See that? No, it's not REALLY WHITE white cranberry peach juice. It's goat's milk! Milked LAST NIGHT from goats. And in the bag beside it? A pound of ricotta made from goats' milk.
But I will back up a bit.
Julia and I dropped off Alex, put gas in the car, stopped at the bank for some cash, and headed to the farmers' market. We arrived just about nine o'clock. There were a couple of other customers there, but mostly it was just farmers, some of them still setting up.
Julia and I parked the car (well, I parked it; she questioned my choice of parking spot) and crossed the road to the little clearing where all the farmers set up.
Already we could see many of the familiar stands from last year…the women with potted herbs and flowers right as we came in…the lady who makes soaps and lotions from local, natural products like goats' milk and honey and herbs and flowers…the woman who makes dog treats…that farm over in the far corner where we bought some of our seedlings last year…and over there, my favorite farm, Ledge Ends Produce, right there in their usual spot.
But most important to both Julia and myself today – the Honey Stick Man was there.
That's not his name, of course. But that's how Julia thinks of him. He sells honey, bee pollen, honey sticks in an assortment of flavors, and maple syrup. Also this year he had out a couple of jars of hard candy made, I'm guessing, with honey, but I didn't look closely.
He also sells eggs, which is why I was happy to see him, and cut flowers, and he also had some candles made of beeswax and some soaps, both of which I think are new this year, but I could be wrong.
He also had a square wooden box (that he'd made) and inside – oh, the treasure – an assortment of cheeses fromNarragansett Creamery. I just about swooned. Okay, not really. But sort of. I think I've mentioned Narragansett Creamery in here before, and linked to them - I just can't remember which post it was.
Anyway, just as I was about to try to choose one of the cheeses, the Honey Stick Man, whose name, if I remember right, is Bill, told me he made some ricotta last night. With goats' milk. And he had some with him. My ears perked up, figuratively.
"Do you sell it? The homemade cheese?" I asked, fingers crossed behind my back.
"Well," he said, "I only brought some for this one lady who said she'd be here first thing this morning."
"Would you be able to bring some next week for me to buy?" I asked, wiping the drool from the corner of my mouth. Goats' milk ricotta!
The Honey Stick Man scanned the area behind me. "I don't know if she'll be here today," he mused. "She's usually here by now, because she has to get to work." And then he told me if I checked back later and this woman hadn't shown up, the cheese was mine. He told me about an hour would be fine.
I bought a dozen eggs and Julia picked out ten honey sticks, and I practically danced from stand to stand as I gathered the other things I needed – pepper plants and tomatoes and a couple of pink daisies and a soap for Julia and some garlic scallions. We put all our stuff in the car as it began to rain, and I figured we could zip to the grocery store for non-farmers' market items and then zip back for the goat cheese. Mmmmm…goat cheese.
But then I realized I had no idea what he was going to charge me for the goat cheese, and I didn't want to spend all my cash and then get back and not have enough for the goat cheese…so I told Julia we needed to go back over really quick so I could ask the Honey Stick Man a question.
And as we made our way back across the clearing, the rain fell harder.
By the time we got to the Honey Stick Man (which was in less than a minute), rain was pouring down and the Honey Stick Man was trying to rearrange things so all his tables were under cover. He had a sort of tent cover arrangement, but the rain was hitting everything around the edges of his tables.
There were two other women there – one of whom seemed to know him – and as the rain continued to fall, the two of them and I helped the Honey Stick Man move tables, dry off boxes of beeswax candles, and hang a tarp and shower curtains all around the inside of the tent cover to shield Honey Stick Man's stuff from the rain.
Julia stood in the rain, just observing, until she was drenched enough and found herself a little corner spot that was now sheltered from the weather.
Once the last shower curtain was hung, Honey Stick Man took out the bag of cheese and said it was mine. He also asked if I wanted the milk too. I asked how much, money changed hands, and off Julia and I went, soaked to the skin, and rich with dairy products.
I sampled the ricotta when we got home (of course). And, also of course, it was fabulous. Because it was made from goats' milk, it had more of a tang than regular cow's milk. And lucky for me, I love goats' milk cheeses about as much as I love fresh ricotta. I could have eaten the whole pound of it happily, but I am trying to curb my gluttonish tendencies, so I put the bag back in the fridge and busied myself with other things.
But I can hear that cheese calling to me. It's so hard to resist!