It has been nearly a month since the last time I made it to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. This was probably the longest time between visits since I moved here in 2007. I was unable to convince either of my daughters to join me, so I had plenty of time to browse and think about what meals would come from the wonderful things I saw and smelled.
I knew that one thing I needed to get was a pork belly. I had planned poorly leading up to my family’s vacation and ran completely out of bacon just before we left town. Of course, this means that I still have a week to wait before the belly is cured and smoked, so I will have to chalk that up to a lesson learned and remember to plan better before next year’s trip. I was lucky, since I got the last belly that Chuck (of Black Oak Pork) had brought with him today. I even added a couple of small pork butts that I plan to grind up and make into sausage.
From there, I wandered the market in search of whatever produce looked the best. The spicy-sweet fragrance of basil from one vendor was so captivating that I could have stood there all day. Basil is one of the two bountiful crops in my garden, so I just enjoyed the aroma and continued on my way. I found a couple of heirloom varieties of beefsteak tomatoes and ears of bi-color corn that were very promising. A ball of fresh mozzarella and I was fully provisioned for a light meal that epitomizes summer.
The heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced and stacked with alternating slices of the mozzarella and leaves of basil from my garden made the base of an excellent caprese salad. To me, there really is nothing better tasting than a fresh (in season) tomato. These were slightly sweet with an acidic tang, and they complemented creaminess of the cheese and the peppery hint of anise of the basil. Dressed with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, the flavors of this salad were even pleasing enough to tempt my older daughter to try some (she liked it too).
To go along with the caprese salad, we had the bi-color corn. The vendor didn’t say if this was Sugar & Gold, Butter & Sugar, Honey & Cream or some other variety, their sign simply read Bi-Color Corn. What it lacked in imaginative advertising, it made up for it sweetness and tenderness. Boiled and slathered in KerryGold butter, this corn was exactly what I remember from previous summers.
This was the everything one could ask for in a summer dinner.