On any given evening in our house, my wife and I are likely involved in some debate or another, weighing in on some of the most pressing questions of our time. Should we open a Chardonnay or a bottle of bubbly? Do we slice the pizza into squares or into triangles? Are we having apple pie à la mode or plain?
Tough decisions about tough problems, to be sure, and, believe it or not, we often disagree. Thankfully, though, the Napa Farmers Market is an area where we can easily agree to disagree and still get along together nicely. You see, she prefers shopping at the Tuesday market, whereas I prefer shopping on Saturdays.
It’s quite simple, really. I love the hustle and bustle of the Saturday marketplace. There are so many vendors vying for my attention (and for room in my market bags). I can grab some fresh ideas for my kitchen at the live chef demonstrations. And I get to meet and talk with so many people.
I catch up with old friends. I run into business associates. I talk to the farmers about what is ripening and what is coming next. I even get a chance to bend the ear of some of Napa’s savvier politicians who show up to hear what the people have to say — and to get some fresh produce, of course.
The Saturday market is one of the culinary and social highlights of my week. I feel like all of Napa is there to share in our bounty.
My wife, on the other hand, makes a compelling case for getting out on Tuesdays. It’s not just that she isn’t as keen on the crowds as I am. She waxes poetic on the slower pace of the Tuesday market. She tells me about how much more time the farmers and vendors have to talk, not just about their product, but about their lives in general. She is an educator and really enjoys getting to see so many of her young students there. The way she describes it, people come out on Tuesdays to savor the market, not just to shop and go.
On either day, you are sure to find Napa’s freshest produce, and on either day, you are helping to support Napa’s local farmers and artisans. So whether you are stocking up for the week or grabbing something special to prepare for guests on Saturday night, the Napa Farmers Market is the right answer.
(Mexican-style Street Corn)
My wife and I both come from the Midwest, where corn is king. Nothing smells and tastes of summer like grilled sweet corn. For the first half of my life, I devoured ears well-salted and peppered and slathered in butter, and I thought that it couldn’t get any better…until I discovered elotes. This version, a popular street food in Mexico and heartily adopted in California, is simple to make, a mess to eat and just screams that summer is here.
6 to 12 ears sweet corn
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1/2 cup Mexican crema, or crème fraîche
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Grill the corn. I prefer to cook it in the husks so the corn steams and remains sweet and juicy, but you can husk it first if you prefer a nice char on the corn.
In a bowl, combine the crema, mayonnaise, garlic, chili pepper, lime zest and lime juice. Add salt to taste.
Husk the ears if the corn is still in the husk and slather the sauce on with a brush. Sprinkle with cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese. Serve immediately lime wedges.
Kids activities at the Napa Farmers Market: Bring your youngsters to the market’s Education Station on Tuesday and Saturdays for Story Time at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. There might be coloring, matching games or other fun activities, too.
On the KVYN Music Stage: On Saturday, July 20, Lori Paladino will be performing. On Tuesday, July 23, Scott Pullman will be our guest musician.
Harvest of the Month: Through July, enjoy comparative tastings of plums and pluots and sample sweet corn at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.