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July 12, 2009

Corn, strawberries and a new winery



This morning I went to the Sunday farmers market under the viaduct for the first time this summer. That's unusual for me. And I've only been to the Waverly market on Saturday once or twice.

But the corn I got yesterday was so good, I had to have more. It didn't have that artificial-tasting, bred-in sweetness that corn can have these days -- even when it's been sitting around. This particular variety is called White Out. Remember that name. ...

Jon Parker had given me a heads up that bi-color corn was supposed to be in this week so I was planning to buy even more corn, but luckily the vendor who sells it told me it hadn't been ready to pick after all. There's a limit to the amount of corn on the cob even I can eat.

I still didn't find any tomatoes that weren't hydroponic, except some grape tomatoes. But I stopped at Reid's Orchard even though I had plenty of fruit (still eating a second box of mangoes that arrived just before we left for vacation) because the strawberries looked so beautiful.

"Isn't it late for strawberries?" I asked owner Dave Reid. He explained that these were from plants that they had put in for next year, but I guess the cool weather made ideal conditions for a crop this year. They are delicious.

Then he told me Reid's had a new winery. It opened in March, but I hadn't heard about it because I've been so bad about going to the market. I really think we ought to delegate someone to go try the wines, and I nominate Elite Elephant Lover.

I always feel a little guilty focusing in these posts on the vendors I frequent, but on the other hand, this is my day off and the Sun isn't paying for my produce. 

I tried some place new today for organic string beans. When I asked the guy behind the table to pick me out a good basket, he said, "They're all from the same field."

I joked, "Yeah, but I want the best one," and he looked at me like I was alien. OK, it was early, but I don't think I'll go back to him no matter how good the beans are. Not that he was rude, but part of the fun of the market is the interaction with the vendors. Anyway, the reason for this long-winded story was I'll probably stick with the farms I know and rely on you to tell us about your favorite ones by posting below.

(Photo of Dave Reid by me)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:30 AM | | Comments (16)


I agree, a positive communication makes the food so much more palatable and the experience much more enjoyable ;)

Elizabeth, you ever try any of the Hickory Chance beef?

Gary the hot sauce guy was the first vendor I got to know, my first trip to the JFX market. I still say hi every week, even when I'm not buying (and being as I'm a shy introvert, that says something about Gary).

I also always enjoy talking with/buying from the folks at Hickory Chance, the young blond guy kitty corner from the egg folks and across from the fancy green people (he doesn't have the greatest produce, but his prices are good and, well, I like the guy) and the folks across from Sonar who have the inexpensive produce. Oh, and the pit beef guys.

I can't buy from Reid. I don't know why, but I just don't get on with them.

I'll try them. Thanks. EL

I agree about the interaction with the vendors. Last week, I handed a vendor a $20 for something that cost $6, and she got all shirty with me. I had just stopped at the ATM and didn't have anything smaller. I almost told her to nevermind and give me my $20 back, but didn't.

I accept the challenge and have scheduled it for next Saturday.

Excellent! Thanks. EL

I went to the Highlantown farmer's market Saturday and also got some very good white corn. It was sweet, and tender. Not quite as deep as it will be later in the season, but still a welcome first batch. All the vendors raise their own produce. I also got some excellent brocoli. The vendors were all very cordial and pleasant. In fact, she gave my 7 ears of corn when I asked for a half dozen. There was a good steel band, screen painters, biscuit sandwiches and other craft, vegetable and fruit vendors. Also no local tomatoes yet.. They had a good crowd.

I'm with you, Pigtown, on the money thing. I too have been made to feel guilty for paying with a 20. It seems to me it is the vendors responsibilty to plan ahead and go to the bank to get some small bills for change. Especially since the prices I'm seeing now at Farmers Markets are certainly not low. I'm willing to pay more for good, fresh, local food, but gimme a break on the money and change issue.

Hey, pretty much every choice I make in life is based on human interaction.

Oh, Pigtown, by the time I got to the zucchini vendor, I was out of everything but my emergency $20. The woman waiting on me was very "No Prob" about giving me back $19.50!

It is an expensive thing to take GrandBoy to the Farmer's Market. He doesn't beg - much less demand - things, but his face is just above table height which puts his nose at just the perfect height to breath in smells that I can avoid being swayed by. At Reid's, while the nice Hispanic man-who-doesn't-seem-to-speak-English-and-therefore-can't-be-expected-to-chat was bagging up the cherries whose existence GrandBoy had pointed out, GB exclaimed, "Do ya smell this? What ARE these?" Apricots. We got the smallest possible amount and they still weren't cheap.

OK, when I tried to post his, I got a deeply weird message about "Rebuild failed".

The peaches I got from Reid's today were TO DIE for. And they had some white cherries they picked earlier in the week that they gave me a deal on. I love Reid's.

The most accomodating guys at the JFX market are directly across from the organic salad greens people and the Eggs and pickles. They have a small stand, but always have excellent prices and remember all their customers. I love those guys and will always buy from them, even if another vendor has stuff that looks "nicer".

I have always had bad problems with the bean/pea people. They just don't talk to you and the woman practically snarls if you ask any questions.

Also, Curry Shack, I love you, but WHY do you always show up late?

Lastly, the smoked everything people next to the Curry Shack are juicing up some CRAZY good shaken lemonade. I recommend.

Lissa- I think we are talking about the same guy as our fave. We should start a "blond dude at the stand near the egg people" fan club!

Confession: he's also pretty cute.

A huge second for Hickory Chance beef!!! I went back a second time to the Saturday Bel Air market after unpacking my first load and realizing that I was missing a meal. I get to hankering for pit beef this time of year, and HC had just the piece of top round (dry aged, doncha know!) that will go on the grill on Wednesday. Rolls from the Breadery, also from the market; horseradish sauce and local "candy onions" will complete the ensemble.

Are the egg folks "Andy's eggs?" They're from my neck of the woods, about six minutes into my commute when I worked downtown. It was so cool to drive by and see actual free range chickens wandering freely on the range. Andy often teams up with Broom's Bloom (dairy, lamb and pork) at Waverly.

I try to take care of my vendors in the hope that they will take care of me, and that strategy seems to work. My day off is usually Friday, and when I do my errands (including my weekly $60 Giant grocery shopping) I ask for change in small bills. "May I have my change in a $20, two $10's and two $5's?" They are happy to do it, and with the week's worth of quarters from change in my pocket I get pretty close to the exact price at each tent. I also make a big pot of gazpacho in August, made from local ingredients, and come back later in the morning with a bowl full for each of the folks that have served me well during the high season.

I think we are talking about the same guy, dcdiva. I don't know about cute, but he's sure nice. Remembers I make a lot of pot roast, asks if I need turnips, too or whatever.

I am in favor of the vendor who said the beans are all from the same field. They ARE all from the same field! Would you have been happy if he had picked some random basket and said, "We picked these just for you."? Or if he had a bunch of bananas from Cost Rica in the Local Vegetables bin? Sometimes a little truth in advertising doesn't hurt, especially early in the AM.

Well, just personal taste, but I would have liked it if he had said, "We picked these just for you." I like it when they joke with me. I can understand why someone else wouldn't. EL

Beans from the same field will vary. Some might be older, some younger. Some might be bug eaten. One side of the field might be shaded, the other not.

Everyone picks out produce differently (I'll go for smaller every day, and while dirt is fine, bruises, old ends and other blemishes send me to another vendor). It is elementary people and selling skills, though, to randomly grab a quart, and say, "This one looks pretty good, doesn't it?"

Part of the reason I go to market is to talk with the farmers. Another is I like to buy under the illusion that these are people, not simply commercial food factories. Implying that all the beans from the same field are the same size, same taste, same everything implies they came off an assembly line, or from the farm of someone who treats their plants like assembly lines.

Breaking news!
Peeps has earth-shattering news for the Sandbox!
EL: I know you are going to be one of the first!

More breakin news:

Slim Jim Shortage in Effect
A gas leak that led to an explosion that killed three people has halted production of Slim Jim snacks.

Made the trip to Reid Orchard on Saturday to try the wines. It was my intent to tell everyone to avoid east coast wines and only drink French and Italian wines. A funny thing happened. I actually liked three of the offerings and the others were well made but just not a style I like.

The tasting room is a wood bench in a metal shed with limited parking. The person pouring the wines was very nice and knew alot about the wines she was pouring but not alot about the world of wine. The wines I like are a white, the Seyve-Villard and two reds, the Reids Red and the Troika. The wines I didn't like are the Pinot Grigio, Vidal Blanc and the Pinot Noir. The prices are very reasonable ranging from $12 to $16 a bottle.

First the wines I didn't like. The Pinot Grigio was very oaky. Alot of people must like over oaked wines since there are so many on the market but I don't. The Vidal Blanc had too much residual sugar for me. I prefer my wines either completely dry or very sweet not semi sweet. The Pinot Noir was like nothing I have ever tasted. Extremely fruity. Very grapey. Not a style I like.

The Seyve-Villard was much drier than the Vidal and showed no oak. The wine is cloudy and is throwing a sediment but that is fine with me. Please don't filter it. It is a wine that would do very well at a crab feast. The Reid Red is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. The Cabernet Franc, which is the grape used to make Chinon and Buergil in the Loire River Valley, is the dominant flavor. Like Chinon this wine will go great with pizza and barbeque along with traditional French bistro food. Unlike Chinon this wine doesn't have the vegetal flavors that Robert Parker finds so offensive. Troika is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. It could easily be mistaken for a southern Cote du Rhone. This will be a good match to a charcoal grilled burger. Chill it a little and set on the deck while the burgers sizzle. Makes me wish I didn't live in an apartment. It would also be a great wine to take along to Mari Luna to enjoy with the fajitas and other beef dishes.

I would like to encourage everyone to make this 50 mile trip. There are several wineries in the area as well as the Gettysburg Battlefield. I also strongly recommend the Appalachian Brewing Company for excellent beer and good food like a burger with bacon and ham.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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