I love it when Mrs. D (Danae Sintilas of Mrs. D’s Mediterranean Delights) turns up at my house. She usually calls me the day before to tell me she will be coming by with “something special” she wants me to try before she starts bringing it to the market. How lucky am I?
This past week, she brought me her fuchsia-colored beet hummus. I happen to be a beet hummus fanatic and was very sad when Taiim and then Whole Foods stopped carrying it. Hers was as luminous on the tongue as it was on the eye. Ditto for her butternut squash hummus which, frankly, was the sassiest take on a squash I’d tasted in a while – and that’s saying a lot on the heels of a delicious Thanksgiving. Honestly, Mrs. D never disappoints. As Rose, our fearless market manager always says: “I’ve never tasted anything Danae makes that I didn’t like.”
Which is why we put up with some of Mrs. D’s er, eccentricities. Mrs. D just can’t seem to get to the market on time. Not even close. Last week we had a frank discussion about it. With food so delicious, I told her, I hate the notion that some people shop the market and leave without ever having seen her or tasted her food. Just think of how many people are missing out! “Do you need a new alarm? Do you need better transportation?” I asked. Mrs. D looked at me sheepishly, “It’s just that I always want to make and bring more,” she said. And so, at the very last minute on a Saturday morning, when she should be loading up her car, she decides to make a quick batch of soup or baba ganoush instead. Of course, her devoted fans, some of whom have known Danae since she worked at the Cafe International restaurant, or at the cafe she ran in at the Saw Mill Club they simply come later to the market, even if it means missing out on Stone & Thistle eggs or tender spinach from Sun Sprout Farm.
Chances are you’ll find good bread, bountiful produce, pastured meats at most farmer’s markets. What makes a market unique are the personalities like Mrs. D. We are so lucky to have her, even if it is on “Danae time” as we all call it. Mrs. D is Greek, but was actually born in Alexandria Egypt where her parents owned a fancy patisserie. When the political climate in Egypt forced them to move back to Greece, where Danae was raised, they stayed in the food business and continued when the family moved to America in the late 60s. “It’s in my DNA,” says Danae who says she loves her market family and says her “one on one relationship with my customers is what keeps me going.”
You’ll be happy to know that Danae is on a creative streak and will be unveiling her new products to the indoor winter market which starts officially next week with a holiday market. We will be unveiling some new vendors that day and can’t wait to tell you about them.
In the meanwhile, we will be outside this Saturday. This means that Joe Tomato will not be able to attend. He is making mozzarella at a big private party Saturday night and if he stands in the cold all day it could affect his hands and their mozzarella mojo. (Did I mention that personalities drive a market?) Don’t worry – you will not be left without mozzarella. You can find some (fresh and smoked) at the Bambino’s Ravioli Pastificio tent where you should also pick up some lobster ravioli.
Also, we are bringing Ready Set Sharp BACK to the market this Saturday since many of you were thrown by his presence last week, which was not a “second Saturday.” Good for you for paying attention. Please bring lots and lots of knives to sharpen since his sharpening wheel sat idle all of last Saturday.
See you at the market and can’t wait to tell you what we’ve got up our sleeve for next week. One word of advice: please save some of your holiday shopping for next Saturday’s market at the First Congregational Church, where you will also be able to buy your Christmas tree and so much more.
Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ farmer’s market director
author: “American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” (HarperCollins)