More Market Fare

The Open Air Market and Festival at the Wadsworth Mansion again brought all manner of good stuff to Middletown. (See “Market Fare”)

What a difference the weather makes! Where it was hot and sunny and crowded in 2008, it was cool and rainy and nearly deserted this year. Not even all the vendors showed. Larry and I parked his uncle’s house and walked down the mansion’s long driveway.

First observation: a huge number of vendors were selling pasta sauce. I don’t remember this from previous years, and it seemed rather like coals to Newcastle. As none of the sauce purveyors were from Middletown, maybe they don’t know that the city is the unofficial Italian restaurant capital of Connecticut and that just about everyone here, regardless of ethnicity, has their own special version of sauce or “gravy.” Even if I had been otherwise moved to sample, it was still morning, and I’d only had one cup of coffee. Ditto for the dips of olive oil, chocolate sauce, etc.

Our first real stop was the stand operated by Cato Corner Farm. I had bought their raw milk cheese before. It had been a while since I’d had their fabulous raw-milk cheese. My last taste of it came from Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, but that was back in the spring. This time I sampled and bought Bloomsday, which resembles Gruyère but with somewhat more bite. Cato’s web site says it came about by accident. What a happy accident! And I learned that there are shops all over the area that offer it so I will not have to be deprived of this treat until 2011.

Next stop, and the main purpose of the visit, was the mushroom man. Norm’s Best marinated mushrooms have become a tradition, and I wanted to stock up. The original recipe is perfect for nibbling. This year I bought two jars. Having sampled the new hot spicy version (it’s never too early for spicy food!), I had to buy a jar of that, too. Given the preferences of most of my  family and friends, I suspect I’ll be eating that jar by itself. Heavenly hot!

Larry had been keeping his eyes averted from the pastry counters but assuaged his craving for a snack with a bag of popcorn. I tried it and found it excellent, with just a hint of sweet and the merest touch of salt.

Then we went from farm stand to farm stand, where we bought “6 a.m. corn,” which was still sweet and creamy at 6 p.m. and cooked in half the normal time.

We debated whether to buy eggs, especially in light of the salmonella scare, which hasn’t made its way this far east that I know of. But Larry just bought some, so we decided to wait. Plus we can always buy eggs from the lady down the street whose chickens like to wander around looking for handouts.

After the corn we grabbed some cherry tomatoes, some peaches, and some plums. The latter taste of pure nectar, and the former though not too juicy are sweet, sweet, sweet.

Once again I avoided all booths containing jewelry and pottery. Larry continued to avert his eyes from the pies and other pastries.

With all this stuff, we didn’t relish a walk back down the long driveway. One of the shuttle bus drivers gave us a ride right to the bottom of the driveway. It was the first time I’ve been on a new school bus and was pleased to see it included seat belts.

And we made it home before the afternoon downpours.

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