I’m Not Bitter, Part 2

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.

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First stop is this stand. right now they have apples and pears, and this week they had the first of the spring onions.

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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.

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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??”

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Another sample of the bounty:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here are the oysters. This week we bought a dozen of the European flats, and a half dozen of the Kumamotos.

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And the Oyster Lady giving us a close up of the Flats.

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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.

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On weekends there is always a different band. Here they are:

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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.

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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.

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Last but not least is the Worm Tea Guy.

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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.

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Yum. It’s time for a nap!

Update:
Here’s the website for the Olympia Farmers Market! You can even find out what band is playing, and what’s for lunch.

Comments

I’m Not Bitter, Part 2 — 23 Comments

  1. Fantastic ! Why would you shop anywhere else ?
    Asparagus,steamed,with some shavings of a really good hard cheese…halibut with a tomato and garlic salsa…oh yes !
    You are very lucky to buy such fresh,good quality,local produce.
    Fab !

  2. That.is.amazing. I can’t believe we don’t have anything like that here! Individual purveyors, yeah, but then you are driving all over creation each weekend. *sigh* Thanks for a delicious post. (Can you tell I haven’t had lunch yet?)

  3. Your post had made me SO hungry! You are so fortunate to have access to all of that. Now I can’t wait for the NJ tomatoes this summer!

  4. Wow! That looks like a wonderful farmer’s market! We don’t have anything like that until June because we have a later growing season.

  5. I am selling all of my belongings and moving to Washington. Why grow anything when you can get it all (and more!) and that amazing market?!

  6. I’m speechless and envious (of everthing except the geoducks. Part of me reallly wants to google the term just to see what it comes up with…)! Those tomoatoes are red – really red, and it looks like they taste as wonderful as they look. (To use Garrison Keillor’s term, I’ve been making do with styrofoam tomatoes.)
    This cheese boy, is he cute? and single? There may be many reasons for me to try and get a fourth year rotation out there….

  7. When I lived in Tacoma (did you know that? My dad worked for Boise Cascade and smelled like the pulp mill 6 days of the week) we learned in school that those geoducks are found but two places on the earth,one being puget sound, and the other is off the west coast of Africa, perhaps Senegal (but I don’t remember that part). Cool eh? When you dig them, they squirt water up in the air through their air holes, and the water can reach ten feet as they begin the very rapid descent away from you and your shovel.

  8. The other place you want to live is San Francisco. We have a Farmers Market almost every day of the week.
    The oldest is Alameny on Saturday mornings in the Spring and Summer.
    Then there is one at UN Plaza Sunday and Wednesday.
    The pricey one is at The Ferry Building. Tuesday and Saturday mornings. During the summer they add Thursday evening.
    They are all great. I love to go to each one.
    I also look in the paper to find out where the other markets during the summer are in cities and towns in The Bay Area.
    I love market day’s. Reminds me of when I was little and we would go to Ireland for the summer. We would go to all the town markets to get ingredients for dinner.
    I even have a basket to carry all of my items home.

  9. OMG…..what a fabulous farmer’s market!!!!! How lucky for you to have access to it! Thanks for sharing……YUM!

  10. All that food looks amazing! Lucky you to have such a great market nearby. The halibut and the tomatoes especially caught my attention. Thanks for sharing all those pictures…. it makes me miss home in Colorado where we have markets like those!

  11. Lovely photos of the market – my husband and I love to visit them. The Geoduck can be eaten raw like sashimi or lightly cooked. When cooked they have the taste and texture a little like calamari. Over here in Singapore, geoducks are a bit of a delicacy and can be quite costly. I love salads – especially when there’s rocket leaves in them. Yum.

  12. Shame on you! You made me drool on my computer. Too bad Olympia is about 4 hours away for me. We have our own little mini-version here on Whidbey Island – just imagine the Olympia market about 1/10 the size, no seafood (or meat), or worms, or tomatoes, . . . ok, so it’s not exactly like the Olympia market. But you can occasionally snag some really fresh produce and berries.

  13. what a wonderful market! a bit far for me to travel too….sob sob. i love those markets that have stall owners who are so passionate about their products.
    i also really loved reading this post because you would be amazed at how products change from region to region of the world. I have never seen any of those oyster varieties in my life! i think next time i go to the market i will have to share what i buy – i can guarantee you don’t get some of those things over in the states. (hey – this could make for lots of blogging fun if we all shared from around the globe!)

  14. Y.U.M!!!
    I’m glad to see that you aren’t bitter and had a fun way to spend your time instead of going to MS&W…It’s a good thing that I am a techno-idiot – The things that occupy my time these days are not for the faint of heart. I am having painting done, and three rooms of my house right now look as if a tornado hit them.
    Happy Knitting,
    mk

  15. Oooh, I’m so glad the worm tea was for the garden! I know the Northwest is very interested in alternative medicines and foods, I was just a bit worried! I, too, love farmer’s markets. Our little one in Holland, Michigan sounds really little compared to Olympia, but it’s fun, too, mostly local stuff. And I did fall in love with Pike market, especially all the flowers. I would shop there everyday if I lived in Seattle.

  16. The descriptions alone have my mouth watering. I’ve been to Pike Place Market and loved it- I know if I could just get my husband to Washington, he would move there in a second.

  17. Those have got to be the prettiest tomatoes ever!
    I wish we had a really nice Farmer’s Market here. I mean we have some, but none of the merchandise, save the strawberries, look that wonderful.
    My heart so yearns to be on the West Coast.
    W. 🙂

  18. Actually, the worm guy might not be so shocked at knitters coming at him. One of the KnitLit books had an essay about the red worms in it. I believe the woman who wrote it was actually knitting little red worms as promotion at one point — I may have dreamt that part though.

  19. What a great market! Thansk for posting the pictures. I love the Arlington (va) market, but our weather has been so wonky that we’re just now starting to get good tomatoes. Hurry up, spring!

  20. Okay, there are great markets here in the Bay Area, and even our grocery stores (well, most of them) have marvelous produce, but you’re making this Seattleite-exiled-in California very, very homesick. Great post!