Last month’s vacation in Portland was at the perfect time. Not only was Spring in the air, we were also there for the year’s opening weekend of the Portland State University Farmer’s Market. Amy and I were both so impressed with this amazing Farmers Market that we spent a couple of hours sampling, shopping, dining and chatting with the friendly vendors.
Not only was the quality and variety of the offerings super impressive, the SIZE of the market was mind-blowing too. The picture below is just about half of the market, which was at least as big as the Chicago Green City Market, and this was very early in the season (whereas the produce vendors multiply once warmer weather hits).
The first thing I noticed was the striking rainbow of fresh produce. In Portland, vegetables are far from boring. Purple Cauliflower was far more prevalent than regular white, and Carrots were available in at least 3 different colors.
More than any market I’ve ever been to, the Vendors in Portland are so incredibly friendly. When Amy took out her wallet to buy a wedge of cheese, the vendor struck up a conversation with her and then, without her asking, gave her a larger piece of cheese and a cheaper price.
I had such a great conversation with the women at Blossom Vinegars that neither I nor they realized that I didn’t pay for the bottle of drinking vinegar they packaged up for me. Thankfully, I realized fifteen minutes later and was able to return to the booth to pay them.
Speaking of Blossom Vinegars, their products are one of my new favorite things. I tried every flavor – ranging from the more savory flavors (like Thai Pepper Lime) to their drinking varieties (like LoganBerry Beet) and had so much trouble deciding which flavor to get. I finally settled on purchasing a large bottle of the Mango Habanero Drinking Vinegar, since it was a compromise between sweet and savory.
I’d previously read about people drinking Apple Cider Vinegar in their water, and while that never appealed to me, I can’t get enough of my new fruit-juice based drinking vinegar. Just a spoonful in a glass of sparkling water tastes like a fancy adult soda – not medicinal at all. As a bonus, I love the tingly heat from the Jalapenos. I’ve made at least half a dozen people try a glass of this concoction at my apartment over the past few weeks and the consensus is that it’s delicious!
Another product that I fell in love with at the PSU Farmers Market is the “Sin Dawg” by Dave’s Killer Bread. This whole wheat, vegan loaf is healthier than any other Cinnamon Roll I’ve ever had, yet the taste is as sinful as its name implies. This moist, dense bread is full of ooey, gooey Cinnamon filling and covered in nuts and seeds. If I lived in Portland, I’m certain I’d be picking up a Sin Dawg loaf every. single. weekend.
Other vendors we visited included the Heidi Ho Veganics booth where I got to sample their Vegan Cheeses. After reading about their products in VegNews for years, it was a little bit surreal to meet Heidi herself. She was super friendly and now I can say from first-hand experience that she makes some truly delicious Nacho cheese!
At other booths, I got a cup of hot tea made with Spearmint grown in Oregon for just a dollar and I bought a huge bag of Truffle Salt made with Oregon White Truffles for just five dollars, which seemed like a steal to me.
One of the best decisions I made at the market was my lunch choice. There were so many amazing looking booths to choose from, but when I saw the farmer’s market kale and carrots sauteing at Verde Cocina, my decision was easy. I ordered their Tofu Molé which was loaded with veggies covered in a mild molé sauce with a delicious handmade corn tortilla.
Even better, I was able to eat off of a compostable plate using a real metal fork, while seated at a table listening to a live band. I love Portland!
As we were leaving the market, we saw they even had Electric Vehicle charging stations on the PSU campus near the market. Amy and I both realized that while we’ve seen charging stations countless times in other cities, this was the first time we’d ever seen one in use! Till that day, I never even knew that the cars plug in from the front – I had always assumed they plugged in from the side like traditional gas tanks. Did you know that?
(Source: Photo by Amy)
I’d love to hear from you!
What’s the best Farmer’s Market you’ve ever been to?
What’s your favorite locally made or locally grown food?