7:10: Meet market pal in eastside parking lot
7:30: Find free parking space (among several) at Pike Place Market
7:32: Enter Le Panier and grab last empty table. “You sit, I’ll get the pastries and coffees.” The choices begin with ten different puff pastry options, breads, cookies and tarts in just the first case. Fine coffee expertly prepared.
8:10: Greet “the guys” at Pure Food Fish. Choices: fresh Dungeness Crab, Penn Cove Mussels, Alaskan Wild King Salmon, Alaskan Halibut, Black Cod, Copper River King or Sockeye Salmon, 5 different kinds of fresh oysters, smoked King or Sockeye salmon hard smoked or lox style, Orange Roughy, farm raised Sturgeon, Hawaiian Mahi Mahi, Spot Prawns, White Prawns, Shrimp, Maine Lobster and lots more, all looking firm, fresh and perfect.
After looking, asking questions of the experts and four verses of Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe, I settled on Alaskan Black Cod and Hawaiian Mahi Mahi. My friend chose a dozen Kumomoto oysters and Orange Roughy.
8:30: Stroll through the market absorbing the sounds, colors, and grit of its being; return to the car and head for the University Farmers Market.
15 minutes left before opening gong to walk through and greet farmers.
9:00: Anthony Estrella has Weebles (Italian style smoked provolone) in a new round shape; score! A taste halts my hurried rhythm, such a perfect balance between rich milk and subtle smoke…definite choice. Next taste Partly Sunny, a creamy blue that melts over my tongue conjuring up tastes of tart apple, juicy pear, tender, crisp-crusted baguette….
Next, a barrel sized mound of sweet baby carrots at Willie Greens stall, along with small spring turnips, amazing young lettuces, deep purple and green kales, bagged salad mixes, braising mixes, spinach and wild arugula, 6 or 7 different herbs, several varieties of onions, bouquets of twisted spring garlic and six small boxes of first of the season strawberries. How to choose!
Up and down the market deep red, voluptuous strawberries punctuate the displays at 9 or 10 stalls. Intelligent choice is out of the question; I close my eyes and go for it.
At Tall Grass Bakery warm baguettes stand tall in a wicker market basket. A sheet pan with only one remaining old-fashioned cinnamon roll (it’s only 9:20! No look, there are 3 more pans in the truck (Is that a sigh of relief?). A plethora of aritsan breads: seeded rye with cracked rye berries, whole wheat flour-dusted Levain, walnut raisin, pretzel shaped kalamata olive and….Pick a baguette and head for pate and raw milk cream from Sea Breeze Farm.
On the way are fresh eggs, more wild mushrooms, cheeses, vibrantly colored flowers, free range chickens, whey fed pork, lamb and beef, hundreds of healthy and eager bedding plants, juicy tomatoes, fabulous twisted wintered-over gourds, fresh pastries, crispy pickles, jams, honeys, fresh Washington oysters and mussels, eastern Washington cold stored apples and pears, frozen and smoked northwest fish, gorgeous fresh pastas, more lettuces, herbs, early onions, garlic, potatoes, you name it.
9:45: Market bags full, wallet empty. Time to head back home, bask in the sunshine and weed.
How rich with choices we north westerners are.