Cambridge isn’t Paris, but it aint half-bad. Especially in the summertime when there’s less traffic and more farmers’ markets. One of my favorites is on Harvard University campus on Tuesdays from 12-6. It’s back, bigger, and better than ever.
This market had been displaced due to construction nearby, but this season it has returned to the plaza next to the Science Center, near Oxford Street. And thankfully (the day I was there it was over 90 degrees) all stalls are shaded under a tent. No more worries about dairy and meat products spoiling in the sun for six hours on a cloudless day. (I know they’re kept in coolers, but still it had me wondering.) The market is supported by Harvard University Dining Services and well attended by the broader community.
There are several produce stands. Plato’s Harvest sells certified organic produce.
Others, such as Ward’s Berry Farm, practice IPM (integrated pest management, with less toxic pesticides). It is a treat to find local strawberries in abundance.
Ruggles Hill Farmstead, from Hardwick, MA (smack in the middle of the state), sells fresh and aged goat cheeses. Two stands–Q’s Nuts and Fastachi–display fresh roasted nuts. Samira’s Homemade offers tastes of a variety of homemade Egyptian and Lebanese dips and spreads. I bought the Muhammara, which is made from fire-roasted red pepper, toasted walnuts, lemon juice, and offset by pomegranate molasses. This is a good choice to spread on sandwiches, pair with grilled chicken or fish, or heap atop fresh pita as an appetizer. A new item is Egyptian Baby Okra which takes okra to the next level. Next time I’ll try the Ful Medammes which Ragab Hamdoun, one of the owner/chefs, explained is the national dish of Egypt. Fava beans are mixed with tahini, garlic, onions, and light spices.
Fresh breads and pastries are available at several stands. The most popular pastry at the Danish Pastry House is the Kringle Slice. Twenty-seven layers (!) of croissant dough (!!) are spread with marzipan and then topped with candied almonds. Not surprisingly, they often sell out. If donuts are your thing, you’ll be delighted to know that Union Square Donuts has a stand at this market, which is new this season. No, the donuts are not square (as I overheard one customer ask). Union Square, where their flagship shop is located, is a neighborhood only a couple miles away in Somerville.
Their recipe is based on a brioche dough. Small wonder then that their donuts taste so good. Taza Chocolates, Mariposa Bakery, and others offer sweet temptations. I’m all for supporting local, independent businesses. But I hope the number of stands selling sweets doesn’t begin to outweigh the number of local farmers & produce stands.
Fresh lobsters (live and steamed) are available at Carolyn Manning’s stand. Her husband, Chris, hauled the lobsters off his boat in Hull at 4 am that morning. Carolyn shelled them by 5 am. I bought a pound of lobster meat only a few hours later and feasted like a queen on lobster salad at 7 pm.It doesn’t get much fresher or more local than that.
Pasture-raised meats, poultry, and eggs are sold aat John Crow Farms (from Groton) and Copicut Farm (from North Dartmouth, Mass.)
Weekly demos are now a regular feature at this market.
The day I was there, Eric Brennan from local restaurant Post 390 had chef’s knife in hand. Another community-oriented service at this market is a weekly skills workshop. Upcoming topics include “how to fillet fish” and “how to compost 3 ways.” I can only think of 2. So I’ll be sure to return.
Located at the plaza near the Science Center on Harvard University’s campus (near Oxford St.)
Tuesdays 12 noon – 6 pm, from mid-Jun until end of October
The market accepts WIC and SFMNP coupons and food stamps.