Sunday, October 9th: Award-Winning Wine, A Rainbow Of Chard, Fermented Vegetables, Concord Grapes, Porcini Mushrooms, Alfalfa Honey & So Much More!

Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery has won many awards for its wines, and in particular for its 2009 Malbec & Madeleine Angevine, above. They have just released their 2010 Madeleine Angevine, of which they only made 40 cases. They've set aside 5 cases for their Ballard Farmers Market faithful. If you would like a bottle (or 2) of what could very well be the most flavorful “Mad Angie” they have ever produced (and it has been a consistent award winner for over 20 years), stop by their stall at the Market today, as it may not be here next week! Also, they are offering the last of their Platinum Award winning 2009 Malbec today. Grab some for the holidays now, while you can!

Alm Hill's beloved Carrie Palk is leaving us soon to return to Ohio to be closer to her family. So we've been honoring her with lots of fun photos of her modeling Alm Hill's produce each week. Today's photo was taken back in 2009 at Wallingford Farmers Market. One look at this photo, and even George Herbert Walker Bush would eat broccoli! And truth be told, this year's broccoli crop is, itself, the best looking in years, and Alm Hill's got lots of it right now.

The nights are cooler now, and I don't know about you, but I am spending a lot more time in the kitchen again. I loves me some tasty greens this time of year. Like this spectabulous rainbow chard from Oxbow Farms. Stunning, isn't it? And sweet as can be! And they've got a rockin' selection of kales now, too, plus collard greens are back. Woohoo! Heck, any day now, it'll be Brussels sprouts season again. (I can hardly contain myself.)

As we do the slow fade into the cold, dark, wet months, we bid adieu to some of our farmers who only have summer crops like berries and stone fruit. But that makes room for other familiar vendors to return, after spending the summer vending at our weekday markets. Like Firefly Kitchens, which has returned to your Ballard Farmers Market with all manner of fermented vegetable products made from local ingredients, many of which are sourced right here at the Market. One of my personal favorites is their caraway sauerkraut. This is the kraut made for bratwurst -- perfect during Oktoberfest, right?

Everyone, run for your lives! It's the attack of the giant Italian prunes from Collins Family Orchards, and they're here to overwhelm you with sweet, juicy deliciousness! Aaaaahhhh! You know, I just have to rant again about those wusses at the California Prune Board who decided we should stop calling these prunes because "prune" has a negative connotation. Maybe the stuff they produce does, but not these beauties. They are magnificent. And being a free-stone, they are super easy to dry or jam, too!

There are so many ways to enjoy our favorite local fish, salmon. Loki Fish smokes it, freezes it, jerkies it, makes patties and sausages with it, sells their eggs, makes spreads, and, of course, they can it. And this ain't that mass-produced canned stuff coming from Alaska, via Japan. This is the finest salmon, handled with care, and canned in its own natural juices -- perfect for that salmon salad, or stocking stuffers, whenever you like. And, it's shelf stable!

I took a camera class last Saturday at the Woodland Park Zoo, and I got to practice what I learned last Sunday at the Market. The results were interesting, as I played with the use of varying aperture and ISO settings. These concord grapes from Stoney Plains presented a particularly interesting challenge, as I discovered letting more light in was not necessarily desirable, because it tended to wash out the beautiful, deep purple hues of the grapes. Fortunately, I was able to get this crisp shot even with the restricted light on the "auto" setting.

It's wild porcini (a.k.a., king bolete) mushroom season again, and Foraged & Found Edibles has lots of them. These are truly one of the great wild mushrooms, but their season is not all that long. Get 'em now, while you can.

Artichokes from Billy's Gardens. Beautiful, aren't they? And they are an example of using a low f-stop and a fast ISO. Makes the color pop right out, eh? I mean, don't you just wanna reach in the computer screen right now and grab a couple for dinner tonight? Hey, if you wanna practice your camera skills, the Market is a great place to do it. Just don't block anyone's access to these awesome artichokes, lest you get bonked over the head by a bunch of beets. Trust me. I know.

It's a shame that many people go through their entire lives thinking that the pumpkins used for jack o'lanterns are the only pumpkins. If they ever tried to cook with them, they'd learn fast they aren't that good. Heck, they're bred to be big and hollow, not meaty and flavorful. But cooking pumpkins have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries. They keep for months, they taste great, and they are extraordinarily versatile. And there are an almost unbelievable number of different varieties of them, too -- all different colors and sizes, with all different names. Above are just three from Nature's Last Stand. So, if you thought pumpkins only came from large bins in front of your local Big Box store, or out of a can, introduce yourself to these gems of the winter squash family this fall. And hey, play a fun game with the kids this fall. Challenge them to find the kind of pumpkin Cinderella's carriage was made out of . It's here. Trust me. You can thank me later.

Golden Harvest has a couple of limited edition honeys in its lineup right now, and when it's gone, it's gone. Above left is their alfalfa honey, which has a fairly rich flavor to it. Alfalfa is a legume, which means its flowers are like those of peas or beans -- nectarlicious. And how about some crystalized maple honey. Don't think Vermont maple syrup here, as we've got viney and big leaf maples out here, not sugar maples. But they still offer up a sweet kick of their own. Give it a try.

Speaking of photography, local vegetarian food blogger Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious was doing a photo shoot at the Market last week for his new cookbook. You know, with all the camera crews coming to your Ballard Farmers Market these days, we should start charging them the big bucks, like Pike Place does. Then we can all retire early. As if.

Hey, there is plenty of local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.