Graduation Part I: Souvenirs

May 18, 2008

You’d think that the most exciting aspect of the last weekend for me would have been receiving my law degree. And, while that was a “milestone” and “momentous” and “special,” I just might have been a little more thrilled by another thing that happened this weekend. I went to my first farmers market of the year!

Kevin’s sister graduated on Saturday from the University of Wisconsin, so we were in Madison for roughly 18 hours to help her celebrate. Between dinner and pretending we were still in college at the bars on State Street on Friday night and the ceremony on Saturday morning, we had barely a second to breathe. But I really, really, really wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market that bustles around Madison’s capitol building on Saturday mornings. You see, Chicago doesn’t deem it Farmer’s Market season until an absurdly late date (mid-June in my neighborhood!). And I have been counting the days, weeks and probably even months. And I could wait absolutely no longer.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story and more photos.)

So, I decided that sleeping on Friday night would just have to go. I defied the iron hotel curtains that could have blocked out the sun and let me sleep till an ungodly hour (8? 9?) and instead popped out of bed at 7 and made my way toward the capitol. Kevin joined me on the walk (actually, more of a jog; I’m telling you, I’ve been dying for this), bless his heart.

And oh boy, was it worth it. Really, I would have traded an entire night’s worth of sleep to do it. People were sauntering around in the early morning sun, steaming coffee in hand and dreamy smiles on their faces. (Or, maybe that was just me.) Floral smells from the flower stalls blended with savory, oniony wafts. Purveyors with dirt under their fingernails earnestly handed over bushels of this and bundles of that. Quite simply: I was in heaven.

After a scouting lap around the market, I made my choices: green garlic (first and last photos), spring onions (third photo), purple (!) asparagus (fourth photo) and rhubarb (second and fifth photos). I also had my eye on a hanging basket spilling over with multi-colored million bells and I’m still kicking myself for not getting it. But that morning was about produce. I wanted to stick to things I couldn’t find in my grocery stores and things I hadn’t cooked before. The green garlic, spring onions and purple asparagus fit the bill. And the rhubarb? Well, I just couldn’t resist.

So, now that the dust has settled after a weekend of not one but two graduations, I am staring down a blissful week of NOTHING. I have five days off before we leave for Bermuda for a Memorial Day wedding, upon our return from which I have to start studying for The Bar Exam. And I cannot wait to try my hand at using these new (to me) vegetables and to find a new recipe for the rhubarb. If you have any suggestions, please do share!


7 Responses to “Graduation Part I: Souvenirs”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    Congratulations on graduation! What gorgeous produce from the Farmer’s Market…love the purple asparagus! I also picked up green garlic this weekend at our market, but am not sure what I’m going to do w/it; any ideas? I picked up rhubarb too, and am leaning towards making strawberry rhubarb sorbet from The Perfect Scoop. You could do a rhubarb fool (Martha Stewart had a recipe recently), or maybe a savory rhubarb sauce for pork or duck? Whatever you make, enjoy! I share your farmer’s market giddiness! 🙂 –Amy

  2. soopling Says:

    Hey, just dropping you a note to say I tagged you for an “E” award. Cheers!

  3. katy Says:

    I’ve heard that the Madison farmer’s market is amazing! How fun. I was also visiting a new city for a graduation last weekend, and made my soon-to-be brother-in-law show me their farmer’s market as soon as everyone was up on Saturday morning!

  4. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Amy: I’ve been living vicariously through your Farmer’s Market stories for a while now and I’m thrilled to finally have one of my own. That sorbet sounds wonderful—can’t wait to hear about it (if you decide to go with it). I’m planning to use the green garlic in a pesto. I almost went with that green garlic-spinach soup that Molly over at Orangette made a while back, but I’m still scarred by my last spinach soup ordeal. If you try her recipe, though, do let me know!

    Soopling: I commented on your blog already, but thanks again! Such kind words …

    Katy: It is a really good one—big and bustling and set in a ring around the capitol building, which is very pretty. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who considers Farmer’s Market-going to be “sight seeing”!

  5. kate Says:

    Hi Kristen!

    It’s nice to know that others share my LOVE for the Madison farmer’s market! I am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and look forward to walking (more like skipping!) around the square early in the morning with hopes of discovering new ingredients to cook with.

    I also picked up some beautiful rhubarb last week and made a batch of rhubarb oatmeal cookies with a lemon glaze..they turned out quite well! I’m excited to see what you come up with!

  6. slchapman Says:

    Hi, I’ve never commented before, but I’m a Chicagoan and I love reading your blog.

    I’d like to suggest this recipe for using green garlic. It’s really simple and basically doesn’t even really require a recipe (it’s just a glorified BLT), but somehow all the little details turn it into the most perfect sandwich ever.

    Also, I see you mentioned that the neighborhood farmers markets don’t start until mid-June. You need to go to Green City Market! It’s open now – Saturdays and Wednesdays. Your enthusiasm about the Madison market makes me certain that the decision to go to Green City, no matter how long the commute from where you live, will be one of the best decisions you could possibly make. It puts all the neighborhood markets to shame. I am totally certain that you will not regret spending your Saturday mornings going down there. I still think back with regret at all the time I wasted at the North Center market before I found out about the wonders of Green City Market.

  7. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    slchapman: would you believe that i JUST used the last of my green garlic? I am going to have to search for more. i saw this recipe on epicurious and was intrigued. now i’m bound and determined to make it.

    and yes i love the green city market. we can even walk there from our house (in bucktown) but it’s a looong walk. i’m impatient for the wicker park one to open, just because it’s nice to have a short walk. but, you’re right that it’s worth the trip. we’re out of town this weekend, but i plan to go the following weekend.

    also, it’s good to know that a chicagoan is out there reading! we used to live near north center and were just there last weekend at sola. thanks for commenting.

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