Boulder Farmers' Market: Thirteen ways you know you're a true "foodie"
Saturday's Boulder Farmers' Market boasts loads of bedding plants, including tomatoes and basil for the hopeful and optimistic. Best not to plant these out too soon, though, with colder weather expected to linger. Sue and Mark Parsons have brought their vibrant tomato plants. Rocky Mountain Fresh, a farm outside Lyons, is selling greenhouse-grown heirloom tomatoes and bright cherry tomatoes that balance perfectly between acid and sweet, Miller Farms has resumed selling asparagus -- they had none last week. The first root crops are here alongside the greens: bright radishes at Aspen Moon, and tender, sweet little turnips.
Juliet Wittman Tomato plants at the Boulder Farmers' Market.
Speaking of frost: Last week farmer John Ellis predicted a fine apricot crop -- happy news for those of us who grieved the loss of apricots last spring. Now he tells me his crop is gone: blossoms and tiny beginning fruits were all destroyed when the temperature dropped to 28 degrees one night. A farmer's life is never secure.
Around 9:30 a.m., the crowd starts to pick up. I hear someone introducing his visiting sister to the regular vendors at Silver Canyon Coffee. Someone else strolls past, saying to a companion, "I think we should recall the arts commission," and I don't need to eavesdrop further to know he must be talking about the big red aluminum YES! that's been commissioned at a cost of $150,000 for the curving window of the downtown library branch. (A reader, Dave Woods, had a pithier response in a letter to the Daily Camera. Having acknowledged that "putting a big red word on the side of a building in an eye-catching font is arguably the greatest artistic concept since the invention of paint," he pointed out that unfortunately "Boulder already has at least two previous incarnations of this artistic vision: the Staples Art Museum and Office Supplies at Twenty Ninth [sic] Street, and the Target Art Institute and Stuff on 28th Street. The Target Institute [pronounced in the French manner, 'Tar-jhay'] develops the concept further by adding the ancient and mysterious bull's-eye symbol in the same ethereal hue.")
I overhear Sheila Payne of Far Out Gardens explaining to someone that she and her son Jesse, who have been fixtures at the market as long as I can remember, are taking a sabbatical next year, perhaps a permanent one. In fact, as she eventually explains to me, they're moving to Durango -- though Jesse may come back. This is sad news: Sheila fills clogs and childrens' shoes with succulents to create unusual houseplants; makes delicious salsas you can duplicate, since she'll sell you a bag holding all the necessary ingredients in summer; arrays the market's most astounding display of tomato and eggplant varieties on her stand; and creates small, beautiful bouquets of seasonal flowers. Far Out Gardens is always one of the most original and interesting stalls of the market, and this feels like a huge loss. But at least we get to enjoy Sheila's food and creativity for the rest of the season.
I run into Julia Joun and ask her about the fall Flatirons Food Film Festival, which she organizes. She's planning a documentary on craft beer, along with three more documentaries and a feature film. Julia is a serious and sophisticated cook. She arrives at food swaps with exotic jams like red pear lavender and blueberry apple with fennel and bay. I make jams every year, and they're simple mash-ups of fruit, sugar and a touch of lemon juice; my intention is to preserve the fresh, clear, straightforward tastes of summer peaches and plums for the winter. Julia's process and approach are far more complex -- and she promises to share them when jamming time arrives.
Keep reading for the thirteen ways you know you're a true "foodie."