Posts Tagged ‘market’

borough market

Can’t say what it is, but I adore open-air food markets . . .

Oh wait, I can say what it is. The constant grazing. The free samples. The local merchants who named the goats who produced that cheese. The smells. The bustle and crowds and je-ne-sais-quoi that seems at once intensely historical, as though out of a Dickens novel, and immediately contemporary.

Last Saturday (has it really been a! week!), Clara and I went to Borough Market for a pre-Tate Modern lunch. Of course, the exploring the hundreds of stalls quickly turned into the main event. We spent several hours sampling fois gras, syrupy balsamic vinegars, dozens of hard cheeses, exotically flavored Turkish delight, broken-off squares from local chocolatiers, cider and mulled wine and prosecco, Spanish jamón, candied nuts — and on, and on.

Of course, we couldn’t resist bringing some of those fantastic flavors home. I bought a jar of goose fat (sounds gross, or at the very least weird, but goose fat roasted potatoes will change your life), mushroom pâté, a tin of hard-to-find Mexican chiles, an Italian “drunk” cheese (so named for its red wine crust), a container of roasted zucchini hummus, and a rustic loaf of bread. Together with the freshly made duck confit pasta Clara picked up, we pulled together a marvelous late dinner — one which not even an exploding bottle of truffle oil vinegar could spoil.

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indian summer

I would like to tell you what I did yesterday: I wore a skirt and T-shirt and floated around in flats drinking cold cider. On Tuesday I rolled the car windows down, threw up the house’s storm panes, and let my hair air dry. And on Monday I bought four pounds of wild caught gulf shrimp and crabs from a fresh-never-frozen seafood truck. It’s in the seventies. It feels like summer.

Don’t look now, but it’s November 11.

Fabian Seafood, this fresh-never-frozen seafood truck is a grand idea. And yes, I’d be pressed to invent a sketchier place to pick up Gulf shrimp than a Dairy Queen parking lot, from the back of a refrigerated truck.

Did you know saying that out loud makes it sound even sketchier than saying it in your head?

But listen! Family owned business, selling seafood direct to the public since 1975. Direct from Galveston, Texas to the Midwest and Plains states, like Iowa of course, but even up to the Dakotas. When they swung through on Monday, they were peddling Gulf shrimp, from medium all the way up to jumbo sized; blue crab meat; and shucked oysters (the one offering we did not purchase, because I am either snobby or uneducated enough to believe the best oysters come from Brittany or P.E.I., and always in its shell). They don’t post delivery schedules, because their deliveries are a function of daily catches and coastal weather systems. (You’ve just got to divine their delivery days.)

A word on Gulf seafood, vis-a-vis the BP oil spill: I believe it’s safe. I’m buying it. (Them. The story that it’s safe, and the shrimp. I am buying both.) I believe the independent labs, FDA, and yes, I believe the integrity of Fabian’s product. I like buying shrimp from a Galveston fishing family, rather than commercial farms in Thailand, and I think you should, too. (And I will let you know if petroleum starts spontaneously gushing from my ears.)

(It won’t.)

So the Fabian folks handed me that wad of crab meat, and shoveled three pounds of medium-sized shrimp, at around $10/pound, into a paper bag. Back at home, I followed the instructions for freezing the two pounds — storing them away for cold January nights, if it ever gets cold that is, when fresh Texas seafood has faded to a golden memory — submerge completely in water and freeze in an air-tight container. I used those outrageously high-tech, pump-out-the-air Glad vacuum bags. Watch out! And with the remaining pound: de-shell, de-vein, rinse clean, pat dry. Then I brought out a recipe from our sips and apps party, a new one for you guys: Citrus-Coriander Shrimp. Whisk together lime juice, orange juice and zest, garlic, mustard, salt, and a whole lotta coriander, and marinate for four hours. Broil in the oven. Skewering to resemble lollipops: optional.

why buy it when you can make it yourself: part applesauce

We’re not exactly swimming in apples here, people, even though we’re supposed to be. We weren’t grabby enough at Wilson’s apple bins, and the two pounds and change of farm fresh Fujis is fading. Fading, friends.

I feel funereal from the fading flock of farm fresh Fujs.

So I made applesauce.

Also, and maybe I should “[rant alert]” you all again, but the girl I babysit just got braces and has consequently started on an applesauce kick, but those plastic cups of Motts applesauce have always freaked me out. A bit. Maybe it’s the texture, which resembles nothing so much as soggy cereal, possibly Wheaties, sort of chunky and lumpy. I used to eat apples every day when I was little (Every. Day.), and a spoonful of store bought applesauce — well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t taste anything like apples.

So I made my own applesauce.

It’s incredibly easy. Peel and rough chop apples. Throw in a pot with a couple lemon peels and a cinnamon stick. Add water. Cook for thirty minutes then blitz in the food processor.

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Does anyone remember the part in “Sleepless in Seattle” when Jonah, seven, says of his recently deceased mother, “I’m starting to forget her.” And Tom Hanks, alias Sam, alias Sleepless in Seattle, says, “She could peel an apple in one long strip. The whole apple.” Anyone remember? No? Then I will just tell you the story of when I was little and my dad made apple tarts or pies, and how he would always save the peels because I liked to eat them. Even if there wasn’t an apple attached. I was an apple fiend, I’m telling you.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you: applesauce should be made from apples, velvety smooth, and served warm. You’re welcome. Won’t you join me on my curmudgeon wagon?

Basic Applesauce

Ratio recipes like this couldn’t be easier. Observe:

  • 1 pound of apples
  • 1 strip of lemon peel
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup of water

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large chunks, about 8 pieces per apple. Put in a large pot with lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover for half an hour, until the apples are soft and easily squished with a fork. Remove and discard lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Makes 1 cup of applesauce

where the beef is

If you want a burger in Iowa City, you’ve got two contenders. One is the Hamburg Inn, site of the famous coffee bean ballot (at press time, Loebsack and Culver were trouncing their opponents in the races for Senate and Governor, and speaking of, have you voted yet?), one of the town’s best breakfasts, and favored watering hole of all visiting politicians. And the Inn has the walls to prove it.

The other is Shorts Burger and Shine. That’s the one we go for. The Hamburg Inn is your classic, greasy spoon burger joint. Shorts makes it exciting. They have 20 different burgers, and most of the toppings can be put to a chicken or black bean burger instead – a very sweet gesture for vegetarians, wherever you are. I also dig their commitment to local farmers and brewers: they have all Iowa beers on tap, including Amana’s delicious Millstream Brewing Company, which we visited a couple weeks ago.

Their beef story is even better: the Black Angus cows live  27 miles up the road at Ed Smith Farms; the meat is processed at Bud’s Meats in Riverside and always arrives fresh; and even the buns are made daily. Oh, and the vegetables come from the farmer’s market, when growing seasons permit. I love this, [rant alert] and not just because I am an elite locavore out of touch with the common man. It’s because with daily doomsday announcements of beef contamination, unhygienic (to say nothing of unethical) slaughterhouse conditions, and diseased animals, how nice is it to know where your food’s coming from, yes, down to the name of the beef processing plant. [end rant]

Of course, none of this would matter if the burger didn’t taste good. Listen: it DOES! Juicy and flavorful meat topped with the widest variety (and most imaginative) toppings in town. I am a devotee of the Maynard Burger, pictured above, which has bacon, avocado, and garlic aioli. (I also requested some caramelized onions, because I am incorrigible.) Billy leans toward the spicy southwest options, and last time ordered the Baxter: provolone, bacon, chipotle mayonnaise, and a blackened burger. But there’s truly an option for everyone, right down to the most basic American cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato. The buns are puffy but strong, odd qualifiers that basically mean: does not fall apart mid-chomp! And each burger comes with an order of fries: pieces of skin still on, cut into diagonal strips, fried golden brown, melt-in-your-mouth delectable. (I am a fries fiend.)

click to enlarge

 

If it’s your first time passing through Iowa City, you should probably get your burger at the landmark Inn — just to say you’ve been. But for the second and third times, head down to Shorts Burgers for a real taste of the heartland.

Update 11/3: Apparently we’re not the only ones! The Press-Citizen’s annual reader-voted “Best of the Area” list has named Shorts the best burger in town! They write:

Short’s Burger and Shine is a reincarnation of sorts. It was 1920 when Short’s Shoe Shine, one of the first African-American-owned businesses in Iowa City, opened up and started shining shoes. Years later, new owners — including former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL star Nate Kaeding — started up a new store in the same space, but this time serving up burgers rather than shoe polish. Open just a couple of years, the new burgers have already found a devoted following.

the last farmer’s market

Alas and alack, the season’s farmer’s market has come to a close. It runs from early May through the last weekend in October and that, friends, is this.

I love the Iowa City’s farmer’s market, even though it’s only open Wednesday evenings (colliding exactly coinciding with my business class) and Saturday mornings. Since you all know what happens most Saturday mornings in the fall, I won’t waste space re-explaining how woefully ill-conceived such a schedule is. Strangely enough, though, Saturday mornings at the market are always a bustling medley of organic vegetable farmers and hippie beef, pork, and elk (!) vendors, local cheese makers, purveyors of jams, honeys, salsas, and single-variety apple butters, craft stands, baked goods and pastas, enviably flourishing herb planters, and, of course, samples. Samples are key. Samples are how we’ve been induced to buy aged Gouda, hummus, and, from one woman, two kinds of barbecue sauce. If you don’t have samples, you’re not in the game.

If I didn’t know this fall has been unseasonably warm, I’d be griping a lot more about the market closing before Halloween. Some farm stands were still hawking tomatoes! Tomatoes in October! Definitive proof that the growing season is far from over. I’m nearly positive they could keep chugging until the week of Thanksgiving — but maybe that’s just the desire for farm-fresh butternut squash and Iowa turkeys (!) talking. Still, we were perfectly happy to pick up those ugly tomatoes, tiny green beans, a violently orange cauliflower, potted thyme, home-spun fettuccine, and that lovely aged Gouda.