Nine Bites from This Year’s Minneapolis Farmers Markets

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We visited last week’s First Taste Minneapolis Farmers Markets Preview and discovered that there’s a new crop of makers at our markets and good reason to stroll in the almost-summer sun. Along with ramps, tender greens, a few morels, and those oh so sweet overwintered parsnips, you’ll find a pantry’s worth of pickles, kraut, kimchee, and sauces, crafted from local produce. Each of these items pops up at various markets in the area – check the websites for current details.

 

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Topos Ferments – Tangy carrots brightened with mint, golden beets with ginger, garlicky ramps, crafted by Jim Bovino, master of microbes. Light on funk, not too sweet, the flavors of each vegetable shines through.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kiss My Cabbage – Adrienne Logsdon makes a kraut to love. That beet curtido loaded with cumin turns scrambled eggs into a dinner-worthy meal. Her kimchi changes seasonally.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Craft & Vine Picklery – Traditional pickles are packed in a balanced brine to be crisp and crunchy, hamburger ready. They’re available in Original Dill or Habanero Hot!

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Mazzah – This traditional Afgahn sauce looks like pesto and tastes like a chutney. It’s a smooth bold blend of heat and warm spices. It’s translated to mean “flavor” in Farsi, and created by sisters Sheilla and Yasameen, using their mom’s traditional recipe.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Jen’s Jars – Chef Jennifer Alexander’s spinach and pine nut pesto makes a fine alternative to the classic basil blend. There’s plenty of garlic, a bit of heat, and the color is spring bright. Swirl into soups, toss with pasta.

Sweet Root – Take a break! Eat a vegan cookie – the one with chocolate chips spiked with cayenne (which offers a nice sweet heat).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Calvits Drinking Shrubs These shrubs are for drinking, not mixing, and they’re tart and bright, sparking a range of summery sips. Try the Ginger Lemongrass with vodka, Beet Ginger with sparkling water and lime, Thai Basil and dark rum.

Root To Rise Kitchen’s Walking Vegan Tacos Loaded with fresh veggies draped in creamy cashew cheese with a fiery hot sauce, these can compete with any taco in town.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3 Bear Oats Grain Bowls Try the Shangri-La curry, with coconut, cashew and crystallized ginger for lunch or a light dinner. Not too hot, not too spicy, and plenty of zip … this one is just right!

Heavy Table Hot Five: Oct. 13-19

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Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

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James Norton / Heavy Table

1-new - one - hot fiveLox it Down! at the Hennepin Avenue Five Watt Coffee
The newly opened Hennepin Avenue location of Five Watt Coffee has a food menu that revolves around quality hot dogs, a couple of panini, and a lox-on-rye creation called the Lox it Down! We’ve eaten our share of smorrebrod (Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches), and this rye, lox, capers, arugula, and cream cheese sandwich definitely strikes a Nordic chord: It’s mild, mellow, and totally pleasing, with the dry rye toast counteracting any of the potentially unpleasant moisture of the lox, and capers bringing a touch of tartness to the party.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from an Instagram post by James Norton]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

2-new - two - hot fiveYou Can Rum But You Can’t Hide from Hola Arepa
If you like a boozy cocktail, this is the drink for you. It’s built from Cruzan light rum, Cruzan dark rum, cinnamon grenadine, falernum, orange liqueur, lime, and grapefruit. Falernum, a cordial made from an infusion of citrus, spices, nuts, and sugar is what makes this drink so amazingly zingy. Drink responsibly.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table

3-new - three hot fivePear-Chocolate Tart from Solomon’s Bakery
The beautiful pear-chocolate tart from Solomon’s Bakery at the Mill City Farmers Market is lighter than it appears. The chocolate filling is rich but delicate, as is the crust. The pears are from another Mill City vendor, and before being baked, they’re carefully cored, so the consumer has only to gently pull on the stem for the center to be easily lifted out. Autumn on a plate.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

4-new four hot fiveQuesadilla de Flor de Calabazas at Don Chilo at Lake Plaza
The single most astonishing thing we ate while touring Lake Plaza on East Lake Street was the Quesadilla de Flor de Calabazas (around $8; no prices on menu). The tortilla was made on site and then filled with a combination of two cheeses, squash blossoms, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. It was chewy, tender, gooey, earthy, full-flavored, and downright elegant.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted from this week’s East Lake Checklist by James Norton]

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveShrimp to Share at Tilia
I can’t think of one item on Tilia’s menu that we don’t like. Sitting at the kitchen counter is an epicurean overload … so enjoyable if you’re into that sort of thing. We watched as items were passed to the wait staff, trying to see something we have not had, and the shrimp caught our eye. Shrimp, peas, fermented black beans, spicy sauce, and grilled scallions are presented on an herby and decorative puree. Not a carb in sight to soak up the juice, but a spoon did the trick.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Brenda Johnson]

Double Dog Kombucha

 

James Norton / Heavy Table

Double Dog Kombucha brewer Lee Vang struggled for years with alcohol — beer was his particular poison. It took years of struggle (and the friendship of a couple inspirational rat terriers) to start to break the spell.

But it was the discovery of a high-quality kombucha that put him firmly on a new life path. “It was fizzy, flavorful, and so very refreshing,” Vang wrote to us in an email. “Soon after, I started brewing my own and then experimenting with different adjuncts. I wasn’t aware of any potential side effects of drinking kombucha but there was one — my craving for beer became less and less. This addiction that I had been struggling with for most of my life was quietly disintegrating, and I was not even aware it was happening.”

“Last year, I was laid off from my job and sitting in that conference room while the headhunter was signing my papers. I could not stop smiling. I knew I would be a kombucha brewer.”

With that kind of a backstory, we tried a few varieties of Vang’s kombucha hoping that the product lived up to the story, and it most assuredly did. Like all of our favorite kombuchas (Prohibition comes to mind), Double Dog’s base product is exceedingly light on its feet and quite effervescently refreshing. Unlike Prohibition (and most of the other kombuchas we’ve tried), Double Dog is downright aggressive on the flavor side. Not unbalanced or artificial, but bold.

James Norton / Heavy Table

Take Pelé, for example. It’s fitting that this kombucha is named after a volcano goddess. It’s a mix of pineapple, ginger, jalapeño, and cilantro flavors, and it packs a noteworthy but not excessive heat at the back of each sip. The fruit of the pineapple and the bright vegetal notes of the peppers dominate the body of this complex beverage that would pair wonderfully with sweet pork dishes or many Latin entrees.

Joy Bubbles is a seasonal offering, and it unites mint, strawberry, and a bold note of natural vanilla. Strawberry loses out in the clash, mostly disappearing, but the overall concept of mint and vanilla works, and the drink overall would make a fine non-alcoholic after-dinner cordial.

Citra Mango brings together the earthy fruitiness of mango with the bright, juicy flavors of Citra hops, resulting in a kombucha that is eerily (and pleasantly) beerlike. This would make a brilliant n/a beer substitute, or function 1:1 as a refreshing shandy-type beverage.

Double Dog Kombucha can be found at the Midtown and Linden Hills farmers markets.

Green Bee Juicery

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

If you’ve got a food-based business, and you decide it’s time to sell, you might want to look at the sales strategy of the former owner of Minneapolis’ Green Bee Juicery: Find your most ardent customers, the ones who fervently promote your company of their own free will, and ask if they’d like to buy it.

That’s how Michaela Smith and Mallory Madden came to be the owners of the three-year-old cold-pressed raw juice company. “We first encountered Green Bee at the Linden Hills Farmers Market and immediately noticed the way the juice stood out compared to other cold-pressed juices we had tried before,” says Madden. “We preached the word of Green Bee everywhere we went. So when the current owner decided she wanted to move on from the business, she approached the two of us about taking it over. She wanted the company to be in the hands of people who supported the product, and we definitely did that.” In June 2016, they entered into a purchase agreement, and by January 2017, Green Bee was theirs.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Neither Smith nor Madden had a food-industry background, but they are science and health professionals; Smith is a licensed psychologist who focuses on integrative health, and Madden has a master’s degree in public health. Acknowledging that they have to be careful not to make health claims, they believe firmly in the value of raw juice, and they research each potential product and ingredient. “Our products have between three and five pounds of fresh produce in each jar,” says Smith. “There’s no added water. It’s all fruit and veggies.” They source their produce locally as much as possible.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Currently, Green Bee products are available at the Northeast Farmers Market on Saturdays through the season and at the City Food Studio in Minneapolis on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Or juice fans in some areas can sign up for a membership with Green Bee that provides discounts and offers delivery. Coming this fall: Smith and Madden have just signed a lease on a storefront and will be opening a retail location. That will give them a wider public face, since raw juices can’t be sold wholesale — one reason is their short shelf life; most juices have only three to five days for safe consumption.

Still, if no one likes the taste, the juices wouldn’t go far. Green Bee’s proprietors understand that. We sampled most of their product line, some of which was developed by the original owner, with new additions from Madden and Smith. We found that Green Bee manages to avoid the “drink it; it’s good for you; ignore the taste” pitfall that some plant beverages can have. Especially notable on that front is the Smooth Beets, which has a strong sweetness offset by the addition of ginger, lemon, and cucumber, all of which keep the taste from becoming saccharine. But even better, there’s no hint of the earthy taste beets sometimes impart. Even the non-beet-lover who tried it was pleasantly surprised.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Another unexpected offering was the Power Greens. Raw kale and collard could be expected to overpower the flavor here, but instead, apple shines, with a faint taste of cucumber, making this a milder drink than expected. The Turmeric Glow is a bright, cheerful shade of orange and has a strong orange-juice flavor with a nice kick of ginger. For those who prefer less kick from their juice, the seasonal Watermelon Cooler is summery sweet and light, with just a hint of cucumber, and chia seeds stand in for watermelon seeds for a particularly attractive presentation.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The real rock ’em, sock ’em drink is the Power Shot. Made from fresh-pressed ginger root, lemon, raw honey, and cayenne, this is a powerhouse of a drink that is not for the faint of heart — but if you like intense flavor (and we do), this one’s for you. It’s strongly ginger-forward, which transitions to lemon and finally to a light cayenne afterburn. No caffeine, but a definite wake-up call on its own.

Green Bee also has a line of nut milks, which are free of dairy and added sugar. The Vanilla Cashew Milk is a sophisticated yet mild concoction, gentle and refreshing, with a pleasantly nutty aftertaste. For those craving a sweeter flavor, the Strawberry Cashew Milk contains the same ingredients with the addition of the fruit. It also has a slightly gritty texture that’s not off-putting.

Juices and milks are available in various sizes from pints ($10) to 16-packs (4 juices per week for four weeks, $155) to three-day cleansing packages ($175-$190) to half-growlers ($36) and growlers ($72). Power Shots are $3 and $20 for 2 ounces and 16 ounces respectively.

Green Bee Juicery, City Food Studio, 3722 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis, 55407. Email for more information: orders@greenbeejuicery.com

A Tomato Salad of the Moment

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Maybe perfect tomatoes are meant to be worshiped simply — sliced and sprinkled with good salt, a few drops of real balsamic, and some torn basil.

That non-recipe has the best effort-to-benefit ratio I can think of. But around a decade ago, I first tasted an idealized version at Lucques, a restaurant in Harold Lloyd’s old carriage house in Los Angeles, and since then, when it’s tomato season (now) and I have the time (as often as possible), I make the amped-up salad (published in Sunday Suppers at Lucques and in a variation below). It’s a mix of as many varieties of the best heirloom tomatoes you can find, freshly made croutons, an herbal vinaigrette, and burrata to balance the acidity and add depth. It’s a cousin of the panzanella and the Caprese but really is something different.

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

Preparation involves several steps, but none is difficult. The dressing holds the recipe’s flavor-boosting secret: garlic, oregano leaves, and coarse salt pounded to a paste. If you want to simplify, make the dressing and mix it with tomato wedges.

Now that burrata is made by BelGioioso in Wisconsin, it’s easy to find in the metro area. Burrata has a fuzzy history. It seems to have arrived in Los Angeles around 1993 with a cheesemaking immigrant from Puglia, Italy, where it originated in the last century (anytime from 1920 to 1970, depending on the source). The name means either “buttered” or “bag,” again depending on the source. I vote for buttered (burro is butter in Italian, after all). In any case, it’s a thin shell of mozzarella holding a filling of mozzarella scraps and cream. It’s best very fresh, so look for the latest pull date.

Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table
Jane Rosemarin / Heavy Table

When your vines or favorite farmer present you with colorful, delicious heirloom tomatoes, consider this recipe, and have fun tearing bread into leaves, cutting open a mildly explosive ball of burrata, and relishing a perfect salad.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH BURRATA, TORN CROUTONS, AND BASIL
Suzanne Goin
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
Serves 6

⅓ pound ciabatta, levain, or baguette
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
½ clove garlic
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ pint (6 ounces) cherry tomatoes
3 pounds large heirloom tomatoes (feel free to use more cherry tomatoes and fewer large tomatoes; go for a variety of colors and sizes)
Maldon or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, rolled together and sliced (green and opal mixed is especially beautiful)
¾ pound burrata (look for the latest pull date)
½ cup thinly sliced shallots (optional)
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, rolled and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cut the crust from the bread and tear the insides into leaflike shards around 1½ inches long. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Squeeze the bread so it absorbs the oil. Bake until the croutons are light brown, but not necessarily crisp to the center. Watch carefully. This should take around 10 minutes.

3. Add the oregano, garlic and ¼ teaspoon of salt to a mortar and pound to a paste. Alternately, chop with a knife, occasionally running the knife over the mixture, mashing and flattening it. Place the paste in a small bowl and add the vinegars. Stir. Then gradually beat in 6 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cut the large tomatoes into wedges and halve the cherry tomatoes. (Optional: I like to peel the large tomatoes, but this is not necessary. If the tomatoes are quite ripe, you can peel them without employing the usual technique of immersing them in boiling water for 10 seconds.) Place in a large mixing bowl. Add the optional shallots. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt, some grindings of pepper, and half the basil. Toss once or twice. Add about ¼ cup of the dressing and toss again. Taste for seasoning.

5. Add the toasted bread to the bowl and briefly toss the salad.

6. Turn the salad onto six plates. Cut each ball of burrata in half, or into 4 wedges, depending on size, and carefully arrange it around the edges of each salad. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining basil and the parsley.

3 Bear Oats Oatmeal at Mill City Farmers Market

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Therese Moore loves oatmeal. As in, looooooooooves oatmeal. She loves it so much that she began playing with it, treating it as the grain it is and not just as a receptacle for copious amounts of sugar and cream. Friends and family told her that her oatmeal creations deserved a wider audience, and thus 3 Bear Oats was born.

Moore now sells her creative oatmeal dishes ($5-$8, depending on size) at the Mill City Farmers Market, and they’re a welcome addition to the other prepared foods available there. She cooks up big batches of organic steel-cut oats to the point where they’re done but still sturdy, deftly avoiding the sadness that is overly mushy gruel. Then she creates a variety of options, sweet and savory, sourcing her additional ingredients locally as much as possible (including items from several other Mill City vendors). She buys the oats themselves from the Wedge Co-op, which in turns brings them in from Canada, but Moore is on the hunt for locally grown, organic steel-cut oats to use in the future.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

On a recent visit, we tried the five flavors she had available and were delighted with the wide range of flavors. Little Bear’s Breakfast (above) was perhaps the most traditional of all, with cinnamon-coated apple chunks, granola, honey, and walnuts, a great mix of textures and a not-cloying sweetness offset by the generous amount of cinnamon.

Dumpling & Strand at Mill City, Kingfield, and Linden Hills Farmers Markets

Ted Held / Heavy Table
Ted Held / Heavy Table

You’ve probably noticed that the offerings at Twin Cities farmers markets have expanded far beyond local produce, meat, dairy, and eggs. On any given day you might find bagels, doughnuts, cakes and pastries, broth, bread, pickled veg, or charcuterie. It’s hard to imagine how they could do a better job meeting your weekly shopping needs.

This year saw the debut of Dumpling & Strand Noodlers at Large. With a name that is at once trendy and old-timey and a stand styled to look like an apothecary shop, they are peddling some pretty great noodles. Behind the counter you’ll find purveyors Jeff Casper, a food scientist, and Kelly McManus, a marketing specialist, along with their handiwork on prominent display, his on platters and hers on the signage and packaging. Fun fact: She’s Dumpling and he’s Strand. We asked.

Dumpling & Strand sells Italian and Asian noodles. All are fresh (with a use-by date), and take only three minutes to cook. The Italian line includes egg pastas (regular and gluten-free), sprouted whole-wheat pasta, and toasted farro pasta. The Asian line includes ramen (regular, squid ink, and gluten-free) and juwari soba, made of 100 percent buckwheat.

Ted Held / Heavy Table
Ted Held / Heavy Table

The egg pastas are excellent. We had the fettuccine, fusillo, and pici. When cooked al dente, they were all slightly nutty, perfectly chewy, and salted just-so. Casper and McManus recommend using a simple sauce, and we concur; think homemade pesto or a light red sauce. You don’t want to drown out the pasta’s subtle taste.

The ramen were similarly chewy and perfectly salted. At the owners’ recommendation, we undercooked our ramen (two minutes instead of three), ran cold water over the noodles, and then poured hot broth over them for a perfect result. These ramen noodles want a rich broth, not a flavor packet. The soba were unlike any dried soba we’ve prepared — softer and with a faint aroma of autumn spices, something like nutmeg or cloves. They played well with a tahini and ginger sauce and tons of fresh cilantro.

Ted Held / Heavy Table
Ted Held / Heavy Table

At $7 per 9-ounce package ($8 for gluten-free), or three for $20, these won’t replace dried pasta in most households on account of both cost and shelf-stability. But if you’re picking up basil and heirloom tomatoes, you will be hard pressed to find a better noodle to accompany your summertime bounty. For now, Dumpling & Strand products are available only at the Mill City, Kingfield, and Linden Hills farmers markets, but keep an eye out for them in co-ops.

Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley

Minnesota's Bounty by Beth DooleyWe all head to the farmers market with the best intentions. We aim to buy a cornucopia of fresh, seasonal vegetables, fruits, meats, and cheeses with which we then will whip up healthy, delicious, budget-friendly meals for ourselves and our families. We feel good about supporting local farmers while buying food that doesn’t come with a 2,000-mile carbon footprint. And then we go home, throw the food in the refrigerator, and — more often than we care to admit — let it languish until it’s mushy, brown, and stinky.

Local food critic and cookbook author Beth Dooley is here to help us move from a sincere desire to shop and cook locally to actually using and enjoying the Minnesota foods that appear at our local markets year-round. Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook ($29.95 paperback, University of Minnesota Press) is the latest collection of recipes from Dooley, whose The Northern Heartland Kitchen we enjoyed upon publication two years ago. As in her earlier work, which also includes 2004’s Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, Dooley focuses on the foods native to this region, but she takes a simple, streamlined approach to recipe development. In fact, she begins the book with the declaration, “I don’t like recipes. Period.” It’s a curious comment from someone whose name is attached to three cookbooks, but as Dooley further explains, she sees the recipes in her newest tome more as suggestions than strict instructions: “Just let what is in season, what looks the best, and you own appetite be the factors that help you decide what to eat.”

With that philosophy in mind, Dooley guides readers through a typical Minnesota farmers market ingredient by ingredient, dividing her recipes among fruits, vegetables, cheese, grains, and meat and fish. The recipes fall into two categories: “quick ideas,” in which she uses only a sentence or two to suggest how to throw together a soup, salad, or vegetable toss using the featured ingredient, and longer recipes with a full lineup of ingredients and step-by-step instructions. For experienced cooks, the quick ideas will not be groundbreaking — Dooley is not the first person to suggest tossing a handful or two of cranberries into chocolate chip cookie dough — but kitchen newbies and farmers market novices may appreciate the tips. And while the full-blown recipes for everyday ingredients, such as carrots or tomatoes, also won’t be earth-shattering to anyone who subscribes to Cooking Light or has a shelf-full of veggie-centric cookbooks, everyone can appreciate the ideas for using the less-familiar foods, such as fiddlehead ferns and bitter melon.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

Paging through the book, it’s hard not to wish we could skip ahead to August so we could savor the corn, tomato, eggplant, and summer squash preparations Dooley details so devotedly. Our never-ending winter hasn’t brought a bounty to our local markets just yet, but a few early vegetables are ready for recipe testing. Small spring radishes are ready to travel from the market to local plates, and Dooley’s Radish, Cucumber, and Mint Salad tampers those urges to jump into the full-on heat of late summer. The crunch of the tender radishes meets its match in the cucumber, but the cherry tomatoes add a delicate sweetness, and the honey-cider vinegar dressing offers a lovely tang to round out the dish. Even non-radish fanatics can appreciate the salad’s balanced approach and freshness, thanks to the liberal sprinkling of chopped mint.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

A similar zing comes from the Arugula Mint Pesto, which uses up the rest of the mint purchased for the radish salad and combines it with a healthy-sized bag of peppery arugula for a springtime sauce to top grilled fish, boiled potatoes, or, of course, pasta. Those accustomed to eating exclusively basil pesto may be surprised by Dooley’s version, which offers a sharper bite that is not tempered by the pine nuts or walnuts typically found in pesto recipes. But the bright green color and zesty flavor — along with the generous handful of grated cheese — answer any doubters.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table
Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

The cookbook’s main dishes fare almost as well as the sides. The Heartland Brisket cooks up tender, juicy, and aromatic: It’s definitely a winter dish, but for Minnesotans, that means we can enjoy it through April. The Wild Mushroom Pasta earns a B- rather than the brisket’s solid A. While the earthy mushrooms add depth to the pasta toss, the amount of sauce proves to be too skimpy for the volume of noodles. A thicker, more luscious cream would have clung better to the pasta spirals and provided a luxurious touch to the dish without overwhelming the delicate texture of the mushrooms. While Minnesota’s Bounty offers lovely images of the ingredients at market, it lacks photos of the finished recipes, so readers don’t get a good sense of how their finished dishes compare to the intended result.

A few instances of sloppy editing mar an otherwise solid cookbook. A recipe for Honey Mustard Basting Sauce does not list honey among its three ingredients, but maple syrup mysteriously makes the lineup. Dooley describes a cascabel chili as a mild red pepper, but the following sentence states, “It can be pretty hot.” And while Dooley mentions that a few featured ingredients, such as chicories and quince, are only spotted rarely at local markets, she doesn’t offer any hints on which markets are most likely to carry these items. Those of us whose eyes light up at the idea of locally grown apricots are curious to find out.

Minnesota’s Bounty may carve few new culinary paths for cooks accustomed to using farmers market ingredients, but for the rest of us looking to maximize the value of our well-intentioned purchases (or a CSA basket that provides more kohlrabi than ever imagined) will benefit from Dooley’s intuitive, easy-to-follow recipes. Take some time to dog-ear the cookbook’s pages now to take full advantage of its ideas when market tables are bursting with mid-summer freshness. July will be here before we know it.

Beth Dooley will appear 12 pm on Wednesday, May 22, at Byerly’s, 3777 Park Center Blvd., St. Louis Park, to host a class and book signing for Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook. A full event schedule can be found on the University of Minnesota Press website.

Tony Pavelko of Honeybee Mobile Market

Honeybee Mobile
Honeybee Mobile

In a country full of fast food joints, cheap produce from Mexico, and salty snacks you can purchase pretty much anywhere, seeking out local, organic food takes a lot of energy, time, and money. From keeping up with exploding CSA boxes in the summer to visiting a farmers market on the weekend to budgeting for the higher cost of most organic food, eating locally is not for the faint of heart.

Paul Otten of Natura Farms in Marine on St. Croix, MN, thinks he knows why so many people opt out of farmers markets and other sources of chemical-free produce: “Convenience is one of the prime reasons for so many Americans falling for the trap of fast ‘food.’”

Enter Honeybee Mobile Market, a program that Otten will participate in this summer. Honeybee Mobile will bring the farm directly to the people with the creation of a mobile farmers market and an online grocery. The business is the brainchild of St. Paul couple Tony Pavelko and Gina DiMaggio (above).

Pavelko and DiMaggio are currently running a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $20,000 for their mobile farmers market. With that money they’ll purchase a trailer that they’ll retrofit into the mobile market. Shoppers will enter the back of the trailer, walk through as if it were a grocery store aisle, and then exit at the side door at the front. At the time we published this article, the team had raised nearly $17,000. They will move forward whether they do or don’t hit their Kickstarter goal.

The husband and wife team met in college, in Italy, in a class called “Food Cultures of Italy.” The two are motivated by their love of “bringing people together over good, quality food.” For a few years they owned and operated another food delivery business before expanding on that idea and creating Honeybee Mobile Market. DiMaggio works a full-time job while Pavelko devotes all his time to Honeybee. The business is for profit, with the goal of expanding and running sustainably in the future.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

So in a region full of farmers markets and CSA options, why create a business that seems, at first anyway, similar to what already exists?

Co-owner Pavelko is not so worried about the already over-saturated market. He believes Honeybee will offer something different.

The special-order home delivery part of the business operates somewhat like a CSA, although with more flexibility and variety. When using Honeybee’s services, customers will be able to order products from a variety of farms whenever they desire. Purchases will be delivered to a home or office. Available products will include produce, meat, cheese, eggs, bread, and honey. Some of the participating farms are Harmony Valley, Featherstone, Natura, Ridgeroll, and Cedar Summit. There will be a fee of $5 for home / office delivery, but this fee can be avoided by signing up for recurring deliveries.

When ordering vegetables, customers won’t be able to select specific vegetables due to the inconsistency of products from farms based on the season and weather. Instead, customers can purchase “harvest boxes,” which will have an assortment of vegetables. There will be an option to select a specific box size, and also to note if you absolutely do not want, say, kohlrabi in your box.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Where Honeybee will be markedly unique is their mobile farmers market. Farmers markets as they are now, Pavelko says, are fabulous but not always convenient. The duo will target areas where there are lots of people and cart products in their trailer. “We want to follow the interest,” says Pavelko, perhaps an area with lots of offices where office dwellers are eager to do some shopping over their lunch breaks. Locations are in the works and will hinge partly on permits from the city.

Additionally, Pavelko wants to make Honeybee just as convenient for the farmers as it is for customers. “Let the farmers farm. They don’t have to spend all day setting up a farmers market stand. We’ll do that,” says Pavelko. He and DiMaggio will do the promoting and delivery, and whatever else comes up. They will have one central spot for farmers to make their deliveries.

In a fashion that is amusingly contradictory, Honeybee Mobile wants to be just as convenient as those fast food restaurants Paul Otten blames our food problems on.

Otten, however, is excited about Honeybee: “Having a delivery system to custom-deliver orders to a lot of different neighborhoods seems to be at least a part solution to make more fresh local produce conveniently available to areas and eaters that may previously not had as ready access to it.”

Cookie Cigarettes and Recipe Roundup

Sunny-side up frittata, cookie cigarettes, a farmers market dinner challenge, stuffed tomato tian and a chop, wood-fired pizza, and zucchini brownies.

Stop-motion Vegetables and August 20 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @BirchwoodCafe’s looking for bakers, @PizzeriaLola is planning a special featuring burrata and farmers market bounty, and @perennialplate shares a gnarly, stop-motion animation of a vegetable man.

Farmers Market Debuts and Morning Roundup

An exploration of laptop squatters in cafes, Ask the Critic questions for Rick, a new fruit-eating fly is plaguing Wisconsin, and farmers market openings.