Fresh Picks
May 21, 2009 | Visit the Farmers Market online at | Subscribe to Fresh Picks

Market News for This Saturday, May 23

The Unseen
There's so much to say about the 2009 season at the Lansdowne Farmers Market that we don't even know where to start. In fact, it might be easier to talk about what you won't see at the Market than what you will — the list is shorter.

For starters, you won't see bananas, this Saturday or ever. We're by no means anti-banana, but bananas grow on trees far, far away and come to this country via lengthy journeys on boats. All the produce you'll find at the Lansdowne Farmers Market is local, grown in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and nearly all of it is fresh, meaning it ripened and was cut or picked or dug within days if not hours of showing up in the parking lot (the exceptions to this are things like overwintered potatoes or onions). This is an important concept because it means that the only fruits and vegetables available at the Market are actually in season, so we're going to cycle through a lot of produce becoming available and then going away over the next 24 weeks. Things start rather slowly, but patience pays off, and in just a few weeks the farmers' tables will be groaning under the weight of the produce they've, uh, produced. And in this case, starting slowly isn't a bad thing, for the fruits and vegetables and herbs that are coming to the Market this Saturday are nothing to sneeze at. To wit:

Two of the most delicate and fleeting spring delights are asparagus and strawberries, both of which will be coming with Fruitwood Farms. See the newsletter's new feature, "The Recipe Booth" (below), for a tried-and-true method for cooking asparagus, and we're thinking that dipping fresh strawberries into Fruitwood's all-natural honey could be a winner. But when in doubt, just rinse the berries and eat them; that always works.

Schober Orchards will also be bringing asparagus (good, we're going to need plenty), as well as organic mixed lettuces, romaine, and bokchoy grown by a farmer friend. They're out of their apple cider until the fall, but they'll have peach cider (better for the warm weather anyway), their not-too-sweet fruit butters, firewood for your backyard firepit, and shrubs.

Green, leafy vegetables get a lot of good press for their nutritional wallop (some of the press is almost startlingly good in fact), and Farm Fresh Express is bringing them in force — spinach, mustard greens, kale, and chard, in addition to a couple varieties of good old lettuce. Footlong beans, radishes, rhubarb, and shitakes will also be available at FFE, along with their copious pantry items, a goodly selection of cheeses (even a few new ones), frozen meat, and organic eggs.

Rounding out the produce purveyors is little Lupine Valley Veggies, which is really a very large backyard garden. Coming from just up the road in Media, owners Louise Bierig and Dan Krachuk use organic methods to grown herbs, greens, and unusual and heirloom vegetables (though Lupine is not certified organic). They claim to have a shady patchy, and their goal is to provide us with greens all summer long, to which we say, hooray! But for now, they'll be bringing fresh-cut chives, parsley, mint, sage, and oregano to jazz up your meal making, as well as plants you can put into your own garden — tomatoes, sage, mint, oregano, and strawberry and raspberry crowns. Lupine will be at our Market every other week, and Louise, a writer, will be contributing some short musings to this newsletter on occasion. For her first piece, see "View from Lupine Valley," below right.

Although not technically providing produce, let's put Bonnie's Wondergardens here, 'k? Bonnie's spread is always the prettiest thing at the Market, and this week should be no exception as she brings a little bit of everything, from flats of flowers and veggies and herbs to hanging baskets, from floral arrangements to cut sunflowers, from rosebushes to pond plants, from wreaths to actual seeds. It's tough to get away from the Lansdowne Farmers Market without something from Bonnie's, so why even try?

Another thing you won't see is hungry people, or people who are hungry for long anyway, since this year's Market holds more opportunities for on-site eating than your average mall food court. Like what?, you say. To which we respond, Like this:

Mission Burrito will be debuting their new lunch truck, featuring a cold zone, a hot zone, and indoor showers. Okay, no showers, but separate areas for hot lunch items like burritos (chicken, steak, and black bean), hot wings, spicy buffalo chicken breast sandwiches, and hotdogs, plus their much-loved bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast tortas. The cold zone will offer up wraps (chicken and tuna salad), chicken Caesar salad, fresh fruit salad, and Mexican sodas. So Mission Burrito alone is practically a food court.

The Regency Café, not content to simply observe the Market from their nifty position across the street, will be set up at the east end of the lot with their locally famous artisan pastries and baked goods, hot and iced coffee, iced tea, and yummy bottled beverages. Also, of course, a fine selection of Metropolitan Bakery's fine breads. But their big news is that they've upgraded their tent with a special hotline so that customers at their Market stand can order up a breakfast sandwich, quiche, sandwich, or salad from the Café and have it delivered to the Market. Wow, ordering in at the Farmers Market! What's next? According to Chris, ice cream apparently. Stay tuned.

John Wilson's MiniCakes stand is back with his bite-sized delights, including corn, lemon-poppy, and cinnamon-topped muffins and those decadent chocolate pot de crèmes that have been known to make people moan a little. He'll also have chocolate cheesecake bars and some dog treats, and may even up the ante with mushroom soup or shrimp cocktails. Stop in and see for yourself what he shows up with.

A new addition to the Lansdowne Farmers Market, Wild Flour Bakery will also be bringing it foodwise, with loads of options for eating out of hand (try the meat and cheese croissant and then track us down to thank us for recommending it) or for taking home, like their own breads and rolls, including the roll used for the highly lauded Rouge burger, one of GQ magazine's "20 hamburgers you must eat before you die."

Another newbie, Greenwood Kitchen (that's Greenwood as in Avenue as in Lansdowne, PA 19050) will also be happy to feed you, especially if you have dietary restrictions, since all their homemade, small-batch, largely organic baked goods are both wheat- and gluten-free and vegan. They offer products that range from sweet (chocolate fudge, vanilla almond , mint chip, peanut butter, and coffee carob macaroons) to savory (tomato herb crackers and kale tahini chips), and all come nicely packaged in case you prefer to get them home before devouring them. And you'll want to take at least a few home, since Greenwood Kitchen will be at the Market only every other week, give or take.

One last thing you won't see at the Lansdowne Farmers Market, this week anyway, is a dedicated meat vendor. We had one but things got complicated. We're still holding out hope that that farmer's little piggies grow quickly or that we can find another vendor. But in the meantime, Farm Fresh Express has meat — whole chickens, sausages, bacon, ground beef — lots of stuff that should more than hold you for now.

Sign Up
Something else that you'll definitely see at the Market is our pretty new (repurposed actually) chalkboard. It's a black A-frame sign with bright green trim that we plan to position in the middle of the Market to promote upcoming events and whatnot. We've put a bit of cork on both sides so you can stick up yard sale announcements and that kind of thing, which we'll discard at the end of each Market Day so don't put anything too important there. The reason we're so excited about this sign is that you'll be able to rent one side of it for your own personal message for a donation to the Farmers Market of $20. It's a unique way to wish someone you love a happy birthday, congratulate them on graduating or a getting new job, tell them you've missed them, even propose (!) — whatever positive message you want to convey — while also embarrassing your loved one just a little bit at the same time, which is always fun. On the date you specify, we'll write your message on one side of the sign using our very best handwriting and colored chalk for display the entire Market day (9:00 am to 1:00 pm) and we'll take a photo of it that can be accessed through the website, all for $20. But we can only display one message each week, and it's a first-come basis, so reserve your date soon. Think of it as Lansdowne's own Jumbotron.

Who wants to train to be a crossing guard? You get to wear a bright orange vest! With the Regency Café and Cinema 16:9 and Doyle's Deli and a parking lot all on the far side of Lansdowne Avenue, we need help getting people across the street safely. We're looking for some volunteers to train and then help out on Saturdays. Either email us now or stop by the Market Manager tent to sign up.

Guest Starring
We've gotten into the happy habit of kicking off the Farmers Market season by inviting Animal Friends of Lansdowne to the Market to hold a sort of public coming-out party for some adorable but basically homeless cats and kittens. The guests of honor this year will be Pebbles and Kara and her k-k-k-kittens, Katie, Karlo, and Kevin. Pebbles is a young, beautiful, sweet and affectionate tabby who needs to be the only cat, as she prefers the company of humans to that of other felines. Kara is a calm and gorgeous calico who is a great mom and a baby herself at less than one year old. Her kittens are all beautiful, sweet, and well socialized with big personalities. Tempting, no?

Also on hand will be some bright (that may go without saying) physics students from Penn Wood High School to promote the Global Warming Conference that they're holding next Saturday, May 30, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, and to talk about their plan to take their classroom off the grid. Apparently, it doesn't get enough electricity and the best way to remedy that is to generate it themselves. Interesting, huh? We thought you'd want to hear more about this and so invited them to come talk about it. They promised to keep it simple for us layfolks.

Finally, though it's not actually occurring in the parking lot, Cinema 16:9 is definitely getting into the Farmers Market spirit by offering a half-price family matinee of Babe Saturday during the Market. (Babe, forgive us for saying we hoped that farmer's little piggies grow up fast.)

Ready, Set, Go Get a Market Buck
Memorial Day is especially early this year, so we hope you started your training in plenty of time to be ready for Monday's dash around the borough if you're into the "race" part of the Lansdowne Memorial Day 5K Run/Walk Race. Follow that link for more information, and show up at the Lansdowne Avenue parking lot well before the 8:30 am start time Monday, May 25, if you're going to register at the race. If you've run, walked, or volunteered at this event before and wear your T-shirt to the Farmers Market on opening day, we'll give you a Market Buck at the Manager Booth to spend anywhere, any time at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.

I Remember Dog Day
This e-newsletter is getting dangerously long, but we'd be remiss not to squeeze in a link to Maura Ciccarelli's delightful video of last year's Dog Day Parade at the Farmers Market. Not a whole lot happens in the video except dogs being dogs and mostly refusing to stand on the little stage we built, but that's enough to make it completely entertaining. Go watch now! Thanks, Maura!

The Recipe Booth

"The Recipe Booth" will feature ideas for using Farmers Market products at home contributed by Gary Booth, Farmers Market committee member and fine cook.

Here at the break of spring I think we are all a little overanxious to dig into the season's bounty of local produce, berries, lettuces, greens, and one of my favorites, asparagus. Said to first have been cultivated in 200 B.C. by the Romans to be eaten raw and preserved for the off-season, I don't prefer raw asparagus but have been known to keep a jar of pickled asparagus in my refrigerator, which, along with a sip of good whiskey, makes a great predinner snack.

I find asparagus can be fibrous and watery if cooked in the traditional French technique of steaming/boiling, not that steaming doesn't have its merits (I will admit to this later). I prefer to sauté these tender beacons of a long overdue springtime, bought fresh right here at the Lansdowne Farmers Market.

In my cooking method, asparagus is tossed in a pan with 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter along with any residual water from rinsing the vegetables and of course the old staples salt and pepper. Now for the secret: over medium low heat, cover the pan and let it go for 5 minutes. Covering the pan is key here along with the addition of butter; both help to steam and soften the tough fibers. Then remove the lid and increase the heat while turning the asparagus for the next 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes slightly brown. Mix in some garlic, red pepper flakes, pine nuts — whatever you think sounds good. Now you're good to go to the plate, and see why these modest green "sticks," as my partner calls them, are one of my seasonal favorites.
Featured This Week

Artist of the Week: Maria Antanacio of To You, From Me Soaps has a line of body products — body butters, lip balms, ointments and salves, and bath salts and scrubs — that are made by hand of the best ingredients she can find and that are lovely to behold, smell, and touch. She also used the proper punctuation in her business name, and we give her bonus point for that.

Musician of the Week: That hair, that beard, that voice, that fingerstyle guitar playing — it could only be David Falcone, who puts the "zing" in "opening day" (c'mon, it's almost in there).

Blog: Posting begins Saturday after the Market, with new entries coming all season.

Check out what’s coming in the weeks ahead, music- and art-wise, by visiting our continually updated on-line schedule.


Upcoming Local Events

Movies at Cinema 16:9
May 21 to 28, various times; $5 to $10
Slumdog Millionaire; Sita Sings the Blues; Babe; The Country Teacher
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Geoff Muldaur with guest Danielle Miraglia at the Lansdowne Folk Club
Thursday, May 21, 7:00 pm, $15 to $18
84 S. Lansdowne Ave., Lansdowne

2-Month Anniversary Party at Cinema 16:9
Friday, May 22, 8:15, 10:15 pm; $10 includes ticket to Slumdog Millionaire
35 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne

Inner Artist Workshop with Helene von Rosenstiel in the Cinema 16:9 lobby
Session includes meditation, holographic re-patterning, journaling, sketching, and discussion
Saturdays, May 23 and 30, June 6 and 13, 9:00 to 11:00 am; $20 per session
33 N. Lansdowne Avenue
Reservations suggested, 610-622-1960

Lansdowne Memorial Day 5K Run/Walk Race sponsored by the LEDC
Monday, May 25, 8:30 am
Lansdowne Avenue Parking Lot

2009 Memorial Day Parade sponsored by the LBPA
Monday, May 25, 10:00 am
Starts at Lansdowne and Lacrosse Avenues

Global Warming Conference at Penn Wood High School
Saturday, May 30, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; Free
Penn Wood High School, Green Avenue, Lansdowne

2nd Annual Cow Pie Bingo to benefit the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club
Saturday, May 30, noon
Penn Wood High School Field, Green Street, Lansdowne

Lansdowne Games Day at the Garden Church
Saturday, May 30, 11:15 am to 8:45 pm; Free
Stratford and Lansdowne Avenues

Wine Tasting and Tapas Party at Mission Burrito sponsored by the LBPA
Saturday, June 6, 7:00 pm; $39 per person
32 W. Baltimore Avenue; 610-622-6900

Do you have an event to announce?
Send your upcoming events to to have them included in this space!

Click for a complete listing of upcoming local events.

View from Lupine Valley

Seedlings: What They Need Is Love
By Louise Bierig

Seed starting begins in March. My supplies include pots, soil-compost mix, water, grow lights, and heat mats to assist with germination. All of this is important to ensure the seedlings get a good start in life, but what they really need, and what cannot be bought in any store or catalog, is love. Every morning I wake with delight and rush upstairs to great my seedlings, bravely poking their vulnerable, yellow heads from the soil. "Good morning, my little darlings," I greet them, checking on their individual progress. I transplant a few that are growing too close together, reassuring them that they are being moved to a pot all of their own so they can flourish. I greet the plants on the windowsill and tell them of the garden below, which is just beginning to awake with spring grasses and meadow flowers. "Soon you will be outside, in the sunshine and the rain," I tell them. "You're so beautiful." Some days, I may sing them a song. Then, when they're all watered, I make my goodbyes. "See you again tonight, my lovelies."


The Lansdowne Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm in the parking lot next to 28 North Lansdowne Avenue, rain or shine.

Visit our sister market, the Oakmont Farmers Market, Wednesday afternoons in Havertown for more local produce, bread, meat, and other products.