Boise Urban Market - Spring Fling

Another night of successful eating at this month's Boise Urban Market.  Unfortunately, not quite as successful on the picture-taking side of things...

I don't really feel like explaining how the BUM works again, after having just gone through it in my February write-up, but I'll give you the short version here just in case you're too lazy to click either of the preceding links.  Members-only foodie gathering, monthly or every other month, date and time announced early enough to make plans but location given out only a few days beforehand, various hand-made foodstuffs available from non-professionals (though some of them seem to be becoming more professional by the day).  Sound interesting?  Go to their website or Facebook page for more information, and then go here to sign up.

Now that we've dispensed with that, let's talk about some food, shall we?

This month's market was held at Syringa Winery in Garden City.  It definitely had a better vibe and a better layout than the last location, but it was still awkward and crowded.  I personally only avoided bumping into one of the musicians in the center of the room on the upper floor by the narrowest of margins on a few occasions.  At least this time there was some seating for all of the impromptu diners, and also beer and wine available, though the prices didn't make much sense.  $3.50 is actually not bad for a bottle of Blue Moon at an event like this, but $6 for 3/4 of a cup of two year old white wine in a plastic glass?  I guess the winery needs to make some scratch too, but I was glad I went the beer route and my companion later said that she wished she would have as well.

After making a circuit of both the upstairs and downstairs rooms, I decided to hit up Nor-Mai's table first, especially since I'd somehow missed them at the last market.  I picked up two things from them, a fried shrimp cake that I don't recall the actual name of, and three pieces of Hoy Jor.

Fried shrimp cake from Nor-Mai

The shrimp cake really got my night off to a good start.  I mean how can you go wrong with fried Asian food and beer?   Best of all, the cake had a strong shrimp flavor with absolutely no unpleasantly fishy notes.  Both hot sauce and sweet chili sauce were available, but I didn't take advantage of either for this because it really wasn't needed.  Had there not been so many other things to try, I would have happily bought more of these.  Especially at only a dollar a piece!

Hoy Jor from Nor-Mai

Shrimp cake is easy enough to understand (think crab cake but with shrimp and done Asian style), but this dish is a little more complex.  Basically it's a fried pork, crab, and shrimp roll with various veggies and seasonings.  Rather than the usual wrappers though, this item is rolled up in bean curd, which I love.  It's hearty and has a good, if slightly mild, flavor that I felt would be brightened up by the sweet chili sauce.  I'm happy to report that I was absolutely right.

During all of this, my roommate had been munching on some kind of pastry that looked vaguely like a cinnamon roll except that it was filled with pesto.  I don't remember what it was called or who made it, and for that I apologize.  I can only say that I was sent to get drinks, and by the time I returned the roll was in no condition to be photographed.  Besides, I didn't try it so there's not much I can say about it.  She finished the whole thing and harassed me about trying a bacon and Thai pepper jelly roll from the same vendor, so I'm guessing it was good.

Next was a stop by the Sassy Sadie's Salsa table.  In the two months since the last market, she has really expanded her repertoire.  Alongside the red salsa now stood salsas in green and habanero varieties.  Chips were available for sampling all of these, but she had also cleverly set up a little station for making small pork tacos.  The meat seemed to have been done in a slow cooker with minimal seasoning, and a buck bought you one tiny tortilla with a scoop of pork, a wedge of lime and the traditional onion and cilantro.  On their own the tacos were good if not terribly exciting, but as a medium to try the various salsas on actual food for a low price, it was brilliant.  Since tomatillo-based sauces such as salsa verde are traditional with pork dishes, that's the salsa I chose to have with my taco.

Pork taco and green salsa from Sassy Sadie's Salsa

Once again, her salsa proved too spicy for me, but a splash of it on a taco was just about perfect.  The woman likes her heat more than I, but the flavors are definitely there.  My companion, who doesn't even care much for pork, had a second taco with red salsa, and then we both tried the habanero on chips.  This is one of the places where life tortures me, for though I'm a total wimp when it comes to spicy food, I love the flavor of habanero peppers.  The salsa had a building heat that I was smart enough to recognize and stop eating before I started to hiccup or something else embarrassing, so in the end everything was okay.  The roommate ended up purchasing a tub of the green salsa and will be making black bean burritos with it this week, and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

After the salsa marathon, we headed back to the Nor-Mai table so my companion could get a veggie curry puff that I somehow didn't get a picture of, and she proclaimed it good.  Once that was done, I headed over to the Korean Kitchen table.  I was excited because Korean Kitchen had my favorite dish of the previous market (seafood pancakes), and I wanted to see what was on the menu this time.  While in line I tried a sample of their kimchi, which was very good and not as spicy as I had expected.  I likely would have bought some if I'd had any idea what to do with it.  As it was, I flipped a mental coin and chose the Job Chae Noodles over the spicy chicken stir fry.  Once again, Korean Kitchen surprised me.  When I found a place to sit down and dig into the container of cold rice noodles and beef, I became so engrossed in my food that I completely forgot to get a picture of it.  Unforgivable, I know.  Guess you'll just have to come to the next market and try them yourself, eh?  Anyway, I would happily keep returning to the market if only for Korean Kitchen's food.

Ducking downstairs to see if there was anything else I needed to try, I found myself at the table for JJ's Lumpia Shack (at least I think the sign said "Shack").   He was selling a long, thin version of the spring rolls at ten for $5.  Thinking back, I should have known he wasn't going to give me a tray of fried rolls, but I wasn't thinking much at the time and was kind of surprised when he handed me a bag of frozen ones.  I was still trying to formulate a way to ask for a refund when I actually tried one of the samples he had sitting out.  Suffice it to say I decided to keep them and asked him for cooking instructions.  I'll post on it, most likely on my Facebook page, when I actually cook them.

Back upstairs, we made the last stop of the night at BadAss Chocolate.  After some sampling, we settled on a couple of brownies and a box of four Limoncello truffles.  Satisfied that I'd tried everything I was really interested in, we decided to call it a night.

Brownie from BadAss Chocolate

Having left the press of humanity behind, we decided to eat the brownies in the car.  I was very pleased with them as they're the style I like, flaky crust and dense, chewy inside.  The roommate seconded my vote.

Badass Limoncello truffles from BadAss Chocolate

In the end, this was my favorite thing of the night.  BadAss Chocolate once again surprised me by not only making me really, REALLY enjoy a dessert, but also for the second time it was a dessert containing white chocolate.  My companion described them as being like a really creamy version of the lemon bars that she's so obsessed with.  For my part, I just marvelled at how something could have such a strong lemon flavor and yet be so creamy without either one of those things being overwhelming.  It was a perfect balance.  As far as I'm concerned, it's a shame the proprietor can't scrap her day job and do this full time.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with for the next market.

So, a couple of missed pictures and incomplete descriptions aside, it was another great evening at what is already one of my favorite recurring events.  The only thing I would change is to have a larger venue, or perhaps an outdoor one as the weather improves.  Have I convinced you to attend the next one yet?  I hope so, but if not then hey, that's just more shrimp cakes/tacos/noodles/truffles for me...

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