Compared to our West Coast brethren, the fresh picks in the Midwest still look slim. Sure, we have the odd morel (expensive!) and asparagus a-plenty, but compared to the West Coast’s plethora of spring greens and fava beans and the East Coast's odd eggs, we’re still waiting for something to get really excited about.
And that’s when you can find an open market. In Columbus, Ohio many of the markets I relied on last year haven’t even opened yet (most open next week, I’ve heard). Of the ones that are, I had the most luck at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at the North Market. Even though half of the market was filled with potted plants and loads of flowers, I was able to pick up a few gems and create a truly wonderful lunch.
Wishwell Farms in Bellefontaine, Ohio had an assortment of hydroponic tomatoes, but the real find was the massive and very beautiful asparagus for $4.99 a pound. That’s a steal. They were still extremely tender, and roasted up beautifully in the oven when I got home.
I had the main vegetable, but still needed something a little more unusual. That’s when I found the baby garlic at H - W Organic Farms. I had just read Daniel Patterson’s article in the New York Times about his love of the spring vegetable (and of his aversion to the real stuff, great article).
So I snatched up a bunch of them and created the same mayonnaise-like sauce that he used on a bunch of artichokes, and instead drizzled it over the above mentioned fat asparagus. It had a clean herbal flavor, with a tad more bite than regular mayonnaise.
The best and least expected find was from Freshwater Farms of Ohio. This being the middle of Ohio, I didn’t expect to see much fresh fish hanging out at the market. I’ve tried to be high and mighty about farm raised fish, preferring to pay more for the wild stuff that’s flown in.
But perhaps I have been wrong all this time. I was swayed by their humane practices, and also the fact that they had "smoked trout dog treats." My puppy would love them!
All the fish they farm are indigenous to Ohio, so there weren’t any mighty salmon laid out, but there was some pretty lovely looking rainbow trout. They assured me it had been swimming the day before. The filleted fish was enough for the fiancee and I to have for a spectacular lunch, all for about $6. They said to keep it simple, so I quickly sautéed it in a little butter and seasoned it will salt and pepper. And it was surprisingly great. I’m a convert.
Seasonal Produce Guide
In Season Right Now
New green apples
About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a co-founder of The Paupered Chef, a blog dedicated to saving time and money while enjoying food in every way possible. He sells wine for a living and lives in Columbus, Ohio.