Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love at First Bite: Winter Farmer's Market!

OK. It's true. I am a total sucker for a meadow full of white tents. It may be a vestige of my two and a half years in Los Angeles, when I could wander blissfully among the produce every weekend (heck, every day if I wanted to ... there was always a farmer's market going on somewhere), listening to the local musicians, admiring the wares of local artisans. Oh, the peaches. The apples. The kale. The fresh brick oven bread. "Miss, would you like to try a piece?" Oh, yes, thanks so much; I thought you'd never ask.

I have infected my son with this obsession, and he, too, shares my sadness when the white tents at the Dvoor Farm around the corner from our house come down for the season.

In the absence of farmer's markets or church obligations, it's hard to get the boys moving and motivated and out of the house on a Sunday morning. But I'm a believer in fresh air before naptime, and so after feeding them a manly breakfast of pink conversation heart-shaped pancakes with messages written in cookie icing (yes, really; didn't you have something like that for breakfast on Valentines' Day?) announced that I thought a walk along the towpath might be fun, especially if we went hunting for a geocache. (Ian exclaimed, "I love geocaching!" and then promptly took about half an hour to put on his snowpants.) We decided on one near the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, which, according to the folks, is findable even in the winter.

It was a beautiful day for a walk along the river; bright and clear, crisp, but not cold. We found the cache pretty easily, after walking through the snow for a bit, and Ian amused himself by throwing rocks at the thick ice in the canal on our way back towards the mill. I was enjoying myself too much to get back into the car, and told Ian and Steve that if they wanted to ride to town, I could take the towpath in to town and meet them there.

I practically ran through the foot-high snowdrifts in my hiking boots and snow pants, grinning at the idea of beating them. By the time I arrived at Bridge Street, I was sweating, and they were just pulling into a parking space. Together, we walked up the street to the bridge, to look down through the steel criss-crosses at the rushing water below.

It had been a while since we'd been in Stockton. Ages ago, Steve and I had considered having our wedding reception at the mill, and our rehearsal dinner at the Stockton Inn. A few times since, we'd biked the towpath through there. Once we'd eaten at a restaurant in town, which had apparently changed hands since. We walked back down Bridge Street at my insistence, to see what else had changed. And suddenly, a sign: the Stockton Winter Farmer's Market.

No. Really?

Apparently they have been open since November, Saturdays from 9:00 - 3:00, and Sundays from 10:00 - 3:00. How did I miss this?

We wandered inside, and I almost died and went to heaven. I was tempted by the line of coffee urns from Coffee Scoop, but I restrained myself, and after a quick glance inside, informed Steve that we would be getting ice cream from OwOwCow Creamery AND baked goods from Bucks County Cookie. Susan, the baker extraordinare, offered us a sample of the biscotti, which were delightful; Steve prefers his biscotti slightly soft, and these melted in your mouth, leaving a bright (but not overpowering) orange flavor behind. (You can order her goods online; just check out the website.) It was a tough choice, but after deliberating for some time about whether cranberry orange biscotti or the heart shaped chocolate dipped shortbread would be better, we decided on the biscotti and continued on inside.

All of my favorite vendors were there: Tassot Apiaries from Milford (sadly, I'd just bought a huge jar of honey from the grocery store the other day, thinking that I wouldn't see these folks until summer); Rise, a bread shop in Clinton; and Ambrosia, a bakery that comes occasionally to the summer market and tantalizes us with quiche and brioche. Even my favorite soap vendor was there: Storybrook Farm. She gave Ian a small heart shaped valentine soap, and after some careful deliberation (honey oatmeal? java jive? oh, too many choices!) I bought myself a bar of goat's milk spice. Why did no one tell me she has an etsy store?

In the back, there were vendors selling free range chickens, grass fed beef, fresh seafood, local artisan cheeses, and even one stand with organic produce from her greenhouse. Steve bought a wood-fired rye bread from the Bobolink Dairy. There was also a gentleman from the Painted Truffle sampling--get this--salted caramel truffles, dark chocolate nut bark, white chocolate cranberry bark, and another truffle with wine inside. It was absolutely divine.

On the way out, we checked out the flavors on offer at the (local, fair trade) OwOwCow Creamery: madagascar vanilla, chocolate chocolate chip, espresso, and banana walnut. We got half vanilla and half chocolate, and shared the cup while we listened to the duo on guitar and bongo/African drums up front.

I could not have imagined a more perfect Valentine's day adventure.
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  1. Congratulations. This post is a +5 for Jersey:)

  2. Justine, So good to meet you today at the market! I'm so glad you enjoyed the biscotti. Hope to see you there often. It is a great market with such a variety of goodies!


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