Trip to SOWA Open Market - Indie Craft Fair and Artisan Foods

We spent a fun Sunday afternoon at Boston's SOWA Open Market. SOWA -- "south of Washington Avenue" -- is a trendy,rejuvenated Boston neighborhood that is home to lofts, galleries, and boutiques. (Note: the square photos in this post were shot with iPhone's Hipstamatic app which can make atypical, but fun shots.)


The SOWA Open Market is open on Sundays from May to November. There two parking lots full of vendors. One has artisan foods such as Grillo's, a local company that makes delicious hot or regular Italian-style pickles among other marinated items. There is a vendor With homemade French style macaron cookies in several yummy sounding flavors. There are cheese artisans, a bread company, and fresh herbs and produce.

Walking through an archway and down a walkway lined with shops takes you to another parking lot with craft artists' booths and food trucks. Here we found a vintage map dealer with large local maps that look wonderful framed. There was a craftsman who made cool, funky vases and glass from vintage soda and beer bottles. There were booths with clothing remade from vintage items and several jewelers. We bought a pair of bird print earrings for our daughter.

The food trucks looked interesting and ranged from barbecue to Thai food. The food truck lines were long, so we decided to skip them that day.

The walkway between the two parking lots is dotted with shops. You will find people shopping, walking, eating lunch, and just relaxing.

A bonus Is the indoor flea market with vintage furniture, accessories, and clothing. It is on the block between the two parking lots. I found a sterling mechanical cat charm to take home with me.

Next time time you're spending a summer weekend in Boston, I recommend you check out SOWA Open Market.


Chuck Berry and Blueberry Hill

Chuck Berry, rock and roll legend also known as "The Father of Rock and Roll", was born in St. Louis and still lives in a suburb of St. Louis today. He and the St. Louis landmark restaurant and music club, Blueberry Hill, have a strong connection going back many years.

Chuck Berry has been performing at Blueberry Hill for the past twelve years. He celebrated his 80th birthday there with a special standing-room only concert. And at the age of 83, he still performs a concert there one Wednesday a month. His concerts sell out, so buy tickets in advance.

Blueberry Hill is a perfect place to visit if you are a rock and roll fan. Located in the historic Delmar Loop area, there are shops and galleries to explore and the St. Louis "Walk of Fame" with stars of famous St. Louisans dotting the sidewalk. You can start your afternoon exploring the area and end off the evening with a casual dinner at Blueberry Hill.

When you enter the club, you are enveloped with rock and roll and pop-culture nostalgia. The walls are covered with memorabilia from Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, pop-culture memorabilia, and vintage jukeboxes.

The food is casual, but delicious. Some of the Blueberry Hill specialties are the famous St. Louis Toasted Ravioli appetizers, chicken wings, and hamburgers. Waiters are friendly and can tell you about Chuck Berry's next concert date.

The next time you visit St. Louis, check out Blueberry Hill and the Delmar Loop.  If you are lucky, you can even catch a memorable Chuck Berry performance.  You can learn more about the Delmar Loop area here.

Making Bread - "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" Book


 Deli rye loaf

One day at Barnes and Noble I found this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I thought the idea was exciting and purchased a copy. 

We have used the recipes from the book several times now, making both the master recipe which is a type of peasant soughdough bread, and the rye deli bread.  The concept is that you make a large quantity of dough by throwing flour, salt, and water into a large container, mix it a little, let it sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight where it rises. Then you pullout a small loaf-sized amount, stretch and shape it into a ballish form, let it sit for a while, then transfer it to a pizza stone in the oven to cook.  The recipe makes enough for three  loaves.

Double recipe of Deli Rye bread - dough has risen in refrigerator 

We love the idea of the very easy and quite yummy peasant-type breads, but were having some problems.  We only got two loaves instead of three from the recipe.  The dough did not rise very much before baking.  Because we were concerned that our container might be airtight, we just laid the lid on top loosely and it kept sliding off, so that the dough inside developed a hardish crust. 

Dough is bubbly and has a sourdough-like texture

Finally I did a Google search and found that the book had a website with a lot of information, a page of errors, and a page of questions and answers.  We found that the amount of yeast and salt stated in the book is not enough, and that the lid should be closed on the container.   Just adjusting these two things gave us a bigger loaf of bread that rises better and has a more dough-like texture when raw, and we don't have the problem of a hard crust forming on the refrigerated dough.  We also realized we were making the loaves a little larger than required which made it harder to get nice loaves.

The book gives you a fun, easy way to make your own artisan-like bread with yummy results.  The next one I want to try is the olive bread.