Friday, August 3, 2012

Farmers Markets, Festivals, and Food Fun in the Sun


With my proclivity towards fried foods, I am a devotee of summer fests.  I’ve been known to attend state fairs displaying farm animals as well as local village carnivals with cheap-looking rides—all for the privilege of purchasing over-priced funnel cakes (which, incidentally, might be my favorite fair-food item).

This month, we are on a working vacation in Park City, Utah.  More accurately, Will is working; I am enjoying as much of my summer vacation as possible, in between stints at writing, reading, and research.  But it’s difficult to concentrate on Shakespeare and Milton with such beautiful scenery and—more to the point for this post—all the festivals to attend!

When we arrived here, the Food & Wine Festival was going on.  Since then, I’ve browsed through Redstone Art Fair and am now looking forward to Kimball Art Center Festival (this weekend).  There are gallery walks and open-air concerts galore.  Most importantly, there are two weekly events that I have on my calendar. 

On Sundays, the historic Main Street area of Park City is transformed into Park Silly Sunday (10am-5pm).  At the top of this post, you can see a picture of a typical Park Silly Sunday—except that I wasn’t able to capture a picture of the llama (or any of the other exotic animals) walking around the market.  In fact, it looks like you cannot even see any of the dozens of dogs roaming around the bustling and historic Main Street of perhaps the most dog-friendly town in the world.  Trust me though.  There are animals, kids, and whacky vendors aplenty to suit all sorts of appetites.

Speaking of appetites, Park Silly Sunday Market foods include roasted sweet corn (huge ears of corn on the cob!), fresh fried potato-chip encrusted corn dogs (or, maybe it would be called a hot-potato-dog), and even some international items like the food we ordered: vegetable samosas and chicken taquitos.  As a sidenote: When they re-lit the oil to fry up the taquitos fresh for me, I knew I made the right choice.

In case you cannot wait until the next Sunday to get your fill of festal fun, Park City offers its Farmers Market on Wednesdays to let you survive the rest of the week.  Between noon and 6pm on Wednesdays, I am able to attend one of the best-balanced farmers markets.  Back in the Chicago area, I find myself vacillating between the smaller-town market that only offers a few stalls (2 each of vegetables and fruits and 1 each of bakery items and cheese, etc.) or the way-too-large farmer’s market where it takes you a couple of hours just to get your bearings.  With 17 stands of fruits, 23 of vegetables, 9 bakeries, 8 flower-sellers, and even a few that sell elk steak, the larger markets can get a bit overwhelming and time-consuming.

I fell in love with Park City’s farmer’s market the first time I went.  It was just right: not too small, not too big.  There was just enough choice to let you feel like you could have a variety without confusing you into a food oblivion.  Most likely, local residents will have their favorite stands that they return to time and again.  As a temporary Park Citizen, I can afford to be democratic in my purchasing largesse.
 

Last week, we brought home a savory ciabatta (with roasted garlic and rosemary), Early Glo yellow peaches, a tray of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, 6 ears of the freshest corn I’ve ever tasted (shucked in the picture above), and a sheep cheese that was reminiscent of fontina.  Of course, we got a bag of the obligatory kettle corn to round out the market experience…

This week, I got a Honey Oat loaf with cranberries (slightly sweet and nicely nutty for breakfast toast), sweet green plums and white peaches, more berries (well, we can’t very well skip out on the anti-oxidants, could we?), and a just-packed tangy-sharp Aggiano cheese (yes, like Asiago).


All that and lunch food stalls that include pulled pork sandwiches, grilled reubens, and polish sausages.  If we stayed here any longer we would hit every stand, each full of deliciousness!


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