Facebook | Tremont Farmers’ Market

Facebook | Tremont Farmers’ Market.

On Tuesday I became the Tremont Farmers’ Market’s first Customer of the Week.  Jody Lathwell, the TFM’s head honcho, interviewed me and even took my pic for the Facebook page.  I guess this is my fifteen seconds of fame.  If you are a fellow Clevelander, please check out the market.  Jody has brought together an awesome group of vendors and created a great  community there in Lincoln Park.  Friendly folks, great food, live music and (so far) perfect weather make for a wonderful experience.


Canning Season Begins

Early Glow Strawberries

Early Glow Strawberries

Yesterday was the official start of canning season.  Eight days ago, on my visit to the Tremont Farmers’ Market, I spied some Early Glow Strawberries at the Woolf Farms stand.  When I asked whether or not they would have them for next week (i.e. last night), she made no promises.  “Get here early if you want them.  They go fast!”  Yesterday I walked up right at 4:00pm when the market opened and got my eight quarts set aside pronto.  They were absolutely gorgeous and everso fragile.  The aroma was simply amazing!  I picked up a few more items,  swung back around for my berries and made my way home to the canning kitchen.

Half-pint Jars, Dome Lids and Bands, Boiling Away

I had already set things up beforehand.  I had the jars in the dishwasher, getting washed and sanitized.  I had my pots of water boiling on the stove (one for jars, one for lids).  My canning kettle was on the stove, ready to receive the fruit. I had all of my implements set out:  wooden spoon, paring knife, colander, potato masher for the fruit, tongs, jar lifter, canning funnel,  measuring cups, dome lids and bands, hot pads, towels, damp dishcloth.  The sugar was at the ready, as well as the liquid pectin.  All I needed to add was the fruit.  I set to work and it went quickly.  Within 90 minutes I was looking at 17 jars of ruby red deliciousness.

Strawberry Sauce on the Stove

Strawberry Sauce on the Stove

Canning season is one of my favorite times of the “kitchen year.”  Capturing the bounty of summer is one of the most satisfying aspects of knowing how to cook.  Making things taste really good is an added bonus!  You can buy a dozen kinds of strawberry jam in any given grocery store, but rarely are they made with local, fresh (not frozen) fruit.  Almost all of them would also be cooked much more thoroughly than how I prepare my jam.  I love to put together unusual pickling combinations.  I have some olde-fashioned recipes and some things that you just can’t find anywhere else.  It’s a pleasure to put things up.  In the fall, when my larder is full, I feel positively rich!

An Evening in Tremont

It’s only recently that I am really taking advantage of all that nearby Tremont has to offer.  It’s basically just up the hill from the house, less than ten minutes away.  I have been coming here all along to eat dinner in the myriad restaurants the neighborhood has to offer, but there is so much more.  I am making myself a regular at Civilization, where the lattes are excellent and the vibe is consistently mellow.  As much as I am a fan of Starbucks, they are generally a high energy environment.  Bright lighting, loud music, lots of hustle and bustle all combine to make for lots of distractions.  Civilization, in contrast, is quiet and low-key.  The music is set so low that it can barely be heard.  When the place is nearly empty, the only sound is the tapping of laptop keys (thank you for free Wi-Fi!) and the quiet conversation of the staff.  I feel very comfortable here.  There is a constant stream of neighborhood people through the door and everyone seems to know everyone else.

Yesterday, Tony and I walked through the Tremont Farmers’ Market.  There are about thirty vendors this year.  There are farmers with produce, although it’s so early in the season that some of them were still featuring starter plants.  We did see plenty of lettuce, scallions, radishes and a few vegetables.  There were baked goods, hot sauce, cheeses, teas, flowers, spices, pierogies and meats.  There was live music, a chef demo, knife sharpening and even a Reiki practitioner!  Although it’s not as extensive as some markets I have been to, it scored big points for accessibility and friendliness.  The vendors were not swamped with hundreds of customers; they actually had time to stop and talk about their products.  We bought only some radishes, but the weather was beautiful and we had a great time.  We’ll be back!

Afterwards, we walked over to Prosperity Social Club for a bite to eat.  The barroom is a treasure from the past.  It is preserved with its original 1938 decor, a real piece of Cleveland history.  There are tables up front and a game room behind that, complete with pool table, a tabletop bowling machine and scads of board games!  The patio out back was drawing a big crowd while we were there, too.

I ordered a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a cooling blend of Goslings Rum, ginger beer and lime.  It was perfectly refreshing after the heat of the afternoon.  Our food arrived shortly thereafter.  Tony had the Tavern Cheeseburger, a $5 special on Tuesdays.  It was a decent burger, topped with American cheese, tomato and lettuce and served with hand-cut fries.  I chose the Bratwurst Sandwich.  A toasted brat bun was filled with a split, griddled sausage.  The whole thing was topped with a distinctive red sauerkraut studded with bacon.  Nothing like some pork with your pork!  There were also fries on this plate, a bit soggy but perfectly salted.  (What is up with restaurants being afraid to salt their fries properly?  If they are not salted straight away when they come out of the fryer, no amount of salting when they hit the table is going to help.)  The food was good, the service was friendly and the room had an awesome feel to it.

Making these discoveries so close to home makes me want to branch out in Tremont.  Going to the Farmers’ Market every week will give us an opportunity to try out some different Happy Hours around the neighborhood.  The area has a good vibe; parking is easy and it feels good to be supporting local merchants.  Look for more from this area in the future!