Monday, June 9, 2014

Exploring Connecticut: Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

84° F is the perfect temperature for this California girl, and that’s the temperature our world reached here in Eastern Connecticut on Sunday! To celebrate, we made a trip to the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market.

The market is supported by Whole Foods, and was selected as New England’s Best Farmers’ Market by Yankee Magazine in 2012. It’s the largest farmers’ market I've ever been to. Attractions included live music, an oyster bar, booths with books by local authors, and food trucks. It occurs at the Nathan Hale Homestead. Those of you who don’t live in New England and aren't up on your Revolutionary War History may not know this, but Nathan Hale was a spy for the American army and was born in Coventry. He attended Yale University. He was only 21 when he was executed. Nathan Hale is a pretty big deal around here, as far as men who have been dead for over 200 years can be.

The farmers’ market had the feel of a large outdoor fair. People watching was definitely a highlight. In particular, we were surprised at how many people there were with full body tattoos. There were also lots of families and elderly people. The crowd was a contrast to the farmers’ market in Santa Barbara, where the gathering was primarily made up of hippies, twenty-somethings, and young families. 

We bought Russian kale, sun-dried tomato garlic chevre cheese, homemade rigatoni, and chorizo. Later that afternoon, we ate an entirely local snack: chevre cheese spread over Chabaso bread. Chabaso Bakery is located in New Haven, and they bake some of the best bread I've ever tasted! It’s a little more expensive in grocery stores, but it’s always worth it. 

Sunday evening I cooked the rigatoni, and made tomato sauce to go along with it. It was amazing! Aaron is not a huge pasta fan, but he married someone who ate almost nothing but pasta growing up (before my under-stimulated taste buds developed insatiable cravings for Mexican food). I've worked hard to convert him to pasta, and on Sunday he was definitely impressed by the fresh pasta and homemade sauce, and even went back for seconds!

We very much enjoyed the farmers’ market! I’ll definitely be going back there as often as possible throughout the summer, for the Russian kale if nothing else. We ate some of it for dinner tonight and it was delicious! We haven’t tried the chorizo yet (I’m planning to cook it up mid-week), but everything else was simply scrumptious.

I wanted to buy fruit, too, but didn't see much other than apples. I either missed the rest of the fruit, or will have to wait until summer. I've heard that most gardens are planted around Memorial Day, which means it will probably take a few more weeks for more produce to show up at a farmers’ market.

One interesting difference between California and New England that I've noticed is that in California, it’s summer right now. Summer begins near the end of May or the beginning of June. Here in New England, it’s really only been spring for three or four weeks. The leaves didn't come back fully until mid-May. The start of June did not mark summer for me. I need to relish spring a little more before I welcome summer.

My season schedule here is behind the season schedule in California. Of course, we didn't really have seasons in Santa Barbara. I always thought we had seasons in Southern California, because it would get kind of cold and rain for a few weeks in February. Here’s the hard truth: when you can get married in December in a sleeveless dress on a warm, sunny day, there are no seasons. When the temperature hits 90° in January and you can go to the beach in a bikini, there are no seasons.

It’s been fascinating to notice all these differences.

So far my coworkers at the preschool have provided the locations for these two Exploring Connecticut articles, and I’m so grateful that I get to share their Connecticut knowledge!

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