Farmer’s Markets, etc.
Chicago chefs always talk about the Green City Market, Chicago’s central farmer’s market on the lakefront. I had never gone because we had a farmer’s market in Logan Square and getting to and parking in Lincoln Park never sounded that fun. Well, we finally made it on our last morning in Chicago and I was so sad that I wasn’t able to take all the lovely produce home with me. Instead, I bought fresh apple cider and crepes made with local cheese and vegetables and enjoyed our last morning together outside by the lake.
My first visit to a midwestern farmer’s market back in 2008 was a disappointment. It was the middle of winter inside of an old music hall (an old, cavernous one you’d be more likely to throw a rave in than see an opera) and there were just a few meat and cheese stands. Coming from California, I was expecting bountiful produce. I didn’t realize that local in the wintery midwest meant meat, cheese and baked goods. While I still missed my year-round produce, I got used to it and adapted (sorta).
Once we arrived in San Francisco, I was super excited to go to my local farmer’s market. I was excited to pick up some fresh vegetables and meats and go home and cook. Unfortunately, I forgot that my local farmer’s market is on Saturday and not Sunday. So, we drove over to Berkeley Bowl (we had to run errands in the East Bay) and picked up some fruits and veggies (I wish Berkeley Bowl was still my local grocer).
I have also been reading a lot about the effects of industrial farming but for the past two years, my student budget didn’t really allow me to buy the kind of meat I wanted. When you’re a graduate student with negative income, $2 chicken vs. a $25 chicken is kind of a no brainer, regardless of the environmental repercussions. The math gets even easier when you’re a struggling to raise a family on minimum wages (which is why I can’t fault people who buy industrially farmed meats).
I knew that as soon as I got a job, we would transition to local/organic as much as possible. So…we bought our first organic chicken at Berkeley Bowl ($14) and roasted it that night with the two seasonings we had in the house: red Hawaiian sea salt and some “Lakeview spices” (whatever that is) from a spice shop in Chicago. Its definitely a leaner chicken and there isn’t really a taste difference, but hopefully this meat was raised ethically and responsibly. Served with a side of zucchini and banana squash sauteed in rendered chicken fat.
Our final Chicago meal @ Graham Elliot
I can’t wait to get home from my business trip and unpack my kitchen!