In our ongoing quest to make the most of this summer we once again took to the road this Saturday and visited the Lancaster Central Market. I had read about the Central Market in the August 2010 issue of Bon Appetit and was intrigued enough to want to visit our country’s oldest farmers’ market and it fit the parameters for our weekend excursions…
1. within an hour or two or from home…2. inexpensive (a.k.a cheap because we, like the rest of the country, are on a budget)…3. involving something cultural, nature and/or food.
So, we hopped in the Honda and headed out Saturday morning winding our way through the hills of PA and Amish country. We hit the Market in the full swing of a busy summer Saturday and experienced a little bit of sensory overload…the sights, the smells, the produce…oh my.
We were actually on a quest to find some yellow tomatoes. Earlier this summer we ate at a restaurant in Philly, called Bar Ferdinand, and had the most amazing yellow tomatoes drizzled with sherry vinegar. We were told that they came from Lancaster County, PA so that put us on the lookout for yellow tomatoes at the Market. Sadly we did not find any, but we did find some lovely heirloom varieties that made up for those lost yellows completely!
They don’t look like much, but they tasted awesome on the pizza I made later that night…especially the black ones. They have a smokey umami-ness to them that is to die for.
We actually bought so many tomatoes that we will be gorging ourselves all week long…but we are making up for the tomato dead zone that is winter.
I also bought some okar and I’ve never cooked with okra before. I’m actually a new convert to okra. I didn’t used to like it but I recently had some in a curry and it was amazing, so I’m going to attempt to make my own roasted eggplant and okra curry….will be sure to let you know how that turns out.
We also tried something called a Ground Cherry, which I’d never heard of before but they were all over the Market. They are related to the tomatillo and even grow in a papery husk just like the tomatillo. They have that taste of a cross between a fruit and a vegetable, like the tomatillo does too. I didn’t buy any though…too many other purchases had already been made.
There was an apothecary shop with teas and herbs and it smelled just divinely. I had to tear Mr. Indie Fixx away from it as he is the tea fiend in our household.
After that, we stopped by the flower counter…I had to love them with my eyes though and not take any home. 🙁
This is he guy who sold us our tomatoes. He was quite a character and I enjoyed learning about ground cherries from him!
After the market, we grabbed some lunch at a local cafe. We wanted to eat at the Farmers’ Market, but by the time we had been through the whole thing it started to close up. We walked around downtown Lancaster and found a veggie friendly place though–they were many.
Here’s me rolling my eyes at one of Mr. Indie Fixx’s lame jokes at the cafe.
Finally, we got the most ginormous ice cream cones ever! Too ginormous, in fact, since neither of use could finish ours. We got it from a place called Carmen and David’s Creamery and it really was delish. All the ice cream is made on the premises and using local cream and produce as much as possible. We both got the Cherry Vanilla, which was honestly the best cherry ice cream I’ve ever had. Real whole bing cherries were found throughout and so yum!
We had a great time and plan on going back to Lancaster and exploring more…there’s a whole lot more there than just Amish knick knacks. 😉