(Note to readers: This newsletter is what you get when you realize Wednesday morning that it's your turn to write it. We've all been there in one way or another.)
One for the Books
Last weekend was quite a thing, wasn't it? Saturday did its level best to melt us all where we stood. Marketgoers tended to grab and go, The Icery was sorely missed (though we were delighted to have Bonnie back), and one of our poor musicians had to relocate to the strip of shade at the back of the tent to avoid sunshine immolation. Good try, Saturday!
Then Sunday -- wow, what an event Arts on the Avenue was! (We say this having not even gotten to experience the beer aspect of the beer garden since Conshohocken Brewing Company was sold out by the time we got there. Curses!) It was terrific to see so many people out and about on Lansdowne Avenue, often faces unknown to us, experiencing offerings beyond the Arts Festival proper, like Vinyl Revival and The Icery (what a business that place was doing!). In addition to the vendors, food trucks, and attendees, a huge number of volunteers, including a whole bunch from the YMCA and Lansdowne/Upper Darby Rotary Club (where have they been hiding?) and Cheng's Martial Arts studio, made the event possible. Thank you LEDC Board, the YMCA, Rotarians, martial artists, and unaffiliated volunteers alike! We really hope you came out to the festival, bought some things, saw some friends, and had a great time. We've already given our feedback to the organizers (more live music, more vendors, and how about some tents in the beer garden!), but yours would be welcome also; please share.
How Can It Possibly Be the Third Saturday in September?
Even though Bonnie's Wondergardens just got back last week after a summer hiatus, everyone and their brother decided to get married this Saturday and have Bonnie do the flowers, so she asked sweetly if she could have this week off and come back extra strong on the 24th. We made her sweat a bit but then said sure. So no Bonnie now but even better Bonnie later.
In a fortuitous twist, Sue of Ridge Valley Farm (hey, we just realized that name is oxymoronic: is it a ridge or a valley? Well, Sue??) asked if she could come this Saturday instead of next and, again, we sured that. So be ready to buy maple syrup or you'll have to wait until October 22, and she's often running low that late in the season. Also, if you have any interest in the new grading of maple syrup, you can read about it here. In short, nearly all bottles of the pure stuff sold to consumers are now being called grade A (because that sounds better than grade B), but with color descriptions being added. Sue told us last time that the stuff that's not grade A ("processing grade") is what goes into brands like Aunt Jemima and Log Cabin and then only a tiny bit. Do yourself a favor and buy Sue's syrup; you are worth it, my friend!
Last week, John of Wilsons Curiously Good Foods gave us a taste of his newest product, which is a sort of very smooth, very rich pudding, more like a curd really, made in this case from blackberries. This concoction actually has a French name (we know it starts with a P), but we didn't make a note of it because we forgot this was our week to write what you are now reading. In any case, the bite we had was truly scrumptious, sort of a fruit version of his decadent chocolate pots de crème, and we highly recommend you try it. Just say, "I want some of that blackberry stuff," and he'll brighten up and say the magic word, whatever it is (p- p- p- ... we got nothing).
Put Us Down for Puttanesca
A few weeks ago we made possibly the best pasta sauce we ever have. It's notable in part because we started making one recipe (Chez Panisse eggplant, caramelized onion, and tomato pasta) and then got a better idea as we were midway, and veered off into "best" territory. The gist is that we followed that first recipe (including the sublink for Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce) through the first sentence of Step 3. That is, we started the pasta water, roasted the eggplant, and got the caramelized onions well underway. But because we wanted to end up with something like a puttanesca sauce, we chopped up a bunch of anchovies (maybe six) and added them to the onions with the garlic (as well as a splash of oil from the anchovy tin), and then tossed in a bunch of chopped Kalamata olives (don't make us be specific here; it was literally all that were in the fridge) and a tablespoon or two of drained capers when we added the eggplant, tomato sauce, and red pepper flakes. We skipped the basil (which would be too fresh for the briny, savory effect we were going for) and used Parmesan cheese. It went onto gemelli from Vera Pasta, and neither of us could get over how good it was. The roasted eggplant, which disintegrated in the final cooking, gave the sauce body and unctuousness. It was a most fortuitous addition, and puttanesca without it will now forever be lacking. As the weather cools and you're ready to get back to the stove -- while fresh eggplants and tomatoes are still coming to the Market -- start with this.
Dog Day is next Saturday, September 24! Please spread the word to your dog-loving, dog-having, or dog-wanting friends and family. Animal Friends of Lansdowne has rounded up a bunch of rescues, vets (meet Dr. Wineburgh, the guy who took over Emas Pet Hospital; he's so nice!), and animal-adjacent folks (like Galleria Mona and Sparky, the Lansdowne Fire Company's mascot). As always, we'll be having a dog parade (so fun!) around 11:30 (be a good dog and try to register by 11:15), with the $2 entrance fee going to AFL and prizes awarded in a bunch of categories (Showmanship, Best Dressed, Best Trick, Best Poser, Best Smile, Funniest, Best Kisser, Best Use of Tail). If your dog is good with other dogs, we want to see them there. Come, stay! (Anyone notice that we use that little joke every year for Dog Day? It never gets old.)
The season's final Community Day is the last Saturday of October, the 29th. Applications will become available through this newsletter on October 6 and at the Market on October 8. In other words: Chill, people. There're a couple weeks to go before anything is happening on this.
This Saturday (the 17th in case you lost track) is Lansdowne's Parks and Rec Department's annual Park Day, 3 hours of free fun (1:00 to 4:00 pm) in Hoffman Park on Scottdale Road. There's always a bounce house and games for kids of all ages, plus snacks for sale, but you'll have to show up to see what else is going on this year.