Overwhelmed by Union Sq greenmarket. Recommendations?
I was just at the Union Sq greenmarket and saw plenty of lovely produce, but got a little overwhelmed by all the different vendors. Abundant and beautiful tomatoes everywhere I turned not to mention the produce I've never seen before?
Besides checking Lucy's Greenmarket report, does anyone have general recommendations for great vendors and what you never fail to get at Union Sq?
The chile peppers at Eckerton Farms are the best--and the hottest!--I've ever had. I just had one with my cottage cheese and my EARS were perspiring by the time I was done. Behind the heat is a lightly fruity flavor that is truly delightful. You can get a half-pint of chilies of your choosing for a mere $3!
I work in a kitchen of a restaurant that purchases produce from the greenmarket @ union square. I have been there once a week for an entire year. The best time to go is Mid August - Oct. The most farms are there (which is good because not every farm or season is dependable and the most selection of produce is available). The best farm stands I have visited are:
Eckerton Farm- The best tomatos I have ever tasted in my life come from here. This 2007 season has been great. All the top restaurants in the city pick up here. I see invoices from: Jean-Georges, Daniel, Cafe Boulud, A Voce, Perry St., etc. Great peppers available right now. But tomatos and peppers are about all they have.
Cato Corner Farm- Great artisan cheeses from Conneticut. My favorite is a blue cow's milk cheese called Misty Morning.
Two farms I don't remember the names of: one only sells only herbs and has these sheets hanging over the tent to shed light (this to me is great because it shows that they actually care about what they are selling. Too many farms there leave their herbs etc out for the whole day and the turn very quickly leaving you with garbage.) They have a lot of rare finds here for the herb fanatics.
The other is a farm with the only wild strawberries I have seen there. Wild strawberries are a cross between strawberries and common wild berries. One of the best berries I have ever tasted.
Check every farm out but look for these. After deciding for yourself go back and select what you want. Remember most tents encourage you to taste!!!
The Greenmarket is a place to savor. Relax. First wander through the market and see what looks good and check out the pricing. We had the smoked duck from Quattro this weekend. Quattro also has a lovely smoked pheasant and black bean soup. I love olive bread. There is a farmer that has carrot cookies and apple squares. The pretzel (from Pennsylvania) is a favorite. There is a nice artisanal cheese place. I buy what looks good. We go early on Saturday AM. It's where the best NYC restaurants shop and it is fun to buy your produce where Blue Hill, etc. also shop. We try to go every Saturday around 8 am.
My two cents:
The fresh fruits and vegetables are the primary reason to come to this market. I can't pick any one stand over another as virtually everything I have bought has been great. I appreciate the variety of offerings -- one estoteric item may be available at only one stand so that pretty much answers where to buy it. Special kudos to Migliorelli Farms (I think it's the largest stand, along the north side) for their varied greens. Love the broccoli rabe and various chards.
I buy a lot of plants and herbs at the market, especially in the spring, and love the selection.
One thing not to miss is the pourable yogurt drinks ($2) at Ronnybrook.
For some reason I rarely buy meat or fish at the market.
I think my primary disappointment is the baked goods. I've seldom bought any baked good at the market that was noteworthy. Bread Alone used to have good breads and scones but I think they have slipped.
I know the bread stand that poster is referring to. They are interesting for having a lot of different flavored breads, but unfortunately the quality is far below Sullivan Street and other breads that I can easily pick up at the nearby Garden of Eden. I'd stick to Bread Alone if buying bread at Union Square.
There's an apple/pear/plum stand on the North side of the park, on the interior near the NW corner, that does from time to time sell some very good ginger spice cookies.
The only bread I really like is the bread on Fridays from the place on the West side of the square that also has cheese. It's made in a wood-fired oven and is really special. For some reason the Bread Alone bread at the market is never very good, though I like their products when I get them upstate.
Mondays and Fridays on the north side of the square Yuno's Farm has all kinds of unusual stuff (avocado squash, tons of tiny eggplants, etc.) If I had to pick just one stand, though, it would be Keith's, which is organic and consistently good and has the best garlic I've ever eaten anywhere.
At the risk of turning this into a list with nothing left off (see the Overrated postings), here's my take.
It's too busy at 830, so I'm terrified by the post that says it gets busy after 11. I sure wish the food tours would stay away.
Cato Corner Farms is amazing. Great people working it, and cheese that can indeed sit proudly next to European cheeses.
3 Corner Fields (almost directly acorss from Cato corner) has good sheep's dairy products, but their meat is even better. The woman who owns the farm, Karen, may be my favorite vendor in the whole place.
Flying Pigs is also great, and the woman who owns the farm and is sometimes there is super cool.
Paffenroth is good and the prices are impressively low (maybe a little *too* low?), but the veggie people across the way (my wife and I call them the hippie farmers) have better product and interesting things too.
I'm shocked no one mentioned Violet Hill yet. They have the really fancy looking eggs and the coolers with lamb, pork, sausage, and guinea hens. They also occasionally have mushrooms and foraged wild fruit. It ain't cheap (1 dozen eggs=$8!!!), but the stuff is top notch. And again, the propietor is a good guy.
On the same note, the greens at Windfall Farms are VERY expensive, but also some of the best greens I've ever tasted.
I'm not crazy about Quattro chickens. I prefer Knoll Crest or Flying Pigs, when they have chicken (they do right now).
Buzzard Crest is my grape provider--try the Jupiters. They've moved to the east side of the park this fall.
I like Stokes (east side) for herbs, tomatoes, and shallots.
New York magazine has a map that's still pretty much up to date:
It didn't used to be such a mob scene. I used to love wandering through there on sunny Saturdays, and it was never such a contact sport.
Ronnybrook Farms (north, central, north of the walkway): creamy, tart plain yogurt. mango yogurt drinks
3 Corner Field Farm: sheep milk yogurt (like liquified goat cheese--they deliver to my CSA once a month, and I'm delighted that they're also at the market)
Fantasy Fruit Farms (north, central, south of the walkway): great berries
Keith's (north, central): amazing garlic and shallots
Norwich Meadows Farms (SW): organic tomatoes, the baby orange ones are incredibly sweet
Ditto Paffenroth, also unsure of the spelling (SW): beautiful carrots with purple outsides and orange insides, and a huge array of onions, potatoes and radishes
I've gotten good peaches from the vendor on the NE side for the past couple of weeks, but they stand over you to make sure you don't dare squeeze.
Flowers from the place on the north side (center/east, north of the walkway)--huge bunches of large, lush flowers.
re: rose water
re: rose water
Their eggplant is like crack. Even my boyfriend, who used to claim to be "allergic" to eggplant scarfed down some I made yesterday (grilled whole over charcoal then mixed with olive oil, lemon, cilantro, garlic, s & p). Yum.
Also check out Jim Grillo's stand. I forget the farm name, but he is always right next to Violet Hill (the seriously good bacon guy). He has all kinds of really good Italian vegetables. This weekend he had excellent puntarelle and small Italian tomatoes, and he had cardoons, which no one else has, as far as I have seen. He also has wild boar and rabbit intermittently.
Been going for years. Mrs. GG recently roasted some red peppers that were amazing and is going to make a red pepper sauce with the rest. I've gorged on heirloom tomatoes. Just finished a carton of blueberries, white peaches,and seedless miniature grapes. Mrs. GG also just did a frisee (from the market at $1 a head!) and lardons salad made with the truthfully advertised "damn good bacon." Had white and yellow corn on the cob. Olive bread, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels, jumbo brown eggs, gorgeous miniature roses. Cato Corner Hooligan or Despearado or Bloomsbury or Womanchego are all cheeses that would make any Frenchman jealous, an herbed Lynhaven goat cheese, pheasant sausage, whole pheasants instead of turkey for Thanksgiving, Ronnybrook chocolate milk (egg nog at Christmas), apples of 15 varieties, pears, rocambole garlic ("best in the universe"), basil, rosemary and thyme, honey made from locally raised rooftop bees, maple syrup, lemon squares, grape juice, apple cider, apple donuts, Flying Pig -everything porky, pumpkins for Halloween. Wreaths for Xmas, chrysanthamums for fall- couldn't live without the Union Square Greenmarket. Who needs Whole Foods?
Interestingly I just got "burned" at the USG. Mrs. GG and I bought some farmers' pork and apple sausages from Flying Pigs which were delicious and a bunch of pimientos de padron from the pepper guy across the way from Flying Pigs. I had never seen them at the Market before and we were very excited. Mrs. GG blistered them perfectly and sprinkled with coarse salt. They were delicious and I knew that 1 in 10 are supposed to pack heat but ALL of these were extremely hot. I can take the heat (if you can't get outta the kitchen) but I'm wondering if maybe they were picked too late. I believe the younger peppers are supposed to be used in the traditional tapas dish. Anybody try them from Union Square?
Nope - but thanks for your (and others') rec for Flying Pig - picked up some wonderful bacon today, as well as a huge chicken, and saw that beautiful leaf lard. Also, I asked if they ever have slab bacon, and was told that if I email ahead of time, they'll bring me a slab. Saw fresh guinea hen at one vendor but wasn't quite ready to figure out what to do with it!
I was just there this morning - around 11:15 - later than usual. I can understand what you mean about being overwhelmed, especially when it is crowded. These are the places I usually go to these days:
1. Berkshire Berries - NE corner - Berry Golden Raspberry Jam is out of this world, also like the fig jam and the green pepper jelly. Bought some horseradish jelly today on the advice of another poster.
2. For the last several weeks I've been buying sheep's milk cheese from 3-Corner Field Farm - I've bought the Shushan Snow several times, which is a mold-ripened cheese, as well as one similar to a tomme. Also bought ground lamb there that I used this week to make kofte. (www.dairysheepfarm.com) She's on the north side of the square, about in the middle usually.
3. I often buy poultry - lately duck, though today also some chicken/pistachio/apple sausages from Quattro's Poultry and Wild Game, which is on the north side of the square, on the southside of the "walkway" if that makes sense. I like to buy eggs from them as well.
4. There is a small produce vendor on the west side (east of the walkway), towards the NW corner, who has a number of varieties of tiny potatoes, including some yellow fingerlings (akin to some variety in Lyons?) that I bought today. I've also been buying from them wild baby leeks, wild Italian arugula (rughatta?), green beans and zucchini flowers - got all of those today. Today I bought some delicious pears from a vendor just north of them.
5. Other produce - I'm not sure of the names , but I've been buying tomatoes and other produce from certain vendors on the north side.
6. Today I bought mushrooms for the first time from the mushroom vendor - northside, south of walkway.
7. Roses from the woman at the NW corner - they are wrapped in tissue paper, if that helps. I buy the shorter ones for $10 a dozen - the ones I bought last Saturday are just now on their last legs.
8. Baked goods - here's a link to recs from another poster - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/441050#2942116 - I was in a rush this morning and didn't remember to note the ones he recommends. I ended up with a zucchini bread muffin from Windy Maples Farms for a late breakfast - not particularly tasty. Next week I'll seek out his/her recommendations.
We've also bought some potted herbs there and they are now happily growing on the roof
of the bay window outside our living room window! The fish at the fishmonger looks wonderful, but the lines are always quite long, so I've not tried them yet.
We've now been going every Saturday morning for about six weeks, and I'm just starting to develop favorites, and actually noticing the names of the vendors etc. It really has been fun though, and is particularly nice when you get there early - we go after my husband plays tennis in LIC and that varies - best is when we can be there around 9am.
Edit - I found this link that has links to websites of some of the vendors:
This harvest schedule is also useful - http://www.cenyc.org/site/pages/GMKT/...
I was just at the market myself this morning; it's always best to get there before 11am to avoid the crowds. What was running through my mind as I shopped was that there is about a week left before the first frost and soon all of the green leafy stuff will be gone! Lots of apples and I'm noticing other signs of fall creeping in. The posters before me pretty much nailed it, But here's my two-cents: I like to walk around once before I start buying to see who has the best version of whatever veg or fruit is in season. I always swing by Cato Corner and Lynhaven for Cheese. Other than that, just browse, look, smell - all of the vendors there are great. I have a recipe on my blog for a simple fruit crumble if you are interested: www.mariefromage.com The market is a treasure, enjoy.
I love Cato Corner cheeses - Especially the Hooligan and one other cheese that starts with a "R" that I'm drawing a blank on the name. The womanchego is also good. I also like Coach Farms goat cheeses, especially the aged peppercorn cheese and the marinated goat cheeses.
Ted Blew Farms is located on the north side of the park, essentially across the street from Barnes and Noble and theyhave the best hot peppers of all the vendors.
Flying Pig Farms has some great sausages and other cuts of pork.
As far as actual vegetables and produce, I just kind of wander around and see whats interesting and looks good. If you dont know what something is or how to use it, just ask either the vendors or even people shopping, you never know what will work.
It all depends, of course, on what you need, but I know that the market often makes my list go right out of my head--particularly this time of year--it's huge and amazing.
I recommend Paffenroth (not sure of the spelling) for veggies, particularly potatoes and onions and squash. Gorzinsky has cool harder to find roots. Deep Mountain has the best maple in the universe--they are the ones from Vermont, don't go to the other guy, not as good. Beth's Farm Kitchen makes fantastic jams, and she got me into chutney--does great sweet and spicy ones. Ted Blu--north side of the park, not sure of the name of his farm--has great stuff, pancake mix and peppers and all kinds of fresh herb plants, but also he has High Hopes Hogs--great bacon and sausages.
You can't go wrong with Ronnybrook's milk, and there are several farms up from the Amish country with great fresh goat cheeses.
There is so much more, but those are my primary recommendations.
Oh, the farmers from New Jersey are awesome--might be called Cherry Hill, something like that--not Cheerful Cherry, but located near them, west side of the park only on Saturdays--anyway, they have great selection, and the best tomatoes, but are only around in the spring through early fall.
Ted Blew's farm is Oak Grove Plantation/High Hope Hogs. He has the green and white striped tents.
I agree with KP, and here are some additional recs: Mountain Berry Farm has amazing specialty produce and the best potatoes on the planet.
Phillips Farm for berries and fab preserves (taste like your grandma would make if she were a great jam maker!)
Flying Pig Farm has organic liver sausage!
Berried Treasure has amazing strawberries.
Terhune for the best apples. A little more expensive, but worth it!
Quattro for the best chickens, ducks eggs, and farm made pheasant sausage! They also make great soups!
Hawthorne Valley Farms for amazing cookies, breads and biodynamic meats and produce. I get all my beef there.
Tonje's for great fresh cheese.
Northshire Farms have amazing produce, as well, and also RABBITS!