August 24, 2007

Chicago's Sweetest Farmer's Market

Originally posted at the Chicago Moms Blog.

Many people have posted about their for love the Green City Market, but my favorite city market takes place Thursday mornings at Eli’s Cheesecake World on the northwest side.

A typical trip to Eli’s means blowing the diet in a big way- they make tempting tarts, plump éclairs and at least eight varieties of cheesecake all calling like sirens from their lovely refrigerated display case. But on Thursdays you can purchase produce from local farms and products from area vendors to balance out all those luscious, sugary, buttery, and calorie-laden desserts.

It’s a small market, but a sweet one. The boys and I spent over 20 minutes ogling the produce from the Nichols Farm and Orchard. We laughed at the odd looking heirloom tomatoes, admired the cute, tiny pickle cukes, and questioned many items we’d never seen before. The vendor happily explained orange eggplants that resemble tiny pumpkins, lemon cucumbers that looked like gourds and offered up samples of everything that tempted us. We filled up our bags with a patriotic selection of fingerling potatoes-red, white and blue, half a dozen exotic eggplants*, lots of cukes and some interesting tomatoes.

We also purchased up some handcrafted Vietnamese goods from the fair-trade store 10,000 Villages, which had a booth on site. We picked up some tips on bicycling around Chicago and green cleaning supplies (you won't believe what you can do with a lemon) and learned that this year's Annual Cheesecake Festival will take place Sept. 15-16. This community celebration also serves as a fundraiser (foodraiser?) for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Donate two cans of food or $1 to the cause and your good deed will be rewarded with a slice of cheesecake- what a sweet way to introduce your little one to philanthropy.

Eli's Cheesecake World 6701 W Forest Preserve Drive (Harlem and Montrose), Chicago
Read up on Eli's factory tours (yum!) at Scrambled CAKE.

* We don't always get around to eating the exotic foods we buy. Sometimes we just watch them rot on the countertop.

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