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Jul 24, 2008 06:01 PM

[MSP] Mill City Farmers Market

Best of the best? Good time to go?

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    haven't tried that ricotta, I think I should. on the market's site you can click on "produce planner" to see whats in this week, and "the general store" to see what they sell.

    I think as with all Farmers Markets, the earlier you get there the better. though the site mentions there will be a MN wine tasting at 10 this week.

    1. What are you looking for? If you are looking for cheap produce, no. Then go to the St. Paul or Minneapolis Farmers Market. If you are looking for fun, an interesting variety, foods to eat while shopping, and a neat atmosphere, then yes, it is really great.

      1. Did you go this weekend rp1760? We haven't had a lot of reports here on Chowhound about the MCFM, so, just curious to hear your impressions. I think of MCFM as being a place that has more "value-added" kinds of purveyors compared to your typical heavy-on-the-produce farmers market, but that's probably because I'm pretty blind to produce these days because of all the pressure I feel to use up my CSA produce before the next box comes.

        That being said, I love to ride my bike over the Stone Arch bridge (is that art installation still on?) to get there. I almost always pick something up from the Star Prairie trout farm people, though, again, earlier is better because they do run out of things. If you miss the Birchberry stand that used to be at Midtown Global Market, you'll like the Birchberry Stand at MCFM. And, for prepared "snacking while you browse" foods, they now have both a momo stand and a dim sum stand! I haven't tried either, but plan on getting around to trying those, as well as Chef Shack which a lot of local food writers have been raving about...Soon, once I get off this diet. Edna's Caramels is there--I don't know if you remember Dara's piece about them awhile back (in City Pages).

        Both the Star Tribune and Jeremy Iggers in the Rake spoke glowingly about the Black Cat stand and which sounds like a hoot. Apparently they buy their ingredients right there at the market from the various vendors, based on what looks great, and cook it up, like our very own Iron Chefs. I know Josh Resnik and several others raved about their pulled pork sandwiches (and soup--though, I don't know if they offer soup at the MCFM in summer or if that's just a fall thing for them) awhile back. And if you're not interested in the noshing on the spot scene, they also sell some lovely baked goods.

        There's also the Bramblewood Shortbread lady mentioned in this post

        I love having this amenity in the Twin Cities. You can always pop into the Guthrie to admire the view from the bridge to nowhere, have a nice stroll along the Stone Arch Bridge or the little park, and just soak up the urbane-ness of it all. This is one of those treasures to cherish, I think.


        2 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          TDQ, thanks for the post. Unfortunately, my Friday night ran way way late, negating my plans for MCFM. Wish they were also open Sunday.

          I did make it to the Mpls. Farmer's Market on Sunday. Found a new "must" stand. In the Annex, one row behind The Olive Stand. Might have been there for awhile - I just rarely into the Annex beyond the olives. It's a cheese stand - cheeses from coop's throughout mid-southern Wisconsin, very knowledgeable sales guy. For my "test cheese" I picked a Morel Leek Monterey Jack. Very very good.

          1. re: rp1760

            Sounds delicious, that cheese you found.

            Gosh, is MCFM only open on Saturdays? I swear last time I went it was on a Sunday, but you're right, on their website and on their answering machine (I called for clarification) it says Saturdays only. Maybe they are only open Saturdays. Anyway, do try to get out there, it's a fun way to spend some time. Please report back on all the delicious things you try. :) Here's Rachel Hutton's piece on "Chef Shack".


        2. You can also grab some sourdough baguettes or other loaves from the West Side's famed Bread, Coffee, Cake, on Saturday mornings. Some sweet goods too, I think, and croutons. But you'll have to get there early; they always sell out within a couple of hours.

          Bread Coffee and Cake
          385 Wabasha St S, St Paul, MN 55107

          8 Replies
          1. re: clepro

            clepro, are you saying BCC has a stand at the MCFM or are you just recommending a completely unrelated "Saturday morning only" stop?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              bread coffee cake has a booth at mcfm! they are usually on the plaza as you walk into the market, often just before you get to the momo booth. another good artisan baker, solomon's bakery, is in the train shed proper if bcc is sold out.

              1. re: soupkitten

                I did not know that! Thank you clepro and SK --I will have to keep a look-out.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Not sure how to put this delicately, but MCFM appears somewhat "elitist?" to me. The food is okay, but rather expensive. Most of the products seem targeted at upper middle class types (not that there's anything wrong with that 8^}). Everyone seems to be be trying very hard to be impressed.

                  I tried out the Midtown Farmer's Market off Lake Street, across from the YWCA, this morning. The produce was definitely higher quality and distinctly less expensive. The vendors seem a little more authentic, with a little more ethnic diversity. The food wasn't particularly memorable, but then the Global Midtown Market is only 5 minutes down the road.

                  1. re: discus

                    Hmmm...I don't know if I would call MCFM elitest, exactly, but I agree that it's not the first place I think of when I think of cheap, run of the mill (ha! no pun intended) produce. It is a place that comes to mind when I think of really high-quality foods, many with an organic pedigree, and of specialty, artisanal purveyors. And the space is lovely (along the riverfront, just a stone's throw from St. Anthony Falls and sandwiched between the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum), which is lovely to wander. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing space rental doesn't come cheap.

                    The Midtown Farmers Market is a completely different kind of experience--located in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood where space is presumably much more affordable. You can get some great fresh, seasonal produce there, but you're not going to get some of the "value-added" kinds of artisans or much that has an organic pedigree.

                    You can argue that only the elite can afford organics and such, but I think that's a conversation for a different board.

                    I'm not sure how to gauge how "authentic" the vendors are. Authentically what? I'm pretty sure the shortbread cookie lady really is a shortbread cookie lady. ;-).

                    With the advent of the dim sum stand and the Tibetan stand, I think the diversity of the offerings is increasing, but, yes, for the most part, the ethnic profile of the vendors and customers of the MCFM mostly reflect the community in which it's located. Same as the Midtown FM. But, I think that is more or less what a community-based resource ought to do--reflect and meet the needs of the community.


                    1. re: discus

                      Hey Discus, did you happen to notice a woman selling hot pickled carrots there? (At the Midtown Farmer's Market) She prints her own labels...can't remember her name, but the label reads " [Whateverhername is]'s Joy." Got a couple jars of her hot pickled carrots last year and have never forgotten their crunchy, spicy, hot, fresh goodness. Even if I have forgotten her name.

                      1. re: clepro

                        The hot pickled carrots are at the Maple Grove Farmer's Market on Thursdays, 3-7 pm, on Weaver Lake Road at the Community Center. There's also a guy with fabulous heirloom tomatoes and Collegeville Bakery has croissants that might as well have come from France. I could live on them!

                      2. re: discus

                        I've only been to Global Midtown Market once, but that was pretty interesting. It was a Saturday, and there was a band playing Peruvian or Ecuadoran style music. Nearby was a Mexican food stand that sold quesadillas among other things. I'm from New Mexico, so I ordered one. The owner's Mamacita made the corn tortilla by hand, and the resulting quesadilla was a delicious meal.

              2. One of the really nice aspects of the Mill City market is that I never have to ask the farmers if they use chemical pesticides or herbicides. You know for sure that every stand that is not organic is at least practicing sustainable farming. That is a huge advantage over my usual St Paul markets.(which I still go to and enjoy at times). Also -I disagree with the previous poster questioning the quality. I've gotten top notch produce since I started going here a few months ago.

                The prepared foods really really are wonderful and I spend a lot more money since I always get either breakfast or lunch there. (favorites of mine are the grilled veggies or gazpacho at chefshack and the momo's).

                1 Reply
                1. re: stpaulbreadman

                  Sorry, I don't want to come across as negative. My comments were made as a comparative to the Midtown market. It seemed more like a real market, with more hurly-burly action and bare knuckled pricing.

                  As for authenticity, the 'dim sum' stand leaves me quite skeptical. But I liked the smoked fish for sale.