Big Apple, Small Basket: Week #3

 Welcome to a new summer weekly installment at SKC called Big Apple, Small Basket.  Check back to read more about Kendra’s adventures in finding, maneuvering and cooking summer dishes from the many farmers’ markets in New York City.  Click for Week #1 and Week #2.  

People told me New York City would be expensive, but I did not understand to what degree, really, until yesterday.  After an hour of looking excitedly through menus from establishments participating in Restaurant Week (this annual event is magic, don’t even get me started), I decided to flip to the websites of some of my favorite Chicagoland restaurants, just for comparison’s sake.   I instantly froze at my desk.  The prices.  OH the PRICES.  They were half as high.  After only one month I was already blindly accepting the Manhattan Markup (I just made that phrase up, but that could totally be a thing) as the standard for food costs, and I was.  So.  Very.  Misguided.  A side of bacon at brunch does not have to cost $9!  You can get a burger for less than $20!!  I had forgotten!! How did I let this happen to myself?!?

Dramatic.  Anyway.

Shelling out major skrilla for meals is a hard thing for me to get over, especially because I love to cook for myself.  It might actually be the one facet of New Yorker-dom that I am unable to adopt. That and I can’t stop smiling at people on the street and saying things like, “Wow, I really love your shoes!” which most people completely ignore or else look at me like I’m an alien and then roll their eyes. California girl undercover in New York City: apparently fooling no one.  Of course, beautiful produce is something I’d gladly drop wads of cash on, but the Big Apple thankfully offers an awesome alternative in their greenmarket system.  Every market I’ve visited has been bursting with ridiculously fresh fruits and vegetables — peaches you can smell from yards away, corn you could eat like candy — at prices that make my local grocery store look like the agricultural Neiman Marcus.  Why I don’t only ever shop at farmers’ markets is beyond me.  And this week, I hit the jackpot.

Kendra Vaculin, a double major in Theatre and Creative Writing at Northwestern University, would like to eat heirloom tomatoes only for the rest of her life ever.  She wears clothes and makes food and writes about it, and her biggest regret of the summer so far is not exploring more NYC coffee shops.  She’d love for you to tell her your favorite so she can cheat and just go to that one.  

Union Square Greenmarket // Rainbow Carrot, Heirloom Tomato and Beet Slaw
North and West sides of Union Square Park; 14th St/Union Square Stop on the N,Q,R,L,4,5,6

I can’t even speak about this farmers’ market.  There is nothing to be said about perfection.  Open Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays, this market is positively packed with vendors of all kinds, taking over nearly the entire perimeter of the square.  Satursdays are the best, if by best I mean most crowded/most vendors/load me up with produce and bury me with it like my very own terra cotta warriors because I want to enter the afterlife with a zucchini in one hand and a baguette in the other…which is exactly what I mean by best.

This greenmarket is life affirming.

This greenmarket makes me want to live in a French villa. (…?)

This greenmarket makes me want to only eat fruit for the remainder of my life.

Except that last one didn’t last very long because I saw the heirloom tomatoes and the rainbow carrots and that was really the beginning of the end.

  **Recipe**

Rainbow Carrot, Beet and Heirloom Tomato Slaw
Inspired by Bon Appetit

Ingredients
1 small bunch rainbow carrots (about 4 carrots, various colors)
1 large beet
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped.
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Shred rainbow carrots and beet into a medium bowl.  Add chopped tomatoes and remaining ingredients.  Mix until incorporated.

Eat this straight from the bowl, maybe, but its also awesome in a lettuce wrap with goat cheese! Plop a spoonful on a burger, mix with spinach for a salad, onto a flatbread before baking…get creative because this colorful mess is good.

Originally posted on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

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