I love farmers markets. I’m glad so many folks are visiting them and getting in touch with local food. However, these markets are not enough. They’re really just a gateway experience.
Those truly hooked on local veggies and fruits can be found at the roadside farm stands scattered throughout rural Boulder County. Farm-stand people have a different look in their eyes than folks crowding farmers markets on weekend mornings.
The people behind the counter are often family members or neighbors. For newbie shoppers, farm stands can be a bit intimidating. Stands — at least until Halloween and family pumpkin patch time — are not entertaining. There is no food truck court and often no free samples. There are neither bathrooms nor live musicians. It’s all about food.
What farm stands do offer is the real stuff: picked-this-morning green beans and hand-gathered eggs in shells of various hues that taste far richer than the cheap store-bought dozens. The fare is worth the price, as it is keeping local farming alive for the future.
Some stands, like the one at Boulder’s Sunbeam Farms, are sheds by the side of the road. Other stands, like Cure Organic Farm and Lafayette’s Isabelle Farm, are in buildings. Smaller stands often have an honor system in place — leave cash in the can and take the chard. Some, like Diaz Farm, sell home-prepared “cottage foods.”
There are lots of regulars, from parents with kids to folks who mark the passage of seasons by the fresh produce available from rhubarb to winter squash. These are the serious eaters and cooks. These are those who preserve summer. Some of us have patronized farm stands our entire lives.
At the Munson Farm stand recently there was serious chatter about how to freeze corn. A stand worker said she preferred yellow corn versus the small kernel white corn and the crowd-pleaser peaches and cream. “It’s corn-ier,” she said. Other shoppers understood exactly what she meant.
You want to understand our terroir and really taste this place? Head to the farm in late summer. Grab their best as well as the seconds — damaged tomatoes and oddly twisted carrots — and stock up the pantry and freezer for the dark, chilly months ahead. You can easily visit three or four stands in a couple of hours.
At any time of the year, when driving a rural road and you see homemade signs for “Local Honey” or “Farm Fresh Eggs,” pull in that driveway. That’s real farm-to-table taste waiting for you.
For Tomato Geeks Only
The annual Taste of Tomato, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 at Boulder’s Gateway Park, is tomato geek heaven. Gardeners who bring three or more large tomatoes (or several more medium or cherry tomatoes) in named varieties get in free. No tomatoes? Admission is $5. You can taste potentially 100 or more varieties of home-grown tomatoes, talk to experts, vote for your favorites and go home and make a BLT. harlequinsgardens.com.
Local Food News
French Quarter Brasserie & Oyster Bar is open at 1207 Pearl St. The eatery also has locations in Fairfax, Virginia, and Washington D.C. … Endo’s Brewery is now serving craft beer and bicycle repairs at 2755 Dagny Way in Lafayette. … Cult favorite In-N-Out Burger has filed a lawsuit against local heroes Smashburger claiming the latter’s new Triple Double burger is too similar to In-N-Out’s Double-Double and Triple-Triple burgers. … My recent column on SPAM prompted readers to note that at least two Boulder restaurants serve SPAM. My Ramen & Izakaya offers SPAM-filled squishy rice buns and the Village Coffee Shop menu includes two eggs, hash browns and toast with SPAM. … The post-fire rebuilding process at the famous Rocky Flats Lounge has begun. No ETA yet on the first Friday night fish fry. … The Flatirons Food Film Festival (Sept. 27-Oct. 1) features a free screening of the great animated film Ratatouille on Sept. 30 at the Boulder Public Library preceded by a kids’ farmers market walk and cooking demo. Make reservations ASAP: tinyurl.com/FFFF2017
Super-seeded or just seedy?
A quiet, full-fledged war is going on in the bread aisle of your neighborhood supermarket. In the beginning there was five-grain bread and it was pretty good. Then, some baker escalated it to seven-grain and that was the standard in the healthy bread category for a while. Seed-and-grain inflation saw loaves tick up to nine-grain and even 10-grain bread, sprouted and unsprouted. Now super-seeded breads are proliferating. Rudi’s Bakery in Boulder has a 14-grain loaf. Orowheat just introduced Extra Grainy bread with 17 grains and seeds and Dave’s Killer Bread has escalated to 21 whole grains and seeds.
I crave dense bread loaded with lots of grains and a real crust, especially for toast. Slices become a perfect butter sponge without sogging out. Even I wonder if there really are that many more chewy, fibrous things to add beyond flax, sunflower and sesame seeds, triticale, pumpkin seeds, barley, oats, rye, millet, spelt, cornmeal, rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, poppy seeds, hemp seeds and various nuts.
Taste of the Week
Round is not the only shape a good pizza can take. Take the Palermo at Pizza King, 50577 S. Boulder Road in Louisville. Something great happens when you layer chunky tomato sauce over a mozzarella layer over a substantial rectangle of crust. The Sicilian pizza is served with pecorino cheese, herbs, olive oil and, in my case, meatballs. The crispy corner slices alone are worth the price of admission. They passed the all-important next-day toaster oven warmup taste test. A week later I pulled one slice of tomato pie from the freezer, toasted it and topped it with two over easy eggs. Eggs Palermo is a damn fine breakfast.
Words to Chew On
“As with many things in our exhibitionist social-media culture, it’s gone too far. Peruse some foodie accounts on Instagram and you’ll see people ordering more food than they could possibly ever eat so they could photograph and share it and be seen in proximity to it. The actual taste is an afterthought.” — Karol Markowicz
John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU, 88.5 FM. Podcasts: news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles. Comments: email@example.com.