Yesterday marked the opening of the St. John’s Farmers’ Market, which luckily for me is right around the corner in my own neighborhood. It is held at the Lion’s Chalet on Bonaventure Avenue from 9 AM to 2 PM every Saturday during the season which goes well into the Fall months.
Besides local grown fresh vegetables, an eclectic mix of other products are on offer, from jams to toutons to local authors selling their latest books. Amazing local crafts are also well represented, as are tempting baked goods; really something for everyone, an approach that has undoubtedly nurtured the huge rise in popularity of the weekly market over the last 3 years. Those early markets with just a few vendors in no way resemble the beehive of activity and amazing community energy that can now be experienced every Saturday morning at the market.
If you’re from the St. John’s area and have not yet visited the St. John’s Farmers’ Market or even if you’re a die hard fan, check out the 99 photos from this week’s market on the Rock Recipes Facebook Page here.
While at the market, I finally met Adam Blanchard, the owner of Five Brothers Artisan Cheese, a locally sourced artisan cheese maker. This was Five Brothers first appearance at the market and by all indications a very successful one. I was late getting to the market yesterday because of number one son’s early morning track meet and by the time I arrived they had already sold out of most of the cheeses they had for sale. Luckily though, I was able to snag a little of their latest product, a mild creamy goat cheese.
Their goat cheese is less tangy and salty than many of the commercially produced goat cheeses I’ve tried and I’m assuming that has everything to do with the freshness of the product. Resisting the urge to slather it directly onto some baguette and scarf down the jolly lot, I decided to pair it with a savoury cherry jam on what turned out to be some amazing bruschetta. Slightly sweet and a little tangy, this oven roasted jam also gets a fruity and peppery note from some crushed pink peppercorns for a nicely balanced combination that compliments the creamy goat cheese beautifully. I can tell this one is destined to become a favorite canape when entertaining at our house.
Roasted Cherry & Pink Peppercorn Jam
Makes about 1 cup
2 cups fresh pitted ripe cherries, cut in quarters
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Toss all of the ingredients tohether and spread in the bottom of a 8×8 glass baking dish (or any similar size glass baking dish). Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the jam is reduced to a tick consistency. Make sure you toss the cherry jam about every 10 minutes while roasting. Remove form oven and at this point you have the option of adding 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme to the jam…or not…it’s delicious both ways.
1 French Baguette sliced
Toast the baguette slices and rub the surface of each with a freshly cut garlic clove while still hot.
You can serve the goat cheese at room temperature or as I sometimes do, place it in the middle of a glass serving platter and place it in a 200 degree F oven for just a few minutes until it is just warmed.
You can smear the goat cheese on the baguette and top with a dollop of jam and serve or, as a different way to serve add a small glass dish of the warm cherry jam beside the goat cheese in the center of a large flat serving dish and arrange the toasted baguette slices around the platter so that guests can put them together themselves.