Last weekend’s Taste of C-U event drew several food trucks away from the market. The Pop Stop, Cracked, Empanadas House, and Pandamonium Doughnuts were all at Taste, leaving the Hendrick House and Piato to Go food trucks with lengthy lines. I arrived at the market in quite a state of hunger and had little patience for any lines. In my hunger haze I happened upon Pekara’s booth and opted for a chocolate croissant, which was perfectly flakey, buttery, and delicious. If you’re looking for a quick fix, grab a croissant for eating while you walk around the market.
The summer heat and humidity have finally graced us with their presences, and the forecast for this weekend is hot — like low 90s hot. If you’re heading out, I suggest you go early to avoid the heat and the market and Sweetcorn Festival crowds. (The Sweetcorn festival begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday.) The market is generally crowded, and this weekend is bound to bring more folks out. Please remember that pets are not allowed within the confines of the market, so leave them at home (in the air conditioning).
School is back in session. The market has plenty of options for loved ones’ lunches or after work/school snacks. Bell peppers have been looking lovely, and make colorful and healthy snacks. If you have a mandolin or are adept with a sharp knife, you can thinly slice the peppers and add them to salads and pasta dishes. Cherry and grape tomatoes are made for popping into your mouth. Or simply slice in half and toss with some equally-sized cucumber pieces, fresh herbs, and lemon juice, and you have the perfect side salad. This summer has been incredibly kind to cucumbers, and if you’re not growing them in your garden, pick up a few and slice ‘em up. Kale chips are super easy to make: preheat your oven to 425 degrees, rip your clean kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, toss with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and/or other seasonings you desire, and roast until crispy, about 15 minutes or so. Sandwiches are better on delicious bread, and delicious bread is available from Pekara.
If your people prefer sweet, check out the peaches, apples, and melons. I’ve been using market peaches in oatmeal, and they’ve been an enjoyable sweet and fresh way to lighten up a hot, grainy breakfast. There are also plenty of pre-made snacks, including popcorn (store in an airtight container for a couple of days), sweets, and popsicles.
In addition to regular market programming, folks at the market have organized a contest for market attendees: during the month of September, if you post a photo on Instagram of/from the market with the tag #myurbanamarket, you could win a box of market goods valued up to $100. Even if you don’t regularly attend the market, next time you do, whip out your phone, snap a photo of your favorite thing (ahem, chocolate croissants) and post it. Why not? Maybe you can win some cool stuff.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall. LINK tokens are still available.
Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and in the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the market off of Illinois.
Information: The market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the market on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for market mail. Check out the map of the vendors, or search for produce. If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez, or call her at 217-384-2319. Check out Flickr and Instagram for some great photos from the market each week.
Pets: The market doesn’t allow pets, so leave your furry friends at home.
The market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 1st. All events are scheduled rain or shine.