It’s always more fun shopping for the week’s dinners at one of the state’s many great farmers markets. It seems that just about every town has them and they are great for picking up interesting local produce and crafts, along with some breakfast. The Twin Cities, in particular, have a lot of great choices. While nothing beats the venerable Minneapolis Farmers’ Market for variety, choice, and affordability, the newer Mill City Farmers Market offers a bit more of a compact setting and a very interesting location in the shadows of to other great Minneapolis institutions, the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum (both worth checking out and either may well be the subject of a future entry at MSP Adventure Time). Since 2006, the market has offered sustainable, local food to the old Mill district.
Arriving in the mid morning, we found the market was crowded but not impossible to navigate, with people strolling about sampling food and examining the wears of a variety of stalls offering a variety of items. A young woman played the violin as the smell of crepes and coffee filled the air, it was a fun place to people watch on a fine Minneapolis morning. Occupying the alley between the Mill City Museum and Guthrie, looking up you find yourself directly under the Gold Medal Flour sign and can enjoy your street food looking over the Mississippi River. The stalls continue into the Washburn A. Mill building, huddling nicely under the rusty girders of the old mill factory, highlighting this wonderful use of these urban ruins. Even it such a small space, I found myself overwhelmed by sights, smells, and sound.
It seems that the Mill City Market offers a lot less produce than many farmers market and focuses on gourmet (and delicious) street food and local crafts, including baskets, artisanal cheeses, honeys, wild rice, and other such things. You can choose fresh crepes from the Spoon River stand or something eggier from the Chef Shack. Produce is not totally lacking, though, and we picked up some great, fresh stalks of spring rhubarb, my sister’s favorite, for $5 a bundle. I also got a few pounds of bulk mung beans for use in a few curries over the next few weeks.
Of course, my sister and I had to purchase some loose leaf tea, including some very nice blends from the diverse and affordable selection of Miss Kelley’s Tea, one of the Twin Cities local tea connoisseurs. We also purchased some more loose tea, and some lychee kombucha, from the newest tea merchant in town, Verdant Tea (the subject of an entry back in February), who also have a kiosk at the Mill City Market.
The kombucha, which Verdant offers in three flavors including lychee, is a frothy concoction brewed from fermented tea, known for boasting a lot of health benefits (as well as maybe killing you if made wrong). Verdant’s brew was, to me, quite refreshing, the best I’ve had. Slightly carbonated, cold, and tangy, it makes a nice summer beverage. My sister, though, has never really formed a taste for it, its smell being honestly a little vinegary. I guess it’s a bit of a love it or hate it thing. Still, this was far superior to the bottled stuff you can find in grocery stores, in my opinion. Verdant offers it in bottles which can be brought in for a refill.
I will definitely be back, as one can not experience everything here in one visit. The Market, which opened on May 10, will continue until October 25 on Saturdays from 8 to 1. Parking is quite plentiful in the area, with a ramp right across the street, but it is in such a picturesque area, biking is probably the best way to get there. Still plenty of time to check it out this season!