With summer at its midway point (the Minnesota State Fair opens in, yes, six weeks), it’s time to take full advantage of the metro area’s farmers markets, and their ever-growing pop-up dining opportunities.
Stroll past the Twin Cities Paella stand, and chances are you’ll be hooked. That’s because owner Frank Machado is equipped with a failproof marketing device: 36-inch paella pans, brimming with the sensory overload that is this Spanish rice dish.
Mornings start with a breakfast version (vegetables and chorizo, topped with eggs) before seguing into a half-dozen variations ($10 to $14); the most popular is the traditional Valencia formula, a hearty blend of chicken, chorizo, artichokes, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams.
Ingredients are the real deal: Moroccan saffron and Spanish rice and olive oil are imported from Spain. Machado also takes the time to do things right, meticulously nurtured broths and slowly coaxing flavor out of roasted vegetables for his sofrito.
Machado, a Barrio and Red Cow vet, turns to fellow vendors Clover Bee Farm and Uproot Farm for inspiration, and inventory.
“I’ll tell them, ‘Bring me some of the vegetables that you won’t sell, the ugly ones,’ ” he said. “I turn them into paella.”
Judging from his sellout track record, he’s clearly filling a niche. “It’s something different,” said Machado. “When you go to the markets in Europe, there’s always a paella guy. That was missing here.”
Find Twin Cities Paella at the Fulton Farmers Market (4901 Chowen Av. S., Mpls., neighborhoodrootsmn.org) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and alternating Sundays at the Kingfield Farmers Market (4310 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., neighborhoodrootsmn.org, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and the Linden Hills Farmers Market (2813 W. 43rd St., Mpls., lindenhillsfarmersmarket.com, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). For a full schedule, go to twincitiespaella.com.
There’s a new business — Hoyo — at a new market, the Whittier Farmers Market. Both are worth checking out.
Hoyo specializes in sambusa: a tortilla-like wrapper called a folio (made with flour, water and oil and rolled by hand) that’s filled with ground beef and onion and seasoned with garlic, cumin, coriander and chile flakes.
The triangles are fried in canola oil until the dough is flaky and crispy, and the filling is hot and teasingly spicy. They’re a bargain at $2 a pop.
“Lots of cultures — Pakistani, Indian, Ethiopian — have a version of this dish,” said co-owner Matt Glover. “They all have a different take.”
They’re produced in a commercial kitchen in Bloomington, and most are packaged and frozen for sales in grocery stores. A vegetarian version is in development.
Glover said that he and partners Mariam Mohamed and Hlima Mohamed started the business to create jobs for Somali mothers (hoyo is the Somali word for mother), and to create a convenient product for time-pressed Somali moms.
“Making sambusa is a very labor-intensive process, and we felt we could serve mothers by giving them a product they could reheat rather than make from scratch,” he said. “After people try them at the farmers market, the first question we get is, ‘Where else can we buy these?’ ” he said.
(The answer? There’s a list of stores on the company’s website, hoyosambusa.com.)
At the market, wash ’em down with the refreshing limeade and zesty ginger beer ($3) sold at the nearby Ingredients Island Cuisine stand.
Find the friendly Hoyo stand on Saturday (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at the Whittier Farmers Market (2608 Blaisdell Av. S., Mpls., whittierfarmers market.com).