Friday, June 20, 2008

This little piggy went to market. Madison/Madrona Farmer's Market.

Several weeks ago G. (who makes me look like a complete amateur in the kitchen, even if she is not immune to the occasional takeout Chinese or pizza) told me about a small farmer's market reasonably close to my neighborhood (and even closer to hers). She had roasted a chicken from a farm that produces all natural range meats and poultry (as well as eggs) and said that it was one of the best chickens she had ever tasted. As roast chicken is one of my favorite dishes, just the thought of it made me drool, and I couldn't wait to head over and check it out. Things like work and family and out-of-town guests and a conference in Houston intervened, and it wasn't until today that I managed to get out there. In the meantime I had read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and had resolved to shop more at local farmer's markets, even if I had to drive to get there. (It is a little over a mile away; I suppose I could ride my bike but that would make me a danger to myself).

Today (as Google tells us) is the first day of summer, and until now it has been cold and gray in Seattle. But the afternoon was warm and bright when I left work and headed home to grab a) cash and b) shopping bags in which to carry my loot. The market was set up in the parking lot of the Grocery Outlet at the edge of Seattle's Central District. Keep going up the hill and you are in Madrona (home of Coupage, Crémant, and Cupcake Royale); turn left and head straight and you will be in Madison Park, where I head for crêpes at the Essential Baking Company or tapas at the Harvest Vine. I found parking just across the street from the bustling market, a good omen (I hate parallel parking). A woman on the corner is selling woven market baskets, and I am tempted to stop and buy one, but I have to conserve my cash.

There are stalls with crates of fruits and vegetables, glass-domed stands of desserts, baskets of bread, coolers of poultry, beef, fish, trays of herbs and tomato plants, black-velvet-lined cases of jewelry. There is a makeshift pen with a few baby goats trotting around at one end, an ice-cream cart, and a sizzling grill on which a guy is making tacos and quesadillas for hungry shoppers. I walk back and forth for a few minutes, comparing prices and selections before swooping in for a bag of sugar snap peas and a couple of handfuls of pickling cucumbers. I am devastated to find no chickens. Eggs are sold out. Instead I buy some steak and pork spareribs and marrow bones. I pre-order a chicken from another farm - it will be ready next month - and buy some bacon, consider some ground meat for hamburger. But that can wait until next time. Most other shoppers seem to be regulars, chatting with the different farmers as they shop, exchanging greetings and promises that they will see each other again the following week.

Most of the vegetable stalls have bundles of chard and fat-bulbed green onions; I buy some of each at the stall that also sells bright bunches of flowers, and some garlic, the second-to-last bundle of parsley. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I'm sure something will come to mind. Cherries are expensive, as are strawberries; this time around, I pass, and then later, regret it. I wonder whether I should buy strawberries for $4 a pint at the farmer's market that came from a local farm or $3 a pound in the supermarket (or $6.99 for a huge carton at Costco) for those that are trucked up from California. I will keep turning that question around and around in my mind until next week, when I come back to the Friday market again.

1 comment:

Juanita said...

I just hate it when I go to a market for a particular item and it's not there! I don't recover from that very easily. The other day I went to Costco for salmon and there was none! What the...? And then I wanted some French bread, and I literally watched some woman take the very last loaf. Earlier I had passed it up in pursuit of salmon and in the end, I got neither. So sad.