Market Scene: Belmont and Harvard University Farmers' Markets

[Photographs: Penny Cherubino]

The Belmont Farmers' Market won "Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Farmers' Market 2009." I agree with the magazine that "picking the best farmers' market is like trying to pick the best heirloom tomato. What's not to love in any of the forms and flavors they take?" Still, I had to pay a visit because they also said that Belmont, "earns bonus points (and a loyal following of chefs) for the bumper crop of other regional goodies it has on hand."

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You can always attract me with great bread and the Belmont Market has one of the best sources around: Mamadou's Artisan Bakery. I bought their raisin pecan loaf and a baguette scented with herbes de provence. That unusual baguette was perfect with the bowl of Mediterranean fish chowder I had for supper that night.

The rest of that bumper crop included a core group of Belmont native food producers. Goodies homemade cookies and treats sells at the market, or can ship a care package anywhere you like. Samira's Homemade Authentic Egyptian & Lebanese Food was ready to serve up everything you need for a perfect mezze table. Local favorite Firenze Artisan Gelato & Sorbetto brought a cart full of fresh coffee to the market. I love the idea of good coffee at a farmers market. It was exactly what I needed to go with a tart from Leslie Wolf Baking.

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Of course, the Belmont Market has farm stands full of fresh produce. The radishes and kohlrabi in the photo above are from the Farm School. I love the idea of the Farm School because they're growing our next generation of farmers as well as certified organic vegetables, berries, flowers, eggs, grass-fed beef and lamb, and organically raised pork.

Belmont has one service that makes this market a productive stop for serious cooks. They make space for the Siraco Sharpening Service mobile van, a few times each season. This year you can get your knives sharpened while you shop the market on June 24, August 27, and October 28.

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Over at the Harvard University Farmers' Market in Cambridge, the air was filled with the scent of caramel and spice as the team from Q's Nuts sugared, salted, seasoned and tossed small batches of sweet roasted nuts.

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Two stands down, Ward's Berry Farm was wowing students, faculty and visitors with exceptional strawberries. Some say these are the best in the area.

One new visitor to the Harvard market told me that this market has a softer, gentler vibe than many others around the city. It is in a park-like setting, sheltered from high traffic roads, and has a beautiful water feature that masks nearby noise. All this makes it a perfect place for a picnic lunch of market fresh food.

Belmont Farmers' Market Thursdays 1:30 to 7:00 p.m. (map)

Harvard University Farmers' Market Tuesdays, 12:30 to 6 p.m. through October 26 (map)

In Season Right Now

Strawberries Cherries Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Spring onions Currants Greens Lettuce Kolrabi Green Garlic Baby Carrots Garlic Scrapes Kale Beets

Coming Soon

Plums Gooseberries Broccoli Summer squash Zucchini Heirloom Tomatoes Cucumbers New Potatoes Garlic