Know what we love? Carbs, lots and lots of carbs. Bread, pasta, and potatoes -- this is the stuff that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are made of, or would be if we had our druthers. We probably consume as many carbs as your average professional cyclist, and this week's newsletter is a celebration of our favorite guilty pleasure (which we might not need to be quite so guilty about anyway).
Bread comes to the Lansdowne Farmers Market in many shapes -- long thin baguettes, domed boules, flat ovals, pretzel twists -- as well as varieties -- sourdough, whole grain, French style, studded with nuts or raisins, covered in cheese -- and that's just a "for example" listing. Frecon Farm brings trays of breads they bake themselves, like multigrain and sourdough, but their focaccia in particular is outrageous, with flavor combinations that incorporate produce from their own fields, like peach, tomato, and basil. Buy the Dozen Bakery has a full line of bread and bread products, including challah loaves and rolls, but we often can't get beyond the pretzels, croissants, and (occasional) sticky buns -- breakfast! (This week they're planning on doughnuts in celebration of Kidcentric Day.) And although the Regency Café is no longer going to participate in the Market, they're right across the street and will continue to carry an array of breads from Philly favorite Metropolitan Bakery. Their baguettes, the whole wheat ones especially, are fabulous smeared with goat cheese and honey.
A couple things to remember when it comes to bread at the LFM. (1) Unlike supermarket bakery breads (which cost just or nearly as much), the stuff at the Market is made in smallish batches and without preservatives, and so will get stale in a day or two; it's best eaten pretty quickly. (Starting at the Market is a great approach.) (2) Most bread freezes well in a freezer bag or wrapped in freezer paper for a month or so, defrosts quickly, and is almost as good as it was fresh, especially if you warm it in a hot oven when you go to serve it. (3) Try making croutons or breadcrumbs from plain, sourdough, or whole grain bread that's gone stale. Use them just like you would store-bought products. (4) Consider (oh please, strongly consider) making bread pudding from breads that are past their prime; both sweet and savory recipes abound.
In the beginning, we were skeptical that fresh pasta not laboriously produced with our own hands or paid top dollar for in a restaurant would be wonderful enough to impress LFM shoppers and merit a Market space, because a lot of available fresh pasta is pretty meh (sorry, Springfield Pasta devotees). But Vera Pasta surprised us. Really surprised us, like someone-take-this-away-from-us-before-we-eat-the-whole-pound surprised us. In short, the pastas all have a perfect texture and delicious flavor. Those touted as spicy have quite a kick. Those with flavorful ingredients like lemon, basil, or garlic taste of them. Even the plain, unflavored fresh pastas have a wonderful mouth feel and a commendable tooth for conveying sauces.
But the filled pastas -- the ravioli -- deserve special mention. They are a marvel of both flavor combinations and construction in that they boil up and allow you to toss them with sauce or olive oil without tearing, breaking, or otherwise coming apart and leaking their stuffing (just follow these guidelines). While Vera sells a couple sauces, you won't need to add much to the flavored pastas, especially the ravioli, to have your main course. Heat up olive oil and add a little garlic and some chopped greens to allow the distinctive filling combinations to shine, such as wild mushroom and sage; goat cheese, fig, and rosemary, asparagus, lemon zest, and pecorino; or, the newest flavor, chorizo and queso. Here are Vera's own suggestions for simple sauces for their complex pasta. (Vera's chef/owner, Joe D'Andrea, has an extensive background in Italian cooking, including training at the international School of Italian Cuisine in Parma, Italy, so we really shouldn't have been surprised by how good this stuff is. And yet, we were.)
Potato Salads for Others
You don't need us to sell you on potatoes. You've been eating them since you were born and have probably realized that the ones available from the farmers at the LFM are worth the extra money. However, maybe you're ready to try a new potato salad recipe? Now, we're not suggesting you spring this on your family or anything, because we all know families like the family potato salad that they've been eating for years, and no other. But you'll probably have a few opportunities yet this summer to make a dish to share at a picnic or barbeque or church supper or something, and that would be the perfect time to branch out on the potato salad front and try out one of these recipes on strangers. Choose correctly and you could be presenting a potato salad that you mostly grilled to unsuspecting function attendees. (Even if you're sticking with your age-old recipe, that piece offers some tips on how to get the best results, including potato variety and slicing guidelines.)
Did ya see that just above? Neil's Sharpening Service is coming this week. If you miss him this Saturday, it will be September 26 before you get another shot at having your blades sharpened because he's off in August.
As also mentioned above, but a bit farther, the Regency Cafe is no longer coming to the Market. We're working on an on-site coffee replacement.
Oh Right, The Kids!
We're so amped up on carbs that we almost forgot to give Kidcentric Day its due. So let's cut right to the chase. All day events: Winged Wonders butterfly tent, Lansdowne Public Library book swap, crafts and calisthenics led by the Ardmore Avenue Playground Group, Lansdowne Marbles Club (featuring 2015 girls' National Marbles Champion Emily Simkovitch, a Lansdowner!), games. Timed events: Under 18 open mic talent show, starting at 11:00 (all participants get a Market Buck), whole market line dancing (at noon). As always, all the stuff listed here is free! And even though we listed this almost last, kids come first! Yay, kids!!
On Saturday, bring us some food for the community food bank -- or a nice monetary contribution -- and we'll thank you with a Market Buck and the assurance that someone in need is going to appreciate your generosity.
The second Community Day of 2015 is the last Saturday of August, the 29th, and applications will be available via this newsletter next week. The spaces were gone last time before the deadline, so hop right on it if you're serious about joining the Market for that one day.