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St Paul Farmer's Market Tips?

I'm a St Paul Farmer's Market virgin, but I'm planning to make my way over there tomorrow. I thought I might see whether any of you have advice on what to look for and what to avoid. I'm hoping for good local meat and cheese and produce and so on. Any stands in particular that I shouldn't miss? Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't have enough expertise yet to recommend any particular veggie or meat stand. It's easy to find great quality veggies though.

    For cheese, Lovetree Farms cheese is pretty wonderful.

    For snacks, if you like kettle corn, the kettle corn stand there is great. Aviod the eggroll/springroll stand - they're icky.

    1 Reply
    1. re: diesel

      second on the kettle corn

      I'd recommend doing a quick walk around all the stalls before purchasing anything.

      Last week I purchased something only to find the same thing at a better price 2 stalls down.

      Also - bring a tote bag so you don't end up with a bunch of small plastic bags.

    2. I'm sure some people will disagree with me, but I've never found Jordon Ranch's veggies to be all that great. Nor are their workers very knowledgeable about what they do have. The best bacon to be had is from Prairie Pride. And the Bison place's cotto salami is excellent.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Terrieltr

        respectfully disagree the hungarian pepper bacon from bar 5 is the absolute best, most craveable bacon-- WARNING-- if you don't have a good vent over your stove it may set off your smoke detector but it is oh so good.

        for other meats i like farm on wheels (organic) but others swear by otis.

        for fresh herbs & greens, currently amaranth, and sometimes if you get there early enough, squash blossoms, don't miss the family along the east side of the market, facing wall street. they are about midway down the row (to your right as you walk downhill from the "top" of the market) and have yellow tablecloths i think. they have the best best best super-fresh herbs, usually a dollar a bunch.

        1. re: Terrieltr

          I agree about Jordon Ranch. I have not been happy with their corn in the past. And they seem kind of corporate to me. I would rather buy from smaller vendors. There is one booth that always has incredible melons. Would rather buy from them.

          1. re: karykat

            DeVine Melon?

            I love the variety of tomatoes the Herb Guy has, as well.

        2. Have fun! I love the St. Paul farmer's market, though I regret that I haven't been there this season (I'd have to dig myself out of my CSA box first.) We always like the ice cream at cedar summit farms. We've been pretty happy with most of the various meat vendors, pork and chicken, etc. but I can't really name any vendor in particular. We also like one of the bakery folks, but, again, I can't name anyone in particular.

          Someone was talking over dinner the night we went to Ngon Bistro about something amazing she had at the St. Paul farmers market--something you had to specifically know and ask about, but I'll be darned if can remember what it was.

          ~TDQ

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            That was me. The bread vendor (Toast to Bread, I think) offers homemade empanadas on the side. I only found out because someone came up and asked and I overheard. I got the last empanada of the day. It was a very savory tuna in a wonderfully flaky crust.

            Please save me one.

            1. re: Uisge

              Yep, that was that tip! I love LOVE empanadas. Thank you so much for sharing!

              ~TDQ

              -----
              Saint Paul Farmers' Market
              290 E 5th St, St Paul, MN 55101

              1. re: Uisge

                The family that has Toast to Bread used to have the filipino Garuda restaurant in St. Paul. Which was my favorite place for years until it eventually disappeared, for their chicken adobe and their empanadas. So it's great to be able to get the empanadas from them now through the bakery stall.

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                I always go to the Farmer's Market with my friend Sandy on Saturdays in the summer, buy very very sparingly, go to a new breakfast place with her and then stop and buy what I really need at the St. Paul market on the way home...

              3. I usually go Sunday mornings when it is a little less crowded. As with many farmers markets, bring cash, particularly one dollar bills. Don't overlook the market for adding to your gardens (flower or veg) as they still will have some greenhouse vendors. Parking is fairly easy, as the lot just north of big white factory building on the east side of the market is big and free. I always like to try and find some kind of oriental green that I haven't tried before. This time of year baskets of small zucchini and other "baby" summer squash are good, as are pea tips, spinach, and a variety of greens. Several vendors offer very good local honey. Some of the vendors offer a nice mix of lettuce, green onion, cilantro, and etc. for salads all for one price. Spend some time talking native plants with the folks at the Vagary, and herbs and garlic with "the herb man" with his feathered hat. Bring the kids and tip the clown for tying them balloon animals. I recommend nothing bigger than an umbrella stroller as it can get crowded. A baby does best in a back/front pack. As mentioned, a cloth tote bag or two is a good idea. Later on in the year the market is very good for tomatoes and many types of eggplants. Winter squash selection is particularly good later on, try Phlanum Farms in the southeast corner for winter squash once it is in season. Free range chickens/eggs, Birkshire pork, and lamb are the meats I will splurge on. This is a local only market, so don't expect bananas or any out of season vegetables.

                1. I like Otis Family Farm for meat...they have the best prices. Farm on Wheels is also good, but they often seem to be out of what I'm looking for. Eichten's is good for wild rice gouda and ground bison and Bar 5 sometimes has duck eggs. DeVine Melon Farm appears later in the summer and while their melons are pricey, they are usually very deliciously ripe. Bob's Bluebird Apple Orchard (hopefully I am remembering that correctly) has wonderful, delectable apple cider, apples and apple doughnuts, but they only are there in the fall. I've tried three different bread vendors (and I don't think there are many more than that) and all of them are fair to middling. The market is a good place to get bouquets of flowers and seedlings in the spring. For veggies I just walk the entire place once without buying anything so I can compare the prices and selections of each booth.