Meadville Market House
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
34 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
On a recent sunshiny perfect Saturday for a road trip, we actually woke up early as planned, hit the road early as planned, and by about 10 a.m. pulled into Meadville, Crawford County.
Destination: the Meadville Market House.
We'd wanted to go there for years, but there was no rush: The place has been operating as a public market since, oh, 1870.
Renovated a century later, the brick building still is a hub of delicious activity, especially on summer Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the local farmers still converge there with the fruits and vegetables of their labors.
This was early in the growing season, but we were greeted by mounds of strawberries, as well as greens, spring onions and other fresh treats, from cookies to rhubarb plants, from members of the Meadville Area Local Growers. And that was just outside.
Inside, the charming market squeezes in several different vendors of everything from natural foods to pest control products.
We breathed deeply at one bakery offering just-baked sweet rolls and smiled at the sign warning this was the last week for rhubarb pies. We perused the other wares, including local milk in glass bottles, organic beef and pork, yarn, cutting boards, pasta, Tupperware and pizza.
For the past year, this local landmark has been operated by the French Creek Project, which is a conservation group, but it also believes in conserving family farms and, "This is the best way to do it," says the conservancy's Alice Sjolander, who has the neat title of "market master."
In the works, besides adding products and vendors, are renovations including an elevator up to the second floor where the Meadville Council on the Arts gallery and theater are.
The Market House, at 910 Market St., is just a few blocks off Routes 6/19. (Heading north on that, turn right on Arch and then left on Market.) It's open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays; until 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and until 7 p.m. Wednesdays, when the local growers come at 3 p.m. More growers are there from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. You can phone the market at 1-814-336-2056, and soon it's to have its own Web site.
There's even, in the back, a cozy country restaurant -- Larry's Market House Grill -- where we sat down to a fine breakfast of blueberry pancakes and "original scramble" of eggs and potatoes and onions and peppers.
But the one thing that made this entire road trip worth it, and made it entirely likely that we'll repeat it before winter, was the discovery in the far back corner of the other bakery, EJ Creations. One woman was decorating a birthday cake, but I was drawn to another woman, the "Scone Lady." She was removing from the oven a tray of just-baked biscuits. I had to have one.
She actually asked if I wanted a hot one. I paid her as fast as I could -- 40 whole cents -- and then took a big bite.
Out popped a puff of steam only slightly lighter than the biscuit.
First Published July 23, 2006 12:00 am