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Lunch at the market: Gig Harbor Farmers Market

The launch of a new, monthly column about all things edible at local farmers markets

BEETS: But one of many things you'll find at the Gig Harbor Farmers Market once the season really gets going. Photo courtesy of the Gig Harbor Farmers Market

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In the Weekly Volcano's latest endeavor to show you, dear reader, the way to all things great and wonderful, this new monthly column, "Lunch at the Market," features the edible aspects of area farmers markets. I'll keep you informed on what's to be had, from locally farmed produce, fresh-catch seafood and premade specialty items like herbed salmon cakes, handmade salsa and zucchini bread, to my favorite - foods made right at the market. Along the way, there'll be a little contrast and comparison.

This past Saturday I visited a farmers market that was once held in a field along the highway and in a Park and Ride. Now it's held in the back parking lot at Uptown in Gig Harbor.

Gig Harbor Farmers Market

From the farm: With the sporadic snow and sunshine our area has experienced, it's not surprising only a handful of farms were represented this early in the growing season, selling mostly green onions, lettuce mix and asparagus. Morgan Creek Farms offered 100 percent chemical free, mixed greens by the pound. My taste buds yearned for vine-ripened sweet tomatoes in blushes of ruby red and orange fire and the crisp snap of dark green cucumber slices. Long-time Peninsula resident Chris Russell reassured me that more farmers and vegetables would arrive as it gets warmer.

"This is its first year over here in Uptown; by mid-May I bet there will be a lot of booths and way more people," says Russell. "With gas prices like they are now I want to make my drive in to the market worth it and buy something, you know".

I couldn't agree more. Time for lunch.

Eat it there: A handmade Peruvian tamale that covered half the plate and an anticuchos and corn (spiced skewered chicken), both with mixed green salads topped with a creamy dressing made for an early lunch - all for only $12 at Taste of Peru, currently the market's only hot food vendor. Ummmm ... Safeway can't touch that.

Per usual, as the meal ends my sugar craving began. Scanning the rows of vendors, I declined an initial urge for a Bella Bella cupcake. Something about the unnatural shade of teal frosting and heavy cake didn't appeal to me. The teens zipping through the thin crowd laughed, talked and texted as they clutched long bags of kettle corn and lidded plastic cups of sweet-looking slushy concoctions. A lighter, less heavy sweet-tooth option, honey sticks were sold three for a dollar by honey-maker David Stokesberry. Stokesberry has his own bees in Puyallup and keeps his honey prices reasonable at about $5 a pound. That makes for one nice size glass jar of honey. I was dazzled by root beer, lemon and sour apple flavors. As neighboring spice vendor Windy Payne pointed out, the lemon honey would complement any cup of tea or jazz up vanilla ice cream. Payne, a Gig Harbor resident, makes spice and sugar blends. Think tandoori, Creole and Northwest seafood rub. Oh yeah.

Special made: A faint whiff of sea salt hung in the air as a breeze whipped over the thickening crowd. I was sure I knew where the scent was coming from (never mind the Narrows is but a mile or so away).

I headed for the folks with the large coolers and came upon Longbranch's own Rolf's Choice Salmon booth. Hearing the question, "Sample?" was music to my ears, and the small morsel melted in my mouth. Much lighter in salt taste than I expected, the naturally smoked Alaskan Red salmon had a delightful earthy sweetness to it. The label on a 5-ounce package revealed very simple ingredients: salmon, salt, brown sugar and hardwood smoke. I immediately plunked down the $5 asking price.

Gig Harbor Farmers Market

April-September, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Uptown Shopping Center, 4701 Pt. Fosdick Drive, Gig Harbor

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Comments for "Lunch at the market: Gig Harbor Farmers Market" (1)

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Diane said on Apr. 28, 2011 at 10:19am

I got pea shoots for a spring pea salad and some super soft swirled rye from Morning Star Bakery! Can't wait to go back this Saturday!

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