I love Saturday. It’s a day of limitless possibilities. The day is all mine to do with as I please. And today I pleased to visit Findlay Market with Laura. Here in Cincinnati everybody knows about Findlay Market. It’s been a local institution since 1852, and remains the nation’s longest-running public market. One part farmer’s market, one part specialty shops, one part foodie mecca, one hundred percent Cincinnati. It has everything from fresh meats and seafood and produce, to gourmet breads and pastries, to specialty spices and hand-crafted novelties, mixed with a little live street music and a great community vibe.
It was a lovely sunny morning when we stopped in today and launched into the never-old adventure of working our way from one end of the market to the other. Most of the shops are well-established and familiar, but there is always something new to see or to try. Our first stop was the spice shop, where, after sampling several unique offerings for meat rubs and seasonings, we picked up a dose of Ol’ Bourbon Trail steak rub — a drool-inducing blend of hickory smoke, bourbon, brown sugar and a little heat — that will grace some inch-thick butterfly pork chops later this week.
After whetting our appetites with some samples and a nibble of fresh-baked bread, we grabbed a snack at the Taste of Belgium booth — a heart-stopping bacon and veggie quiche that practically brought tears to our eyes. Never in my life have I had bell peppers that literally melted in my mouth that way. After enjoying an impromptu brunch in the sunshine to the sounds of a young college kid strumming his guitar and belting out some classic tunes, we worked our way over to the farmer’s market area. There we checked out the fresh herbs (sadly the basil and oregano won’t be in for a few more weeks), and walked away from one booth with a stunningly delicious garlic and parmesan loaf hand-crafted by a charming African-American lady who seemed only slightly flabbergasted when I suggested that my bread pudding might be better than hers.
But of course the whole point of the trip was to find something yummy to make for dinner tonight. The answer was found, as so often before, at Kroeger & Sons, one of the finest purveyors of gourmet sausages you will ever hope to encounter. Their range of options is huge, and we ended up walking away with two varieties: a mild Chicago-style Italian sausage, and another made with sweet Vidalia onions and parmesan. A quick visit to an outdoor produce vendor, and we scored some fresh bell peppers to cook up with the sausages, plus some beautiful asparagus for tomorrow night.
So, here was dinner tonight — pan-fried sausages with sautéed peppers and onions, served up with a side of spaghetti cacio e pepe.
As you might expect, we munched it down with a big happy grin on our faces. The moral of the story is that if you ever get to visit our fair city, a stop at Findlay Market is a must. And to all my readers in the Cincy area, get over there and shop local. Help keep this amazing tradition thriving for many years to come. Some links are provided below for your browsing pleasure. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!
Findlay Market: http://www.findlaymarket.org/
Taste of Belgium: http://authenticwaffle.com/
Kroeger & Sons: http://www.findlaymarket.org/merchants/kroeger