Not unlike other large animals from the North, I hibernate during the winter. And, by hibernate, I mean that I don’t go to the Central New York Regional Market out of season.
It’s a convenience/warmth thing, when you get right down to it. I don’t like being cold and those old market buildings along Park Street are frigid on a warm day. Given that some of my favorite stops are year-round vendors, I should go and support them during the winter months. Being the delicate little flower that I am, I really don’t want to trudge through the snow from car to building to building and back to the car.
But, it’s summer (okay, not yet, but the market is back to it’s in-season schedule and configuration) now and that means a return for the vegetable farms. Last Saturday (May 3) was the first in-season market day of the year. It’s still primarily plants, but by mid- to late-June, local produce will rear its head.
Whether you are a backyard grower looking for plants or foraging for dinner ingredients (like me), these are my essential stops at the CNY Regional Market:
Wake Robin Farm: The Schader family staffs their spot in the C Shed each week and good luck getting near the table. Meg Schader might be the most popular person at Saturday’s market. No matter when you approach the table she’s in mid-conversation with a customer, who is invariably a devotee of the farm. They have a loyal following and for good reason. Their nine cheeses — and I’ve had them all — are top notch. I am told that their yogurts and milk are also first rate, and that I need to try their granola. Jared Says: Get the Farmer’s Fromage if they have it. It’s a creamy soft cheese that spreads like butter. The Mona Lisa, when grated, is a spectacular pasta cheese.
Flour City Pasta: I’m in the bag for this Pittsford-based pastamaker located in the C Shed. Jon, the owner, staffs the staff each weekend with more than 25 flavors and shapes, from herb pasta to blends like the Rasta Pasta (sweet potato, carrot, thyme, lime and cayenne in various shapes). Jared Says: You can’t go wrong with anything here, but the emmer orzo is pretty special. The emmer flour, which is ground from farro, is grown and ground by Farmer Ground in Trumansburg.
Deborah’s Sweet Treats: No, Deborah is not a farmer. She is a gluten-free baker found in the new F Shed at the very back of the market. She recently opened a retail store in the village of Baldwinsville, but her market schedule keeps her busy all year long. Deborah has the magic ability to make gluten-free baked goods taste better than conventional. Jared Says: The cinnamon bread is $7 a loaf and worth every dime.
Belle Terre Farms: Located in the A Shed and sometimes in the D Shed, this Sodus-based farm has a solid produce selection week in and week out during the season. Jared Says: Their apples are the best at the market.
Sue Roberts: Sue is probably the best non-GF baker at the market. Way back in the day, when The Kid was The Baby and her and my trips to the market were relief pitching for The Wife, I would stop by and see Sue for one of her oatmeal bars to eat while walking. Sue could bake a cinder block and frost it, and I’m certain it will taste good. She is typically found in the C Shed, though I have seen her in the A Shed sometimes. Jared Says: The oatmeal bar has cranberries and other good stuff in it. You can absolutely rationalize it as breakfast.
Delaney Farms (right): Located in the D Shed, Delaney’s corn is the best at the market. I’ve never had a rotten or jagged ear from this spot. But, this is my favorite time of year to visit as they are just rolling out their plant selection for the season. Last year’s tomatoes and herbs came from there and were among the hardiest I’ve ever grown. Jared Says: The corn is delivered during the morning, fresh from the stalks.
DeMarco Farms: One of the area’s largest produce suppliers, DeMarco occupies a large space in the A Shed near the North doors. You cannot escape that section of the market without passing by the lettuce and herbs lined up for sale, or without being sprinkled by the large heads of wet veggies being bagged. It’s like a rite of passage to the next building. Jared Says: They supply the herbs to local grocers, so you can spend $1.99 a bunch at the supermarket or give your money direct to the farmer without the markup.
Sunburst Farms: I know so little about this farm, but this organic farm from Moravia has the best green beans at the market. They also make their own honey, harvest enormous sunflowers and usually have great kale and chard. Jared Says: It’s all about the beans for me.
I know that someone out there will tell me that I need to list the Better Brittle stand, but I don’t like peanut brittle. Bostrom Farms, the official pork and bacon of Al Dente, has been AWOL recently as it tries to get its retail store up and running. I think that I found my new favorite stop this weekend, as it looks like the husband and wife team that operate Good Nature Brewing will be setting up shop in the E Shed for growlers, tastings and bottle sales.
So, what’s your favorite stop? Tell me in the comments!