The Local Food Report: the first farmers' market

This week, I went to the farmers' market. I'm going to type that again, because I'm still pinching myself, trying to figure out whether or not it's really true.

This week, I went to the farmers' market. Phew!

I have been waiting for this day for months, every month, in fact, since last October, when the farmers' markets in Orleans and Provincetown and Hyannis and everywhere else on this sandy strip shut their doors. They simply put down their tent flaps and left—a terrible thing for a friend to do anytime, but in the gray, cold, rainy months in particular.

I went to a few markets in other states while they were gone—a winter market in my hometown of Brunswick, Maine, and the huge year-round market in Providence, Rhode Island. They were both exciting, but not the same. I couldn't wake up bleary-eyed, throw on my jeans, and run out the door. Julie wasn't there, and neither was Gretel, or Claire or Darnell or Tim. I didn't know anyone's name, or what they usually had for sale—they could've just gotten a crazy new hair cut and stopped growing radishes and decided to be a lobsterman, and I'd never have known.

The Orleans market, on the other hand, is like one of those friends you've always known—warm and smart and inviting—the kind that you can read like a book. It has 21 vendors, all from the Outer Cape, selling everything from rhubarb to radishes to asparagus to greens. They have muffins, too, and other baked goods, and live lobster and shiitake mushrooms and flower bouquets. This week, they had seedlings—things like celeriac and strawberries and mesclun mix and 150 different varieties of tomatoes. Now that's what I call a friend.

This first week, I did more catching up than shopping, but I still brought a full bag of veggies home. I tucked away a bunch of French Breakfast radishes, a bundle of scallions, three leeks, a dozen eggs, a pint of cherry tomatoes (from the E & T Farms greenhouse!), and a flowering currant plant for a friend. All in all, a pretty good haul.

Other markets will be opening up soon—in Provincetown and Hyannis, on the islands, and up Cape. There's a full list here. So keep your eyes peeled for those rows of white tents, and just as soon as you can, pick up the makings for the salad below. It's the best I've had since October.


I mixed the radishes greens from the bunch above with spinach, butter lettuce, Italian dandelion, and tat soi from my garden to make a spring salad mix. Look for very young radishes if you plan to use the greens; the bigger they get the more fuzz they have on their skin, and they also tend to acquire a more bitter taste. This recipe makes enough salad for roughly four.

for the salad:
1 pound spring greens
1 bunch French breakfast radishes, sliced into thin half moons
2 scallions, thinly sliced

for the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons wine vinegar (slightly sweet is nice)
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably homemade)

Wash and dry the greens and toss with radishes and scallions. On a cutting board, mash together garlic and salt with a fork. Scrape into a small jar and shake together with vinegar, olive oil, and mayonnaise until well mixed. Pour dressing over greens and toss well.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi...thanks for the recipe. i am going to make it! i have french breakfast radishes in my garden and we have been eating them every morning...yum! nice blog too!

Gannet said...

Great to hear about the seasonal debut of the farmers' market...such a vibrant time of year. I listened online to your WCAI Local Food Report broadcast about it, too...really nicely put together. Now you have me thinking about where I can find a currant bush for our yard!

Elspeth said...

Hi Jaz:

Glad you like it! I love french breakfast radishes...they're so delicate and sweet. Next year, I'll have to grow them myself.


Thank you! I heard currant bushes make excellent arbor covers...perhaps you could find a doorway spot for them?

All the best,


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