Anyone else have oddly specific processes for going through beloved rituals? You have to eat ice cream with the tiny sampler spoon, say? Or you need to take a little nap after you shower, before starting the day?
(I’ll defend my post-shower naps until the day I die. They’re like a second snooze!)
ANYWAY. My weekend farmers’ market ritual feels that way. Visiting Brooklyn’s Saturday market at Grand Army Plaza was one of my all-time favorite New York pastimes. Now that we’re wandering nomads, working and adventuring from different places each month or so, I can experience each new home’s markets too. Same ritual. New place.
This past Saturday, I visited the Portland Farmers’ Market. For such a tiny city, the market is impressively extensive: 38 farmers show up each weekend to set up shop along a walking lane in Deering Oaks Park — conveniently a few blocks from our September home in Portland’s West End.
Here are the details:
Portland, ME Farmers’ Market
Saturdays, at Deering Oaks Park
Late April to Late November
From 7 am to 1 pm
Up to 38 farmers
Wednesdays, at Monument Square
April to December
From 7 am to 1 pm
Up to 29 farmers
Ok, let me walk you through my beloved Saturday morning ritual.
Coffee at Portland’s Tandem Bakery
My favorite way to visit the market must begin, as all good things do, with a suuuuuper leisurely coffee. Bonus points for good people watching.
This Saturday, I parked down at Tandem Coffee near the market and catty corner from our apartment. On weekends, this converted retro gas station sees a line out the door thanks to the inventive sweets they bake on premises. Maple brown butter pie, chocolate cake with paprika peanut butter frosting, pear and feta scones — this shop knows how to make some tasty treats.
I grabbed a coffee ‘to stay,’ compiled my grocery list, and people watched from Tandem’s picnic tables outside. As you might expect from a converted gas station coffee shop, all the hipsters in Portland frequent this spot and it’s just glorious to watch.
Onwards to the market.
The Portland Farmers’ Market
I love starting at one end of the market and meandering my way through every stall. No buying anything yet, just seeing the lay of the land. This can be overwhelming at places like Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market, with rows and rows of stalls.
Thankfully, Portland’s market is one long, straight line of stalls. By this time in September, everything is packed to the brims with amazing late-summer and early-fall produce. I saw tons of:
- Apples (and apple cider!)
- Berries berries berries berries so many berries
- Cauliflower and broccoli
- Hearty greens like arugula, baby kale, and chard
- Leeks, scallions, and shallots
- Nightshades like tomatoes and eggplant
- Snacking veggies like sweet peppers, celery, and radishes
Once I’d oggled everything — compared produce, sampled samples, sniffed flowers — then I got to work. Sometimes, I’ll have a list for a recipe that I’ve compiled at the coffee shop. Other days, I’ll freeform with whatever looks good. This past weekend was a mix of both.
I’d decided on making corn clam chowder (update: recipe here), so I stocked up on carrots, celery, chives, corn, leeks, thyme, and sourdough bread (for croutons!).
I also swooped up honeycrisp apples, scallions, tomatoes… and an insane zucchini muffin with a sugar-crusted top. Nom.
Coffee to stay. Grocery list. One run through to look. One run through to shop. It’s my ritual, this time for the Portland Farmers’ Market, and I love it.