The Perky Foodie is BACK!!! I know, it’s been a while! I’ve really missed blogging! have been insanely busy, so I’ve had no time to write, but I promise I’ll try to write more now that I’ve settled into my schedule and have gotten the hand of the whole time-management thing. I’m in an a capella group, a community service fraternity, women’s choir, I just got cast in my first show, plus loads of homework (and socializing and eating and procrastinating and maybe a little sleep thrown in there somewhere), so you could say I’m a bit short on free time! College is so wonderful though. I am in love with Muhlenberg! The campus is gorgeous, my classes are all really interesting, I’ve made amazing friends who are almost stranger than I am (quite an accomplishment I must say), and the food–I know that’s all you really care about–is fantastic! I’m definitely planning on writing a blog post in the near future on all of the delicious food that ‘Berg has to offer… It’ll happen eventually!
One thing that I’d been super excited to try ever since I knew I was going to Muhlenberg is the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market, and I finally got to try it last week! It was a really gross and rainy Thursday afternoon, and as tempted as I was to put on my sweatpants, hop into bed with a jar of Nutella, and watch Real Housewives, it was student discount day at the farmer’s market. This was no time for rest. This was time for action! I got on my rainboots and my bright red umbrella, rallied the troops, took some cute pictures in the gross weather, and set off for the farmer’s market which was many many Muhlen-miles away. We Muhlenberg students are spoiled with a small campus, so we really don’t have to walk that far. Because of this, from my dorm to Moyer (where I have my first class most days) is a full Muhlen-mile, and it feels like it takes an eternity to get there. I’d say the fifteen minute walk down the street it takes to get to the farmer’s market is equivalent to about five or six Muhlen-miles. Anyway, we finally arrived. This farmer’s market, dubbed “The Most Modern Old-Fashioned Farmer’s Market in the East”, has been running since 1911, so I knew it was going to be something special! This was nothing like the little outdoor Red Bank Farmer’s Market I’m used to at home. Instead, it was inside a building which looked pretty big from the outside, but inside was unbelievably huge. Over 65 different stands which are set up like mini shops sell everything from fresh produce to candy to meat to Amish baked goods to seafood to BBQ! It’s a total foodie wonderland. I felt at home. There was so. much. food.
As I mentioned, it was a cold and rainy day, and cold and rainy days call for warm beverages, so that was what we decided to get first. We found a place called Heffelfinger’s, and walking into this little shop made me SO happy. Loose teas and coffees of every flavor lined the walls– and I wanted to buy ALL of them. They also sell lots of yummy looking spreads, jams, and even pancake and waffle mix!
After a short moment of deliberation, which wasn’t too much of a deliberation because my choice was pretty clear… I decided to get the Pumpkin Pie Cappuccino. Though we all kind of hate ourselves for it, who doesn’t get excited about the first Starbucks PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) of the fall season??? The PSL is a wonderful thing for about 4-5 sips. After that, you start to realize that it tastes like a cup full of sugar with a hint of pumpkin flavoring and little to no actual coffee. This Pumpkin Pie Cappuccino, however… It was smooth and foamy. It was sweet, but not too sweet. It tasted like fall, but still tasted like rich, bold coffee. It beat Starbucks by quite a landslide to say the least.
Throughout the Farmer’s Market, there were tons of different vendors selling fresh, local produce! The one that we stopped at, called Berghold Produce, is a family-owned stand that has been running for over 60 years selling lots of delicious fruits and veggies!
I was going to buy the gorgeous looking apples, but I realized I already had apples in my fridge that I brought back to school the last time I was home, so I was all covered in that department. I could have gotten stringbeans or avocados like my friends Natalie and Blake… (And yes, stringbeans and avocados were indeed their snack items of choice for their dorm…) But instead, I got Bartlett pears instead! I feel like a pear is an underrated fruit. There’s just something so satisfying about a perfectly ripe pear. After buying the pears, I realized they were not ripe yet, so I wouldn’t be getting this satisfaction for at least another full day… And this made me very sad. I really wanted to eat a pear right there and then. A day is TOO LONG to wait for a juicy pear!! One of the very sweet ladies that worked there could tell how obviously distraught I was by my pear-eating dilemma, and she offered me a Bosc pear to try since those could be eaten when they’re not quite ripe! It was crisp, sweet, and refreshing!
Bosc and Bartlett pears are both delicious, but totally different breeds. Bosc pears are brown and have a firmer texture and brighter taste. Bartletts are green when you buy them, but become a little more yellow when they’re ripe, and they have a softer texture and sweeter taste. And once my green pears ripened, they were exactly the juicy pears I had hoped and dreamed for! I need to go back and get more of both types of pears while they’re still in season because I can’t get enough!
Then, it was dinner time! Nestled into the farmer’s market, we found Foods of the Mediterranean, a little restaurant serving tons of healthy and beautiful classic Mediterranean food! This place is hard to miss with its vibrant green walls, Grecian vines cascading from the ceilings, and display of alluring food! We were like kids in a candy shop, indecisively pointing to all the gorgeous dishes and salads in the glass case. My friend Natalie is vegetarian and my friend Blake is gluten free, and so both of them are often limited when it comes to eating out, but not at Foods of the Mediterranean! Each item that they make is carefully labeled if the food is vegetarian or gluten free, so there are no worries! Spanakopita is always my go-to when it comes to Mediterranean food!
Spanakopita traditionally is just phyllo dough, spinach, and feta cheese, but this one also added ricotta and parmesan to make it extra cheesy! It had the ideal flaky layers of paper thin phyllo dough, and the melty cheese and spinach between the layers was perfectly warm and comforting.
I also got two side salads to pair with my delicious spanakopita. One was cauliflower, drizzled with tahini sauce. The cauliflower was lightly fried, so the outsides were golden brown and the interior was soft and tender. Tahini is made from sesame seeds and olive oil, and it’s essential in many Mediterranean dishes. I never would have thought to put it on cauliflower, but it worked so well! It was garlicky and earthy, creamy and luscious!
I also had a Cyber salad, which was made of fresh cucumber, tomato, and onion, and flavored with balsamic, olive oil, and oregano. It was light and refreshing, so it was a lovely complement to the spanakopita and cauliflower! I absolutely adored this authentic Mediterranean food, and I could tell that it was made with fresh ingredients and lots of love!
I can’t wait to come back to the Allentown Farmer’s Market! It’s filled with amazing food and super friendly people. There are so many wonderful things to try and I’m so excited to explore some more!
Enjoy! Love, The Perky Foodie