Taste of the Town
October 3, 2013 • 08:16:24 a.m.

Taste of the Town: Vendors share unique fare at Geneva market

By NICOLE WESKERNA - nweskerna@shawmedia.com

The Orchard Patisserie serves up freshly baked breads, croissants and sweets at the Geneva French Market every Sunday. (By Nicole Weskerna - nweskerna@shawmedia.com)

GENEVA – Where can you go to get homemade mustard, quiche, a spicy organic veggie burger and locally grown pickled asparagus? It’s all being served under the canvas tents at the Geneva French Market, which started in May and is open rain or shine from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 10. The market is in the parking lot at South Street and Fourth Street at the Metra station in Geneva.

Several vendors sell their fresh produce, as well as locally made honey, gluten-free selections, breads, cheeses and baked goods. Customers can eat some dishes on site or buy frozen dishes to make later. Many of the food vendors there work to provide products that are made with locally grown ingredients. Each has its own niche – it’s just a matter of carving some time out of a Sunday to stop by the outdoor market.

The following is a look at some of the vendors.

Inglenook Pantry
Some vendors, including the Inglenook Pantry in Geneva, can rarely be seen outside of a farmers market or catering gig. Mark Weaver, who owns the business with his wife, Connie, said they used to have a storefront, but now rent a kitchen in Geneva and focus on catering and farmers market events.

On Sunday, they served up egg sandwiches, quiche, scones, margarita pizzas and sweets, such as cookies and scones. Mark Weaver said he and his brother opened the business in 1970 in Elgin, following a family tradition of running a farmers market stand like their parents did on the East Coast.

Mark Weaver, who is Church of the Brethren, said the food at Inglenook Pantry is made in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, which means they try to use as many local resources as possible and make as much of their food by hand as they can.

“My wife’s very good at baking, so she does most of that. We make our own ice cream,” he said. “All of the vegetables are from this market or the Batavia [farmers] market. We try to be as perfect as we can.”

Orchard Patisserie
Around the corner from the Weaver’s stand is the Orchard Patisserie, owned by Tom Merz, who left his career as a chemist to pursue a bread-baking business.

He said his homemade croissants, which can be bought plain or with one of three fillings, are consistently a big hit. When he’s not working the Geneva French Market or a farmers market, he’s baking breads for Preservation Bread & Wine in Geneva.

In addition to muffins and scones, Merz bakes up fresh baguettes, honey walnut rolls and cheese-filled breads, which are made much like a cinnamon roll, only with cheese.

“I went to a French pastry school. When I first started this, I thought I would be doing more pastries,” he said. “But I enjoy baking bread more.”

Lou’s Old Fashioned
Using old family recipes, Lou’s Old Fashioned offers a variety of canned products, such as salsas, sandwich spreads and the most recent addition, original bread and butter pickles. Homer Cox, who was running the stand at Geneva’s market on Sunday, said all of the products include ingredients grown on a farm in DeKalb.

Canned foods include pickled beets and horseradish, pickled garlic, dilled Brussels sprouts and dilled green beans. There’s also a selection of jams, such as raspberry rhubarb, and spreads, such as jalapeņo mayo and mustard, as well as apple and pumpkin butter.

The Bleu Olive
Bob Coffey, owner of the Warrenville-based Bleu Olive, has been selling imported oils and vinegars for the past five years. While he still sells those items, his newest product – homemade mustard – has gained a lot of traction lately.

Coffey said when he started researching mustard-making, he learned that it’s the second-most popular condiment next to salsa. It’s a new craft that he only picked up last winter, but now it’s one of the most popular items on his shelves.

“In the spring, I introduced five flavors,” he said. “Now, I have nine flavors.”

The more popular mustard flavors include chipotle and horseradish mustards. He said some of the more uncommon flavors include a Dusseldorf mustard, which is a lot like Dijon, but a little more grainy, as well as a roasted seed agave mustard.

“I came up with a product line that people are coming back for every couple of weeks,” he said. “It’s been very satisfying.”

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