (or yourself) to a cupcake from the Cupcakerie.
You can wash it all down with some of the best coffee I have had. I was first introduced to their coffee by my fabulous friend, Kate. Her sister works at New Harvest Coffee (full disclosure, here, people!), but I instantly was smitten by it.
First, it is all good: Fair Trade, organic, shade grown, and freshly roasted. Better still, at the Farmer's Market you can get a "Pour" of their coffee. In other words the beans are ground and your own personal cup of coffee is created before your eyes. (Great news: if you can't make it that far, you can now also buy New Harvest Coffee at the new Dedham Whole Foods!)
And now, what really persuaded me that the Providence Winter's Farmer's Market is genius: the art. There were musicians entertaining adults and kids as they enjoyed their food. And around corner after corner, there was beautiful art. I am literally already planning to use my November birthday as an excuse to buy some art from painter, Mike Bryce. Think of it as an Open Studios, but arrive ravenous!
Seriously, people, I am not even touching all that they have-relishes, soaps, even homemade dog biscuits.
Just go and see for yourself. For the most updated list of all of their vendors, just click here. I am thrilled that winter market's are starting to appear in Natick and Wayland. But, as I pointed out in my post about Janet Christensen, founding member of the Boston Public Market Association, Janet has been trying to get a Boston Winter Market for years...Maybe it is time for us to push back a bit more?