foux da fafa

Et maintenant le voyage a la supermarche!

Yesterday, the Chicago French Market opened to much fanfare, political and otherwise.  The lovely cheese monger I chatted up at Pastoral said they had to call for five bread deliveries to keep up with demand and by the end of the day, Sweet Miss Giving's pastry case was empty.  Commuters and foodies alike are celebrating the new convenient access to produce, meat, and prepared foods in the West Loop.  I avoided the opening day crowds and sauntered in after the morning rush today.

Much like a restaurant in its opening weeks, reviewing the market on day two seems unfair and premature.  There are still workers hanging signs and plenty of uninhabited booths.  I wanted to meander on my day off rather than rush in for something on my evening commute.  I didn't have a shopping list and purposefully left my credit card at home.  I bumped into a sad little bunch of balloons on the way in, but then a nice construction worker opened doors for me - twice! - and I wasn't even wearing a dress.

I treated myself to a mini-cupcake from Sweet Miss Givings for breakfast.  It was a moist carrot cake - with lots of shredded carrots and raisins topped with cream cheese frosting.  The frosting was perfect, the way I like to make it, with a good amount of buttercream paired with the cream cheese.  All of the vendors were particularly helpful and talkative.  Some of the meat and fish offerings are on par with what you'd find in a regular local grocery chain, but the guys behind the counter offered to place orders for special requests.  There weren't very many good looking cut flowers, but the potted poinsettias cheered the place up a bit.

Because most people were already at work and the crowds had thinned, I got to hang out with some of the purveyors and discuss our first impressions of the market and their new customer base.  I'm slightly disappointed in the amount of locally grown food available - something I heard from a few vendors too.  Giant pyramids of watermelon aren't exactly in season.  Squash, beets, carrots, and potatoes are from Illinois and the Wisconsin Cheese Mart carries sheep, goat, and cow's milk cheeses all produced in Wisconsin.  I'm sure this will improve as the the season's change.  Sources are marked on most produce and a lot of it is organic. This isn't going to be a destination grocer, but it will handle a lot of commuter traffic and probably feed a lot of downtown workers lunch. I look forward to coming back, once all the vendors set up.

My entire lunch came from Pastoral.  I'm a big fan already, but having a small location on the way home from work will be nice.   I decided to eat like a french person today: a baguette with some cheese and olives, & maybe a spread of apple butter.

Total $21
small baguette
Moses Sleeper cheese, VT (camembert-esque)
Taleggio, Italy
French, Greek & Italian mixed olives
jar seedling apple butter

Just about every Chicago food resource has commented on, toured, and reviewed the market already.  The Kitchn has particularly beautiful photos. Time Out Chicago has been all over the coverage for months.  This was stuck in my head while I was perusing...Beouf/Soup du jour/Le Camembert/Jacque Cousteau/Baguette:

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