Last Saturday, the Butter Bitch and I made a visit to the University Farmers Market. The farmers market used to be our neighborhood market, but Interstate 5 dissuaded us from visiting often. We went to find out why the market needs to be saved and to investigate a rumor of local, organic butter. According to a few dairy producers, obtaining certification in Washington State to make and sell butter “isn’t worth it,” and we were surprised that someone had decided to undertake the challenge.
Sea Breeze Farms does make ghee, also known as clarified butter, but, since the butter is heated during clarification, the product is not considered raw milk and the requirements are less stringent. According to the University Farmers Market’s information booth, a couple of vendors had been selling organic local butter, but they were told to stop. The woman also provided information about the movement to save University Heights Community Center and Farmers Market (see the earlier story).
Unfamiliar with the offerings, we decided to explore the market. In addition to some of our favorite cheese vendors, the market has farmers who don’t come to Ballard and some local artisans. It also has a college feel, mixing bright posters, formal signs, and modified images. My favorite image was a modified Uncle Sam picture, which portrayed Sam wearing a farmer’s hat and telling people that they could save small farms.
The Butter Bitch perused fresh pasta from one of the stands and selected pumpkin pasta. I wandered the stalls, obtaining an acorn squash and casually browsing. Not much caught my eye until I stumbled upon the potato paradise.
To my surprise, the potato farmers also operate at Ballard Market, but I had failed to notice the brightly colored potatoes. In addition to small red- and yellow-skinned potatoes, the stall features purple potatoes, pink-fleshed potatoes, red-fleshed potatoes, as well as banana fingerlings and a few other varieties. It was a wonderful example of the variety of potatoes found in the New World.
I grabbed a bag of pink-flesh potatoes and red-flesh potatoes, for future experiments in making a “pink dinner.” I’ll write about that another time.
We ate lunch at Tilth and took our spoils home.
On Sunday, we hadn’t a strong idea of what to have for brunch. Dinner would be at Tilth, but there was the question of what to have that would fill us but leave room for a much-anticipated dinner.
Fortunately, we had thawed a pint of pesto that I had made during the summer. The pumpkin pasta seemed appropriate for the season and the weather. Sadly, I didn’t notice the name of the pasta vendor and there was no label on their container.
We had a few black mission figs that had survived over a week in the refrigerator, thanks perhaps to enclosure in a brown paper bag. I trimmed and halved the figs, added crushed walnuts and a dressing of red wine vinegar and olive oil. The salad was refreshing and earthy.
The pasta tasted sweet but had a bit of zing, probably lemon juice or lemon zest. The interior was pumpkin-orange, and looked a bit strange, but the flavors meshed well with nuts and the pesto. I’m pretty sure that the pasta vendor isn’t at the Ballard Market, so we will return to the University District on Saturday’s for our pasta fix.
The University Farmers Market is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. through December 30, and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. from January through April. Take the NE 50th Street exit from I-5 and head east to University Avenue.