Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014

Portland Farmers Marker Opening Day 2014Did you make it to Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014? The market was overflowing with fresh, local produce, locally crafted specialty foods, and hoards of winter weary cooks.

I was the crazy lady oohing and ahhing over the tender collard greens, florescent rhubarb, and neon braising greens. Or maybe you saw me asking every vendor for mint. (No luck on that.)

I wait for this day with keen anticipation every year. Winter weekends are a bit of a letdown without the ritual Saturday morning jaunt to the market.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Local RhubarbSure, there’s the Winter Market at Shemanski Park, but it doesn’t have the vibrant energy of the summer market. Pickings are slim and only the hardiest folks turn out. My tactic in winter is to focus on Asian-inspired dishes, and thus I turn to our local Asian markets (H-Mart, Fubonn Market, and Uwajimaya) for fresh produce.

Portland Farmers Marker Opening Day 2014: Stinging NettlesBy the time mid-March arrives, I’ve moved on to Mediterranean-inspired dishes and long for the local outdoor market experience.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Farm Fresh EggsFrom March 15th to December 20th, local cooks and chefs stream into the Portland Farmers Market every Saturday between 8:30-2:00 for fresh, local produce and hand crafted specialty foods.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Cippolini OnionsThey drag wagons and pull carts, shoulder back packs and shopping totes, and look like they mean business. Portlanders are friendly, but they are also on a mission. Some vendors sell out before noon, so those in the know don’t dally.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Daikon RadishesIf you want to socialize though, here’s a tactic that never fails. Especially in Portland where everyone loves to talk about food.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Braising GreensMosey over to someone with produce in their hands and simply ask what they plan to do with it. Today, for instance, as I was admiring a pile of petite multicolored carrots, I asked the woman next to me how she planned to prepare them.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Swiss ChardMe: They’re so pretty. Too bad the color will be lost when I peel and cut them. How do you plan to prepare them?
Her: I’m not going to peel or cut them. Just rub the surfaces down a little to get rid of the hairy fibers and then roast them whole with olive oil and garlic.
Me: Ahhh, what a great idea. I saw tiny bunches of fresh thyme at another booth. I’ll throw a few sprigs of that in too.
Her: Which way is that booth?

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Collard GreensIn similar conversations today, I learned several ways to prepare nettles, found out that mint won’t be in the market for weeks, discovered how to thicken smoothies with camelina seed, and verified that the rhubarb on offer had indeed been harvested earlier than usual (the reason the stalks were so unusually short).

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: ParsnipsAs with Portland Farmers Market Opening Day last year, there was a lot of raab at the market today. But this year, growers didn’t name every raab. (Last year’s list included Brussels sprouts raab, kale raab, broccoli raab, turnip rabb, arugula raab, mustard raab, and savoy cabbage raab.)

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: ChanterellesI saw one sign for arugula raab. Otherwise, most raabs were simply marked rapini. Have we grown blasé about this incredible spring green already?

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Fingerling PotatoesLast year, hothouse rhubarb wasn’t available until April. But today, one vendor displayed a heap of early rhubarb. There was something odd about it though, so I looked closer. The stalks were half the usual length. The vender explained that he harvested this batch much earlier than usual and that subsequent batches will have longer stalks. First time I’ve seen this tactic.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: CabbageI may have missed a few things (especially produce in short supply), but here’s what was available in abundance at Portland Farmers Market Opening Day Opening Day 2014:

Arugula, beets (white), bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (curly, green, red), carrots (multicolor, orange), cauliflower (white), celeriac, celery, cilantro, fava bean tops, French breakfast radishes, garlic, garlic chives, greens (salad and braising),herb and lettuce starts, kale (green, toscano, lacinato, red russian), leeks, lettuce, mei qing choi, miners lettuce, mizuna (green, red), mushrooms (black trumpets, chanterelles, hedgehogs, maitake, shiitake), mustard greens (red), nettles, onions (yellow, red, cipollini), parsley (curly), parsnips, pea shoots, potatoes (fingerling, russet), raab/rapini (arugula, unspecified), radishes (daikon, French breakfast, green meat, red), rhubarb (hothouse), shallots (French), sorrel, spinach, sunchokes, Swiss chard (pink, red, yellow, white), thyme, turnips (white), and watercress.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Black Trumpet MushroomsAnd as always, no trip to the Portland Farmers Market is complete without a final stop at The Tart Lady. The tender, fragrant Almond Cake is heavenly, as is everything that Monica E. Halici bakes. Be sure to grab your goodies early though, as her booth attracts long lines of fans. And if you get there first next week, leave me at least one slice of Almond Cake. I’m just sayin’.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: FreshThymeP.S. We’ll be eating Roasted Garlic & Sunchoke Soup with Rosemary Hazelnut Pesto & Goat Cheese Crèma this week. And I have a mountain of nettles to play with.

Portland Farmers Market Opening Day 2014: Seedlings Early Spring Recipes from LunaCafe

Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)

Copyright Susan S. Bradley 2014. All rights reserved.

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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

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