Every time spring rolls around, some of my most anticipated events here in New England are the area farmers’ markets. I’m very lucky to live in a region where it seems that just about every town and city has a market. I could probably go to a different one every night of the week and weekend if I wanted to! I was going crazy because most of the markets don’t start until June, but yesterday morning I happened to be browsing Facebook on my phone in bed when I saw a post about the Newburyport Farmers’ Market being open that day. I did a quick Google scan and found out that sure enough, Newburyport is ahead of the game and their market started on May 1st!
I shot out of bed, got dressed, and texted one of my longtime best friends Nicole, and she agreed to go with me. Off we headed to the beautiful coastal city of Newburyport. Even though it was a blustery day that felt more like October than May, the sights and smells of the Farmers’ Market instantly warmed our spirits.
We were so excited to be at the market that we didn’t know where to look first. We kind of did a lap around all of them before approaching what we took an interest in. There were vendors selling everything from flowers and succulents, handmade headbands and accessories, soups, coffee, breakfast sandwiches made right there to order, baked goods, fresh produce, locally raised meats, and the list goes on. For a full vendor list, you can check out this page. I began with a yummy cranberry muffin from Figtree Kitchen out of Portsmouth, NH, another pretty coastal city that I love. They had so many delicious baked goods to offer that it was like being right in a cafe!
It may have been morning, but in my eyes it’s never too early for a tasting of delicious locally crafted spirits. 1634 Meadery out of Ipswich, MA was on hand letting market goers taste a variety of their incredible meads, which is wine “made with fresh, unprocessed raw honey, and using local fruits” (www.1634meadery.com).
Nicole and I were ecstatic when we got to enjoy taste testing the out-of-this-world meads crafted by 1634. The tasting went from dryer to sweeter. It was so funny to see how Nicole and I reacted differently to certain meads and how we differed on what we liked best. One of the meads had a more smoked flavor to it, and while Nicole’s eyes almost popped out of her head when she tried it, it was more tame to me! I swore to the woman running their table that we must have different taste buds!
All the meads were delicious, but my favorite was the Viking Victory. According to the 1634 website, the Viking Victory is made with “bamboo honey…mulled with nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves”. Nicole enjoyed the Orange Elation the most. While the other meads include fruit sourced from New England, since we don’t grow oranges here, 1634 Meadery got theirs from Florida and it was perfectly sweet and citrusy. I totally plan on going to a 1634 Meadery tour ASAP, and will feature it on the blog!
After warming right up thanks to the mead, we went on the hunt for local produce which isn’t hard to find at a farmers’ market, naturally. We’re asparagus fiends so we both bought a bundle of the veggie. It’s funny because as a kid my grandpa always cooked fresh asparagus and I hated it. As an adult I was afraid to try it again but my friend Amanda cooked some for me once and I was hooked! Interesting how our palates change over the years. I had hoped to pick up fruit at the market but I don’t think there’s much in season just yet, so I’ll have to wait until June kicks in.
Now for the adorable part – Dancing Goats Dairy out of Newbury, MA had a table where they were selling handmade chevre and tome style goat cheese. Not only were these selling these delightful products, they actually had two adorable baby goats (technically, they are called “kids”) and Nicole and I couldn’t stop fawning over them. How precious are these sweethearts? It’s been a dream of mine to one day own a dwarf goat (Nick thinks I’m crazy) and although I know the Dancing Goats babies will grow into full-size goats, I would still adopt one in a heartbeat! Sadly I didn’t since we live in an apartment and have zero land, but a gal can wish. The goat in the photo above seemed so serene and happy, probably because the woman who was holding her had a coat that must have felt like fur. Aw, be still my heart.
After finally tearing ourselves away from the goats, we stopped by The Soup Guy table where our taste buds were yet again satisfied with samples of their amazing soups and chili. All of their offerings are vegan and gluten free, so there’s something for everyone. As a huge “chowdah” fan, I loved their corn and mushroom version. Nicole tested the Bulgarian Split Pea Soup and found it delicious. However, both of us instantly broke out our wallets for The Soup Guys’ Bootleg Chili. Vegan and gluten free does not detract from the taste of the chili at all! This one’s a winner. I bought a frozen pint and Nicole bought a takeaway lunch version, served over rice with cheese, guac, and tortilla chips. Olé!
We admired more flowers and plant life, and then for our last purchase we visited the Lilac Hedge Farm table for fresh, sustainably raised meats. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a photo but make sure to check them out if you go to the Newburyport Farmers’ Market. I’d been wanting to purchase meat from a farmers’ market for a long time, and for some reason never had. For my first introduction into purchasing directly from the farm meats, I bought two grass-fed beef patties. They were a great size and didn’t break the bank! I am beginning to be very conscientious about making sure the meat I’m buying is quality, so I’m willing to spend extra anyway. I don’t think I can get meat any fresher than directly from the source!
I was excited to try these patties, so I made them for dinner last night. WOW. They had such a unique flavor, I couldn’t get my mind around it. I don’t know what type of burgers I’d ever eaten before, but they didn’t taste like this! Just cooking it, I could tell the grass-fed beef was on a level of its own for utmost quality and freshness, and I honestly don’t think I want to purchase from a grocery store again. Perhaps I’ll join the farm’s CSA program!
After seeing all we could at the market, it was time to head home with our purchases. It always makes me feel wonderful to be able to shop local and support those in the community who dedicate themselves to providing foods and goods for us. If you’d like to visit the Newburyport Farmers’ Market, it’s open on Sundays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., rain or shine, at the Tannery Marketplace, 75 Water Street, Newburyport, MA. A great time will be had by all!