Make a meal at the market

August 12, 2009 (CHICAGO) We're in the middle of a busy farmer's market season with new produce cropping up almost every week. When ABC7's Hungry Hound goes shopping, he's also interested in what kinds of prepared foods you can get at the market. He's found one in particular where he says you can put together quite a few meals in a short time span.

Most markets usually have a sandwich or a smoothie stand. One of the best places to grab a meal is at the Green City Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Lincoln Park. But on Sundays, there's a much smaller, tightly-focused market in Logan Square where the hound was surprised to find so much well-made food among the fruit and vegetable stands.

It's a typical Sunday morning in Logan Square, near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Boulevard. While many people attending the weekly farmer's market are here perusing tables of fruits and vegetables, others are content to just sit in the grass and eat. This market has an unusual amount of ready-to-eat options, from sweets to savories.

"I think it's the location. It's centrally located in Logan Square. We have a place - the lawn - where people can get their food, eat and just camp out for the day," said John Pennycuff, Logan Square's Market Manager.

Take the crepe guy, for instance. His company, Cook au Vin, has a store on Elston Avenue, but on Sundays, he cranks out homemade sweet and savory crepes, including turkey and cheese. Next door, the restaurant Treat has a small stand.. offering sandwiches, potato-pea-and-cumin-stuffed samosas with two chutneys, plus hibiscus tea. Their tandoori chicken sandwich offers well-seasoned, grilled strips of chicken layered with an herbed aioli and red onions between thick slices of country bread. Down the aisle a bit, Vella Cafe is about to close its business for good, but through the end of August you can still try a savory galette - maybe with asparagus and caramelized onions - or their popular tofu scramble, containing butterkase cheese, fresh tomatillos and creamy avocado, all wrapped up in a griddled lavash. Then there are the sweet vendors, which are available exclusively at the market.

"Like Tinycakes, they cook that from a kitchen, and they bring stuff here and this is it. So they have a great following because of that," Pennycuff said.

They not only have luscious cookies and brownies, but also seasonal cupcakes, like these decadent raspberry ones. A few stalls away, Jane Roberts sells cakes and pies under the Sugarkist name. A former pastry chef at nearby Lula Cafe, Roberts prefers selling products without having to pay rent somewhere.

"I mean it is nice not to have the overhead first of all, but then the flexibility of picking different markets each season and that kind of thing," said Roberts.

Next door, Black Dog gelato, has its own cult-like following. They typically offer a few gelatos and sorbets, made with out-of-the-ordinary flavor combos, like lemon and ginger. Roberts says in some cases, a "market-only" business sometimes does better than you'd expect.

"There's just a constant stream of people coming through here and I've always been surprised how quickly word of mouth has worked in my favor," Roberts said.

Logan Square Farmer's Market
2600 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Every Sunday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Through October

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