Saturday market

Five Reasons to Hit the Saturday Market This Week

At book club last night, a friend mentioned dropping by Trader Joe's and finding that just about everything seemed to be Pumpkin Spice. There were the snack bars, the coffee (blergh!), the chai, the pumpkin spice cakes and pies and frozen things. There was actual Pumpkin Pie Spice. Pumpkin dog biscuits.

Because dogs like food trends, too

Pumpkins are hot. And if you like pumpkins, this would be the year to take advantage of their trendiness, because in a year or two pumpkins will probably go the way of sun-dried tomatoes and chia seeds. (Chia seeds, at least, are just over the trend crest, so there are still plenty of the little fellas to be found, gracing random food products.)

But Trader Joe's isn't the only one riding the pumpkin wave. Our Market farmers are as well. Have you noticed all the pumpkins we've got?

1. PUMPKINS

These would be Burpee Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Think of these sweet, smooth darlings as the high-maintenance cousins of butternut squash. But the same principles apply: hack the thing in two, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in the oven. Then just dish out the tender flesh. Years ago, the Seattle Times ran this article on sugar pie pumpkins, with handling and recipe ideas. You, too, can experiment with pumpkin-flavored everything in your house!

Because our book club was reading Out of the Dust, a young-adult prose-poetry tale of the Dust Bowl during the Depression, our themed food included a homemade apple pie, which really can't be beat as a fall favorite. The Market has several varieties of...

2. APPLES

Sweet ones, sweet-tart ones, you name it. Just ask your farmer which variety you should try for eating out of hand or making into applesauce or slicing into pie filling. They're at their crisp and delicious best.

3. ASIAN PEARS


I bet I'm not the only one who has missed Rockridge Orchards and all the scads of Asian pear varieties Wade(?) used to bring. But I've noticed we still have a couple types at Collins Family Orchard. Sam recommends you let them sit out until most of the greeniness is gone, replaced by golden dots. She also says these are fabulous dehydrated like apple chips!

4. POKE TO THE MAX


My daughter and I have grabbed plenty of Saturday lunches at this truck. I go for the Loco Moco bowl, while she prefers a Shaka Sandwich Wrap. Whatever you choose, it's sure to be fresh and flavorful. Plus it's always delightful to hear someone speak to you with a Hawaiian accent...

5. FRESH-BAKED BREAD


Those of you who haunt the Woodinville warehouse district might already know Proven Bread, where Alexis Carson provides rambling winetasters with picnic fixings like sandwiches and charcuterie and fresh-baked goodies. Well, we at the Saturday Market also get to enjoy her James-Beard-Award-Nominee baked offerings. What better to pair with a hearty fall soup, or some Tieton Farms cheese and a salad?

Okay--this is not a post to write before breakfast. I'm off for now, but hope to see you all this Saturday.

Now You Can Get Lazy and Forgetful

Because the Saturday Bellevue Farmers Market opens this weekend! Go ahead and run out of strawberries and cherries after two days--you can always get more on Saturday.

More where these came from

As in past years, the Saturday Market will be held in Compass Plaza, just south of Barnes & Noble, and they will graciously provide free parking with Market validation.

Sounds like Opening Day will be a lovely one, so why not come down for your fresh, just-picked goodies and one-of-a-kind prepared foods, and then grab a beach read from Barnes & Noble before you head for the pool? I've put out my list of 2015's Beach Read Choices here.

And, lest I forget, you might want to run by the Thursday Market as well, to grab some luscious sparkling cider to complete that perfect afternoon.

Some of the ciders

Remember Finn River from Saturday Markets past? I spotted them last Thursday, with their dazzling array of sparkling ciders and wines and brandies, all made with their own fruit.

Dessert wines!

The Full Monty

And hasn't life gotten better, now that we can sample the goods (if we're over 21)?

You can even make it a Finn River weekend because every Sunday at the farm and cidery they offer tastings AND a free slice of woodfired pizza, garnished with "fresh, organic, farm-grown toppings." This is meant to be a family affair with live music from 12-6pm. Show up on bicycles and you get a free cup!

Our friends are located south of Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. Directions here.

Don't forget that Saturdays are dog-friendly, as well--a big highlight for my almost 12YO daughter, who loves to see your dogs, since her cruel mother won't get her one. (This is her birthday weekend, so I'm putting out a special plea to all Corgi and West Highland Terrier owners to turn out!)

Got one of these? She's welcome on Saturdays!
Walk your Westie on down!

Do we have a deal? See you all Thursday and Saturday.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Somebody stole summer. I don't think I was alone in imagining (unrealistically, but nevertheless) that the sun and warmth would last till October 1.

But no.

The clouds have returned, and I am thinking of trying to interest Tim Eyman in backing an initiative for a High-Pressure Tax. That is, all of us Washington taxpayers pony up to construct an enormous contraption that raises air pressure over the state and blows all the clouds and crud into Canada and Oregon, where they will be better appreciated.

Call me a genius, but I'm picturing something like this

In the meantime, I shivered my way through the Saturday Market for the first time last week and made some discoveries worth sharing.

This poor woman was selling ice cream sandwiches. I've been a sucker for ice cream sandwiches from the first It's It and cheap 7-11 Neapolitan versions of my childhood, but not on days when my hand would turn blue as I held the thing, and drizzle drizzled into it. However, I tuck this info nugget away because the day will surely come when the sun beats down again, and my only fear will be if I can finish it before it melts.

Artificial warmth could be had, however. If you haven't noticed, the number of wine and cider vendors at our Markets has increased, and they're offering samples! I noticed Eaglemount, a near neighbor of last year's Finnriver, had quite the array of hard ciders.

Beautifully bottled--great hostess gift!

I would have stopped to sample, but that too will have to wait for another day, because I was drawn irresistibly to the vendor right beside Eaglemount, lured by the savory, luscious, sausage-and-garlic scent.

The WiseGuy was indeed wise, to whip up such a batch of hot, aromatic yumminess on such a cold day. What better than a meatball sandwich wrapped in nothing but some foil and a napkin? It was a combination lunch/handwarmer!

First he stirred up the goods...

and then he jammed it inside a baguette, the innards of which had already been pressed down to the bottom by a special, baguette-rammer device. Amazing. I think we are witnessing the cool-weather equivalent to the invention of the ice cream cone. Yes, I did still manage to drop some down my front, but nothing that a little cold water and soap couldn't get off. And it was SO worth it.

Once my stomach was full and my hands were warm, I was then able to stop and smell the peonies (and daisies and other flowers).

And to linger over the

and the

Confession: this pic is from Thursday, but you know what I mean.

No matter the weather, this Thursday and Saturday the Market offerings can warm your insides or cool your fevered brow. We may even come to be grateful for the meteorological variations, for allowing us to try everything the Markets have to offer!

The Omnivore's Bonanza

"I've really been reading a lot lately on nutrition," said a friend to me at the pool, as she pulled a Terra chip out of the bag and popped it in her mouth, "and I'm getting serious about getting rid of the junk food. Have you read Wheat Belly?"

I have not read Wheat Belly--only read about it, and its claims that modern American GMO wheat is the root of all evils. (Having not read the book, I wouldn't swear to that thesis in a court of law!)

Whether or not you believe that--I don't happen to, but I've dutifully put the book on hold at the library--I'm finding plenty to eat, wheat and otherwise, at this season's Bellevue Farmers Market. And speaking of the Market, Opening Day for the Saturday Market is here!

Ye Olde Compass Plaza

You remember Compass Plaza from last year, right? Across from CPK, and right in front of Rock Bottom Brewery? Barnes & Noble (of the blue check mark) has graciously offered to supply us with Market parking again, so think about adding a book to your picnic basket this weekend. Saturday Opening Day means, starting this week, we have two places to pick up all that wonderful food.

Which brings me back to my original point. If you have managed to freak yourself out about GMO wheat, the Market can help you with that. I mentioned our new vendor Wildflour last week:

Owner and baker Dr. Rebecca Johnson has traveled her own road of gluten-intolerance and suffering through awful-tasting, wheat-free alternative foods, with delicious results for us. Wildflour offers just about every kind of bready product, from loaves to muffins to cookies to scones, all gluten-free, mostly dairy-free, and baked in a peanut-free environment. Johnson also avoids bean, corn, and soy flours, for those of us who do freak out about GMO soy (hand raised).

Buy. Unwrap. Stuff in mouth.

In place of baked products, it seems Wheat Belly recommends Atkins-y diets of the carbless food groups, and the Market can help with that, too.

Cheese, glorious cheese and meat!
Eggs galore
Wild-caught salmon
And of course, vegetables a-plenty

Two or three more weeks of asparagus, folks! We had some on the grill the other day, brushed with olive oil. Perfection.

And the first strawberries of the season? They're called "Honeyeye." As in, Honey-I-am-never-eating-those-giant-tasteless-red-golfballs-called-California-strawberries-again. Even though we all know the berries get sweeter, the farther we go into summer-variety territory, these Honeyeyes from Hayton Farms were good enough to rinse and serve plain at a book launch party, as I did:

One last note--my ten-year-old Sherpa and I had to grab a quick dinner before said book launch party last week, so we took a friend's recommendation and hit up the Contigo food truck.

We both went for the "bowls," she for the carnitas (pork), and I for the beef. My mouth waters, even typing about it almost a week later. I highly recommend. If we hadn't been planning to put it aside for later, we would have tried the tacos. Thankfully, there are many more weeks to come, in which we hope to try every prepared food at the Market at least once!

See you this week, Marketgoers, for more food and fun in the sun.

How to Do the Saturday Market

Summer = houseguests.

At least for us. With family in town these past several days (of whom three of the visitors were kids 15 and under), we were looking for activities that provided (1) fresh air, (2) some exercise, and (3) food. Hooray for the Bellevue Farmers Market!

If you're expecting guests or just want to do the Saturday Market up right, I've got two steps for you.

WALK OR PARK. The new downtown location is wonderful! I included a map in my last post, but the easiest way to describe it is on the street between Lincoln Square and CPK, opening into Compass Plaza in front of the Tap House and Rock Bottom. We parked at Bellevue Square, having other business there, and strolled past the Bellevue Arts Museum. So easy, and it felt like the summer street fairs! In fact, here's the map from the Arts Museum website:

COME HUNGRY. The good thing about there being so many of us was that we were able to sample lots of the Saturday offerings.

(Pic stolen from Yelp because I ate my dish before I remembered to photograph it)

The Los Chilangos food truck serves up delicious, fresh Mexican food. I'd seen the truck parked during the week at 1829 130th Avenue in Bellevue, so I was thrilled to give it a try.

Next week we'll have to hit the other truck:

A Marketgoer, preparing to thrive

Thrive offers organic, vegetarian food, including smoothies, salads and bowls.

Then there's Midori Bakery--

 

Baking incognito at Midori Bakery

The picture's lousy (photo credit: yours truly), but the baked goods divine. We ate the perfect soft pretzels and my son had the ham and cheese croissant. All gone. All good.

On the side we enjoyed Collins' Chelan cherries--

Sweeter than the Rainiers I got on Thursday. I think we went through three pounds, lickety-split. (Their Fuji apples are worth getting, too--crunchy and sweet.)

Followed by cleverly-named Yippie-Pie-Yay:

Mid-Yippie!

Hand pies are a wonderful invention. And the perfect size, so you have an excuse to say, "Get your own!" Loved the peach-bourbon and blueberry flavors.

And ending with Hedgehog Toffee. Now, both this toffee and Thursday's Pete's Perfect Toffee are better than any you'll get in the stores, but I especially appreciated Hedgehog's compostable packaging. Being on an anti-plastic kick, I love to see the brown paper!

Finally, the Market wouldn't be the Market without food items you can't find elsewhere. Saturday offers plenty of pastured eggs and even duck and turkey eggs! When I don't have my family with me, I'll get you more details on that...

In the meantime, finish off whatever you have left in the crisper and prepare to re-load at our two Markets!

Saturday Market Opens This Week!

--which is good news for those of you who have been wandering around near Top Pot asking for directions, weeks in advance!

Some of our farmers and vendors will overlap between the Thursday and Saturday markets, but there will also be new faces, including Hama Hama Oysters and Skagit Valley's flower-growing Jello Mold Farm, recently featured in this Seattle Times article. And for you fans of Asian vegetables and squashes, look for Mair Farm-Taki.

Meanwhile, another great week at our Thursday market. This time I arrived before the first-of-the-season's strawberries were sold out at Tiny's Organic and managed to get at least five of them before my youngest ate them all. The trend for enormous strawberries in the grocery store mystifies me, since every market aficionado knows that the littlest ones are the real flavor bombs.

For Memorial Day one woman purchased twenty-one (!) bouquets for the graves she intended to decorate, including one of gorgeous peonies, perhaps from Pa Yang Farm. All I can say is, I feel rather sorry for the graves next to the twenty-one because they might look a little shabby in comparison...

After sampling one of Foraged and Found's "sea beans" (available through mid-July), Jonathan and I had a fascinating discussion about their new tea and medicinal offerings. F&F is known for its mushrooms and huckleberries, of course, but they also carry such things as nettle tea, rich in vitamins A, C and E and iron, and said to be a digestive aid and to improve the skin and scalp! Jonathan suggests cutting it in with loose-leaf mint tea or mint leaves. They also carry that superstar of the Vitamin-C-supplement section, rosehips. I'd never actually laid eyes on the things before, and thought you might not have either--hence the picture. As with the nettle tea, Jonathan chops up 2-3 rosehips and adds them to mint.

And having worked up a decent appetite, I checked out the chef demo by Newport High School's Culinary Class, a two-year program taught by Tracy Green. The roughly 30-student classes are serious business, being two periods long and going for the entire year. In their second year, the students become sous chefs. For the market demo they instructed the audience in making a Potato-Onion Gruyere Galette, passing the generous sample tray twice, before moving on to making pasta.

And finally, speaking of pasta, I brought home a pound of lovely, pink, beet fettucine from La Pasta and served it up with homemade Alfredo sauce and Loki salmon. Just writing about it makes me want to dig out the leftovers for breakfast!

Think good thoughts this week, and maybe this Mayvember weather will lift, but at least our seasonal market produce will be there Thursday and Saturday, rain or shine.