knife sharpening, knife skills, SoPo Farmers Market, Wicked Sharp

The Farmer, The Baker and The Pointy Knife Maker

I have a confession–I never learned to read. No, wait..that’s not it. I never learned to sharpen knives. For my culinary background–both in school and the real world–I never learned to sharpen a knife properly. I would also put my knife skill level at mediocre, at best. You see, when I was in school, there was a little medical incident during the one class they designated to knife skills and sharpening. Right at the beginning, before we were handed our onions and carrots to learn our cuts, a classmate had a seizure and the entire class was cancelled so that she could be attended to. Sure, I think in subsequent classes they should have brought back the topic or allowed us to sit in during another skills class but this was a tiny Community College and not the C.I.A.

While my skills have developed through cooking at home and watching the hands of other chef’s, I still do not know how to sharpen a knife properly–despite the Missus purchasing me a gorgeous Shun whetstone this past year (for which she ‘won’ Valentine’s Day). So, for the better part of 8 years, I’ve been working with slightly sharp knives and mostly relying on a V-sharpener to keep the knives just above dull. Yes, I know of the Freeport Knife Company but, honestly, I couldn’t be away from my knives for more than a day (they would be one of the few things I saved if my apartment were to ever catch on fire), let alone ship them to the west coast as recommended by Shun.

Then, a few months ago, the Press Herald posted an article about a new sharpener in town: Wicked Sharp. Seeing the article reminded me that I needed my knives sharpened and I even contacted him but, again, it required my knives to not be at my disposal for more than a day. Yes, I could have dropped them off in batches but I don’t get over to the Willard Square area often enough to drop them off at Bathras Market, an agent for Wicked Sharp, or have a schedule in line with their hours. So, I resigned myself to the notion of having slightly sharp knives for ever. That was, until I noticed Wicked Sharp had posted on their Facebook page that they would be joining the new Farmer’s Market in South Portland and would be sharpening knives while you shopped. I was already heading over to Thomas Knight Park to pick up my online order from the Cape Farms’ Market and this made it so I didn’t have to deal with my separation issues. Brilliant.

With it being the inaugural day of the newly formed market, there was a wee bit of pomp and circumstance for it.

And the Mayor was dressed as a Watermelon. Yes. A Watermelon. I had no envy for her in that outfit.

But, I didn’t really have time to stand around and wait for that. So, like the obnoxious ass that I can be, I went around their ribbon and scooted to find his booth, which wasn’t very hard in the modest sized market. I handed over my knife roll, was told to come back in 20 minutes and did a little shopping while he worked.

And it turned out to not only be a brilliant idea, but also extremely inexpensive–four knives and a pair of scissors only cost $20.50. Also, right across from his booth was Sugar Hill Baking, one of many bakers in the area without a store front. She had been someone I had wanted to get for our second round of cupcake tasting and it was complete serendipity that she was there. Not only did I snag a few for the tasting (you’ll see more on that in a week or so) but she had the most gorgeous almond shortbread cookies on display

as well as Whoopie Pies, three different varieties of pies and mini-chocolate truffle cakes to name a few items. The cookies were on par with the pastries I’ve gotten from Scratch Baking Co. and I will just say that, even if you don’t need your knives sharpened or need to pick up from the Cape Farms’ Market, you should visit the new Farmers Market to track down some of her treats. But, she’s not the only baker there either and is joined by Blackbird Bakery and Allergeena, a gluten-free focused baker. There was another bakery to the side of Sugar Hill but, once the ribbon was cut and the flood gates of people opened up to the market, it quickly became hard to get close to any of the booths.

By then, my knives were ready and we picked them up on our way out of the park. While it’s a quaint and smaller market, the new SoPo market definitely has some interesting differentiators from the well established Portland Markets(like later hours–3pm to 7pm) to make it well worth the trip over the bridge on a Thursday afternoon.