Sunday, May 15th: Asparagus, Tuna, Greens, Beans & Other Deliciousness!

Ah, asparagus season. You know, I can almost forgive this cold, wet spring (really, still winter) for that fact that at least it is asparagus season, like it is now at Alm Hill Gardens. And actually, because it has been so cold this spring, the asparagus is sweeter than most years. See, the natural sugars veggies produce kinda work like anti-freeze for them, which is why, when it's colder, most veggies are sweeter. I've been roasting it in the oven with some green garlic, when I can get it, as it's late, too, this year. And when morels and baby Walla Wallas are finally happening, I'll toss all four together with some olive oil, a little of the new Puget Sound sea salt they just started producing over in Woodinville at Salt Works, and some fresh ground pepper. Yes, I do love asparagus season!

Fishing Vessel St. Jude is back today. If you haven't tried their local albacore, then you have never really eaten tuna. It is simply the best albacore anywhere. And while I love the canned stuff, pictured above, the ultimate is their frozen loins, which are sashimi grade, high in omega-fatty acids, and low in mercury. They catch the adolescent fish from cold northern waters, before they swim into warm, tropical waters. You can eat it raw, or simply seared rare. It is, in a word, divine.

Red Barn Farm returned last week to your Ballard Farmers Market. Red Barn is located in Enumclaw, at the base of Mt. Rainier, so spring comes there up to a month later than we get it here in Seattle, which will probably be sometime in summer this year. But the soil there is so incredibly rich from volcanic ash that what they grow is just plain spectacular. I mean, just look at how magnificent those spinach leaves are in the photo above. Don't you just want to reach into your computer's screen, tear off a leaf and munch on it right now? Yeah, me, too. But since we can't, we will all just have to march on down to the Market today to pick up some from Julie. Just make sure you get at least two bunches, since you will undoubtedly eat one of them long before you get it home.

Michaele at Growing Things Farm just harvested a bunch of her famous chickens. The first time I had one of these chickens, it cured me from ever wanting a grocery store chicken again. See, Michaele's chickens taste real, because they are real. They live good lives with plenty of fresh air in Carnation. My family loved them so much, we stopped eating turkey for Thanksgiving, and instead began eating chicken. Really. But get here early. She sold out last week.

Alvarez Organic Farms returned a couple weeks ago, and while they have lots of their awesome asparagus right now, they also have all kinds of storage onions, shallots, peanuts and dried beans, like these mayo coba beans. Ever wonder where those dried beans in the bulk bins at the Big Box Store come from? Me, neither. Well, I know where these beans come from.

Pasteria Lucchese is your go-to place for the finest fresh, artisanal pastas in town, right? Well, they also kick bottom on desserts. Like these salted caramel brownies. Holy flippity-flop, these puppies are seriously delicious. If you haven't tried one, do. Do it now. You can thank me later.

Another recent return to the Market, Oxbow Farm is also rocking the spring greens. In fact, like so many market farmers, when one of their turnip plantings bolted before they produced nice roots, Luke and the gang said, "hey, turnip rapini!" Yes, these are the ultimate turnips greens, folks -- tender and sweet, with a mild bite.

And how about some good old lettuce, eh? Colinwood Farms is pulling beautiful lettuces out of their greenhouses right now -- all different varieties. It's crisp, yet tender, just waiting to give your the salad or sandwich what you have been missing all winter. I am telling you, that lettuce from Arizona and California that they ship up here to grocery stores cannot hold a candle to delicious, fresh, local lettuce, harvested mere hours before you purchase it. Lettuce may be a humble crop, but can you imagine life without it?

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.