Review: Artisan Exchange – West Chester, PA
A couple weeks back I contributed to Vance Lemkuhl’s article “Vegan dining in the Philly ‘burbs” on Philly.com and I really wanted to try the Rawsome fudge listed. I visited Artisan Exchange‘s website to see if there were any other vegan vendors and I saw that a couple other favorites listed. Since we were headed out that way one Saturday anyway, I decided to give it a shot and see how many other vegan yummies are available at this market.
I had a blast schmoozing with all the vendors and encouraging some to add vegan items to the mix. Warning to the Bucks County and Stockton Farmers Markets: vegan items aren’t just for vegans, they’re for everyone, and the guys and gals at Artisan Exchange are way ahead of you in the vegan department. Everyone was polite and cheerful. Even the vendors who don’t yet have vegan offerings were open minded (with the exception of one, and no, it wasn’t the sausage vendor) and said they were actually looking into it.
The vendor that surprised me the most was Maiale, the sausage vendor. As I politely declined his offer to try some of his products and was slowly walking away, he told me he had vegan sausage. He stopped me dead in my tracks. When I go to farmers markets in my neck of the woods I avoid the animal product vendors, they tend to be condescending when I inquire if they have any vegan items. Here was hope, smiling back at me, and friendly too Even though he’s a meat vendor he’s trying to have something for everybody. I like to support small vendors like him, because you never know where this will lead them in the future —if you had met me when I was 19, you would’ve thought I was hopeless and that I would never become vegetarian, let alone vegan years later— or simply for the fact that they have something for me.
Artisan Exchange Vendors with Vegan Offerings
From the whole list of vendors, here are the ones who have vegan items:
- MomPop’s – all vegan and allergen-free popsicles
- Dia Doce – has gluten-free vegan cupcakes
- Lancaster Hummus (FreshaPeel) – all vegan hummus and kale pesto
- Rawesome Fudge – all vegan and raw fudge
- Vera Pasta – has a couple of types of pasta without eggs
- Naughty Nutty Love – only the plain peanut butter is vegan (all other nut butters have honey or dairy)
- Taste Artisanal Market – has truffled olives
- Maiale Cured Meats – has a black bean and mushroom vegan sausage patty
- Basic Batters – has a vegan chocolate chip cookie (but didn’t have it when I was there), they’re also making the gluten-free vegan pizza dough for Take Me Bake Me (see below)
- Taste of Puebla – has salsa, guacamole, cactus salad and chips
- A variety of farmers – fresh veggies, mushrooms and plants
This just in: (vendors keep contacting me after I wrote the post to add more items to my list —Love it!)
- Jenny & Frank’s Artisan Gelato – have dairy-free sorbetto—some of the flavors are blood orange, watermelon mint, pear with midori
- Sally B Gluten-Free – has gluten-free vegan organic cookie granola bars in Cocoa Kale and Maple Walnut Munch
Artisan Exchange Vendors Who Will Have Vegan Offerings by Summer
- Take Me Bake Me (same owners as MomPops) – should already have gluten-free vegan pizzas
- Taste Artisanal Market – says they will have vegan spreads
- Lavinia’s Cookies – said they would try to have at least one vegan cookie flavor
What I Bought at the Market
Here’s what I got and what I thought:
- Rawsome Fudge for $7 for a small box, comparable to other raw chocolate products. I wasn’t ever a fan of conventional fudge because it’s usually way too sweet for my taste, but the Rawsome fudge was perfect. It’s actually so much better. It has a rich raw chocolate flavor and the right amount of sweetness.
- Tomato basil fresh pasta from Vera Pasta, $5 for a 1lb bag. Delicious homemade texture and flavor. Great price compared to store bought gourmet pasta.
- Cranberry Apple hummus for $5 a container. I love all the FreshaPeel hummus flavors. This was my favorite from the sweet ones. It tasted like applesauce with a heartier texture. I made a PB and CAH (cranberry apple hummus) sandwich and it was super yum. I also ate it by the spoonfuls
- And last but not least, the black bean and mushroom vegan sausage, $5 for a package with 2 patties. How could I not? The vendor was nice enough to even give me an ice pack to keep the sausages frozen while I schlepped around the Philly burbs the rest of the day. The portion size and texture of the patty was good and it held up well while pan frying. I don’t think it would hold up well on the grill, though. The only suggestion I have for the vendor is to season it more, with some herbs and spices and maybe hot pepper flakes. Sausages need to be flavorful. With some minor adjustments I think he’ll have a great product.
Dia Doce was out of vegan cupcakes by the time I got there, at 1:00 pm. Be sure to get there early for those. I also passed on the popsicles, they just weren’t going to last until I got home.
We had a wonderful lunch on Sunday with the spoils of my adventures at the market. I made the fresh pasta and topped it with mushrooms in a white wine apricot chipotle sauce and the black bean sausage on the side.
If you live in or around West Chester, PA, I highly recommend a trip to the Artisan Exchange. I’ll definitely stop by again.