If any of you were to have the chance to go to any of our local farmers’ markets, you would immediately sell your belongings and move to western Washington. My favorite is in Olympia, a lovely little town that is also the state capital. Pike Place Market in Seattle is bigger, flashier, and more famous, but the Olympia market has the advantage in that the actual real-life farmer is usually the one selling the stuff. They are passionate about their produce, and can tell you exactly how it was grown and where. They will tell you when the lettuce was picked, and when and where the fish was caught. It is also a true seasonal market, with almost all locally grown/raised stuff. You have to wait for corn and strawberries until they are really ready here. You get chanterelle and morel mushrooms in season, usually handed to you along with the farmer’s instructions on how to cook them. Every time we go to the Oyster Man’s stand, we get a different idea on how to serve them this week. The ‘Mater Guy will cut you a slice of his heirloom tomatoes, tell you where the seeds came from, and tuck a sprig of basil in the bag. You can get rabbit meat at the Meat Lady’s store on occasion. There is a Dairy Lady and a Bread Guy, and a Lady that occasionally is there selling knitted items. There is also a local cheesemaker, often manned by their young son, the Cheese Boy. Every weekend, all summer, here is where we forage for supplies for the next week.
Here we are arriving at the market.
First stop is this stand. right now they have apples and pears, and this week they had the first of the spring onions.
There are also many plant stands here. There is a place that sells mostly lavender plants, several flower places, and a lot of tomato seedlings and herb plants.
The apple stand also has nice asparagus this week. We usually plan our meals on the fly here. “Oh you know, they had “x” back there, that would go well with this. What if we cooked this with that??”
Another sample of the bounty:
The fish stand is one of our regular stops. Again, what they have varies, but it is always impeccably fresh. Sometimes it’s clams, sometimes mussels, and right now they have the prettiest halibut on earth. This will be dinner tonight. When the Fish Lady saw us taking a picture, she made us wait until she polished the glass on the case.
Then there is the Egg Lady. She is not particularly talkative, but carefully puts your eggs in a cardboard container and tapes it shut for you. And yes, you can get duck eggs here.
Then there is my favorite, the Oyster Man. He even comes here in the winter when the market is closed. People who know anything know that the Oyster Man is in the market square on Saturdays all winter, selling oysters that he collects himself. He can tell you exactly where he got them, and when he got them. And tips on how to open them, as well as how to cook them, if you are one of those who likes them cooked.
Here are the oysters. This week we bought a dozen of the European flats, and a half dozen of the Kumamotos.
And the Oyster Lady giving us a close up of the Flats.
The Oyster Man also has geoducks, which is pronounced goo-ee-ducks, for some reason that escapes me. I’ve never tried these, and really have no intention of doing so, at least not sober.
On weekends there is always a different band. Here they are:
There are also several food stands and picnic tables, and this is just the greatest place to have lunch on a warm spring day.
Next stop is the ‘Mater Guy. Right now he has greenhouse tomatoes, and he always makes you taste one before you buy.
Note the caption on his sign: A tomato a day keeps the doctor away…
This is one of our favorite produce stands. Right now they have several kinds of kale, green garlic in bunches, and fresh sorrel, which I adore. Make yourself a classic potato-leek soup, toss in a couple of bunches of chopped sorrel, puree it in the processor, add cream, and you have sorrel soup from heaven. I have been known to eat it leftover for breakfast.
Last but not least is the Worm Tea Guy.
Here is their website: Wiser Worm Farm. (They are really going to wonder why they are getting traffic from knitting blogs!) They sell Red Wiggler Worms, and Worm Tea for your garden.
All of that foraging tired us out, so we had a big lunch when we got home with the goods. We always buy several bags of mixed lettuces, and we made a salad with that, and fresh radishes, green garlic, avocados (those were from Trader Joe’s), and leftover roast beef from a couple of nights ago.
Yum. It’s time for a nap!
Here’s the website for the Olympia Farmers Market! You can even find out what band is playing, and what’s for lunch.