Saturday, March 27, 2010

Portland Farmers' Market Week 2

I think the second week at the farmers market was even better than the first. We were all a little less frantic, and could actually appreciate the produce and conversation without being constantly distracted by the new layout. Potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, and winter greens are still the cornerstone of the market, but we're getting glimpses of our favorite spring treats. This was the first week for ramps and miners lettuce (both of which I'll be covering this week) and the fiddlehead ferns, rhubarb, sunchokes, and this year's market darling--raab--are still piled high.

One of my favorite things about PFM is how often I overhear strangers sharing recipes and preparation tips. Newbies to the local food scene might feel a bit intimidated by Northwest specialties this time of year, but locals and visitors alike are quick to provide help to someone looking at a basket of fiddlehead ferns, pea shoots, or nettles with a skeptical face. Some of the best resources are farmers themselves. I know I can trust my friends at Springwater to tell me their favorite mushrooms, how best to store them, and how to cook them so that they'll make you cry (hint: butter). Market staff and volunteers are also full of tips. Many of them have been watching the Portland seasons come and go for years, and their front row seat at the market has provided some great experiences that they're eager to share. The incomparable Ann Forsthoefel, our executive director, taunted a few of us behind the scenes at the market booth with tales of her recipe for crepes with raab, sausage, mushrooms, and white sauce, layered like lasagna in a cake pan... So, Ann, when are you making me dinner?

But my favorite tips come from shoppers - I met a lovely woman named Ruth who, while juggling two towheaded toddlers and sorting through baby potatoes at Rainyway, shared a tip she'd learned recently: In order to keep potatoes from sprouting, store them with an apple. I got to gossip with Andrew Gregory, the sous-chef at Clyde Common, about Oregon truffles, and I overheard someone waxing poetic about fiddleheads, advising a young couple in line behind her to saute them simply with garlic and lemon. Portlanders are amazing, and I honestly believe the best of them can be found gathered together on a Saturday morning at the market. I hope you'll join us next week if you're in town, or that you'll make a trip to PDX sometime soon if you're from anywhere else. I'd love to show you around!

Here's my bounty from today's market: Miner's lettuce, ramps, collard raab, sunchokes, chives, Maitake mushrooms, baby golden potatoes, Carrots, and a loaf of Gabriel's Pumpkin Raisin bread.

Here are some of my shots from this morning. What did you buy this week? What are you going to do with it?

Eat well!

P.S. You can now follow me on Twitter @allisonejones and check out all of my photos on my Flickr.

Sassafrass Relish! You guys rock!


  1. Fantastic report and photos, Allison! Everything looks wonderful, and your pix explain raab and sunchokes beautifully. Thanks! Susan

  2. Alison, food storage experts say exactly the opposite about apples and potatoes: apples emit ethylene gas, which causes potatoes (and other produce) to mature and sprout. To keep potatoes from sprouting, keep them in a cold, damp, dark spot.