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Farmers Market Report

Jo Zimny Photos via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The farm fields of Maryland are in full production now and so far 2020 has been a near exemplary growing season. Sunny days mixed in with occasional rain have been a blessing, at a time when we really need it. Chef Jerry Pellegrino can't wait to pay a visit to the farmers market, which is a real pleasure this time of the year. I've been going fairly regularly, and I was there last weekend to check it out.

The first thing I noticed last weekend when I was calling on our local markets, was the abundance of salad greens. Yes, you could find plain old lettuce, but that was in the minority.  One Straw Farm is back with a good half dozen varieties of lettuce and spinach. Dark red oak leaf lettuce was there along with crisp long heads of leafy romaine.


Gardner's Gourmet was featuring their famous mesclun mix along with that delightful French green, sorrel.  (And if you've never made sorrel soup, please give it a try.) Metro Microgreens had a wonderful assortment of their tender tasty baby sprouts. And our friends at Bartenfelder's Farms had their customary fresh kale in several varieties.


I saw cabbages of all kinds, including some amazing bok choy at Eden Farms' stand. 

Everybody seemed to have beets, but I only saw the standard red beets. I'm assuming that we need to wait a few weeks before the multi-color varieties get to market.

Summer squash are already here, both the tender yellow kind and the green zucchini squashes. And those succulent baby squashes and pattipans are on their way.


The master of Peas and Beans Tom McCarthy has been coming to the market with his gorgeous bright green peas. And his famous beans are just a few weeks off.

A few weeks ago we were talking about pork and I was comforted to see our friends at Liberty Delight selling their superb Berkshire breed pork chops (buy the bone-in cuts) as well as Pahl's Farm just down the aisle, sporting a full range of pork products.

Woolsey Farm had a full complement of spring lamb for sale, and fresh chicken and eggs were very easy to come by.

In the past spring has meant fresh herbs and flowers for sale and this year is no different. You can by herbs and flowers in the pot for garden planting, or get fresh cut bunches for immediate enjoyment.

It being spring, asparagus is  quite abundant.  Our friend Billy Caulk of Pine Grove Farm on the Eastern Shore is offering striking purple asparagus as well as the highly sought after super thin variety.

I have seen strawberries, but not in the abundance I have in the past. Apparently the cool weather is delaying their ripening.  But they are on the way.

Local grown tomatoes are available, and yes they have been grown under cover. But here's the catch:  much maligned "hot house" tomatoes deserve their poor reputation, not because of where and how they are grown, but because of the the variety. Our good friend Dave Hocheimer of Black Rock Orchards grows an assortment of hoop-house friendly tomatoes and they are sensational. One variety called Big Bena was plump, deeply red, and full of flavor. It was so big, I was slicing it up for sandwiches for days. Wow, what a taste.

Finally a few other things I have to mention. Boordy Vineyards was out there selling wine and Zeke's was waving the flag for fresh ground coffee. Charlottetown Farm Goat Cheese is at the market as are Uptown Bakers who are offering a slightly reduced menu of artisanal breads.

So you have my full encouragement to go out shopping this weekend, as long as you take your mask and your common sense. You can't go wrong.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.