Grocery store shopping isn’t really my thing, but I always jump at the chance to forage at the ubiquitous farmers markets in Seattle. People watching, breathing in fresh air while getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D, meeting farmers face-to-face, and a growing number of food trucks make this is a grocery shopping excursion, a meal, and free entertainment all mixed into one.
Here is a snippet of my favorite vendors this summer:
1) Honest Biscuits – Appearing contemplative with a quiet demeanor, Art Stone is not someone you would expect to be the face of my favorite biscuits in town. But the man sure cranks out some mighty fine biscuits. After tinkering with the recipe numerous times to replicate his North Carolina grandmother’s bready creation (she never wrote it down), he has got it down pat.
Stone bakes a fresh batch early in the morning for his appearances at the neighborhood farmers markets, but his biscuits surprisingly maintain their soft moist interior texture and crispy shell for up to three days.
The Butterhole, made with local creamery butter baked into the middle, is a crowd pleaser, but I generally go for the biscuit made with honey. If you are in a savory mood, try The MacGregor filled with bacon, Beecher’s cheese, and caramelized onions.
These biscuits are great on their own or dressed up with your own creations. I recently brought home one of Stone’s honey biscuits and combined it with raspberries and meyer lemon ice cream from Parfait. The ice cream truck also makes an appearance at the Queen Anne’s Farmer Market. How is that for convenience?
3) Pasteria Lucchese - Samuel Lucchese’s creative pasta concoctions have saved my ass a number of times when I have invited friends over for dinner and run short on time, yet I still want to impress.
Roasted chicken ravioli, wild boar plin, and squid ink tagliatelle are a sampling of the options that await. Regardless of your choice, the preparation is always the same: 3-4 minutes of dropping these pillowy guys in boiling water. Additionally, you can chop up some spices or vegetables to go along with your pasta, pop open a bottle of wine, and boom, you have got yourself a restaurant-worthy meal.
4) Mair Farm-Taki - My list of favorite farmers market vendors would not be complete without mentioning at least one produce vendor. There are too many outstanding options to list, but my go-to is Mair Farm. These Japanese farmers from Yakima wake up at 2:30am every Saturday to make the trek to the University Farmers market.
Certified organic growers since 1996, advice from my friend Paige is “Just buy whatever they have because it will be good.”
At 9am sharp, you will see an influx of Japanese ladies hitting up the stand for their weekly fix of seasonal Asian veggies and fruit. On my last trip, the Shiso had sold out within an hour, but dainty Japanese cucumbers, several species of apricots, cherry-sized Mirabelle plums and more made me forget I was looking for Shiso in the first place.
Every Fall, Mair Farm debuts several varieties of Japanese squash, some of which I have never seen anywhere else.
You can view my outdoor market stand picks from Spring 2011 here.