Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bean Counter

Trekked up north this weekend for a visit with Nan. 

Sissies and I, and all the girls, spent the weekend with her and Aunt N.

We shopped until we dropped. And came home with drapes for the ALL the windows in the house. We started putting hardware up at six p.m. and finished hanging the last pair of drapes at ten p.m. Oh me, oh my, I don't ever want to see another set of drapes for a long, long time.

But Nan was oh-so-happy. She cried when she hugged and kissed us and thanked us for helping her. She's the sweetest thing. You'd think we gave her the moon.

And while we were up there we stopped by Cote's Market.

Cote's Market.

Known for the best beans EVER.
When we were kids, my grampa would stop and get beans at Cote's every Saturday for the noon time meal. Beans, slices of deli ham, thick slabs of Italian bread slathered with butter, fresh tomatoes when they were available. This was our lunch every Saturday we were at Nan's house.

And I can't eat beans any other way. Other beans usually have molasses in them. Or some other kind of s.u.g.a.r.

Those kind of beans are horrid, I say. Horrid.

Cote's beans don't have any sugar and they are oh-so-delicious.

Last time I was up at Nan's, we couldn't get any. They were all sold out. That's what I get for trying to find beans at nine o'clock in the evening. This time I wasn't taking any chances. We were out the door at nine in the morning and in Cote's by ten after nine.
I could have spent the entire day in this market. It's an old mom and pop place, opened up in 1917, and still run by family members. The shop is on the first floor of a tenement type of building, with apartments above it, right in the heart of the city. Hardwood floors. Low ceilings. Butcher block farm tables in the kitchen.

I got to chatting with the owner, the grandson of the original owner. He was telling us about the succession of owners and how he got to run the place. He showed off the home made light, crispy, and oh-so-flaky pastry crust he was rolling out for the streudel and turnovers. Trays and trays of whoopie pies came out. He tells us over eleven hundred pounds of corned beef gets sold for St. Patrick's day in the spring.

And all the while, people lined up for the beans. Sixty huge pots of beans get made every Saturday. 

What size? asks the young college guy spooning beans into paper containers. 'A quart, no extra', answers the first guy in line. He takes his quart, neatly wrapped in plastic wrap, and walks away. 'Pint, no extra, sauce on the top," says the next guy. 

It was like living in a foreign land, listening to this language they were speaking. No extra? You don't want any salt pork mixed in with the beans. Sauce on the top? You want a little extra gravy poured over the beans before they get capped off. I was fascinated with this small world within Cote's Market.

We rang up our purchases and one of the sales clerks helped us carry a box out. As we were walking to the car, I asked what time the market opened on Saturdays. 

Eight o'clock, she says. But the beans are ready by six a.m.

So if I show up at the door at six a.m., will you sell me some beans? I joked with her.

She looked at me, gave a little smile, and said, "See that parking lot over there? Go through that lot and behind the building. We'll sell you beans at the red door at six a.m. But only on Saturdays."

Then she thanked us and walked back across the street. There were a lot of people to help in that market.


  1. Ok, now I want to visit this place!! Where is it? In Maine?
    I know I've told you this before, but your descriptions are I was standing in line for beans! lol (which I wish I was after this blog post)

  2. wow! so is it like a version of baked beans? they sound so good! i would like mine with extra salt pork please ;)

  3. @Lyndsay - yes, they are "baked" beans, made in a pot. Honestly, not sure how they're cooked. I just eat 'em.