Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Wednesdays and Saturdays are much anticipated days for me. Why? Because on those days my city holds an enormous farmers' market! I love heading out bright and early, with my colorful (and very stylish) straw basket in hand, and my shopping list, which I almost always end up ignoring.
There's so much to love about the market. I love the way in which the fruit and vegetable stands reflect the seasons- bright green asparagus and peas in the spring, ripe, juicy peaches in the summer, gorgeous pumpkins in the fall and creamy yellow heads of chicory in the winter. Everyone is out and about and people are tasting everything from tiny bits of cheese to little rounds of sausage. There are stands selling Dutch treats such as stroopwafels, made right before your eyes and served warm and gooey in red and white checkered paper cases. Or thick- cut fries, salty, piping hot and crowned with a generous dollop of mayonnaise. Stall holders are shouting the sales over the hustle and bustle and everyone is trying to move about with baskets filled to the brim. I get such an immense feeling of pleasure being in the middle of all of this.
The best thing of course, is coming home and trying to decide what to make with all my beautiful finds. Last weekend for example, I couldn't help but notice the huge onions- hard and unblemished, and screaming to be turned into an elegant onion soup or a savory jam. I purchased a few kilos along with the rest of my vegetables and moved on to the cheese stand where the stall holder tempted me into buying three of the most creamiest pieces of Brie along with our weekly chunk of Dutch Boerenkaas. As I was paying, I noticed that they also had a few bright orange sections of Mimolette. How could I resist?
And today! My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when I saw that the cheese stall was selling tubs of real crème fraîche! Not the pale, thin stuff they sell at the supermarket, but the real deal, all the way from Normandy, France's cream capital! I could hardly wait to get home and taste this stuff!
At lunchtime, I sort of gobbled down my sandwich, hardly able to contain myself. Dessert was going to be a little bowl of crème fraîche topped with a spoonful of preserved berries. As I opened the tub, I was amazed at how buttery and fluffy the cream looked. I dug into its perfect surface with the tip of my spoon and brought it to my lips. Fantastic! Velvety smooth with a slight tang. This stuff was sinful! Again, the market managed to surprise me. I immediately made a mental note to go back and thank the lady who sold me the cream.
So tonight we're in for a market day dinner. Yet another highlight of market day. I've already baked a crusty loaf of bread and will be serving that with some lentils accompanied by garlic sausages, a lemony chicory salad and for dessert, a vanilla scented pear clafoutis made (and served) with the real deal!