Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lots of produce at Bozeman winter market

The Bozeman Winter Farmers Market began today in a big way. It is indoors, so photos are iffy with my simple camera, but I hope you, er, get the picture.

If you wanted tomatoes, there were lots!

In fact, fresh produce of all kinds was in abundance. I learned that area farmers use hoop houses and low tunnels (also known as row covers) to prolong the growing season. While this may have been the last market day to find so much fresh produce, there will be hearty vegetables -- like onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, and winter squash -- all season, and we'll see greens appearing early next spring.

I also learned that occasionally a vendor will resell grocery seconds, so be alert. One tip for assuring you get fresh locally grown produce at any farmers market: Look around at what most vendors are selling. If you see one with an out-of-season item or something that is only on their table, ask where they got it.

Laurie of Crazy View Farm near Wilsall explained to me that greens are in fact hardy even in Montana. They love cool weather and thus will bolt and die in August heat. But if you keep them watered and trimmed, you can have fresh greens into autumn.

You will always see piles of luscious greens at Laurie's table. She also makes beautiful chard bouquets!

Along with fresh vegetables, some processed foods were available. Zeynep of Z's Old World Foods was offering free samples of her menu items that she will be selling in her new shop, Z's Meza Market, which will open soon on S. 19th in Bozeman near Main.

I have long enjoyed Z's hummus, which you can buy at area supermarkets, but I was overwhelmed by the tastes of Turkish-style tabouli, dill and garlic labne (similar to Greek tzatziki), red lentil soup, stuffed grape leaves (dolmi), Turkish eggplant . . . and more.

I sat at a table with six other tasters, and judging by the murmur of comments in between bites, Z is already successful: "Really good." -- "Yeah, really good." -- "Wow!" -- "The grape leaves are to die for!" -- "Every single one of them is fabulous." -- "It's definitely a restaurant I'll be visiting."

In the photo, Elizabeth and Matt, newcomers to Bozeman, are savoring a shared plate. They didn't say much; they were too busy eating!

I'll be writing more about Z and her culinary adventures, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, back at the market . . . there was so much to see and buy I couldn't get a photo of everything.

One thing I especially enjoyed about today's market was the number of vendors promoting other area food producers.

I bought some lovely and delicious tiny cakes from Rendezvous catering, a company that proudly uses Montana products.

Their tower of goodies was spectacular. You can see why I couldn't resist one of each to take home.

The Cutest Business Logo award unofficially goes to One More Bite.

This business sells tasty chicken nuggets and veggie burgers, the latter made from grown-in-Montana lentils.

While I'm handing out awards, I have to say that Melissa, who was selling onions and eggs, was definitely the happiest vendor today. What a smile!

And Amaltheia Organic Dairy might have the state's best goat cheese. Now I haven't tried *all* the goat cheese in Montana, but I think the rest of the producers are going to have to try extra hard to impress me now that I'm enjoying Amaltheia. Be sure to look at their website for photos of darling goats.

Hyalite Farm was offering some tasty fudge made from goats' milk. Fudge is so rich and chocolatey anyway that I couldn't really tell it was any different, but it's a fun treat. They also were selling their Humble Bee Honey and goat's milk soap.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable morning. Be sure to visit this winter when you are in Bozeman. Hey, why not go out of your way to get there?

Emerson Ballroom, 111 South Grand Ave.
October 22, 2011 - April 28, 2012 (see website for exact dates)
every other Saturday, 9 am - noon

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