Sunday, May 25, 2014

Headhouse: We've Got Green Stuff

Lettuce, bok choy and fennel bulbs from Blooming Glen
Crops that do best before summer's heat waves wilt them and us were the most attractive produce items during my visit to the Headhouse Farmers Market this morning.

Though the cheeses, meats and prepared foods always have their allure, when an item of produce is at peak, that's exciting. At least to me.

When you enter the Shambles from the Lombard Street entrance, you're greeted by the always-attractive displays put together by farmer Tom Murtha of Blooming Glen Farm. His lettuce, bok choy and small, young fennel bulbs, pictured above, were just some of his offerings, which also included spring onions, fresh green garlic and cooking greens.

Queens Farm was chock-a-block with spring produce too, from mustard to fresh bamboo shoots to a Chinese style lettuce whose stalk can be cooked. And, of course, their pristine cultivated oyster mushrooms. Other vendors with plenty of cooler weather items included Weaver's Way, Savoie Farms, Root Mass Farm and Beechwood Orchards which over the last year or so has expanded beyond tree fruit.

Culton's new signage
Another late spring crop that likes cool weather made its first appearance of the season: snow peas. Tom Culton was selling half-pints for $3, full pints for $5, as indicated by his chalk board, a new addition to the stall this year. Tom wasn't around this morning, so I couldn't ask about the provenance of the signage, but a Google search suggests "Red Rose Farm Feeds" is/was in Whiting, Vermont. Culton still had plenty of colorful rhubarb, asparagus, dress, and cucumbers among other items.

Strawberries were still in limited and pricey supply, with A.T. Buzby having the most stock at $7/quart. Savoie Farms had a few pints at $4.50 each. Maybe next week.

One of my purchases last Sunday was a couple of veal chops -- one rib, one loin- from Birchrun Hills Farm, the cheese producer. Of course, if you've got dairy cows you're going to have calves and, as I'm always told by some women friends, the males are mostly useless. In the case of male bovines, that means veal. Since Birchrun proprietor Sue Miller runs a caring operation, these are not penned up calves that provide most of the veal available in supermarkets. As a result, her veal is rosy rather than a ghostly white, but it's got more flavor and remains tender. Veal, no matter the source, is not for the parsimonious; as I recall the price was somewhere around $16/pound. But grilled to medium with just a hint of pink the center (you don't want to eat veal rare or medium rare), after a rub of cut garlic, a light application of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, pepper and crushed rosemary, these chops were an incredible treat.

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