With such abundance of Mexican flavor, it's no wonder that this is Bayless' chosen spot on some Sunday mornings. Here he can find practically any ingredient for a Mexican dish, whether it's the decidedly distinct Mexican oregano or guajillo chiles for a salsa. Plus, there's all the other produce: locally harvested, seasonal offerings, many organically grown.
Following Bayless from stall to stall as he shops, chats, and stops to introduce us to one kind of food or another, we work our way up one side of the row of stalls and down the other. By the time we head back to the car, Bayless' bag is full, and so are our stomachs. I, for one, have sampled champurrado, caldo, tacos de birria, a rice-pudding empanada (a turnover that's soft inside, crunchy and crusted with cinnamon sugar outside), and a taco of mole rojo-doused pork. And onward we go to cook more food from the goodies we've bought. It's an embarrassment of abundance.
Behind Bayless' Bucktown-area house lies another object of his passion: his garden. Bayless and his wife, Deann, packed a little bit of the country into their urban homesite, and not without some ingenuity. He plants pole beans so they can climb high rather than mound wide. Tomato plants stretch tall in supportive cages, allowing them to yield more in less space. Instead of spreading over mounds, squash vines climb a fence, where they can bloom to their hearts' content. (The arrangement doesn't allow the plant to bear fruit, but Bayless harvests the blossoms, a classic Mexican ingredient.)
The vegetable garden isn't just a study in productive use of the soil, but also a thing of beauty. Ornamental vegetables, such as "Bright Lights" Swiss chard with its neon, citrus-colored stems, make the vegetable patch as pretty as the part of the garden built just for show - the show, that is. Across the boardwalk, Bayless filmed segments in an outdoor kitchen: a Renato wood-burning oven and a Weber grill, both enclosed in native limestone. Now that filming is over - for now - the wood-burning oven is handy for pizza night (in one family favorite, goat cheese and bacon top salsa instead of tomato sauce, and the freshly baked pie gets a dose of basil). And though Bayless had been a charcoal man, using the Weber on TV taught him the utility of gas grilling.