I was afforded the small luxury yesterday of stopping by a local farmers' market, Elias Market at 3131 Linden St. Bethlehem (Phone: (610) 867-8111). I've driven by many times and used to shop there often when it was Pichel's Farm Market. I'm not sure why I haven't been in since it changed hands, but I made a point of turning in instead of driving by this time.
I'm very glad that I did. Elias Market (I believe it's in the same family as Elias Farm Market in Allentown) is one of those stores I'll be frequenting from now on. I was on the lookout for hazelnuts and, having had no luck finding them, I decided to check at Elias. Elias is owned by a Middle Eastern family and sells one of the largest selections of Middle Eastern foodstuffs anywhere in the Valley.
I was wide-eyed at the varieties of falafel (there's one brand at my usual store), the cans packed with stuffed grape leaves and the many, many bags of seeds, nuts and grains available. I found those hazelnuts at a very good price and dried chick peas and sesame seeds to boot. I'm not talking those small cellophane bags stapled with headers, covered in dust and overpriced - I mean large plastic bags, overfilled with fresh legumes and seeds and priced just right. I also purchased a bucket of falafel mix. I had to stop myself from overbuying since I had really only gone in with one thing in mind and had already overdone it without even canvasing a quarter of the store.
I had already picked up peaches and seedless grapes (99 cents a pound!) before I got through the doors of the store. They draw you in with all that lovely and affordable produce out front. It really isn't my fault.
Anyway, once I headed toward the checkout I caught the rest of the produce inside and had to see it. On the way to the produce, however, there were stacks of large whole wheat pitas and I had to have a package. Then I saw a basketful of beautiful tiny plums labeled simply, "Local Plums". They were gorgeous in that basket with tiny little leaves poking out of the mounds of large marble-sized fruit. I had to have them.
As I picked them out I told Katie, who was shopping with me, "We'll make a tart with these. I'll mix up a lovely almond crust and cut them in half. Then we place them upside down all over the crust and bake it. It'll be beautiful; you'll see." She just nodded her head and smiled, grabbing as many little plums as she could fit in her small hands.
When we passed the apricots, which were perfectly dainty, but still larger than the plums, she asked if we could buy some. I told her they would be perfect in that tart with the plums and she loaded up a bag with them.
Then, I saw plantains, and with everyone so enamoured with those tostones I made, I picked up 4 and then headed to the meat counter to see if I could find chorizo. They didn't have chorizo, so I asked for the next-best and often used replacement, pepperoni. There were plastic containers filled with pre-cut pepperoni, but I wanted some I could cut myself. The sweetest older man ever waited on me and instead of telling me, "That's all we have", like I would have heard at any other store, he promptly reached under the counter and pulled out two lovely and rustic looking sticks of pepperoni for me. He and the other woman behind the counter were two of the nicest workers you could ever come across.
We grabbed a seedless watermelon on our way out and I couldn't keep my eyes on my purchases - there was still so much to see there and I know for certain that I'll be back very soon.