Soulard Farmer’s Market
Crown Candy Kitchen
Four outta nine ain’t bad.
J. Viviano, an Italian market on Shaw, was a highlight, and proved more fun than in years past. When I worked in St. Louis in 2000 I was a little intimidated by the staggering variety of foodstuffs available. I no more knew what to do with a jar of capers than I would stepping in to run the kitchen at Babbo. Now, while I still have stated purpose for the capers I bought, I know enough to ask about – and to try – everything I can.
Saturday afternoon I found myself (along with Mrs. Show Me Eats and the munchkins) at the venerable store on Shaw Avenue on The Hill, staring at a dry erase marker board hung some ten feet in the air. It listed dozens of imported and homemade cheese and cured meats as well as an array of olives. I was there for cacciocavallo cheese, real Italian sausage and the king of all Italian cured meats (okay, after prosciutto but my own personal favorite), capocollo. Viviano’s does a mild and spicy version. I asked for a pound of the hot stuff.
Then things got a little, um, crazy. Everytime I caught sight of Mrs. Show Me she had loaded more dried, housemade pasta, orzo, breadsticks and couscous into the stroller. Eventually the one year old had to be carried to make room for the bounty. I was caught up in the rush too. Three balls of fresh mozzarella? Nah, make it four. How about some semolina flour? At $1.25 a pound, we grabbed the three pounder. Then a pound of salami, some gnocchi and angel hair pasta hurdled into the stroller, now groaning under the burden. When we were done we’d dropped more than $80, mostly on items (pasta and meats, especially) that were priced well below Hy-Vee levels. We staggered back to the simmering car like drunken sailors, wondering how my little freezer-bag would hold the cold stuff.
Then we went back to the hotel and slept off our food-drunk. We awoke sober, but hungry, and tore into the cheese, capocollo and salami with our bare hands, crunching on Stella d’Oro breadsticks just to break things up. Our pregame meal on the floor of our tiny hotel room was better than anything else we had this weekend. Then we stepped out into the soupy afternoon and walked to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals lose another close one.
(Update: My dad and sister went to the ballgame last night and stayed in town with friends. I had him stop off at Viviano’s this morning. We need more capocollo.)