Sunday, February 6th: Gilfeather Rutabagas, Saffron, Jersey Cow's Milk & Yogurt & Award Winning Photos & Markets!

We are all used to your Ballard Farmers Market winning one award after another, right. And as humble as your Ballard Farmers Market management is, frankly, it gets a little embarrassing at times. Like coming in fourth nationally out of like 7,000 markets in the America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest or winning People's Choice for Best Farmers Market by the readers of Seattle Magazine, both in 2010. And this is to say nothing of the many award-winning vendors we have here, from Zane & Zack's to Mt. Townsend Creamery and Samish Bay Cheese to Firefly Kitchens to our newest vendor, Silver Springs Creamery. But it was two of our seasonal weekday markets that got all the glory this past weekend at the 2011 Washington State Farmers Market Conference held in Leavenworth. The 200 some attendees, representing markets and market vendors from across the state, voted the photo above, taken at Wallingford Farmers Market, as the Farmers Market Photo Of The Year. And you gotta love how these kids are just soooo enthusiastically devouring their respective market treats... and that those treats are fruits and vegetables. I mean, the USDA, the FDA & Oprah couldn't have staged it any better, eh?

And the newest member of our farmers market family, Olympic Sculpture Park Farmers Market, which opened in July 2010, won Medium-sized Farmers Market Of The Year from the Washington State Farmers Market Association. The OSP Market, as we call it, is located in one of the most stunning settings -- Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park -- of any farmers market in the nation, and yet it is surrounded by an enormous, densely populated, grocery desert in North Belltown. So, we brought fresh, local food to this desert this past summer, and while doing so, we suffered through beautiful scenes like the one above (yes, that blue sky is real!), one spectacular sunset after another, one Thursday night regatta on Elliott Bay after another, and perhaps the single most star-studded chef's demo schedule of any market in the county, all of whom came from within 10 blocks of the market. I tell you, it is tough being us sometimes!

Speaking of those award winning vendors, welcome our newest vendor to your Ballard Farmers Market, Silver Springs Creamery from Lynden, which won first place in the "Yogurt - All Milks" category for its Jersey Yogurt (in the lower, right-hand corner above) at the 2010 American Cheese Society Awards held in Seattle last August. After Golden Glen Creamery stopped sending bottled milk to Market in December, choosing instead to focus on its cheese and butter, we decided it was time to find you all a new pasteurized milk producer. Silver Springs bottles both Jersey cow and goat milk, though the goats are on their winter break until the end of February. (They have a very good union.) They also make yogurt from both milks. Note the deep yellow in the milk and yogurt from the Jersey cows, on the right above. Jersey milk is among the richest, most flavorful milks you will ever taste. So, stop by and say hi to Eric Sundstrom from Silver Springs Creamery today, welcome him to Ballard, and treat yourself to some extraordinary milk and yogurt!

And I don't think I ever got the chance to congratulate Firefly Kitchens for winning the Good Food Award for their Yin Yang Carrots, a lovely fermented blend of carrots and ginger that'll tickle your taste buds while it cures what ails you! They were down in San Francisco to receive this award in mid-January. Come to think of it, the Good Food Awards might wanna consider relocating to Seattle, along with the American Cheese Society... in the pursuit of a smaller carbon footprint, of course, since so many of their award winners come from around here. I'm just sayin'...

The tiny threads that are saffron are quite beautiful, aren't they? And since I just played the "carbon footprint" card on those awards folks, I might as well play it on all of you Ballard Farmers Market faithful who are using saffron from the other side of the world. I mean, did you know that over 70% of all saffron comes from Iran? Heck, most of what is called "Spanish saffron" is actually grown in Iran. Really. Well, you don't have to settle for saffron of questionable origins and freshness, let alone contribute to global warming. You can get your saffron from Jim at Phocas Farms right here at your Ballard Farmers Market, grown by him just over in Port Angeles. And while it sells for around the same price as any high-quality saffron, it is prized by some of the best chefs in the area, from The Herbfarm to the Space Needle... to your kitchen.

They may not be pretty, but these white gilfeather rutabagas are delicious. And only Nash's grows them around here. As best as I've been able to ascertain, this charming root ("It is not a tuber!" -- say it out loud like the governator) hails from Finland, as opposed to its yellow -- its color, not its attitude -- cousin from Sweden. You can roast these bad boys, steam them and mash them with butter, boil them and puree them into soup, or mix them with your mashed potatoes. Just don't ignore them out of ignorance. You'll be missing one of the great winter roots that, well, kept our dear Ballard's founders ancestors going through thick and thick whilst they pillaged their Viking selves across Europe and into North America. Heck, if it is good enough for them...

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.