Dazzled by Ballard
The bus may have dropped us off in a rather sketchy-looking area, but my excitement could not be dulled. I’d been hoping to go to the Ballard Farmers Market for weeks, ever since my Seattle-savvy friend Ali informed me Ballard, and not Fremont, was the place to go for glorious foodstuffs. She told me I would “fall in love”, and I had every intention of dong just that. Sadly, the Seattle weather has been far far (FAR) from ideal this spring and as much as I love outdoor markets, the main joy comes from perusing slowly, not dashing from stall to stall to get out of the drizzle. Needless to say, I was thrilled when we finally had a sunny Sunday in our forecast. My mom met up with me in the morning and we set out for a long-awaited culinary adventure.
It was everything I hoped it would be…
Stall upon stall of fresh produce, baked treats, and creamy cheeses all capped by colored swaths of fabric, shading customers from the sun (the SUN!). Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company’s shear list of tantalizing flavors was a spectacle (chocolate chardonnay? cardamom? lingonberry?). We sampled handmade raspberry vinegar, spicy paprika fudge, and an array of honeys (mom bought the mountain wildflower variety). Rockridge Orchards beckoned with their golden bottles of cider and quickly convinced me to make my first purchase of a hard cider in the style of those I loved so much back in Ireland.
Fresh vegetables were in abundance,especially dark, leafy greens. I purchased a “braising bunch” for $3 from certified organic Colinwood
Farm, which gave me a variety of greens from their selection. At home, I identified collards, kale, mustard greens and Mystery (Purple) Green A (if you know what it is, please let me know!). Fresh herbs were aplenty. I bought a potted indoor basil plant from Sequim Prairie Star Sustainable Family Farm and the lovely owner Virginia kept it safely for me until I was ready to head home.
Enough with the vegetables! How about some artisanal cheeses? Port Madison Farm had scrumptious goat cheeses on offering. I was blown away by the light, fresh flavor and oh-so-creamy texture of their fresh goat cheese. If you don’t like goat cheese’s pungency, this fresh cheese is a great way to go. Mt Townsend Creamery was the place for cow’s milk cheese. I was on the verge of buying their squeaky, salty chipotle curds when I tried a sample of their “Cirrus”, a natural rind, Camembert-style cheese. SOLD. Betsy and I used it in an omelet this weekend with some fresh herbs and it turned into molten cheese heaven.
I was so happy to see Olsen Farm’s grass-fed beef and lamb available. I love my meat, but since reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma I can’t bring myself to eat grain-fed beef. Olsen’s has all their meat prepackaged and frozen so it’s easy to store. Their board lists all the cuts they offer (which is every bit of the animal, from a T-bone steak to the kidneys). They also offer natural beef sausages in a variety of flavors.
After making all our purchases, my mom and I were hankering for some lunch. Luckily, the market has stalls of freshly-made hot food available! I have a soft-spot for a good tamale, so I had one of Patty Pan’s green-chili and cheese tamales. Mom went for a handmade pasta in a tomatoey puttanesca sauce. Delicious!
We left the market with out bellies full and our arms laden!