Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ithaca Farmers' Market

Enroute to a long weekend in the Adirondacks, She Who Must Be Obeyed accompanied me on a visit to the Ithaca Farmers' Market, which occupies a cruciform shed next to the inlet leading to Cayuga Lake, one of the wonderful Finger Lakes, three days a week during the growing season. (We started our trip Friday with a visit to the Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard on the west shore of Seneca Lake, where I picked up two cases of various rieslings, from dry to the American equivalent of trockenbeerenauslese, thence proceeded to Seneca's east shore to Dano's Heuriger where we enjoyed a Viennese tradition, Heuriger, of a mug of simple white wine accompanied by savory spreads, salads, charcuterie and, of course, a Viennese dessert.)

About 40 percent of the Farmers' market vendors are purveyors (fruit, veggies, meat, dairy and sellers of goods like honey, jarred sauces, etc.), with the remaining split between crafts/trinkets and food for on-premise consumption.

As demonstrated by the colorful Swiss chard and the hat atop Jack Goldstein's head in the photos at right, veggies were king last weekend.

But I came for the cheese!

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, SWMBO ran a small company in Ithaca, so I journeyed to Ithaca most weekends and discovered not just the market, but the incredible product offered by Northland Sheep Dairy. Jane and Karl North, who founded the dairy, had very structured ideas about farming, sustainability and holoistic management, as you can see on the website Karl created a few years back. Since then they've turned the dairying and cheese-making over to Maryrose Livingston (photo below).

My favorite among the four cheeses is Bèrgeré Bleu, a singular blue cheese highly praised by Steve Jenkins, and called "an American rival to Roquefort" by Stinky Bklyn, a Brooklyn cheesemonger and one of the few places outside Ithaca selling Northland cheese. I also bought Tomme Bèrgeré, a rustic mountain cheese. If you ever see any of these cheeses, including the barnyardy Folie Bèrgeré, buy them!

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