We’d been planning on checking out the Sweet Corn Festival in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for a while; ever since our friend Rick recalled family visits and chins dripping with corn and butter in the sixties – sweet corn and butter, who could turn THAT down? Still, thinking about a hour plus drive, we thought it made sense to multi-task our visit – so why not visit the Madison Farmer’s Market first?
Located on the square – ringing, in fact, the state house this is one of the nicest markets I’ve been to – Rick commented that it has ruined the Chicago market for him. The fact that it runs year-round is an added bonus – along with the fact that once it moves inside for the winter, local chefs offer what is said to be a pretty incredible breakfast for under $10. We will most certainly be going back… with a cooler next time!
I found the eggplant too nice to pass up – especially at 3/$5. I found another interesting looking spicy eggplant recipe I plan to test out with one; and think the other two will end up dipped in panko, roasted, and frozen as a base for a fast eggplant parmesan at a date to be named later. A quick step down the square brought us to some incredible black walnuts – the perfect addition to brownies or pound cake or banana bread – my grandparents had a big ole tree down by their car park, so my mom almost always had a tin of these wonderful, musky treasures to toss in whatever treat she was making – well, maybe not rice crispy bars. Having grown up with them, I was surprised that Rick had never heard of or tried them, but one sniff of our bag of goodies did the trick and he added his own purchase to our growing stash.
Of course, what would a Wisconsin Farmer’s Market be without cheese? Or cheese curds, bratwursts, bison venison, or any number of other tempting mea and dairy products? Sadly, lack of planning on my part, the very warm summer day, and the fact that our next planned stop was a few minutes outside of town for an orgy of corn, kept us from giving in to any of these temptations. Rich did go for some whole grain blueberry scones – which he quite enjoyed at breakfast this morning – and Rick gave in to curiosity to try a potato buttermilk doughnut. Don found a big ole bag of hickory nut shells for Bob to use in their grill and split a beautiful bundle of somewhat small tomatoes with me. Rich picked out some yellow tomatoes – which will be enjoyed tonight on some lightly toasted honey French bread with some maple roasted bacon – truly a dinner fit for a king – or two.
Moving up the road to Sun Prairie – almost birthplace of Georgia O’Keeffe, well, they claim her, she was born in a farmhouse nearby – we paid our $5 for parking and admission (thanks Rick!) and walked into a world of people wearing corn cob hats, giant baseball-headed guys walkingaround scaring the kids, a LOUD church group selling only so-so pulled pork sammiches (in Rich’s opinion – the so-so pork, not the loudness – we ALL agreed about that), and, of course, the sweet corn. I wasn’t really prepared for the all-out assault to my senses that was the entirely malicious use of Hobo – on just about EVERY sign! C’mon people! Still, the tote o’ corn Rick treated us all to – and the tree of hanging salt shakers – so practical, yet whimsical – managed to calm me down. I find it difficult to maintain righteous design indignation while biting into fresh sweet corn and wiping butter and corn juice off your chin. Ermmm, the Cherry Slushie didn’t hurt, either. Rich made up for his poor choice in pulled pork with a basket of beer battered cheese curds – fair food at it’s finest – and so fresh and light that we didn’t even bother with the ranch dressing offered for dipping. There was talk of funnel cakes, but by then we were all just too, too full…