Market Scene: Chicago in May

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Federal Plaza Farmers' Market

Adams and Dearborn streets; chicagofarmersmarkets.us. Tuesdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I was a bit surprised to pop up from the Blue Line to find Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago filled with vendors. All of them were basically underneath the towering sculpture Flamingo by Alexander Calder. It was quite a sight, and a genuine Chicago moment. Last time I went to the market, the pickings were slim. Would I find success this time? There are still more stands selling flowers than food, but it's hard to get too upset while walking around.

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At least the plants Smits Farm was selling were herbs ready for the kitchen. I need to restock. They had tarragon, parsley, thyme, and loads of basil. They promised me that as long as I watered them and kept them in the light, they would grow.

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I still haven't used all the honey I bought from my last farmers market visit. But the honey they had at Lehmans Orchard from Niles, Michigan did look thick, unctuous, and incredible. As did their dried assortment of dried berries.

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What I wanted to see was produce, and luckily one stand was overflowing with it. Nichols Farm & Orchard had a full table packed with large bags of spinach. I scored one for about $3.

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They also had some incredible looking asparagus in both regular green and delightful purple. They assured me that the latter ones could be cooked in exactly the same way, and would turn green. How cool. Spring onions, fresh garlic, and leeks were also out in full force.

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The Nichols Farm also had basil, but they had more. Tables upon tables of the stuff stretch throughout the plaza.

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Standing in the middle of Federal Plaza, with the waft of the basil floating by and a bright sunny day shining down, it was good to know that Chicago is getting ready for summer. I can't wait to see what comes next.

In Season

Spinach
Asparagus
Fresh garlic
Scallions
Rhubarb

Coming Soon

Arugula
Lettuces
Green beans
Strawberries

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a Chicago-based freelance writer and a co-founder of The Paupered Chef.

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