Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beaverton Farmer's Market: Hey PDX, it's worth the drive!!

Usually the mere thought of leaving the city and driving to the suburbs of Portland induces a slight panic. Why would I possibly leave this place where everything is at my disposal (except access to TGIF's and Cheesecake Factory without which I still seem to be living a remarkably full life)? What compelling reason could there be? I thought none, until last Saturday when my PR friend Bette S. encouraged me to give a visit to the Beaverton Farmer's Market which is held every Saturday in the remarkably charming "old town" area of Beaverton. So last Saturday, on a dazzlingly sunny morning, w and I packed up C-boy and headed west into the great unknown.

On the surprisingly short 20 minute drive over (that from our house in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood), we talked about how could this be remotely as good as PDX's famous downtown PSU market, which has received national press as one of the best in the nation. It is an amazing market, albeit getting almost too crowded as throngs attend every Saturday, many of whom I suspect go just to go. You know, those people who consider themselves, in a term that has come to represent a sad type of neediness, "foodies", just because they show up at the market. Not too mention the parking chaos, doublewide strollers (ours, BTW, is a slender single, small uppababy that should you be in the market for an umbrella style stroller is worth every penny. Funny thing, too: if you had asked me two years ago, before we found ourselves in this parenting predicament, what an umbrella stroller was, I would have had zero idea), and a distressing number of small dogs being carried in bags by their owners, which in any setting is a very disturbing, seemingly anti-evolutionary development. So we arrive in B-ton, park about 1/2 a block away, and wander into what I have now decided is probably the best, most shoppable farmer's market in the metro area.

I was first struck by the size of the market. Much bigger than I would have suspected, with row upon row of vendors, spacious aisles between them, and in this high season for farmer's markets everywhere, an eye-popping array of beautifully presented produce. We wandered around to get our bearings, noticing appreciatively how many more small farms were representing, then dove into the bounty. A little over an hour later, with C-boy relegated to mom's Ergo carrier since his stroller was overflowing with edible goodness, we went back to the car with days of dining fun ahead. I'll give a few of the many highlights followed by a must-try tomatillo recipe....
Blindingly bright carrots from the too-cutely named Gathering Together Farms, to be made into baby food for C-boy
one of w's favorite things, plucots from Alex Farm Produce
Always great cured meats from O.P. We took home the awesome Chorizo Rioja!
Tomatillos from Sosa Farms which were the key ingredient for the fabulous appetizer recipe below

This is not to leave out all the other splendor to be had: a 9am beer tasting of superb ale from Captured By Porches Brewing; the freshest cilantro and french radishes from Galin-Flory Farms; deliciously surprising coconut milk yogurt from Gata Foods (which I'm eating right now); peaches from Baird Orchards (some of whose perfectly ripe peaches went into a disastrous recipe for peach cobbler from Paula Deen. If you see it on the Food Network site, avoid it! We used the rest to make more food for C-boy); and so much more. This, my Portland-centric friends, is a place totally worth the drive. And if you need one more reason, the temple of all things fresh, fishy, and Asian, the Beaverton Uwajimaya market, is a mere five minutes away!
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Tomatillo Guacamole
By Martha Rose Shulman/NY Times
"This is a guacamole with a punch. The roasted tomatillos blended with hot chilies add acidity and spice to the creamy avocados. It has the luxuriousness of guacamole at just over half the calories."- Martha Rose Shulman

1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked
2 or 3 jalapeño chilies, seeded if desired and roughly chopped
10 cilantro sprigs, plus additional leaves for garnish
Salt to taste
2 large ripe avocados
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1. Preheat the broiler. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the tomatillos on top, stem side down. Place under the broiler at the highest rack setting and broil two to five minutes, until charred on one side. Turn over and broil on the other side for two to five minutes, until charred on the other side. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender, tipping in any juice that has accumulated on the baking sheet. Add the chilies, cilantro sprigs and salt to the blender and blend to a coarse purée.

2. Cut the avocados in half and twist the two halves apart. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl or the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Mash with a fork or pestle. Do not use a food processor or a blender, as you want to retain some texture. Stir in the lime juice, the tomatillo mixture and salt to taste and combine well. Transfer to a bowl and serve with baked or microwaved tortilla chips or crudités, or use for tacos or avocado sandwiches.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups, serving six.

Advance preparation: This will hold for a couple of hours in the refrigerator but is best eaten soon after preparing.


Anonymous said...

I think your Baird link should go to I am addicted to their peaches... seriously, like a case a week....

bb said...

thanks for the link update. and a case a week? addiction? obsession?? as long as it's delicious, who cares?!

Lucas said...

Do yourself a favor and head back out to Beaverton and have dinner at DeCarli. Some of the best food in the entire metro area.

bb said...

Lucas....I've heard good things from several people about DeCarli. Now I suppose i have to gear up for another trip. If I must!

Lucas said...

Oh, I can't believe I forgot...Rachel's Burgers at the farmer's market. Maybe the best 3 bucks you can spend.

Awntie Spyder said...

love bairds! i see them at market cornel & murray. here is really good peach tart recipe

Peach Tart

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup butter room temp
2 tablespoon sour cream

About 6 medium peaches, peeled pitted sliced
3 large egg yolks
¾ cup sour cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour

½ cup peach preserves or jelly
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

Mint for garnish

Heat oven to 375 degrees F

To make crust:
Place flour, butter and sour cream in a food processor and pulse to combine (I just used a fork) when dough has formed a ball, pat with lightly floured hands into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and ½ inch sides, or a round au gratin dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Let cool while preparing the filling. Lower oven temp to 350

To make the filling:
If using fresh peaches peel and thickly slice peaches. Arrange the fresh peach slices in overlapping circles on top of the crust, until it is completely covered. Overfill the crust, as peaches will shrink during cooking. Combine the egg yolks, sour cream, sugar and flour and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture over the peaches. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard sets and is pale golden in color. Cover with aluminum foil tent if the crust gets too dark. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, remove the side wall of the pan.

To make the glaze:
(I did not do this part)
Combine the preserves or jelly and orange juice. Spread with a pastry brush over the top of the warm tart. Serve the tart warm at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with fresh mint.

(and I ate it while still warm mmmmmm)