Farm(er’s Market) to Table
Every Thursday, Riverfront Park gets an early start. Tents get unfolded and set up, tables move from vans to walkway, carts of colorful produce are artfully placed on display, and the scent of fresh donuts starts to float around – the telltale sign that the farmer’s market has begun.
And each week, I make my way down just to observe all the commotion and take in the wonderful array of products. But, despite my grumbling stomach, I have never purchased anything from the farmer’s market. It felt a little hypocritical to be promoting the event in the weekly “What’s Going On” without ever supporting it myself.
Seeing all the people bustling around, stocking up their pantries for the week, while simultaneously supporting local farmers and vendors, I figured it was time to shake any hypocritical guilt and try out some local products. And since I am much more of a dive all in kind of person than a dip one toe to test the temperature, I decided to make a full meal for my family of five, sourcing ingredients from the Corning Farmer’s Market.
I had no recipe in hand, or in mind. I thought that would make the experience more exciting, trying to piece all the products from each vendor into ingredients for tonight’s dinner.
The first ping of inspiration struck when I saw a sign for goat cheese. From there, I had my whole meal assembled in my head – three courses too, I may add! One hour and $50 later, I had enough ingredients in hand and in pantry (at home) to make dinner for five. I was able to hit five different vendors, buying no more than one product from each place. Here’s what filled my reusable grocery bag:
One whole chicken – $3.90/pound – $24
Peas – $3/quart – $6
Goat cheese – $8/8 ounces
Basil – $2/bunch
Strawberries – $5/quart
Donuts – $6 per 1/2 dozen
Even as a newbie, I felt a sense of home at the farmer’s market. The vendors were so quick to help you out, lend a hand, or dole out advice as to what type of meat would work best for my imaginary meal I was making up on the spot. They were knowledgable, friendly and made the experience so much smoother.
I got home and laid all my fresh ingredients out, organized by course. I opened the bag and could smell the aromas of the basil wafting out. Appetizers would be a grilled bread with goat cheese topped with a balsamic strawberry and basil bruschetta of sorts. Next would be a chicken with cream sauce made with wine (of course!) and garlic. I threw in the peas for good measure. And finally, dessert would be donuts.
The meal quickly turned into a family affair – everyone jumped in. Mom threw the toast on the grill for the app, Dad started filleting the chicken, and my brother and our exchange student, well, they set the table.
Everything turned out so delicious, if I may compliment myself. The strawberry basil bruschetta toast was just the perfect bite of local freshness and so brightly colorful. The chicken was super fresh and moist with the sauce that was so good I could bathe in (could make a great soup too!). The peas added texture and color (and nutrition) and were so so so fresh. And the donuts were just incredible, oh and fresh. Did I mention how fresh everything was? In fact, the strawberries were so fresh, I found a little friend slithering around – don’t worry, I freed him into the dark, damp woods after taking his picture.
The extreme locality of all the products packed in the freshness that you just can’t get going to a grocery store. The whole meal not only tasted amazing, but it felt amazing to support these local vendors selling their produce or meat or pastries or cheese. It was so easy be inspired by their products that creating a whole meal came easy. And if it came easy to me, a 22 year old college student with minimal cooking skills, then the farmers market is bound to inspire even the most discouraged at-home chefs.
Stop by the Corning Farmer’s Market every Thursday from 10am to 3pm in Riverfront Park to get inspiration for your next meal.