I have lots of opinions about food. Things I love, things I wouldn’t touch, and things I want everyone to go out and enjoy, right now.
One of my very favorite things is the Mill City Farmer’s Market in downtown Minneapolis. Tucked behind the Mill Ruins along the Mississippi River, Mill City Farmer’s Market is what I’ve come to consider the jewel in the crown of metro area farmer’s markets. Of course I know that everyone has their favorites, but this happens to be mine. Here’s why:
1. I love the quality of food I can find there: the Market has chosen vendors who meet the highest standards of local and sustainably grown, pesticide-free and/or organic foods, plus quality goods.
2. I adore Brenda Langton. With her rich history in the metro food scene serving some of the most honest and responsibly-sourced food from early St. Paul days to Cafe Brenda and now Spoonriver, she has created an amazing food zone at the Market with passion, vision, and a whole lot of work. Mill City Market has become the new standard for organic, quality and innovative local market vendors in large part to her energy and commitment.
3. I love the variety: greens, cheeses, breads and pastries, handmade chocolates and crackers, herbs, wild-caught salmon, and perfect ice cream. I can shop here on Saturdays and stock my fridge for days.
Here are some of my very favorites:
Kiss My Cabbage: hand-crafted, super-fresh sauerkraut and kimchee in delicious, unexpected and addictive flavors. This will be the jar that makes your fork a divining rod for good health. The über-probiotic.
Stone’s Throw Urban Farm. I love these guys. They have transformed the soil in various lots throughout south Minneapolis (and St. Paul) into rich, edible mini-fields of green goodness. My favorite place to get bulk mixed salad greens, sprinkled with spicy green flavors and edible flowers.
Singing Hills Goat Dairy. A farm near Nerstrand, MN and a cheesemaker who makes The Best Feta. Ever. I love the plain feta, but they have several more varieties, plus chevre. Seriously, do not leave the market without taking some home to top your Greek spinach salad.
Sheep’s milk cheeses for the cheese board from Shepherd’s Way Farm. My favorite is the simple, delicious Shepherd’s Hope cheese, and the soft-ripened Camembert style Hidden Falls, which is perfect alongside pretty much anything, even if it’s just straight off the knife.
I’ve never made homemade pasta that tasted so good as when I used the durum wheat blended with spelt from Sunrise Flour Mill. They bring wheat, durum wheat, corn, spelt, rye, and oats, ground in small batches (or left in whole grains for you to grind your own) to market every weekend for baking, polenta-making and for the flaked oats that will beat the pants off your typical oatmeal for breakfast any day.
Of course there are so many more wonderful vendors; Swede Lake Farms for garlic and herbs; Sonny's Ice Cream for small-batch ice creams and sorbets (my recent favorite: Prosecco Lime Sorbet); and Jeanne Beatrice ~ where I bought my handwoven market basket to bring it all home, plus so many more that I haven't mentioned.
But go, find more gems for yourself, and make sure to buy lots of fresh veggies so you can go home and put together a super-local and delicious summer meal that doesn’t take more than a little tossing in a salad bowl.
(P.S. I would be a big liar if I didn't mention that I get a bag of organic, cardamom-spiced mini donuts from the Chef Shack at least once a summer for utter donut perfection. Just make sure to eat extra salad later to make up for it.)
Super Simple Spinach Greek Salad for Two
two large handfuls fresh spinach (about 4 loose cups)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
10 Kalamata olives
1/4 red onion, extremely thinly sliced
2 ounces Singing Hills Goat Dairy feta
2 tablespoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
large pinch sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Wash and spin dry the spinach. Tear into bite-sized pieces into a medium bowl. Top with tomatoes, olives, onion, and feta. Drizzle with the olive oil, lemon and sprinkle on the oregano, salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.