Bridgeport Farmers' Market
35th and Wallace, Chicago IL 60616 (map); Saturdays: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Growing up in Bridgeport, Illinois, fresh produce was a little hard to come by. With the closure of Jewel and recently Egg Store on 31st and Halsted, there is little as far as fresh produce goes. So when a farmers' market opened up last year in the former police station parking lot, it was a welcoming sight. Though the market is still fairly new with only five vendors on the day we visited, the quality of the products makes up for it. The small size of this farmers market also gave us the perfect opportunity to chat and learn about each and every one of these vendors.
We first noticed the cheese stand upon entering the premise. Stamper Cheese Company is a local cheese purveyor located on Fulton Market. The cheese they sell are mostly from local farms in Wisconsin and Illinois. Various samples were laid out for shoppers to try. One that stood out was their Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese made the old French way of salt brining the cheese in caves. The cheese was fragrant yet sharp and melts beautifully in the mouth.
Also on hand were bags of fresh cheese curds both plain or dill that was made on Thursday. It is "so fresh, you can hear the squeak with each bite," explained the vendor. We were sold and picked up a bag of the plain. Stamper Cheese Company sells at most Chicago farmers' markets, so you don't have to trek to Bridgeport just to sample their cheese.
We then ventured over to the lovely flower stand provided by DNK Family Farms from St. Anne, Illinois. They've been in business for four years and sell only to farmers market patrons. What captured our attention were the huge vibrant sunflowers glowing in the morning sun. We couldn't help but take some home with us.
HighRise Baking Company, a family owned company, had an assortment of bagged muffins, cookies and bread. Looking at the selection, we decided on a bag of pretzel roll. The pretzel rolls were nice and buttery.
Piedmont Farmes was by far our favorite stand. Not only were ripe cherries in full display, but had some of the more unusual items like globe zucchini or the huge patty pan squash. Other vegetables include your regular zucchini, yellow squash, greens and herbs. We were sure to sample some of the cherry varieties, including sour cherries, used mainly for pies because of its tartness. We picked up a pint of yellow cherries, the flavor was light, juicy and sweet. We were told these are the cherries used for making maraschino cherries but we never had the chance since they were so delicious as is.
Stover's Family Farm stand also featured summer ripe cherries and blueberries. But it was the dried goods that stood out. Various bags of dehydrated fruit, nuts and trail mixes were on hand, along with some local honey.
With a bag full of squash, cherries, cheese curds, pretzel rolls and sunflowers, we went home with a great assortment of produce. We can only hope that this little neighborhood farmers market will continue to grow.
Bing Cherries Yellow Cherries Michigan Tart Cherries summer squash Herbs Greens Tomatoes Sugar Snap Peas Raspberries
Peaches Plums Corn Peppers
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