The last few days of summer have been delicious.
Mother Nature has dished out a savory string of days - heaping helpings of sunshine and mild temperatures.
The tastiest part, though, has been the offerings I've enjoyed from Findlay Market. Cincinnati's farmer's market is a convergence of people and and wares in the city's most depressed neighborhood. First time visitors might be put off by the number of boarded up buildings they spy while walking towards the market - there's no two ways about it, Over-the-Rhine has seen better days.
The community was once a bustling bastion of Germanic tradition, featuring more than 50 breweries, churches and thousands of residents. The neighborhood was a glimmering testament to Italianate architecture, with rowhouse after rowhouse decorated in its own distinct molding and floor length windows.
The community went through a transition in the early 1900s, with many of those German families moving to more suburban outposts. Many of the buildings became vacant and fell into disrepair, and Over-the-Rhine became a haven for drug crime.
Every person and every place has a past, doesn't it?
These days, the neighborhood is experiencing a renewed gentrification, this time revived by Young Professionals, artists and empty nesters desiring a more urban lifestyle. Findlay Market is one of the thriving centers of OtR. Any given Saturday, you'll find a melange of people examining the produce and meat cases and wildflower arrangements. I like to go to watch the people and scout out the best deals on locally grown vegetables. I wasn't alone in my voyeurism yesterday. VH1 had a crew shooting some stand-ups for its Top 20 Video Countdown.
For the past three weekends, I have bought at least two zucchini (@ $1) and an eggplant (@ $1) from the same two ladies from Brown County. The zucchini are about as big as bananas and the eggplant the most beautiful color of deep, regal purple. You just can't beat the prices at Findlay Market. The strawberries were $1.50 a pound. Grapes $1.50 a pound. Tomatoes - all different kinds of ruby red and glistening orange. Heirlooms, cherry, Roma, hothouse. So many varieties to inspect and compare. Yesterday I picked up a box of Romas for a buck.
I also picked up Streetvibes paper at WestEnder's endorsement, and agree that it's a good read.
I know that summer is winding down, and soon I'll be noshing on produce grown half a world a way. But for now, I can enjoy the fruits and the labor of local people.
1 large zucchini, cubed
1 large tomato, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
1/4 pound pasta - either linguine, spaghetti or angel hair
15 leaves fresh basil
2 T shredded mozzarella
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring pot of water to a boil, then place pasta in water.
In a saute pan, drizzle olive oil and bring to medium heat.
Saute cubed zucchini and diced garlic in pan until zucchini is tender.
Drain pasta when ready and then pour in saute pan.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil on pasta, and include diced tomatoes and hand-shredded basil leaves. Sprinkle cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Stir a couple times to blend ingredients and then remove from heat.
Serve topped with shredded mozzarella.