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....
Tomatillos from Sosa Farms which were the key ingredient for the fabulous appetizer recipe below
Blindingly bright carrots from the too-cutely named Gathering Together Farms, to be made into baby food for C-boyAlways great cured meats from O.P. We took home the awesome Chorizo Rioja!
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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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.