Maine is blessed with over 100 farmers’ markets and it’s worthwhile to make the rounds.
The thrill of finding unique local foods defines my visits to other farmers’ markets besides Portland’s Wednesday and Saturday extravaganzas.
After an early start at Saturday’s Deering Oaks market, I took the 10-minute turnpike trip to Saco to visit that city’s downtown farmer’s market. It’s relatively small with about 20 vendors of various local stripes. But my purpose was to get some of the best corn around, which I would use later to prepare corn fritters. It’s harvested by Harris Farm of Dayton who sell their deliciously sweet corn at the market or at their farm store.
Both varieties are very sweet and tender in a bi-color version – the Super Enhanced or Super Sweet. It’s not delicate like the white Silver Queen but rather fairly forward in taste and texture. I first had it at the excellent Kennebunk restaurant, 50 Local, in a pasta dish with the exquisite taste of corn so prominent in the sauce I asked about the corn and learned of its Harris Farm provenance.
Other specialties from Harris Farm include their bottled milk (raw or pasteurized) and heavy cream, which is pasteurized and very sweet and thick and one of the best of the non-raw creams without any cooked taste whatsoever. And don’t miss the farm’s pastured meats of beef and veal and their core crops of vegetables like great tomatoes, greens, peppers, squash and so forth.
Other vendors at the market that had unique products included canned goods from the Biddeford farm, Seasonal Corner, owned by the Bedard family. I picked up their Golden Globe Relish made with yellow cucumbers and added it to tuna salad for a wonderful sweet touch.
Then there was the Pie Lady, at a stand where two men sat on lawn chairs. I asked, if a bit snarky, “Which one of you is the pie lady?”
She turned out to be at home baking. I picked up a pack of English muffins, which I tried yesterday morning and they were pretty good. I did not try any of their sweet or savory pies.
On my way back to Portland I took a short detour to extend my farm-market shopping and visited the Cumberland Farmer’s Market on Tuttle Road located in front of Town Hall. It’s a nice little market with a group of local farmers whose products epitomize home-grown fresh local food.
With all these trips I managed to pick up everything I needed to prepare for a dinner party on the terrace later in the evening (see Wednesday’s Golden Dish for recipes). For gazpacho I needed one more thing: red peppers. And wouldn’t you know, those sweet peppers are not in season yet.
But within a week or so just about all of our summer bounty will be at the markets. What I can’t wait for are local peaches, and the best come from two orchards that sell at the Kennebunk Saturday farmer’s market. That market, with nearly 40 vendors, is a very special one. I’ll report on it soon.