A Bumper Crop In The Square

You already know that local farmers set up their stands in the Square every Thursday through the summer and early fall. But yesterday's Farmer's Market delivered an especially abundant harvest of wholesome, natural goodness when the Toyota Farm to Table Tour rolled into the Square. This treat was extra special because Pittsburgh was selected as just one of the 11 cities on this exclusive, cross-country celebration of those who toil in the fields to put outstanding fresh food our tables, and the chefs that spread the good word of locally grown food.

It was a great way to shine the spotlight on local farmers and on the chefs that celebrate local food in their restaurants everyday. The chefs whipped up special dishes made with the freshest ingredients gathered from the familiar faces you see each week in the Square. If you were there, you know this alfresco feast served up something for nearly every appetite from the zesty, refreshing gazpacho to the oh-so yummy sweet potato pierogies.  We're certainly taking some of those ideas to heart. Who would think to pair smoked salmon with gouda and berry compote?  Delicious! Or to put warm, crispy, locally-smoked bacon on top of a refreshing summer salsa? Whether you got ideas for your next dinner party or put a new restaurant on your "must try" list, it was a day of sweet possibilities!  And underlying it all was the knowledge that shopping locally is good for our regional economy and good for the environment.  What's not to love?!

In between bites, the lunchtime crowd signed up to take a spin around the Square in a 3rd generatio Toyota Prius (due out in 2011), a hybrid Camry or a hybrid Highlander SUV. Earth friendly to be sure, these vehicles also are easy on the budget too, thanks to a combination of gas and electric engines that save on fuel on the road and at the pump. Even better, everyone who took a test ride got to take home a special gift — a John Boos cutting board. A favorite of professional chefs around the world, the Boos boards sell for hundreds on dollars in stores and online. Even if you're not ready for your own show on the Food Network, a Boos board can make you feel like a star in your own kitchen.

After tasting the glories of local chef + local food, the Toyota staff passed out fresh herbs just right for keeping a little bit of the market on your kitchen window sill. When you think about it, that's a great gift for those of us who are all thumbs — and none of them green — when it comes to gardening.

Sure, the food was great. And Prius and Highlander rides were fun. But what really hit the spot for us was when one happy lady from Pleasant Hills stopped us to say this was one of the best times she's had Downtown in a long time — and that she would be back for second helpings of the Farmer's Market in the Square soon.

Market Square Farmers Market
Farm to Table Tour

If you loved tasting all that local food, you won't want to miss PASA's 100% Grass Fed Beef Cook Off this Saturday.  Tickets for non-members are only $20.  What better way to spend a gorgeous weekend than hanging out at a beautiful farm, meeting local chefs and foodies, and feasting on the bounty of our region!  (And when you return you may have some great ideas for the grass fed beef available at our market!)

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