Farm Stand to Table
by Emily Kovach
Sitting alongside the stellar produce at the city’s farmers markets, you’ll find some of the best artisan food in the Philadelphia region.
2nd & Lombard
Weighing in at over 40 vendors, this bustling Sunday market is one of the largest in Philadelphia. Located under the historic Shambles in Society Hill, the Headhouse Square market is a quintessential locavore food shopping experience. In addition to the staggering amount of beautiful produce, there are a wide variety of food artisans selling their tasty wares.
What to try:
Based in Lancaster, Ric’s is a staple at the Headhouse market, usually staying on through the whole season right up until the holidays. If a simple whole-wheat loaf is all you seek, Ric’s table will serve you well, but his offerings don’t stop there. A range of creative baked goods awaits, including salted basque (phenomenal pretzel bread), baguettes, muffins, pepperoni bread, sweet potato walnut bread and focaccia. But the stars of the show are Ric’s English muffins; “decadent English muffin” may sound oxymoronic, but the walnut and dried fruit variety, slathered with cultured butter or farmer’s cheese, sidles up very close to cake territory.
Zsa's Ice Cream
What could be better than cruising the see-and-be-seen stalls of Headhouse on a warm spring morning, eating ice cream for breakfast? Thanks to Zsa’s staff, this can be your new Sunday morning tradition. They’ll be set up at Headhouse this season with their pints, single-serve cups and ice cream sandwiches. The flavors will rotate throughout the season, and the classic standards such as vanilla ice cream between chocolate chip oatmeal cookies will be on hand. But keep an eye out for limited-edition and seasonal varieties that will be popping on and off the menu. Think: pints of lemon buttermilk, chocolate-flecked imperial stout ice cream or cream cheese ice cream between cookie dough brownie sandwiches.
This little restaurant in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is best known for coveted reservations at its Farm Table and Chef’s Table prix fixe dinners (at times, staff is booking almost a year in advance!). Talula’s is also a market that sells dry goods, prepared foods, snacks and sweets, and it’s a selection of these items that are brought to Headhouse Square each week. You’re liable to find whatever you need to turn your market produce into a meal at the Talula’s stall. They carry a selection of spreads such as white bean hummus and smoked salmon and herb dip, housemade charcuterie and sausages, including duck confit, chorizo and smoky kielbasa. For dessert, bring home some salted-caramel or vegan coconut chia pudding.
43rd & Baltimore
This year-round Saturday morning market is where West Philly gathers to shop, sip coffee, walk dogs, stroll babies, picnic on rumpled sheets, sunbathe in actual grass and generally revel in the neighborhood splendor that is Clark Park. Produce, meat and flowers are on offer, as well as treats from artisans.
What to Try:
The Cottage Kitchen
This family business was founded in 2015 by Wendy Gollwitzer in Oley, Pennsylvania. She sets up a stand at Clark Park each week to sell jars of fermented veggies and bottles of beet kvass. Probiotic pros will recognize the usual suspects, like kimchi and kraut, as well as some less familiar stuff, such as curtido, a Salvadoran sauerkraut commonly used as a condiment for Central American pupusas, thick corn tortillas. All of the Cottage Kitchen’s products are made from raw, organic, fermented vegetables sourced from Lancaster-area farmers.
Slow Rise Bakery
This small-batch bakery’s table is spread with many of the goods you’d expect: crusty loaves of sourdough bread, bags of amber-hued granola and thin, crispy crackers sprinkled with sesame seeds. But if you only purchase one thing from Lancaster-based Slow Rise Bakery, try the Four Seed Cookies. Landing somewhere between a typical, commercially made cookie and a too-healthy-to-be-good granola bar, this crumbly, biscuit-y, oatmeal cookie is studded with chocolate chips, raisins, and sesame, flax and pumpkin seeds. If that doesn’t solve your cookie cravings, Slow Rise also has a special cookie of the week each Saturday. Past flavors include spice cookies, snickerdoodles, chaidoodles, vegan chocolate and lemon caraway.
Out in Berks County, Stefanie Angstadt makes handcrafted, small-batch, artisanal cheeses, running the gamut from fresh and soft-ripened styles to cave-aged varieties. She sources her organic milk from nearby Spring Creek Farm and Dutch Meadows Organic Dairy, which lend incredible flavor compounds to her varieties such as Thistle (a white, mold-ripened cheese aged four to six months) or Witchgrass (a bloomy, ash-dusted cheese). In addition to Valley Milkhouse’s usual offerings, market shoppers can scoop up wedges of its more experimental cheeses and give feedback or ask questions of the passionate, knowledgeable cheesemongers who operate the stand.
Chestnut Hill Farmers Market
7673 Germantown Ave.
Much like the Clark Park farmers market, Chestnut Hill’s Saturday market is open all year long and acts as a communal meeting place for the surrounding neighborhoods. Food trucks line up for breakfast and lunch options, but there are also plenty of food artisans in attendance, selling the delicious extras that can help turn that bounty of produce into a meal.
What to try:
Market Day Canelé
The name of this French-inspired bakery gives a clue to what its specialty is (and the canelés—a traditional rum-and-vanilla-flavored pastry with a custard center and caramelized crust—are, indeed, fantastic), but Chef Gil Ortale puts up so much more, and he is dedicated to cooking seasonal recipes using locally grown ingredients. Some of his signature items include the seasonal sweet and savory tarts (gougères), veal stew, egg and gruyere sliders—and of course the famous canelés. Jon Glyn, Farm to City’s farmers market program manager, says, “Gil was one of the very first food artisans to join the markets, standing side by side with the farmers under all types of weather. And you’ll see him shopping at the market just like the customers.”
Wonderful Good Market
Wonderful Good, part of Stoudts Brewing Co., uses the grains from the beer-making process in its German-style, slow-rise, natural fermented breads. The “heritage bakers” focus on ancestral recipes, which they have been selling for more than 23 years. Their sauerkraut rye bread and their sunshine bread (packed with whole grains and seeds) are customer favorites. Wonderful Good also makes cheese from local dairy, and its aging rooms host 11 styles of cow’s milk cheese, such as the semi-firm and subtle Tulpehocken Tomme and the sharp, salty Nettie’s Feta.
This family owned and operated mushroom farm is in Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania. According to proprietor Matthew Sicher, they do their best to “provide wild, weird and whimsical foods to the good residents of the hill and their friends and families!” Among its consistent line of cultivated mushrooms, Primordia Farm offers chemical-free varieties you may have heard of (shiitake) and some that are less familiar (pink oyster). Primordia is also looking to expand to include even more varieties, such as chanterelles and puffballs, and the farm is in conversation with the owner of a food processing facility, in the hopes of bringing a line of value-added products to market this year. Get excited for more gourmet specialties, such as edible flowers and wild berries.
Bryn Mawr Farmers Market
Lancaster & Morris avenues
This market, one of the largest in the suburbs, transforms an Amtrak parking lot into a bustling community space on the first, third and fifth Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon through April. Between May and December the market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
What to try:
Flour & Oats Artisan Cookies
Based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, Flour & Oats is a small-batch bakery, focusing primarily on high quality cookies in a diverse range of flavors. Made from natural ingredients (no artificial coloring or added preservatives), the cookies are scooped by hand, baked and then individually packed fresh daily. The mouthwatering seasonally inspired varieties, such as salted caramel snickerdoodles, cayenne cookie bark and honey lavender shortbread, are made with local honey, fruits, vegetables and herbs. A customer favorite is the Hiker, a kind of mashup between a cookie and a granola bar, with lots of dried fruit, nuts, oats and honey.
Whiskey Hollow’s farmers live in southern Chester County, and their maple trees are on a parcel of land in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. At the market, they sell their pure Pennsylvania maple syrup and creative variations like the popular whiskey-barrel-aged maple syrup. In this flavor, Whiskey Hollow slow ages maple syrup in used barrels from Philadelphia-based New Liberty Distillery, encouraging the syrup to absorb the wood and whiskey flavors from the barrel. Whiskey Hollow also has a vanilla-infused, cinnamon-infused and regular maple syrup, as well as regular and spicy maple mustard. This spring, the company is rolling out a new product: granulated maple sugar, a white sugar alternative for cooking and baking.
MoJo’s Pop Co.
From their factory store in South Philly’s Pennsport neighborhood, mother-and-daughter team Maureen Nami-otka and Maigan Lennon make delicious toffee popcorn using non-GMO corn kernels sourced from Lancaster County. Their toffee corn is a gourmet evolution that goes way beyond the usual sticky, overly sweet stuff. Not only is it made with skill (Lennon is a trained pastry chef), but the flavor combos are thoughtful and inventive: The sweet, smoky bourbon bacon, tropical cinnamon coconut, and white chocolate with gluten-free pretzels are just a few of the addictive varieties they bring to market.
Fitler Square Farmers Market
23rd & Pine
Though much smaller than the market a few blocks away in Rittenhouse Square, this year-round Saturday morning market serves the surrounding neighborhood well with produce, grass-fed meats and dairy, and many other offerings.
What to try:
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
What better to serve with a breakfast of local eggs, veggies and toast than a cup of locally roasted coffee? Philly Fair Trade Roasters sources beans from fair trade certified coffee cooperatives in South and Central America and the Pacific Islands, and the team roasts them at their facility in North Philadelphia. In addition to sourcing ethically sound beans, they also adhere to strict sustainability practices, including composting chaff (a byproduct of roasting coffee) and using compostable and recyclable packaging. At the market, they serve cups of hot coffee, whole bean coffee and hot chocolate mixes made with organic and fair trade cocoa, sugar and vanilla bean—free from fillers and additives.
Red Brick Craft Distillery
You just bought a fragrant bunch of fresh mint and now you’ve got mint juleps on the brain. No need to make an extra stop at the wine and spirits shop; just stop by the Red Brick Craft Distillery table to pick up a bottle of locally produced, small-batch whiskey. From its location in Kensington, Red Brick handcrafts spirits with 85 percent Pennsylvania-grown barley. Its flagship whiskey is aged in new, full char, American white oak barrels, and it boasts warm, chocolatey notes, ideal for a sipping on the rocks or shaking up in a cocktail.
This family business from West Chester, which started in 1832, brings a haul of fresh, seasonal produce to the market each week. As a means of supplementing those items, it also has a wide variety of baked goods and prepared foods to offer customers. Several years ago, the Highland Orchard folks completed the build-out of a commercial kitchen, and from there they make baked goods such as apple cider doughnuts, cookies, fruit breads, pies and muffins. Of note are the creative fruit bread recipes; in addition to the more typical zucchini or apple breads, shoppers might see apple-caramel-walnut, pear-zucchini or raspberry varieties. Top those loaves with some of Highland Orchards’ preserves, which come in unique flavors such as watermelon pickle, persimmon jam and cranberry hot pepper jelly.