cherries

Blink, and You Might Miss These

We were at the Mariners game last night, being alternately grieved, thrilled, annoyed, and then thrilled again by the 7-6, extra-inning triumph over the Detroit Tigers. There was mediocre pitching. There was a bag of kettle corn and a serving of garlic fries. There was a grand slam. There were Tigers fans getting on my nerves.

Thanks for the pic, MLB.com

I bring all this up for no reason, except that the Mariners don't win all that often, and we ought to savor it.

Just as we ought to savor the summer fruit season as it goes whizzing by! The strawberries are already done and the cherries soon to follow.

Get 'em while they last!

 Tell me you've tasted these offerings as well...?

FYI, a "nectarcot" is an awesome sweet-tart fruit that reminded me of a pluot. All our fruits are coming at us at an accelerated pace because of the heat wave, so we have to stay alert! My hub even spotted ripening blackberries among the monstrous weeds that threaten to overtake the Greater Puget Sound if you relax your vigilance for even a few months. Blackberries. In July.

But while we're snatching up fruit as the season flies by, don't miss other tasty things making appearances.

Did you notice the smoked tuna on offer at Fishing Vessel St. Jude's? So. Yummy.

Under a glass dome, like the treasure it is

And how about the appearance of Jujubeet, with their cold-pressed juices and wholesome snacks? More on them later because I used to work at their Bellevue store, but for now, one of their publicity shots:

I've had this exact drink at Jujubeet

And, this Saturday (7/11) and next Thursday (7/16), don't miss the reappearance of Peasant Food Manifesto, food truck of awesomeness.

Where I had this so-luscious mac and cheese with kimchi:

If any of you out there are Mariners fans, you know the valuable life lessons fandom teaches, which easily apply to eating seasonally:

  1. You can't have whatever goodness you want, whenever you want it.
  2. When the good times come, milk them for all they're worth.
A friend who accompanied us to the game happened to be up getting food and refilling water bottles when the Mariners loaded the bases and Austin Jackson hit his first career grand slam. He heard the pandemonium but got no closer to the festivities than staring up at the monitor by the concession stand. 
Sadly, that will be me, with this week's Markets. I'll be eating pool concessions at the kids' swim meets while you all have a ball. Think of me, when you're enjoying summer's walk-off victories.

Not to Be Overlooked

I once wrote a book in which a younger sister, lovely in her own right, was frequently overlooked because of her older sister's raging beauty. It wasn't the main plot, but it was a factor.

That story came to mind last Thursday because I got to the Market by 3:40, ready to buy my first Rainier cherries of the season. You know Rainiers: those blushing beauties with their sweet flavor and extra-dollar-per-pound premium. (They're the gorgeous, high-maintenance girlfriend of the cherry world.) What did I discover, but that some of you other Market customers had the exact same idea about picking up some Rainier cherries, and one family in particular came in right after the Market opened and cleaned out the inventory. Bought every...last...one! It was no use whatsoever to rain down curses. The Rainiers were gone. Leaving "only" the Chelans.

Always a bridesmaid?

In the absence of Rainier cherries, however, Chelans would get their due. With their rich glow and delightful sweet-with-a-hint-of-tart flavor, they're pure awesomeness in cherry form. Only no one notices when the darned Rainiers are around. See what I mean? It's that more beautiful, older sister thing. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Let this be your advisory: learn to appreciate and love all cherries because, while the season started earlier, supplies may be shorter. Sam at Collins Family Orchard reports that a giant hailstorm took out a lot of cherries and apricots in their area. They didn't lose as many, but their neighbors lost plenty.
The Rainiers were back for the Saturday Market, but again, they were going fast.
The more beautiful sister - but what'd I say about the price tag?
While I'm on the subject of overlookedness, did you see we had raw milk at the Thursday Market? You might have dashed right past it, but if you've ever wanted to try it, look for this fridge:

Raw milk proponents say the awesome bacteria present (that usually gets killed off by the pasteurization process) can boost gut function and the immune system. Raw milk opponents say you take your chances and might get a lovely case of GI unhappiness. Having had both raw milk and raw milk cheese, I've not yet had a bad experience, but ask our friends at Sea Breeze Farm if you want to learn more.

Note the fridge location

And finally, those of us who don't know much about wine may have breezed past Wilridge Winery at the Saturday Market.

They've got whites, reds, and even dessert offerings, and you can even buy a refillable(!) "growler." As Wilridge points out on their site,

60% of the carbon footprint for a wine comes from the bottle...It takes only 5% of the energy necessary to melt a bottle for recycling as it does to wash a bottle for refilling.

You can even bring back the cork!

Growler on left
And on right

Wine is big business in Washington, and with the drought spreading, it promises to get even bigger in future years, per this New York Times article. I do wonder if table grapes are similarly drought-friendly because I sure would love to find those at the Market. I've seen some Concord grapes in Eastern Washington farmers markets, but none over here.

I've got more finds for you--the Market is bursting with them--but they'll have to wait for later posts. Go enjoy that sunshine!

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.

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!

Bellevue Farmers Market: Bad News, Good News Edition

If you're like me, you always want to get the bad news over with first. But, take heart, in the instances I am about to share with you, the good news almost always outweighs the bad.

THE BAD NEWS: First off, there is a terrible drought crippling the Midwest that promises higher food and fuel prices. We had some friends visiting from Indiana, and they reported on the endless heat and wilted fields of corn. If you want to lay eyes on some pictures, Forbes ran this photo essay recently. So if you love your frozen and canned corn, your high fructose corn syrup, your ethanol, and your countless other corn products, there are rough times ahead.

Our apologies to the Midwest

THE GOOD NEWS: Washington corn is looking and tasting great! My in-laws brought us a dozen ears from around the Tri-Cities area, and they were beauties. Full-grown ears with sweet, crisp kernels. Not unlike the ones I saw for sale at Alvarez Organic Farm (Thurs and Sat). Get your hands on about 3-4 ears and try the following recipe. You will not be sorry.

Slow-Cooker Corn Chowder (modified from a recipe found in Not Your Mother's Slow-Cooker Cookbook--Market ingredients marked with an "*.")

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 of a large Walla Walla Sweet onion, chopped*
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped*
2 cups chicken broth
1 small bay leaf
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
about 3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut off the cobs*
1-2 cups diced cooked Polish Sausage from Skagit River Ranch* (ours was leftover from a barbecue, so it imparted a lovely smoky flavor)

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over med-hi. Add onions, celery and carrot and cook until the onion is transparent and browning. I dislike crunchy onions in soup, so I do this about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and add all ingredients EXCEPT milk, corn, and sausage. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.

Add the milk, corn and sausage. Stir. Cover and cook on HIGH another hour. Adjust seasonings.

THE BAD NEWS: No sampling of alcoholic products at our Market.

(L to R) Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Red Table Wine, & Red Dessert Wine

THE GOOD NEWS: You won't be sorry if you give those products a try! I've posted before about my deep, deep love of Rockridge Orchards' Quarry Stone Hard (Apple) Cider, and at the Saturday Market we now welcome Wilridge Winery. Wilridge is a family-owned operation with organic grapes grown outsideYakima and a tasting room at the Pike Place Market. While the selection may vary from week to week, Megan chose her recent favorites this time out. For your next meal on the patio, check out the Pinot Grigio and Viognier, two crisp whites with green apple notes and a hint of pear. If you're grilling steak, try the award-winning Red Table Wine. Or the Dessert Wine with some dark chocolate.

THE BAD NEWS: Razey's Orchard reports that Bing cherry season is drawing to a close.

THE GOOD NEWS: We still have another couple weeks of Rainiers and still longer of such varieties as Lamberts and Sweetheart. Binge while you can!

THE BAD NEWS: I locked my keys in the car at the Saturday Market and had to borrow a Market volunteer's cell phone to summon my understandably irked husband.

THE GOOD NEWS: Before I could get a hold of him, I thought I would have to walk home, bag of iced Loki Salmon, hunk of Samish Bay Ladysmith with Chives, and all. It was very hot on Saturday, if you recall, so to prevent possible heatstroke I stopped at The Juice Box and ordered their "most fruity" option, the RPP. This freshly prepared juice concoction featured sweet red bell pepper, pineapple, key lime, and coconut water. Delicious and refreshing. Next up I want to try their "Julius," which I heard them recommend to a mom as something her kids would like. Before I could even finish my treat, my hub called, and I was spared the long trek.

THE BAD NEWS: Economic times are tough (duh).

Lori, naming names

THE GOOD NEWS: Farmers markets march onward, growing in number by nearly 10% last year, according to Reuters. This is made possible by eaters like you, committed to good food and community, and wonderful folks like the Bellevue Farmers Market sponsors, which Director Lori Taylor spent time calling out and thanking last Thursday. Thank you again, sponsors and Marketgoers, for making our wonderful Market possible!