At the heart of the Local Pickins’ mission lies curiosity: a curiosity about food, of course, but also a curiosity about location. When embarking on a Local Pickins adventure to a neighborhood or a farmers’ market, direction is not dictated by a shopping list or recipe; rather, through observing and inquiring, through discovering and discussing, our shopping list comes to us and, from it, we create a meal. This past weekend, our curiosity led us to the Roslindale Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays 9AM – 1:30PM through October 27th, located in Roslindale, MA. Annie had heard rumors about a sausage shop – Tony’s – and we were both interested in learning about purveyors outside of our standard stomping grounds. From the moment we strolled into the town center, filled with a smattering of white tents and shoppers, Roslindale began working its way into our hearts and winning us over.
We started by circling around the tents, taking it all in, and getting a sense of the wide scope of offerings. The first time around, our spottings include foot-long beans from the Neighborhood Farm, fromage blanc from Foxboro Cheese Co. in Foxboro, MA, and Two Field Farm’s extraordinary arrowhead cabbage. The second time around, we began stopping, chatting, and purchasing. What did we find out? A ton of new, delicious information…
One of our most interesting finds was the arrowhead cabbage which looks, predictably, like an arrowhead. Thanks to the knowledgable woman at Two Field Farm, we learned it is more than just their shape that sets them apart; these cabbages are less dense than the standard supermarket variety, and if you’re cooking for one or two, they’re the perfect size!
Next to Two Field Farm’s stand, we found the beautiful, seemingly exotic footlong beans at the Neighborhood Farm stand. Though their deep purple coloring and impressive length make foot-long beans look like produce from another planet, it turns out they are quite familiar in flavor and texture – a fact I later confirmed by including them in my local pickins meal. In contrast to standard green beans, foot-longs provide a bit of an earthier flavor and, as the woman from Neighborhood Farm pointed out, some sweetness. Due to their length, you only need three or four beans per standard serving, which makes them quite convenient! Definitely worth a try.
In addition to their foot-long beans, Neighborhood Farm put on an impressive show with their beautiful layout of eggplant varieties, and their extraordinary array of garlic. Perhaps even more impressive than their produce was their informational signs. Who knew that different varieties of garlic lent themselves to different dishes? And who knew that over 30 different varieties of garlic could be grown right here, in Massachusetts? Check out the photo below to get an idea of their informative signs, and check out their website to learn more about their innovative strategies for bringing sustainable farming to the Boston suburbs.
Across the way, at the Foxboro Cheese Co. tent, we sampled their fromage blanc in a number of different flavors, including chive, sun-dried tomato, and, most deliciously, maple. Made simply from whole milk and cultures, this fromage blanc has the texture of a soft goat cheese, the sour quality of yogurt, and in the case of the maple variety, a subtle, delightful sweetness. It seemed like it might be the perfect match for one of Fornax Bread’s fresh english muffins…so we purchased two, and headed over to the Fornax cart. The cart held a small but elegant presentation of fresh breads, made from high quality ingredients just down the street at the Fornax headquarters, an equally charming bread shop that serves the larger Roslindale community with its delicious pastries, breads, sandwiches, and soups.
Other highlights of the day included chatting with the makers of Doves and Figs preserves and learning about their locally sourced, pectin-free preserves and conserves, and stopping by Tony’s Market to pick up some sweet handmade sausages (made fresh every Thursday!) to go with our foot-long beans and garlic.
When it was all said and done, I headed home, armed with a beautiful bag of peaches, fresh english muffins, strawberry-rhubarb-walnut conserve, maple fromage blanc, sweet sausage, two different varieties of garlic, and three foot-long beans which were each arguably longer than a foot. The result? A week of relishing in the bounty of Roslindale: A stir-fry of foot-long beans, garlic, and sausage, a series of fresh, sweet peaches, sliced and enjoyed atop english muffins with maple fromage blanc, and the discovery of vanilla ice cream mixed with strawberry-rhubarb-walnut conserve. And so, dear reader, you’ve got two more months to take advantage of the Roslindale Farmers’ market, and if you have half the fun and success that we did, please don’t forget to share your pickins with us!