As part of my continuing effort to present options for the purchase of locally produced food for the winter, I recently visited the Northside Farmers Market. This market operates indoors in the winter, and will continue year-round.
It was a busy Wednesday afternoon at the market, with a puppet show scheduled for the children, and about 20 vendor’s tables set up inside North Presbyterian Church. Activities for kids are a regular occurrence at through the market’s partnership with Happen, Inc., a local organization dedicated to providing family-friendly activities. You can’t help but notice the young, hip crowd at this market.
There was plenty of produce available, in spite of the waning growing season here in Cincinnati. Turnips seemed to be the vegetable du jour, offered by almost all the farmers in attendance, followed closely by sweet potatoes or yams. Backyard Orchards, of Rising Sun, Indiana, was the only vendor with fruit. They offered apples and tomatoes. Running Creek Farm distinguished itself with about six varieties of garlic, home-grown, but labeled with their country of origin. I asked Jim Lowenburg where garlic first came to be cultivated. “Most likely in eastern Europe,” he said. “Of the twelve varieties we grow, there’s one from Italy, one from Korea, but most are from eastern Europe.”
Back Acres Farm had onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, meat, and eggs. Rising Sun Farm also offered a variety of produce, along with pastured pork, chicken, and eggs. Tom Cail is in his third year of transitioning to organic, and will be certified in 2013. His greenhouses will produce chard, lettuce, bok choy, and arugula all year, and he’ll have another reason to be busy in late winter and early spring – he produces maple syrup at the farm.
“The best time to tap trees is when the temperature is below freezing at night, but rises into the forties during the day,” he said. “If it’s too warm the trees bud, and that ruins the syrup.” He has just a few cases of maple syrup left from last spring’s tap.
As a self-identifying Frenchman, I can’t go without bread. Blue Oven Bakery and Shadeau Breads were happy to oblige. Ohio Farm Direct will provide the accompanying cheese. But when it comes to dessert, I discovered one of the market’s most unique features. Can you say chocolat?
Chocolats Latour is all about one-of-a-kind chocolate. I like the Cry Baby, with smoked salt, sage, dried tomatoes, and pepitas. Also, Shalini Latour offers Big Daddy, with juniper and pine nuts, Hot Nut, with cayenne pepper and caramelized pecan, and Bad Girl, with sumac and rose petals. Cluxton Alley Roasters coffee operates right next door.
What if you’ve shopped at the market so long you’re afraid dinner’s going to be late? Fireside Pizza is located outside the market, making artisan pizza in a wood fired, Italian built-oven made of German soapstone. I couldn’t help but stop to admire the tossing of the crust, since this is a kitchen feat I’ve yet to master.
I highly recommend visiting this market. If any vendors that I didn’t get a chance to visit contact me, I’ll be happy to write about them in the future.