Sunday, July 11th: Vikings, Seafood & Plenty Of Spectacular Looking Produce!

I was so excited to see Treviso radicchio being harvested already by Full Circle Farm that I had to dig up one of my old file photos of it from last year. I just love this stuff. It is actually one of the sweeter radicchios, which is a bitter family of greens. But saute it with some bacon, and it sweetens up. The smoky, salty bacon also balances the remaining bitterness beautifully. No need for garlic, and only add salt if the bacon doesn't add enough on its own. And if you use fatty enough bacon, you don't even need to add olive oil. We're talking a two-ingredient dish here.

You know, it is heirloom crops o'plenty like this, combined with great ideas of how to use them that not only enriches our lives, but also underscores why we all love our Ballard Farmers Market. Ask just about any person who shops at Ballard Farmers Market what their favorite farmers market is, and they will say "Ballard." Indeed, I regularly encounter visitors from great market states like California, Wisconsin and so on, and they are always impressed with our little (okay, big) Market. In fact, they are usually brought here by a friend or family member who just had to show it off to them, or they seek it out as a food tourist destination. And since we know that more than 10,000 people each week visit Ballard Farmers Market, and that about 1,000 of you will read this blog today alone, we ask the question, have you yet voted for Ballard Farmers Market in the American's Favorite Farmers Market contest? If we win, we will get a cash infusion from American Farmland Trust to help us continue to support our local farmers through our Market, not to mention huge bragging rights. Please, vote now!

Wow, I so love this time of year, when all sorts of new crops come rolling into your Ballard Farmers Market. While that Treviso radicchio is without question one of the most spectacular looking vegetables there is, I still hold firm in my belief that this Chinese spinach from Children's Garden is in fact the most beautiful vegetable on earth. Try some out this week, and ask them for tips on how to prepare it. This is truly an immigrant crop, grown locally only by Hmong farmers.

Is it color that you are looking for? Then you might thing that cauliflower is the most boring vegetable on earth. But you would be wrrrrong! Sure, you will find plenty of snow-white, super dense, tasteless cauliflower in the Big Box store, but not at your Ballard Farmers Market. Here, we offer you brilliantly flavored cauliflower in a rainbow of colors, from green to purple to various shades of white (does white have shades?!?) to this magnificent yellow cheddar cauliflower from Growing Things. Heck, soon we'll even have a cauliflower known as Romanesco that grows in fractals. Oh, those poor suckers shopping at the Big Box stores right now. What hideously boring lives they are living.

Here's a little trivia for all you folks watching the World Cup finals today between Spain and the Netherlands. Did you know that the orange carrot was actually created by the Dutch in the 16th Century to honor the House of Orange. Think about that as you watch those Dutch players in their blinding orange uniforms getting their clocks cleaned by the Spaniards today. Just remember to swing by your Ballard Farmers Market before the game starts so that you can pickup a full rainbow of carrots from folks like Alm Hill Gardens. No, we Ballardites don't have to settle for mundane orange carrots. We have yellow, white, purple... we have all sorts of carrots here to enjoy! (By the way, you can enjoy the game at several of our neighbors places, including Bastille, The Noble Fir, Old Town and others. allowing you to have your game and your Market, too!)

With berry season at its peak, they provide us with an extraordinary spectrum of flavors and colors, too. And as much as many of you have seen me gussying up displays on farmers' tables to get the most dramatic shots, this was actually a candid shot of Sidhu Farms's actual display on Friday at Madrona Farmers Market. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. We live in an incredible place, don't we? Lift a glass to our bounty this evening as you enjoy all of this, and don't forget to vote!

Of course, your Ballard Farmers Market is notorious for its colorful vendors, too, and perhaps the most colorful of them all are those whacky guys at Wilson Fish. Certainly their stall is colorful, filled with all sorts of silly fluorescent signs, and their fresh king salmon is colorful, too, coming in white, red and marbled. And today, we see the return of their most colorful promotion, just in time for Ballard Seafood Fest -- Fish In A Bag! Yup, the boys at Wilson Fish have bagged up whole, fresh coho salmon from the Washington coast, and they are charging one price for them, regardless of the size. Just get there early, so you can pick out a big one!

Heck, even the cheese comes with a diversity of appearance, and flavor, at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just look at all the different, gorgeous cheeses to choose from at Samish Bay Cheese. And this is only a small sampling of them. We've got a number of great cheese makers here. Grab some for your backyard picnic this evening.

I think I started off talking about bacon, didn't I? With Treviso, of course, but then again, what is Treviso with bacon. The two are inseparable. They are like Sven & Ollie. Like sausage & kraut. Like salmon & alder. And even if Treviso is not a traditional Ballard dish, we still embrace it, with bacon, of course. So don't forget to pick some up from Skagit River Ranch.

Hey, it is indeed Ballard Seafood Fest Sunday. My advice: come early to get your groceries, and bring a good cooler with plenty of ice, so you can spend the whole day enjoying Ballard's biggest party of the year. And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. Just type “Ballard” in the market search box, and it’ll take you right to the page where you can vote for us. And thank you!