A couple of sunny Sundays ago, I took the kid down to Wicker Park for opening morning of our neighborhood farmer's market. In teaching him how to shop locally in order to sustain our community, I can think of no better way than through the sensory wonderland of a summer market.
Upon our arrival at the Northwest corner of the park, we were greeted by dogs, kids, tomatoes, and neighbors. Tomatoes, lettuces, and a whiff of Brunkow Cheese on the breeze. Horseradish cheddar? Check. In the bag and on to River Valley Ranch to visit with some Hen of the Woods mushrooms.
The kid and I make a practice of hunting mushrooms after a rainy day on the way to school. Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the woods, while rare round these parts of Bucktown, grow abundantly in our fair state. If you happen by River Valley Ranch's booth this Sunday, be sure to grab some marinated mushrooms or pickled asparagus. Your Bloody Marys will never be the same.
Passing up the buckets of peonies (I prefer to purchase mine from Larkspur or Pistil & Vine), I head to the cornerstone of the marketplace, Nichols Farm. You might recognize Nichols Farm from the menus of Hot Chocolate or The Bristol. Occupying the center stalls of Wicker Park's market, Nichols Farm offers plants and produce ranging from basil and tomatoes to bright spring onions and some of the best apples in the Fall. This Sunday in June, we picked out some gorgeous baby squash and basil to toss with our pasta for dinner later that night. Yum. Yum. Extra yum.
Finally, we head to Gramp's Pickles for a jar of horseradish dill pickle rounds. Are you sensing a theme? The kid likes his pungent flavors....
Around the arc of the market you will find the freshest of produce, eggs, cheese, even meat by way of Jake. If you happen to get hungry along the way, grab a muffin or a donut from one of the bakeries present. Perhaps you are looking for something savory? Try a goat cheese kalamata olive crepe from Flip. Or just go for the nutella and banana crepe because, really, why wouldn't you?After enjoying breakfast at the fountain, we head into the park proper for a little running around. Much to our surprise, there was a puppet show going on discussing the finer points of Vivaldi, of course. A little classical culture for the kids? I think yes, what a delightful end to a perfect morning.
Now, off to open Virtu....
See you next time.
The Wicker Park & Bucktown Farmers Market takes place every Sunday from 8am-2pm from June 3 until October 28.Wicker Park & Bucktown Farmers Market Vendors:
- Arnold J Klehm Grower, Inc., Hampshire, IL
- Blue Sky Inn, Chicago, IL
- Brunkow Cheese, Darlington, WI
- Delightful Pastries, Chicago, IL
- Enrique Jimenez Foods, Norridge, IL
- Flip Brands Crepes, Chicago, IL
- Garden Offerings, Huntley, IL
- Gramp's Pickles, Des Plaines, IL
- Highrise Baking Company, Chicago, IL
- Iron Creek Farm, LaPorte, IN
- Jake's Country Meats, Inc., Cassopolis, MI
- Mint Creek Farm, Stelle, IL
- Nichols Farm and Orchard Inc., Marengo, IL
- River Valley Ranch, Burlington, WI
- Seedling Enterprises LLC, South Haven, MI
- Spencer Foods, Inc, Chicago, IL
- Tomato Mountain Farm, Brooklyn, WI