Farmers markets in NYC: Union Square and Grand Army Plaza
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If you're at all interested in food, August is by far the kindest month on the calendar. The corn, tomatoes and peaches that you have dreamed of all year are finally ripe and ready. And NYC's farmers markets are the place to get them, as well as a million other summertime delectables. Though the city has dozens of farmers markets (check out grownyc.org for a list and the schedule of each), certainly the legendary Union Square Grennmarket and Brooklyn's flagship version at Grand Army Plaza are the most extensive. Here are the purveyors to sample at each on Saturdays, the best marketing day of all.
Cato Corner Farm Heavenly cheese made by a mother-son team in Colchester, Conn. The creamy Bridgid's Abbey is the first to try. (catocornerfarm.com)
Locust Grove Fruit Farm Shop this seventh generation family farm for peaches, pears and plums in August. (locustgrovefruitfarm.com)
Paffenroth Gardens Name a vegetable, and it's featured at this Hudson Valley-based stand, from super-spicy radishes and giant zucchini to carrots in several colors.
S&SO Farm Famous for its onions, this founding member of the Union Square market in 1976 grows 100 different vegetables just 35 miles away.
P.E. & D.D. Seafood The long line that forms early tells you everything you need to know about the all-wild tuna, striped bass and swordfish available this month from these Suffolk County fishermen.
GRAND ARMY PLAZA, BROOKLYN
Cayuga Pure Organics Wonderful beans and grains from the Finger Lakes, from exotic-sounding freekeh (roasted spelt berries) to good old cannellini beans. (cporganics.com)
Maxwell's Farm Get your melons, kohlrabi and cherry tomato mixed pints from this New Jersey family operation; last August they promoted an "Okra Winfrey" special.
Bradley Farm Ray Bradley, a former haute cuisine chef-turned-farmer, grows a huge array of veggies in upstate New Paltz. Check out his honey, jam and picked beets, too. (raybradleyfarm.com)
Flying Pigs Farm Heritage breeds of pigs, raised upstate, produce very moist cuts of pork, not to mention ham, bacon and sausage. (flyingpigsfarm.com)
Bread Alone This organic, Hudson Valley-based baker has several locations upstate and has branched out from its many breads to do every kind of pastry and pie, even wedding cakes. (breadalone.com)
* Go as early as possible, since that's when the items are freshest and the lines the shortest.
* Produce can be bulky and heavy -- and you can't always predict what will look good -- so bring big, reusable shopping bags or totes.
* Don't be afraid to gently squeeze tomatoes and smell the melons and peaches to see if they're ripe; purveyors expect it.
* Buy the truly perishable items like fish, meat and dairy last, since you may be wandering around for a while as you get the lay of the land.