Friday, August 28, 2009
Produce Envy in St. Paul
The downtown St. Paul, MN farmers' market is outstanding. I had the privilege to visit it last weekend and found that it certainly rivals any of the NYC markets in most respects (though it could be open more often throughout the week). The produce was fresh, local, beautiful and plentiful. Imagine this: the goods were affordable. Many could be called downright inexpensive. What a concept.
To make matters more alluring, this market also happens to feature more snacking options in the way of already prepared food and drinks than any of my regular fresh-produce-providing haunts.
Of course, one can always snack on what one has bought:
but there were also stalls with ready-to-eat grilled corn, bagels, sausages, lemonade, pastries, bread, and this man selling egg rolls, summer rolls, and fried rice:
We also picked up some kettle corn. I'd never eaten it fresh from the kettle before. It was delicious, still warm, and had just the right balance between salty and sweet.
It wasn't all about the market, though. While cooking and eating in St. Paul, we visited three different grocery stores, including a food co-op (Mississippi Market). It was so refreshing to have space to shop and aisle after aisle of product. There were some imperfections -- no buttermilk or dried apples, Cub Foods? -- but it was still a lovely experience.
On our last day in town, Anna and I picked up some intriguing beverages at the Cub Foods (in their "Ethnic Foods" aisle). The iced coffee (above) was a little thin, but it pepped me up just as my 3 1/2 year old nephew was wearing me down.
I enjoyed the chocolate Milo drink, too, though technically I bought it for Dan (naturally, as it has a soccer player on the can). It was not unlike Yoo-Hoo.
Anna and I also made this recipe for apple cupcakes with cinnamon-marshmallow frosting. A. found it in the latest issue of Eating Well magazine.
They were moist, sweet, and perfect for dessert an evening party with friends. I would certainly make the cupcakes again, though I don't know how easy it would be to find powdered egg whites in NYC. We used Zestar apples from the farmers' market, which were amazing -- tart and fresh.
I'm going to have to get Jessica's recipe for her chocolate zucchini cake, too, which was the other standout dessert of that night. It was so rich and moist it was almost a giant brownie.
I am lucky to have such delicious friends and family members living in such edible cities. If only I had the luxury of being able to plan more travel around my cravings for company and comestibles.