Mom and I just returned from our Saturday tour of two of Peoria's Farmers Markets: Metro Centre
. One of the things I like best about markets is that they help teach consumers about seasonal foods. "Home Grown Tomatoes" that look like the ones in this photo on July 17, are a perfect reminder that peak tomato season hasn't yet hit.
They are also a reminder that tomatoes are tasty before they turn red, creating a good excuse to dig out those old recipes for green tomato relish and fried green tomatoes. (Since I'm posting this from Peoria, I can't rummage through Kate's Recipe Box to share one with you.)
The Metro Centre market promotes "fresh" food, which I was pleased tosee, because it was pretty hard to believe they are a strictly localmarket when I saw the beautiful selection of bananas. The market is open daily and showcases several large produce growers/suppliers, a local bakery (yummy Zorba Rolls from Le Bakery), and a pasta vendor with a vast selection of Pappardelle's specialty pastas, handcrafted in Denver, Colorado. I couldn't resist the Tuxedo Orzo and Italian Pesto Blend. Mom chose the Garlic Chive Shells. This market keeps the focus on food and seems to cater to serious shoppers. Bonus! Today they were giving away cloth shopping bags — large with a zipper — that are definitely keepers!
As we approached the Riverfront Market, the cast from "Grease," currently on stage at Peoria Players
, was performing in the band shell and around the corner, a clown wasentertaining a group of kids with balloon animals. This market creates a lively atmosphere and seems to feature as many artists and artisans as farmers and producers. With its setting along the Illinois River, it's a market you visit for the "experience" as much as the shopping.
Since we didn't get there until 10:00 am, much of the produce was sold out.Our big "find" was "Blunier's Family Treat Homegrown Popcorn" from Bluhaven Farm in Speer, Illinois. Mom had bought it before at the Peoria Heights market and said, "It's just really good popcorn with nice big kernels and very few hulls."
The heat is unbearable today, so we snuck across the river to Steak 'n Shake for an early lunch. (Since it was founded down the road in Normal, Illinois, is Steak 'n Shake considered a local food?) I snapped a picture of the Riverfront Market from our booth and impressed Mom with my ability to get a bird to pose for me. If he were to fly straight downward to the Peoria-side river bank, he'd land on the south end of the market. See all the little tents?
Thus concludes this morning's tour of Peoria's markets. I think I'll cap it off with a bowl of Bluhaven Popcorn and a glass of lemonade.