What's new at the Dane County Winter Farmers' Market? Plenty of good stuff to eat. Among the recently introduced products at the Madison Senior Center on Saturday mornings are the following:
The GittoOrganics Farm stand is best known at the outdoor Capitol Square market for pristine, certified organic greens - I once overheard someone refer to Carol Gitto as "the arugula lady" - but the Gitto family also sells other vegetables and grass-fed Jersey cow ground beef. Now, at the winter market, the Gittos are fast becoming "the tortilla people." Last year, urged and then trained by friends in Ontario who had a successful tortilla-making business, Greg and Carol Gitto bought equipment, subleased a commercial kitchen in Lake Mills and began turning out their own.
They offer two kinds of hand-grilled wraps - whole wheat and white flour - in eight- and 10-inch sizes. The wheat flavor is fresh and pronounced in both types, especially the whole wheat, and they have a slightly elastic texture that leaves them sturdy enough to withstand even the bulkiest fillings. "I give them an 'A'," says Greg Gitto (so do I). "But I want an 'A-plus.'" He's looking for feedback from customers.
Sweet potatoes and dill tomatoes
Mary and Don Uselman's dehydrated sweet potatoes might be the market's most unique new product. The carrot-colored, candy-sweet disks come in four-ounce bags. You can nibble on them out of your hand if you like, but they're not chips - they're denser and chewier. Mary Uselman suggests adding them to stews and soups. The Uselmans' new line of pickled and canned goods (processed at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, a new shared commercial-food-processing facility in Mineral Point) includes catsup, tomato sauce and bread-and-butter pickles. Not to be missed are their dill tomatoes - small, garlic-seasoned green tomato wedges that are as sassy as a Marcia Ball honky-tonk tune.
On the gourmet side of local foods is Jenny and Chuck Anderson's line of smoked fish, which went from one to four types this season. The owner-operators of Westfield's Artesian Trout Farm are longtime vendors at the Capitol Square market - that's where their farm-raised smoked rainbows have been for exclusive sale for years (their fresh rainbows are sold at Woodman's West, Metcalfe Sentry and the Willy Street Cooperative).
Now they've introduced salmon from Maine, steelhead trout from Washington State and catfish from the South. All are farm-raised and all come fresh to the Andersons, who smoke and package the fillets under a state license. (These "nonlocal" fish fall under an exemption category at the market.)
The apple and hickory sawdust they use for processing gives the fish a mild smokiness, but I should probably offer full disclosure here: I'm a smoke-head. I love the deep noir smolder of Nueske's bacon and Lake Michigan whitefish, so what tastes mild to me might seem more forward to others. The catfish fillets are the sweetest, palest and firmest in texture. The salmon has peach-pink flesh, a large, tender flake and a wee hint of fishiness in what is otherwise nicely balanced flavor.
While my husband and I contentedly downed all three fillets in two sittings, the steelhead was the favorite. The flesh is a luxurious red-orange, it's lean but moist and, as the huz says, the flavor is "let's-get-some-more yummy."