A stroll through any American farmer's market will reveal a variety of yellow colored whole foods like corn, squash, wax beans and yellow peppers. But a walk through downtown Boise's Capitol City Public Market will reveal unique foodstuffs in sunshine hues that you just won't find anywhere else, like locally made mustard, Chardonnay and pear honey. And a wine and cheese pairing class given by two Boise experts at a local gourmet shop will make you so fearless during your holiday entertaining this year that no one will dare accuse you of being yellow in the kitchen.
First stop on our Saturday stroll through the market: Mom's Specialty Mustards, where the original Fine Gold Mustard ($3.95-$5.95) has been a secret family recipe for more than 40 years. In 2003, Mom's Red Hot Mama version won second place in a top international hot foods competition known as the Scovie Awards. Mom's Mustards now come in eight flavors, but our polska kielbasas get the coward knocked out of them with the fiery Red Hot Mama. Once you try Mom's Mustards, your tailgate parties and Oktoberfests will never be the same. Check out Mom's Web site at www.momsmustard.com.
Ten-thirty on a Saturday morning is too early to be sipping wine (unless you're vacationing in Napa Valley but that's another story). However, you can't cruise past the Hells Canyon Winery booth at the Public Market without noticing the gorgeous hunting dog and game bird artwork that graces the bottles. Just as Idaho is known for its hunting, this winery consistently produces award-winning wines and their whites are no exception. Sippable Idaho sunshine is currently available as Bird Dog White ($15), a deliciously drinkable all-Chardonnay table wine, and 2002 Crooked River Chardonnay ($22), a bright-tasting white that is made exclusively from grapes taken from the winery's original vineyard planted in 1981. Now you don't need to visit Napa Valley for an excuse to imbibe after breakfast. For more info, go to www.hellscanyonwinery.org.
After a tangy nibble and a little nip, it's time for something sweet. Regulars at the Public Market know our next purveyor as The Jelly Lady, but her friends know her as Marge Price. Her stand is instantly recognizable by the 60 or so varieties of homemade jams and jellies stacked neatly on her tables. Her most popular items are huckleberry jam, pumpkin butter and apple butter, but since none of them are yellow we must search a little further for an obscure but tasty treat called pear honey.
"It doesn't contain any honey," explains Price, "but I think they call it that because of the color." Using a recipe that has "been around for ages," Price produces a jam that blends the light flavor of pear with the zesty bite and texture of orange marmalade.
"I spread it on cornbread," she says, although it would also taste good on pancakes, English muffins and angel food cake, or as the base for this author's Pear Honey Mustard Sauce.
After the Public Market closes at the end of October, you can still find Mom's Mustards at Boise Co-op and Made in Idaho. Hells Canyon wines are available at Boise Co-op, Made in Idaho, A New Vintage Wine Shop, Erickson's Fine Wines and The Porterhouse. The Jelly Lady will return to Capital City Holiday Market on Saturdays in November and December.
Foodies seeking to shed their yellow streak when it comes to pairing wine with cheese will enjoy The Champagne Party ($65) at Kandor on November 17. The champagne angle will be covered by oenologist Scout O'Gara, who studied wines and wine making at Fresno State, has worked for several wine distributors in the area and will bring some special bubbles for students to sip. Cheese samples will be handled by Boise Co-op's queso grande, Dan Cooper, who has traveled to England, Wales and America's East Coast to learn about cheese making from independent farmers and artisanal makers of cheese. Together, O'Gara and Cooper will explain how to fearlessly pair sparkling vino and cheese. Lose your yellow streak by calling Kandor at 336-1336.