Once I had it in my head that we were going to go to the Union Square Greenmarket for the first time two weeks ago, even the threat of downpours couldn’t dampen my determination. It was almost promising when we left the apartment–we even saw a few bursts of sunlight–but by the time we reached 14th Street, intermittent raindrops started to fall. It mattered little, as we were armed with both our reusable bags and umbrellas, and so we set off to explore the market’s offerings.
To this day I’m still floored by how farmer’s markets have evolved–growing up, “going to the farmer’s market” was code for being dragged around a dingy, smelly old building in Downingtown, my senses assaulted by clouds of blue cigar smoke and strange Pennsylvania Dutch food stands, all so my dad could wander the random stalls and the flea markets (both indoor and outdoor!) in search of Lionel trains and my brother could check out the latest at the Comic Book Caper. My dad was successful once in getting us to go to Zern’s, another market off of PA-100 that sells produce and livestock as well as people’s old junk, but even then I remember it still being very low-key and folksy, two words that do not describe the markets I’ve encountered in New Haven and New York.
We strolled through the stands to get our bearings and comparison-shop, noting which stand had the best looking/cheapest apples, or which chicken farm to visit in order to get fresh eggs for carbornara that night, as well as checking out all of the various meat dealers to see what cuts they had on hand that day. It was an overwhelming experience to say the least: so many vendors had glorious-looking produce on their stands, but we wanted to keep to a budget for this first visit.
I felt a little strange about taking pictures of the farmers’ food, as if taking a picture was akin to some you-breka-it-you-bought-it policy, but upon reflection there were lots of people snapping up pictures, so next time I’ll shake that insecurity and get some better shots that more accurately reflect the breadth of variety this market truly offers.
Our haul was fairly simple: lots of apples, a half-gallon of apple cider, a bag of San Marzano tomatoes, a dozen eggs, and a bottle of hard cider that served as a delicious aperitif that evening. We stayed away from the meat this particular week because nothing excited Michael enough to drop $15-$20 on the spot, but perhaps another day will be more inspiring for him. We purchased some goat from the New Haven greenmarket a few months ago and while the results were good, I think he’s still a little wary of spending that much on something unless he knows it will blow him away.
So this is where you can help: for those who have shopped there in the past and purchased meat, what kinds/cuts of meat do you think deliver the best value for the money and make you forget exactly how much you spent on them?