Farmers Markets, farm stands and food markets in general have always been places to get food to prepare for a meal. A growing number of markets and farm stands have freshly prepared food on the premises to purchase and eat. Indeed some markets, like Barcelona's La Boqueria de San Josep have become almost as well known for the restaurants within the market as for the fresh food that is for sale. So while eating at a food market is not a brand new concept, The Saratoga Farmers' Market under the direction of Market Coordinator Suzanne Voigt, the promotion of Melanie Beam of Mountain Media, the support of Slow Food Saratoga Region and the cooking of Chef Dan Spitz, put together a special After Hours dinner featuring products from the market for about 40 or so lucky guests who paid $30 each for the privilege. The dinner was held at The Saratoga Market Pavilion on an evening that like many recent ones, started with rain, but fortunately quickly became clear and beautiful. The lovely vibraphone, guitar and sax jazz rhythms of Geo/Beat added even more sunshine.
The premise was for people to gather and socialize at the market to enjoy a reasonably priced meal of ultra-fresh local produce and meats. The scheduling of the dinner coincided with the Market's "Eat Local Week" activities and pre-empted the usual 2nd Wednesday of the month Slow food Saratoga Region Restaurant dinner. With the food, water, tables and table coverings provided, diners were asked to bring their own chairs, dinnerware and if so desired, additional beverages.
Proving that he could conjure a superb meal under less than ideal kitchen circumstances, Chef Spitz, who caters locally, put together a dinner utilizing two Weber kettle Grills and a couple of gas grills to finish his preparations. Opening the dinner, there was goat cheese from Sweet Springs Farm, sweet cherries from Saratoga Apple and Kilpatrick Farm radishes with chive butter. This was followed by an immaculately fresh salad featuring greens and turnips from New Minglewood Farm and a herb vinaigrette.
Sides were passed around the tables. These included beautifully prepared grilled squash with salsa verde and a black-eyed pea salad. The mains consisted of lusciously smokey BBQ chicken from M&A Farm, a Frittata of peas, herbs and goat cheese and smoked Elihu Farm lamb riblets with ancho chili. Each of the dishes was packed with flavor. The chicken was particularly moist and juicy. Dessert consisted of mixed berries with cream. Fortunately, we are still enjoying lengthy days, as the only thing that brought this convivial dinner to an end was the falling darkness and aggressive mosquitos that arrived with the departure of the sunlight.
This is not likely to become an everyday event at the market, but it was eminently successful and worthy of an encore shuld the principals have the energy and desire to do so.