Linden Hills Farmers Market is one of our favorites of the many markets the Twin Cities has to offer. Bucolic little Linden Hills is a picture-perfect landing pad for this small but mighty gathering, where chef Steven Brown of Tilia can be seen milling about and schmoozing every Sunday, and Red Wagon Pizza regularly slings pies. It's a sweet little spot where the emphasis is on small-batch artisanal vendors and organic produce.
This year they've got a whole slew of new vendors. We got a sneak peek.
Linden Hills Farmers Market opens this Sunday, May 22, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2813 W. 43rd St. in Minneapolis.
Calvit's Drinking Shrubs
"There's not a lot of humor in the non-drinking world. I'm trying to bring some humor back," says Phil Calvit. He came up with his idea for drinking shrubs after he swore off booze but still wanted something interesting to drink. And he does have a sense of humor: "No adult should ever have to order a kiddie cocktail." To help avoid that fate, he'll have you drinking shrubs.
Ironically, the centuries-old acidulated concoctions also make a stellar cocktail mixer, so pick your poison. Available in three flavors — tomatillo/tamarind; beet/ginger; and ginger/lemongrass — the shrubs are made by mixing fruit with vinegar and sugar, letting it all steep, and then straining, leaving an intensely flavored concentrate.
And they are intense. They're almost like the all-natural Torani, those flavor syrups that go in your coffee drinks but always taste too sweet. Except these let the true flavor of the herbs and essences shine through. A few dashes added to club soda makes a wonderful N/A summertime refreshment, and a few ounces of booze with all of that makes an equally wonderful cocktail.
Again, you decide. I'd also be unafraid to add these to meat marinades, salad dressings, compound butters, or just about anywhere you want a pound of flavor.
Twin Cities Paella
There's something about the drama of a paella pan that attracts instant "oohs" and "ahhs." Add spot-on paella, with the seafood and the sausage and the saffron and all the rest, and how can you miss?
Chef Frank Machado is a Venezuelan by way of Miami now making his culinary rounds here in the Twin Cities. After heading up the kitchen at Mexican favorite Barrio, now he's packing up his big paella pans and traveling. Find him at the Linden Hills Farmers Market selling delicious portions of paella garnished with saffron aioli and chile oil. He offers rotating varieties including the "surf and turf" (pictured), a seafood selection, and a vegetarian paella inspired by seasonal farmers market bounties. And yes, he also caters, and yes, it's the perfect catering thing. He offers packages for groups of 30 or more.
twincitiespaella.com Whole Sum Kitchen
You know how you always want to eat healthy but the healthy doesn't taste as good? Not so at Whole Sum Kitchen, whose fresh-pressed juices and smoothies are nothing short of a treat. They run a food truck by the same name, and we recommend the Kho Tao Apple + Orange + Carrot + Ginger + Lime juice, as well as the acai bowl smoothie. It's a tropical berry punch to the mouth that will have you looking askance at breakfast or ice cream, two other things that come in a bowl that are suddenly somehow not as delicious as this.
North Mallow & Co
Because we live in a world where we no longer need to settle for industrial marshmallows, North Mallow & Co. has arrived to cover our gourmet s'mores needs.
After lots of years as a camp counselor, owner Mike Nelson just couldn't stomach mass-produced mallows another day, so he set about building a better one. Now he sets up at weddings, markets, and wherever a s'more would improve things. His product is all-natural and made without corn syrup, colorings, or other industrial ingredients. As a result, they won't catch on fire while roasting. See for yourself: You can roast them onsite for a build-your-own s'more experience using your choice of chocolate and marshmallow flavors, which come in vanilla bean, chocolate chip, and others.
Treat Yourself Cookies & Bars
You may think that most cookies are created equal because most cookies are good. Then again, you haven't had cookies quite like this. Jenna O'Connor says she doesn't have a secret other than pure repetition: "I bake A LOT."
So much so that Treat Yourself somehow makes a peanut butter-stuffed chocolate cookie that's far better than the peanut butter cup that inspired it, a coffee toffee that's like a cup of best-ever espresso in solid form, and an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chipper that's the turducken of cookies.
Her marketing is subtle, but the proof is in the better baking and the big flavors. Worth seeking out.
Other new vendors watch out for:
Lulu's Bakery, a new Uptown bakery with seven flavors of cheesecake.
Olive on Tap, artisan hand-blended olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Ommie Snacks, the first "fruit and seed" energy bar in the U.S. Allergen-free and suitable for people with special diets.
Green Bee Juicery, fresh cold-pressed juices and power shots.
For the full list of Linden Hills Farmers Market vendors, visit the website.