Steals and Deals at a July Farmer’s Market

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July is my favorite season to go  to the Farmer’s Market. It’s like stepping into a wonderland of brightly colored apples  and berries – that is also adjacent to Zeke’s Coffee and Ethiopian Cuisine. There’s something for everyone – and I mean, everyone – at the Farmer’s Market.

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The  farmer’s market is the best place to go for a flavorful soil-grown food fix. Vegetables and fruits often taste particularly flat directly from chain grocery stores, and nothing ruins a good tabbouleh dish like a tomato that doesn’t taste quite like a tomato but a red rubbery reminder  of what a tomato might have been.  It’s moments like those that  I become wistful for the summer Farmer’s Market season.

And if you’re a smart enough shopper, going to the Farmer’s Market can be very cheap. To  scoop out the best deals, make sure you walk through  the entire market at least once before making a purchase and keep a mental inventory of the different prices different vendors offer. It seems self-defeating for one  vendor to offer a quart of vegetables for two dollars more than another down  the street – but most vendors actually do differ in prices for roughly the  same quality product.

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And you certainly don’t have to be a haggling master to get good deals (thank god, because I couldn’t talk a price down in my life). Many vendors keep  a few fruits and vegetables  with a few brown patches sold in  separate quarts for considerably cheaper prices. Thanks  to these deals, my grocery bill is drastically reduced every week. Today, I bought a total of 15  flavor-packed peaches for $1 thanks to just a few brown spots. And then a similarly large quantity of apricots for another dollar. I may have just found  my favorite fruit vendor of all time.

On an unrelated note, nothing invites questions and conversation more than bringing an over-sized  camera to the Farmer’s Market. One Morrocan vendor caught me snapping pictures of his wide array of vegetables and asked me about my ethnic background. When he  found out I was also Middle Eastern, he sweetly asked if I needed onions in addition to the zucchini and spinach I was purchasing, and grabbed a few to put in my bag before I even responded. It made my morning!

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the nice man who gave me free onions!

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Basil Pesto and Tomato Pizza (and the goat cheese conundrum)

Nestled deep into the Mount Vernon concrete forest lies a beautiful cove of pizza heaven known as Iggie’s. For years, I only heard whispers of this place. It wasn’t until my friends dragged me over after a particularly dreadful midterms week that I understood the power this pizzeria held- my midterms drifting further away as my teeth sunk into each slice of pizza.

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In truth, I fell in love.

And with a wide-range of pizza options, many others are likely to do the same. If you’re in a particularly cheesy mood, you can get the Cinque Formaggi – a combination of roasted garlic, mozzarella, parmigiana, goat cheese, fontina asiago. Or, if you believe pizza without tomato sauce is a most vile form of blasphemy – there’s always the Salsiccia E Finocchio (sausage, pickled fennel, tomato ragu, mozzarella tallegio) to restore your faith.

My personal favorite, however, is “the Alice.” This pizza is a combination of basil pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomato, garlic spinach, goat cheese, and parmigiana – and it tastes incredible.

More recently, I had an insane Alice craving but didn’t have the funds or the time to venture to Mount Vernon for a quick bite. So what’s a girl with a pizza craving to do? Make her own!

ImageIn some sense, I also cheated because this is not the most authentic Alice there ever has been. However, it is truly not a hard recipe to mimick on your own. I used a tortilla as the bread, covered it in basil pesto, added mozzeralla cheese and fresh tomato, and finally sprinkled some black pepper on top. To make a completely authentic Alice, add garlic, spinach, and goat cheese as well as everything else I’ve listed! This one hit the spot, regardless of a few missing ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 Tortilla

2 tablespoons of Basil Pesto

1/2 cup of mozzeralla cheese

1/4 fresh tomato

black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place aluminum foil over cookware and spray with cooking spray.

2.  Cover tortilla with basil pesto.

3. Sprinkle mozzeralla cheese over the pesto.

4. Slice up the tomato and add on top of tortilla.

5. Sprinkle black pepper over everything.

6. Pop pizza into oven for about 15 minutes.

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Maybe one day, I’ll actually make a goat cheese investment. Until that day, this guy hits the spot nicely whenever I need a small Iggie’s fix!