Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fresh World El Grande Supermercado

I sort of found myself in Glen Burnie this morning, just before the torrential rains began. I stopped by the new Fresh World International El Grande Supermercado to see what the excitement was about and to compare it to perennial favourite H-Mart. The Fresh World is just off Route 100 and Ritchie Highway in an old Giant. It's HUGE!

As with H-Mart, the produce is very fresh and pretty inexpensive. What I like about HM is that almost nothing is wrapped in plastic, while at FW there's a lot. The place was spotless, but it's only been open a week, so I'd expect nothing less. There were workers everywhere, replenishing produce, straightening shelves and answering questions.

FW has lots of Asian market staples, including durian, bitter melons, lemon grass, banana flowers and pumpkins. Additionally, they have a whole section with fresh fish in tanks, and fresh cockles and conchs.They have a meat section, too, but it doesn't seem like they've got a butcher on premise. But they do have goat meat.

About halfway through the market, things take a jarring turn and it becomes a regular grocery store with Kellogg's cereal, Campbell's soups and Uncle Ben's rice. I took almost 70 photos, so I thought I'd share some with you.

Head-on shrimp Parrot juice - or condensed milk.
Sodas of every variety. I bought a little bottle of champagne cola. This is chestnut juice.

Pocky sticks for men

They even had a small housewares section where you could buy kitchen items, dishes and rice cookers, amongst much other stuff!

I am one of the most squeamish people alive and I thought these were plastic fish on a display. When I touched them, I found they were real. Real dead. Real dead fish.
They also had mixed nuts in the most extraordinary flavours: pecans with cranberries, black pepper and orange zest; cashews with pineapple, peanuts, lemongrass and chinese chili; pistachios with sesame seeds, pepitas, fig and harissa; and almonds with apple, flax seeds, date, balsamic vinegar and red pepper. The very funniest thing was hearing Aux Champs-Élysées, a French pop song that's at least 30 years old, playing on their sound system!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Sun-Dried" Tomatoes

This is the time of year when cherry or cocktail tomatoes are falling off the bushes and you can barely eat them all. So what I do is to "sun-dry" them, but not in the sun, in the oven. It's simple to do and you can do a lot with the tomatoes.

Here's how to do it:
  • Cut the tomatoes in half length-wise and flatten them on a cookie sheet.
  • Brush or spray with good-quality olive oil
  • Sprinkle with sea salt or other salt.
  • You can also add sprigs of rosemary or slivers of garlic.
  • Set the oven to its lowest possible temperature. If you've got a gas oven, set to warm
  • Check the tomatoes every hour or so until they're leathery.

Depending on the temperature of your oven and the size of the tomatoes, this will take anywhere from three to twelve hours. Don't over-cook them or they will become bitter and brittle. The house will smell amazing and you'll be tempted to pop some dried tomatoes into your mouth the minute they're done.

Market Report - September 21

When I lived in Wales, the one of the two children in our household was fascinated by aliens. He had a dear little Welshie accent and would walk around talking about aliens. Of course, this child also wanted to be a vampire's dad for Halloween... When I am at the market these days, and see the incredible lotus pods, I think of wee Robbie (who I will see in October!).
As we were making our first loop, I was struck by the morning sun bouncing off a building to the west of the underpass and then reflecting back and focusing on a chestnut pod and leaves. Although I love the smell of roasting chestnuts, I am not wild about either the taste or texture.
I thought this pumpkin, hiding out in a batch of watermelons, was pretty funny.And the wild gourds this year, with their flaps and wings, are something to see!
Mums are everywhere nowdays and they come in every colour of the rainbow. I am partial to the sunny yellow ones and will plant two outside my house in the next week or so.

I am very taken with this tiny bud/berry plant. Every week, I ask what it is, every week they tell me and every week, I forget! These buds are tiny, maybe 1/16 of an inch across.

The broccoli is coming back and one stand had little baskets with just one head each. I love the grey-ish greeny blue colour of fresh broccoli.

Today, I bought a basket of cherry tomatoes to make "sun-dried" tomatoes, which I will detail in the next post.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Market Report - September 14

I am sure that there were a number of fellow bloggers/blog readers at the Market this morning, but things didn't quite gel and after a couple of futile approaches ("Um... are you a blogger?"), I just stood chatting with Key, who owns Baltimore Dog Bakery, which is just across from Reed's. Connor-pup gets one of Key's biscuits just before bed. He races upstairs, and gives me a little bark and then gets the biscuit.

My meet-up ended up being a photography safari with noted photographer and New York Times contributor, Marty Katz, who knows even more people than I do. He was trying out a new video camera and both of us spotted numerous opportunities for great shots and interesting angles. He even took a photo of me to prove I was actually there with hat on! This isn't my hat:

I noticed a lot more cool-weather items at the market, depsite the heat and humidity of this morning. There was lots of cider in a variety of combinations from Reed's. Also very prevalent were the potatoes from several vendors. There are now even more pumpkins and gourds, and I especially liked the tiny yellow and white pumpkins. Below is detail from a butternut squash. I do love a good curried butternut squash soup.
The last several weeks, I've seen people carrying stems of lotus buds. Some of them are fresh and others dried, but all are very pre-historic looking.Because we were at the market until after 10, I noticed the difference in the buyers from the 8:00 hour to the 10:00 hour. And because Marty usually goes to the Waverly market, I saw a lot of things through his eyes. After last week's mob scene, the market was less crowded, and there were even some empty spaces where vendors were missing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Market Meet Up DETAILS

Unfortunately, my partner in crime, Kitchenography, will be out of town for the weekend, so I am going to have to do this on my own! We usually arrive at 8:00 and meet at the Reed's Farm stand on the "uptown" side of the Market. Since I am going to be up late watching Michael Phelps' debut on Saturday Night Live, I can predict I will be having a bad hair day in the morning. So to clue you in as to who I am, I will be wearing this hat:So, let's try and gather at Reed's at 8:ish... we'll wait a little for you. Post a comment either here or on Dining @ Large and let me know if you'll be coming. I may bring nametags so we can identify you by your screen name or your blog. Maybe I will do something with a pig for mine!

Look forward to seeing you then!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Market Report - September 7

It was almost chilly this morning, opening day for the Ravens, the day after Hanna hit and the first Sunday in September. Somehow, the market smelled a little different this morning, maybe from the barbaque smokers...

I didn't get loads of pix today because I knew my camera's battery was running out of juice. Okra's back again. It's such a tricky vegetable because if you do it wrong it's just flat out gross! However, dried okra pods make an interesting decoration on an autumn wreath or in an arrangement.
We stopped by Neopol to get some fresh mozzarella for Julie, and as always, they had their beautiful little pies. They're always so artistically made.
When I got home, I was checking on my "garden" after yesterday's storm, and saw a fat old bumblebee on the flowers of my mint plant. I think a mint-scented honey sounds wonderful! Stop over to my other blog to see some pictures of the Inner Harbour after Hanna and the MD National Guard Flyover before the Ravens' Game.