The Union Square Greenmarket is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm. While you load up on apples, potatoes, garlic, and other produce this weekend, you can also do your holiday shopping. What follows are six farmers' market stands that sell great gifts. By Jessica Allen.
About 80 years ago, the Martin family began making pretzels in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Today their recipe is still used by members of the Mennonite community, who sing as they roll, twist, and toss each pretzel by hand. At the greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, these Pennsylvania Dutch–style pretzels come packed in several sizes, including a three-pound, bright red gift bucket ($22.99). You can get traditional or whole wheat, with salt or without, light or dark, but every pretzel offers a toasted crunch explosion. There will be a mess.
The folks behind Wood Homestead drive to New York City from Stamford, New York, every Saturday to sell their maple stuff. You can get several varieties of maple syrup, of course, excellent on pancakes and in granola, or opt for another maple product, such as maple cotton candy, a maple lollipop, or maple caramel popcorn ($3 for 3 ounces). The packaging isn't much to get excited about, but the popcorn sure is: it's airy and caramelly and maple-y and crispy, a delightful autumnal snack that always reminds us of our New England roots.
You can buy Rick's Picks products on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the greenmarket, but don't just rush to the familiar fat green cylinders floating in vinegary brine. Half the fun of this stand is browsing the names. There are Phat Beets, slices of beets pickled in rosemary, ginger, and lemon, and Smorka, okra in a Spanish smoked paprika brine. Among the pickle options are Hotties, spicy, crinkle-cut pickle chips flavored with dried habanero and Sriracha, and Kool Gherks, whole dill pickles. Devotees might enjoy The Pickle Club ($160), four varieties delivered four times a year.
There are those who call cider "blue-collar champagne." Like champagne, cider is bubbly, often dry, and generally golden. And, until prohibition, cider was the most popular beverage in the United States. Today having a glass of cider almost feels like a political act: with so many beverages available to us, choosing one that's been around for more than 1,000 years feels radical rather than retro. Eve's Cidery makes its fermented artisanal ciders and fruit wines on a family-run orchard in the Finger Lakes region. Varieties include the salty Northern Spy and true-to-its-name Bittersweet (a bottle will set you back about 15 bucks).
From a farmhouse in the Hudson Valley dating to the 1850s, Beth Linskey and her staff of friends and family make more than 90 different jellies, jams, and chutneys. You can find Beth's Farm Kitchen at the greenmarket on Fridays and Saturdays—just look for the crowds gobbling different flavors on small slices of white bread. We're partial to the garlic jelly, a sweet-spicy concoction that pairs perfectly with Lynnhaven's cracked pepper goat cheese. Gift options, tied with fluffy bows, include the Sumptuous Duo (raspberry jam and hot plum chutney for $19) or the Big Brown Box (your choice of twelve flavors for $96).
John Martini sets up his stand on Saturdays. He chats with his customers, offering samples of the award-winning beverages, including chardonnays and rieslings, made by his family-run winery in the Finger Lakes region. All told, he sells about twenty types of wine, one for every year he's been at the greenmarket. Through the website, you can order wine with personalized labels (most run about $20, and the cost of the special labels depends on how many bottles you want). Or you can simply stop by, mention what you (or your gift recipient) likes, have a few swallows of a nice red or mellow white, and take your choices to go.
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