This past Saturday kicked off the first weekend of the Somerville Winter Farmers Market at the Center for Arts at the Armory. Somerville boasts popular farmers markets throughout the summer, and the city debuted the winter market in 2011 to continue their healthy eating habits through the chillier months. This year it will run until April, every Saturday from 9:30 AM to 2 PM.
I went over with a friend around 11 AM and the market was in full swing, with a packed lower floor and upper balcony of stands offering anything from fresh pasta and New York-style water bagels, to jams, jellies, caramels, and coffee. Someone at the door was monitoring attendance with a ticker and pulled me aside to let me know I had won a voucher for a box of nougats from Spindler Confections. I was too excited to ask what number attendee I had been and I bee-lined to the balcony to claim my prize.
Jeremy Spindler has been making candy as a hobby since childhood, but christened Spindler Confections at his first farmers market last year. He makes everything out of his one-stove home in the Porter Square neighborhood and his favorite confection to make is caramels, featured in the chocolate caramel nougat I won. He doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup, or artificial colorings or flavorings (the one exception is the marshmallow fluff used in the chocolate caramel nougat, since it had a small amount of artificial vanilla flavoring. I’ll allow it since it’s delicious). He also doesn’t use any preservatives, so his confections do have a shorter shelf-life than regular grocery fare, but he recommended I freeze them if I plan on keeping them around for a while. I don’t know what type of person holds onto candy but I don’t think that will be an issue for me.
Downstairs, I continued with the sweets by visiting Union Square Donuts, which was offering on-tap kombucha from Katalyst in addition to their signature doughnuts. I went for a chipotle chocolate flavor and it was divine, and definitely built for two people. Another interesting player was Hosta Hill, also a new addition to the market this year, offering samples of their kimchi and saurkraut.
Back up on the balcony, local coffee roaster barismo had an elegant corner set-up with a coffee “bar” for sugar and cream and a main table where Tim B. and his colleague hand-poured coffees in what looked like a choreographed dance. This is their first year with the Somerville Winter Farmers Market and they drew a consistent crowd of coffee enthusiasts. I talked with Tim a bit about upcoming news for barismo, trips to South America to visit their farmers, and any coming-soon events which can be found on their twitter or their website. (They offer espresso classes every Monday at their Arlington office. This could be a game-changer for me.)
Besides sweets and coffee beans, there were also the actual fruits and vegetables that make up the brunt of a farmer’s market. There were baskets and baskets of cabbage, parsnips, turnips, carrots, and potatoes. I saw some great brussels sprouts and tempting bushels of apples. All that plus the meat and cheese vendors makes a one-stop grocery shopping trip. The fact that I can wine-taste and get a fresh cup of cold-brewed coffee while I browse for my weekly groceries kicks this market to the top of my list. See you later, Shaw’s.
Somerville Winter Farmers Market
Saturdays through March 29, 9:30 AM – 2 PM
Center of the Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA