Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fort Greene Veggies

This morning I woke up with ambitions of heading down to Prospect Park and the big Brooklyn farmers' market at Grand Army Plaza then hopping over to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to catch my hero Kiki Smith's show but was feeling a bit groggy from yesterday's daytime dissertation-writing bender (overpriced cheap white wine and other low-level toxins were helping me face down my demons--we all need drastic measures sometimes) and a night of hopping around New York that ended in watching the most incredible SPAZZ performance I've ever seen: Khaela Maricich of The Blow and formerly of the Microphones singing solo at Joe's Pub. It was like watching a speed-freak do karaoke while breaking into occasional trip-hop dance moves. And then she sang the sweetest song to her girlfriend who was sitting up in the balcony. And talked about writing a song for Britney Spears to sing before taking off her t-shirt and twirling it around her head while jumping around in a black unitard. She is so amazing.

But back to vegetables--after being dragged out of bed by the potty needs and beseeching eyes of two naughty-cute dachshunds that I'm dog-sitting in Clinton Hill, my weary self decided to stay close and visit the Fort Greene greenmarket, which happens at Fort Greene park and near a big Saturday flea market. After picking up iced coffee at Choice, which is connected to the Choice Greene bougie grocery a block away (think Bi-Rite) where I've already splurged on Point Reyes blue cheese, and then running into a San Francisco acquaintance who has an inspiring design blog that is much prettier and more read than this one, 2 or 3 things i know [insert comment about it being a small world and how Brooklyn=the Mission and you're a fool for thinking you could hide out here and be anonymous], we waddled our way down to the park.

One thing I'm finding about New York is that it just wears me down too much to try to stick to my usual produce principles, as well as those of cooking over eating out. So here I often just buy vegetables and fruit that look good without taking the time to ask as many questions as I normally do. (And it's hard to dawdle when you've got two hotdogs on a leash that anyone could step on or stroller-smash at any moment.) But I'm also finding that information at farmers' markets isn't as accessible as at the markets I usually go to back in San Francisco, so there's less information about certification or growing practices, while the people working the stands seem unused to customers asking these kinds of questions, often responding with vague answers and question-mark faces, though not always. I guess it's more like shopping at the Alemany and Heart of the City Civic Center markets than at the Ferry Plaza or Noe Valley markets. One stand at the Fort Greene market had a sign that said "certified naturally grown" but I wasn't quite sure what that meant--I promise to investigate next time.

The most interesting things I picked up were lemon cucumbers, pea shoots, and garlic scapes, which are a bit tougher with more bulbous tips than the dainty green wands that appear earlier in the season (see top photo; peashoots are above left). Fruitwise, I was quite taken with the gooseberries and with the clever little red hairnet covers the farm had to cap off the pint box. I don't think I've ever seen gooseberries on the west coast. They're like sour grapes with a sweet tinge, and have the most wonderful tiny watermelon stripes running down their translucent spheres. The farmstand man said people often make jam out of them and then wrinkled his nose at me (but in a friendly way) when I suggested popping them had a similar shock-effect as taking shots of kombucha. Today, I write with the power of kombucha--only a low level of alcohol, though still too much for the finger-wagging Puritans at Whole Foods, it seems.

I get the feeling that the tone of this post is veering toward the spastic, with even more run-ons than usual. The heat and intense bouts of writing about poetry and trying to do too much in general is melting my brain I think. Oops!


Anonymous said...

i'm pretty proud nyc has nothing on the farmers' markets in sf! i'm always afraid it will be lost on me since i no nothing about agricultural practices, but i want to start asking the vendors more questions
and the blow is so great! glad she has a gf but i hope she never ditches the angsty songs.
yes we should veg out when you get back!

Marc said...

The farmers market seems like one of the last stands for many weird fruits and vegetables. Whereas grocery stores are very picky about what the buy (e.g., only a few varieties of apples), farmers at the F.M. can bring all kinds of heirlooms and exotics. For example, later this summer Lagier Ranches will bring the very rare Bronx Grape and not so rare but still unusual Paw Paw to the S.F. and Oakland markets.

I've never seen gooseberries in the Bay Area either (except perhaps for kiwifruit, which might be a gooseberry relative). And, unfortunately, I never see garlic scapes, which is mysterious. It seems like "free" revenue for the farmer, as the scape can be cut off without damaging the developing bulb. I'd certainly buy scapes during their short season.