Market Rallies

The North Union Farmers Market celebrates a new season.

The North Union Farmers Market began its eighth season on Shaker Square last Saturday, supporting the region's small family farms and introducing city dwellers to the joys of fresh, seasonal produce. And market manager Donita Anderson says 2002 is shaping up to be the nonprofit group's biggest year yet. As many as 20 new farmers and producers have joined the roster, including Family Fresh Dairies, a maker of organic Holmes County cheeses that already counts chefs Karen Small (Flying Fig), Steve Parris (Fulton Bar & Grill), and Parker Bosley (Parker's New American Bistro) among its customers.

Last year marked the first time marketers greeted the season with a traditional maypole dance, says director Mary Holmes, and it proved so popular that they are hosting it again this year on consecutive Saturdays. Assuming the weather cooperates, the ancient rite of spring will be performed by costumed youngsters from the Cleveland City Dance Company at 10 a.m. May 4 and May 11: Just look for the giant, ribboned pole rising up from the lawn.

The Shaker Square market operates every Saturday through December 14, 8 a.m. to noon. Markets in Lakewood and Olmsted Falls are scheduled to begin in July.

Food with a view . . .

Executive Chef Beau Mueller and his staff are sharpening their knives in the Erie Bleu kitchen in preparation for the ninth annual Evening in Ohio City. The fund-raiser gives ticketholders a guided tour of six Ohio City homes while tempting them with hearty hors d'oeuvres and wines at each stop. Mueller's creations -- marinated, grilled veggie skewers with ancho-chile mayonnaise; fried crab cakes with stone-ground mustard; cashew chicken bites with Thai sauce; and whole grapes, rolled in cream cheese and coconut -- will be served in a renovated 1850s house on John Avenue that has found new life as a contemporary home for two doctors. Other stops will feature foods from Bruno's Ristorante, Fulton Bar & Grill, Johnny Mango, Traci's, The Harp, and Heck's Café. The evening ends at Great Lakes Brewing Company, with dessert, coffee, and beer (which actually is dessert for many Clevelanders). The mobile feast takes place Saturday, May 18, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person and can be ordered by calling 216-781-3222; the tour has been a sellout in past years.