Sunday, February 14th: Flowers, Jewelry, Oysters & Spice

If you are wondering why I'm leading with flowers today, you definitely need to get down to Ballard Farmers Market to buy some right now, or else plan to spend the next couple of weeks on the couch. Dude. Look at the calendar. It's Chinese New Year. (Oh, yeah. It's also Valentine's Day.) If you are looking for some spectacular colors to warm the heart of that special someone, you need not buy overpriced flowers flown in from South Africa or South America. You can pick up some of these magnificent Whatcom County tulips from Alm Hill Gardens right here at your Ballard Farmers Market.

For a little something different, how about these wonderful black pussy willows from Harmony Farm. The pussy willow season is just about over. (Heck, it's been over in my backyard for two weeks!) But treat these right, and they'll dry beautifully and spruce up your home for months.

Dean Robertson knows how to coax the inner beauty out of any piece of wood, and the results are these lovely earrings he calls Forestlife Creations. He makes various kinds of brilliant wooden jewelry that will wow that your valentine. Remember, at Ballard Farmers Market, you can feed your eyes and soul as well as tantalize your taste buds and nourish your body. Support your local farmer and your local artist, and give a unique gift while you're at it.

Whether or not oysters are an aphrodisiac, they certainly will perk up your night. Stop by Taylor Shellfish early today for some of these Kumumoto oysters, before Oyster Bill sells out of them, lest, again, your couch becomes your bed.

Spice up your night with local paprika, too, from Some Like It Hott! Charles Bodony, who grows, dries and smokes chilis to make his paprika in Port Townsend, tells me that he now has the 2009 vintage (yes, his paprika has vintages) alder smoked paprika that weighs in at a whopping seven stars of heat. Stop by to sample some, then bring some home to pep up just about anything.

New this week at your Ballard Farmers Market is Got Soup? Jerry Baxter makes fresh, delicious soups in a variety of flavors from local ingredients every week. Pick up a frozen quart, and bring it home for a simple, yummy, full-body warming meal. This week, look for Crab Bisque, Orange & Cumin Scented Sweet Potato, Cassoulet, and Smoked-Tomato Bisque. You'll always find vegetarian and vegan options, too. Also new this week is Booth Canyon Orchards from the Methow Valley with D'Anjou pears.

Port Townsend's Colinwood Farms returned to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with spicy salad mix, braising greens, lots of beautiful spuds, and these gorgeous, and powerful, red cipollini onions.

Autumn Martin returned with her Hot Cakes last week, too. Grab a Josephine for a lovely snack while you shop, and pickup some truffles, caramel sauce or some molten chocolate cake to pop in your oven for later. Autumn, who used to be the chocolatier at Fremont's Theo Chocolates, uses local flours, and chocolate, of course, and even local butter.

Perhaps you are just looking for a nice piece of meat for Valentine's Day. How about one of these pork rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm? The one of the left is even already Frenched for you.  And if you are really lucky, you might still be able to get a reservation for Valentine's Day dinner by Chef Meredith Molli at La Boucherie, Sea Breeze Farm's own restaurant, on Vashon Island. The menu looks amazing!

Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for Ballard Food Bank and the Seattle Animal Shelter. The idea is that you donate $10 for a soup and bread dinner, and you get to keep the bowl your meal comes in. The bowls are made and donated by dozens of local artists and just plain folks. And there are some particularly spectacular bowls from top local artists that will be sold in a silent auction. You can see just a sampling of the bowls up for grabs in the photo above. The event itself takes place at the Ballard Community Center on Saturday, February 27th.

Ballard Farmers Market is always photogenic, as evidenced by a visit from the Seattle Flickr Meetups group last Sunday. Some of these folks have cameras older than mine... that use film! Actually, I think there was a camera there that was older than me.

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for  your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.