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On The Road: Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Farmers’ Markets — Rittenhouse Sq.

This is the second in a sequence about Philadelphia’s neighborhood farmers’ markets.
For the previous 5 years — since I moved into Christina’s condominium and we married, Rittenhouse Square has been my backyard.

Given our record-breaking sizzling summer season, it is hard to fathom that I took this picture this previous February. The snowfall — the second highest in Philadelphia’s recorded historical past created an urban winter wonderland. It was a magical day.

Rittenhouse Square stuffed with associates, neighbors and nearly 25 carefully crafted snow individuals in varied stages of gown. A tremendous snow tableau featured a sitting dog watching television full with twig antenna.

Christina’s the one on the fitting. By late afternoon, as we sat sipping champagne at a window table at Parc, the 28.5 inches of snow lingered solely as flurries.

The Four Seasons of Rittenhouse Square
Winter’s snow offers option to Spring’s daffodils. Magnolia blossoms fill the sq. with pink for a number of days after which litter the bottom as they yield to magnolia’s broad inexperienced leaves. Soon, the bushes — barren since fall — are filled with green. It all the time seems as though this occurs virtually overnight. At some point, no leaves and the following, leaves in all places. Rittenhouse Square helps us metropolis dwellers keep observe of the seasons.

Spring marks the return of the Farmers’ Market and the rainbow of zinnias offered by the dozen by the Amish farmer.

Timber provide shelter to bench-dwellers from summer time’s solar while large expanses of lawn welcome sun worshipers. By late October the leaves start to fall as peaches yield to apples. Every year, as Christmas approaches, a whole bunch of lighted balls twinkle in now leafless timber. Although some farmers make it into the late fall and early winter, by the year’s flip nearly all farmers have gone. For every thing there is a season and the Sq. bears witness.

A really Temporary Historical past of Rittenhouse Square
Rittenhouse Square was one of 5 squares designated by William Penn in 1682 as open public areas — part of Penn’s “inexperienced country town.” It was known as Southwest Sq.. The opposite squares, Southeast, Northeast, Northwest and Heart are right now respectively, Washington, Franklin, Logan and Metropolis Corridor. There was little in it’s early history to recommend that at the moment our Rittenhouse Square would rank #6 on a list of Best Squares and Plazas in the world by Initiatives for Public Areas. (The #1 Plaza is the Piazza del Campo in Sienna adopted by Piazza San Marco in Venice.) In its early years, livestock grazed and it was a dumping floor for “night soil.” Its clay-like soil was better fitted to kilns and than crops. Because of this, much of Philadelphia’s colonial brick was made at our Southwest Sq..

It wasn’t until 1825 that the square’s title was modified to Rittenhouse, in honor of astronomer and Revolutionary patriot David Rittenhouse. In 1840, as Philadelphia moved westward from the Delaware River, the first “aristocratic” home was built at 1811 Walnut Street by James Harper. The home of his daughter followed at 1821 Walnut Avenue. By the late 1800’s Rittenhouse Sq. was residence to Philadelphia’s Victorian-period aristocrats.

Because the early 19th century, local residents have played an vital position within the sq.’s upkeep and beautification. In 1913, the Rittenhouse Sq. Improvement Association commissioned Beaux-Arts trained French-American architect Paul Philippe Cret to design what we know immediately as the fashionable Rittenhouse Square. The Association took care of the sq. till 1976 when accountability was assumed by the Fairmount Park Commission. Today, the park is maintained by the town of Philadelphia in conjunction with Friends of Rittenhouse Sq..

The Life of Rittenhouse Square
The success of Rittenhouse Sq. as an excellent public house is the results of a collection of things.

Here is Jane Jacobs’ take from The Loss of life and Life of Great American Cities: “Rittenhouse Square, the success, possesses a various rim and numerous neighborhood hinterland.” She goes on to explain the numerous makes use of of buildings that surrounded the square in 1961 when the guide was written. She continues, “Immediately past the rim, in the streets main off at proper angles and in the following streets parallel to the park sides, is an abundance of retailers and providers of all kinds with previous houses or newer apartments above, mingled with a variety of places of work.”

From 1977 to 1995, The Commissary, my second restaurant, operated almost within the shadow of the square’s towering bushes. Nearly all of my restaurants had been within a 5-minute walk of the sq.. Jacob’s concludes: “This mixture of uses of buildings straight produces for the park a mixture of customers who will enter and depart the park at completely different instances. They use the park at completely different instances from one another because their every day schedules differ. The park possesses an intricate sequence of makes use of and customers.”

The sq. is laid out in a fancy set of intersecting connective pathways varying in width and form — straight and arcs, circles and diagonals. No path runs purely parallel to the bordering streets.

The square’s central artery connects 18th & Walnut to the southwest nook of the square. But even this central artery is not a raceway. It includes a collection of “dividers” that cut up the pathway — giant central planted flower beds, sculptures, and a “gazebo” on a central open plaza. The edges of the pathways are defined by adjustments in material — the paths are composed of sturdy pavers — grass and soil, balustrades and flower beds outline both hard and tender edges.

If you’re walking via the sq. from the southeast nook, close to The Barclay, to the northwest nook adjoining to the Trinity Church, there are a set of steps to climb from road stage to the elevated central plaza.

However no such steps exist on the alternative aspect or on the 18th & Walnut diagonal. The paths rise to the elevated plaza degree ever so gently that you’re unaware that you’re shifting on an incline.

And though the pathways have a symmetry, the square itself doesn’t. The east aspect of the central plaza has a reflecting pool while the west side has a large densely planted flower bed. The dimensions of the pool and flower bed are the same, but their effect shouldn’t be. This serves to asymmetrically focus the folks energy of the central plaza on to the realm of the central plaza defined by the balustrades– balustrades which might be favored seating areas for younger people — and across the reflecting pool rather than the planted space.

There may be a big informal planted mattress on the southwest nook that has no equal and opposite on the northeast corner. This delicate mix of bodily order and serendipity — not one thing you are actually aware of day-to-day, gives the Rittenhouse Sq. an curiosity and power hardly ever matched in city spaces.

The central plaza and with broad entry at 18th & Walnut are the two main “leisure” venues.
Sculptures abound across the square, however are usually not imposing by their presence…besides maybe for the lions that sit in one of many least inhabited areas of the sq.. Of course, the pleasant stone frog is one on my favorites.

The walls of the sq. are the encompassing excessive-rises, sitting in an orderly method until The Rittenhouse Resort and Condominiums altered that pattern. As high-rises continue to substitute decrease density buildings, the square has a extra closed in really feel than when there we fewer tall buildings.

Scores of benches line the path that circles the sq. and traces the central pathway. Each bench has a small plaque — a memorial to at least one particular person or another who liked the square. A neighbor within the building during which I dwell re-counted scattering the ashes of her late husband in and around the azaleas near 19th Street. Some day Izzy and my mother may discover a similar ultimate resting place. Many bushes have been planted as memorials on the sq.’s perimeter — this one planted a number of years in the past by his household in memory of a expensive buddy of mine.

Strolling dwelling last night time from Barnes & Noble, the square was stuffed with the sights and sounds of youthful energy — music, bicycles, backpacks, shut-cropped and shaggy hair, tattoos. Some evenings you possibly can hear Curtis college students training from Curtis’s home windows that face the sq. at 18th & Locust.

You do not need to go to Curtis to play the flute or violin or guitar or drum on Rittenhouse Square.
Despite it’s fancy address, it’s a very democratic place. The square belongs to all.

Early mornings, dog walkers meander the grassy areas while older walkers briskly circle the square’s perimeter. Subsequent, waves of workers scurry by way of whereas the workless, each prepared and unwilling, enjoy espresso and the morning newspaper on a bench. Later in the morning, weather allowing, mothers, mostly, and pre-schoolers, collect on and across the stone bench that faces the goat on the southwest facet of the sq.. (Once more, there isn’t any equal and reverse on the other side of the square.) Lunch is a hop-scotch of lunching bench sitters — together with the FedEx guys who park their truck on the south side in front of the moral Society, and seniors watching the world go by.

Bocce ball compete with frisbies. Urban fathers educate younger sons and daughters find out how to catch and throw a baseball. Impromptu soccer and touch football games come and go. That snowy February afternoon included a veritable snowball conflict by perhaps fifty snow ball fighters.

On the 18th and Walnut nook, the wall is shared by the chess gamers and bicycle messengers. When you have a petition to get signed, that is the nook to do it.

As day strikes into night, the trail of office staff is reversed as employees head dwelling — or to neighborhood eating places — or to satisfy a good friend on a bench for a “picnic dinner.”

In a single day the sq. is home to some homeless, though the addition of a middle arm relaxation on some benches has served to limit the place you can lie down.

Warm sunny days differ from cold wet days and weekends are totally different from weekdays. On weekends, there may be less speeding by means of the square and extra strolling and lingering.

Sunday mornings in the spring or fall are my favourite instances. The sq. is its quietest on Sunday mornings, and you may get nearly any bench you want whilst you sip your espresso and eat your scone from neighboring Metropolitan Bakery and read the Sunday New York Times. The peak the square’s exercise are those clear blue sky, not too hot, not too chilly sunny Sunday afternoons where almost every inch of grass is crammed with blankets and there is a watch for a very good bench.

Depend your self gloriously fortunate if you reside or work on or near Rittenhouse Square.
The Rittenhouse Sq. Farmers’ Market
And so Rittenhouse Square has a rhythm of the seasons and the times. This is the backdrop to Saturday’s Rittenhouse Sq. Farmers’ Market which both borrows from and provides to the power of the sq.. There is an abbreviated market on Tuesdays with shorter hours. The Farmers’ Market each advantages from and contributes to that rhythm and the success of the square.

The Rittenhouse Sq. Farmers’ Market is sponsored and managed by Farm to Metropolis, considered one of two precept organizers of Philadelphia’s neighborhood farmers’ markets. The market runs alongside Walnut Avenue adjoining to the square. Nineteenth Road is mostly an end point. This yr, as extra stalls have been added — there are about 25 — the market wraps round on to 18th Road. Saturday hours are 9:30 AM to 3 PM, although on busy days by three PM pickens’ are slim. Tuesday’s it runs from 10 AM to 1 PM.

At the highest of the market at nineteenth Avenue is a big and comprehensive stand run by Rineer Household Farms of Lancaster. Additionally they supply grass fed meat and poultry.

The Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market is the market I know greatest. I store here practically every Saturday. It’s the place I look forward to asparagus in the Spring, tomatoes and peaches in the summer and apples within the fall. It helps me know the place I’m in the world. Whereas I labored on At Dwelling, the Saturday farmers’ market supplied a weekly jolt of seasonal inspiration.

Subsequent door to Rineer is the Fahnestock Fruit Farm, one among two fruit specialty stands. These people, from Lititz in Lancaster County, specialise in tomatoes, peaches and apples. That is it.

Beechwood Orchards is the opposite fruit stand with a far wider selection of fruit and berries in addition to some specialty produce on a aspect desk.

Listed below are Beechwood’s Santa Rosa plums and Doughnut Peaches and Elephant Coronary heart Plums. Don’t you just have a try a plum named for an elephant’s coronary heart Who even knew that there was an Elephant Coronary heart plum

In the foreground is something I first saw this yr. They’re variously referred to as husk tomatoes or ground cherries. Underneath the husk, which you discard, are a little berry-like tomatoey fruit. I have tried them just a few instances and to date I’m not convinced they’re something however a novelty. However try for your self.

Not many farmers’ markets have a dedicated mushroom grower. Kennett Square, about 45 minutes west of Philadelphia in Chester County is the “Mushroom Capital of the World.”

A recent discovery for me — and one among my favorite stands is Cherry Grove Farm. They produce world alan partridge stone island class cow’s milk cheeses in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Can the city that named Philadelphia Cream Cheese embrace a cheese as high quality as their Toma Primavera In addition they provide grass fed beef and lamb and certified Berkshire pork as well as organic eggs.

If your choice is goat cheese, we’ve that as nicely.
You should buy commonplace baked goods.

Christina has gluten-free tendencies and, thankfully, our market boasts arguably the best gluten free baked items within the region from Amaranth.

While I’m with regards to baked items, Market Day Canele divides its Saturday between Rittenhouse Square, Clark Park and Fitler Square and on Sunday, they are often found at Headhouse. Look for them around the corner on 18th Avenue.

For your tabletop there’s Lilies and Lavender.
My go-to tabletop stand is Triple Tree Flowers — also at Clark park — where I either persist with Zinnias by the dozen or decide my own summer flower mix. When you make your own bouquet you simply keep choosing, present them what you’ve obtained, they give the impression of being and assume a bit and tell you a very cheap price. Try At Residence’s Simplified Flower Arranging, a double web page spread on pages 28 and 29.

An intriguing stand that appears to get little motion is Otolith sustainable seafood. From their website I’ve discovered “At Otolith, providing the highest quality seafood and supporting environmental sustainability in the seafood business are our high priorities.” These are admirable objectives that maybe simply need stronger advertising and marketing consumer schooling on the stand. It’s part of the larger drawback of find out how to shine the spotlight on “proteins” — meat, poultry and Otolith’s fish — when showy vegetables are stars of the present. Maybe taking a cue from supermarkets the place they often cook and provides out small samples. It is a simple approach to draw consideration and engage potential clients.

Wine isn’t commonplace fare at farmers’ markets. But wine certainly is a farmed product. Blue Mountain presents a wide selection of modestly priced wines from their Lehigh Valley vineyards. Blue Mountain wines are additionally available at Studying Terminal Market.

Just because produce is domestically grown doesn’t imply it is organic. But if you’re after certified organic local produce, you may get it at Rittenhouse Square.

My favorite stand at Rittenhouse Sq. is Z Food Farm from Princeton. Whereas you can buy great zucchini and summer season squash at every farm stand, Z Meals Farm grows and sells more fascinating and distinctive merchandise of top quality together with the best specimens of extra familiar fare.

The chief farmer is David Zabeck and that’s his awfully hard working mom and dad above. Along with Rittenhouse Square on Saturdays, Z Food Farm is at the Princeton Farmers’ Market on Sundays. It is at Z Meals Farm that I’ve discovered shiso leaves and lemon verbena — each nearly unseen at area markets. Their tropea red onions have become my standard addition to heirloom tomatoes this summer season.

So there you’ve my neighborhood and its farmers’ market. It’s a very nicely constructed market offering an unlimited expanse of what any cook can be proud to serve to buddies and household. If you live within the neighborhood and do not shop at our native farmers’ market, you might be lacking an addition to your Saturday routine that might enrich your life and table. If you are not from here, I hope that you just visit Rittenhouse Square with a new appreciation of simply how particular it is. And i counsel you go to on a Saturday…when our Farmers’ Market is open.

What’s Next
There is way in store as we move to late summer into fall and the method of the vacation entertaining season. Rosh Hashana is subsequent Thursday.

Search for a put up this week to introduce you to Shishito Peppers.
Subsequent week: Headhouse Sq. Farmers’ Market. When you have by no means visited the Headhouse’s Sunday Farmers’ Market you might be missing a world-class food procuring experience. Come together with me on a blog post visit.

Arising: Look for an upcoming On the Highway put up about New York’s Hudson Valley and the resulting On the Desk, my brother-in-legal guidelines birthday dinner.

My Hudson Valley sojourn included a protracted visit to Guy Jones’ legendary Blooming Hills Farm (above). Search for a post about that visit and my 5 course vegetarian dinner at the farm. For years Blooming Hill has sponsored these dinners by visiting chefs. The visiting chef was David Gould from Brooklyn’s Romans restaurant. Additionally, a recipe submit of my interpretation of the squash soup served at that dinner — a culinary highlight of a summer time’s consuming.

Additionally on the docket as part of the neighborhood farmers’ market sequence is the Greensgrow Farmers’ Market in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood.

I leave today from Lengthy Island’s South Fork and my annual birthday dinner for my brother and household. Posts will follow. Search for more recipes too.

If you do not already subscribe and don’t desire to overlook any of those posts, I counsel you subscribe right now. You can even “give” a reward subscription to the weblog to a pal by merely suggesting they subscribe. It’s free! It’s also possible to subscribe at the place it’s also possible to learn about my ebook and companion web site, At Residence by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining.