Thanksgiving may be the most important home-cooked meal of the year. It holds, then, that you should be looking for the very best ingredients to cook with. Where better to go than the Greenmarket?
A word on the Union Square market in the run-up to Thanksgiving: it's crowded. Trust me, you're not the only person who thought to shop here. Prepare yourself for the crowds, and they won't be so bad. Look on the bright side: you get to do your shopping with a whole lot of like-minded, food-loving people. (Just don't mess with me when I'm trying to pick out brussels sprouts.)
The market is open on Wednesday, November 25th, but if at all possible, shop Monday or even Saturday, when the crowds will be more manageable.
Where else to begin than with the star of the show? DiPaola Turkey Farm of New Jersey is selling free-range, antibiotic free whole birds for the holiday, although tomorrow (11/19) is the last day that they are taking orders at Union Square. Don't fret, though: next week they'll still have turkey parts (including legs and breasts) for sale, and while the whole bird is a tradition, turkey parts from DiPaola still blow most other birds out of the water. While you're there, pick up some of their turkey sausage, better than any turkey sausage has the right to be.
Garden of Spices is also taking advance orders for Wednesday pickup. If you're at the market on Saturday, Quattro's Game Farm will be taking orders until sold out, as will Violet Hill Farm. For contact information for all of these farms, check out the Greenmarket's comprehensive turkey guide--it's pretty late in the game, so you may want to get on the phone ASAP if you haven't yet secured a bird. Finally, they don't sell turkey, but if you need anything pork, on Fridays and Saturdays Flying Pigs Farm is the way to go, from sausage for stuffing to bacon for... well, anything.
Veggies and One-Stop Shops
When I have time, I like to shop by taking two laps around the market: one to check out what looks good, and then a second to buy the items I checked out the first time around. Around Thanksgiving, though, that's not always a viable method, and I tend to stick to a few stands that I know will have what I'm looking for.
Norwich Meadows Farm is at the market on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and stocks an incredibly wide-ranging selection of vegetables, almost all in immaculate condition. Varieties of onions and potatoes abound, as do leeks, scallions, radishes, turnips, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, greens, squash and just about any other vegetable you could want.
Paffenfroth Gardens has a similar selection. While your supermarket might have onions and shallots, Paffenfroth has at least half a dozen varieties of onion and three types of shallots. Most everything, including carrots and onions, can be bought loose or discounted in prepacked bags, great for the quantities you need on the holiday. They've also got a great selection of herbs, and a few unexpected selections (burdock root, anyone?).
Finally, Keith's Farm (Wednesday, Saturday) has a smaller selection than Norwich Meadows and Paffenfroth, but it's got everyone beat on quality. From their famous rocambole garlic to a wide selection of greens and incredibly fragrant herbs, squash and root veggies, Keith's has some of the most beautiful and delicious product at the market.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, head to Madura Farm. Mushrooms are the star of the show here, and this week they had white buttons, criminis, portobellos, oysters, maitakes, shiitakes and even the fragile enoki mushrooms. Madura also stocks a wide range of vegetables including brussels sprouts on the stalk and a beautiful array of winter squash. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Bulich Mushrooms also comes to the market with a similar selection of mushrooms.
Again, Keith's Farm is my go-to for herbs, but Stokes Farm, which is at the market Wednesdays and Saturdays, has a wonderful selection for the big day: thyme, tarragon, oregano, italian and curly parsley, cilantro, and more were all in stock this week.
If you're serving a salad--and I implore you, during the heaviest meal of the year, please serve a salad--Windfall Farms has you covered with every green you'd ever want, and some you probably never even knew existed. Bonus: this year they are selling their fresh pumpkins, baked, pureed, and frozen, ready to be deployed in your favorite soup or pie recipe.
Bread and Stuffing
Bread Alone (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) sells some of the best bread you can find at a market (which can also be found at Whole Foods and Fairway). It's a great starting point for your homemade stuffing. They also sell bags of unseasoned stuffing mix, pre-dried and cubed bread ready to be seasoned and doctored up as you see fit—a hell of a timesaver, and a pretty good deal at $3 per 12 oz. bag. Relative market newcomer Hot Bread Kitchen (Wednesdays) also sells great bread and a stuffing mix, while Our Daily Bread (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) sells great loaves of bread but, as of this week, no stuffing mix to speak of.
Really, people? You need me to tell you where to get apples? They're everywhere, but Locust Grove Farm, Terhune Orchards, Tree-Licious Orchards and Breezy Hill Orchards are a few favorites, with most of them also selling pies, apple sauce, and other apple-centric goodies.
Gifts for the Host
Going over to a friend or family member's for the holiday? No time to cook? Don't show up empty handed; the Greenmarket, once again, has you covered. A jar of pickles from Rick's Picks (Wednesday, Saturday) or jam from Beth's Farm Kitchen (Friday, Saturday) will do the trick. If your host is a serious foodie, curry favor with a pouch of Keith's Farm's famous garlic ($5, though they also sell a larger $10 bag). My favorite, though, has to be a tin of the one of a kind, ultra-crunchy Martin's Pretzels (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday).
[Ed. note: Pie intel to follow in a future post.]
Have A Favorite Stall We Overlooked?
Let us know in the comments, and I'll see you at the market.
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