How local is your Farmers’ Market?

19 November 2010 § Leave a comment

As much as possible I want my produce to come direct from the farm – I don’t want food that has frequent flier miles.  I yearn for a simpler life where food comes fresh from the earth, with dirt and imperfections. I do not want shrink-wrapped and pre-chopped vegetables. Having said that I do have my weaknesses for food that is definitely not native to New Jersey –  Marmite (compulsory for all expat Brits), coffee, wasabi, French cheese  to name a few of my favorite (non-local) things.

When I go to my local Farmers’ Market I expect my produce to come farm to table by way of a short truck ride. I was taken aback to see these bad boys brazenly on display in the back of one of the trucks – celery from California and broccoli, bizarrely, with a Chinese name from…..Mexico. Vegetables that I could have bought at the grocery store for half the price. I’m giving the Farmer the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were just using old boxes, but it did not look that way. Please don’t get the wrong idea though as the majority of produce sold at the Montclair Farmers’ Market is definitely local, organic and good, really good.

It was  a glorious day and my faith in humanity was restored as I called in at Corso 98, a local Italian restaurant just around the corner from the Farmers’ Market. Their kitchen, Cucina 98, open every Saturday morning. You will see the owners, Lisa Marie and Elio Suriano, there every weekend. They make and sell homemade ravioli, sauce, delicious cookies and biscotti. In fact if you go there on a Saturday you will see Nonna and Elio, making fresh ravioli in their window-front kitchen. All their pasta is excellent, I bought some butternut squash ravioli and a sage and orange béchamel sauce to go with it. The ravioli was so fresh and light, but the filling was very rich, and a beautifully vibrant shade of orange. My all-time favorite has to be the fava bean and mint ravioli they make in the summer. I love the way they use fresh, seasonal ingredients. During the summer they were also selling their own homegrown figs which I heard someone raving about, but I was not quick enough..there is always next year!

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