We went by the always-strange Égide yesterday to get paid, and then walked back down Bl Villette / Ménilmontant, through the Couronnes Wednesday market. Again like all farmer’s markets the world over, it’s hit or miss. This time, though, we found a true gem: a farm 30km south of Paris, who come to two markets. Their card: “Nous vous proposons des légumes de plain champs et de nombreuses variétés de légumes oubliés ou traditionnels suivant les saisons.” And indeed they are true to their word.
I first spotted the variegated lettuce and baby beet greens. Then I saw the young garlic. It has formed a head but the top was still soft enough to slice like a leek and add to my ma po tofu. Finally, I saw their black greenhouse tomatoes. Black crimean/krim are among my favorites for their perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and when perfectly ripe, an exquisite balance of firmness and juiciness. When past ripe, they still make a nice sauce, instead of turning mealy.
While I was fully occupied by the veggies, Sara and Heather whisked on through the market; Sara was excited to find fresh hummus sold by the 100g, and Heather was ogling some cheese. Then I showed Sara a perfectly ripe black greenhouse tomato. So we went back to get some. The farmer laughed at me a little, asked where we were from, said that the vegetables in the USA weren’t very good. I said the vegetables in the rest of the market weren’t very good compared to theirs, and that you only had to know how to find the good stuff. And then we were on our way.
We stopped in an Asian store and I had to rearrange my purchases in my bag. It was then that I tasted the baby beet greens (pousses de betterave, beet shoots).
It was the fullest expression of a beet plant. The earthy redness, the green vegetalness, the sweet sugars that would eventually collect in the root — the beet shoots were as good as Vicki’s arugula, which still ranks as the best I have ever had. These had clearly been picked within a day. Sara and Heather had to have some. So we went back.
When I told the farmer we’d all just been astonished by the beet shoots were, she nodded knowingly, and insisted that we try some arugula and Sara took a mixed bag (some 2.50€ I think, same price as Vicki).
We asked where else they sell, and they are only at two markets (the other in the 12e or 14e, this is definitely the easiest). I’ll be going back every Wednesday.
La Ferme des Coteaux
10, route de Chasse – 91700 Villiers-sur-Orge
01 69 46 39 74 / 06 82 97 89 43