Note: Each week one of our various Market Scene correspondents checks in with what's fresh at farmstands, what's coming up, and what you better get while the gettin's good. This week, we hear from Denise Sakaki of Wasabi Prime. Take us to the market, Denise!
An old metal bell signals the start of the Bellevue Farmers' Market, but even before it rings at 3 p.m., the official start time, people start gathering. Bellevue is about a 20 minute drive east of Seattle (not counting traffic), across Lake Washington. For the most part, the market has a local-edibles-only rule--only food that's grown or prepared in Washington can be sold here.
You won't see craft tables with art, antiques, or glassware, though they do make exceptions for some education programs selling books or local event info. More prepared food booths have come in, along with the weekly live music stage and live demo program where local chefs whip up dishes with whatever's in season
Another chilly and rainy spring has yielded an overall slow harvest, not unusual in the wet Pacific Northwest, but this year has endured a record chill that's lasted through the end of April. There's still plenty of dark, leafy greens and hearty root crops like turnips, carrots and potatoes on the tables, but the early summer crops are a little slow to arrive this year.
Most of the large farms in Washington are located towards the central and eastern part of the state, so you'll see farms located in places like Yakima or Ellensburg. There are some farms like Kittitas Valley Greenhouse that specialize in greenhouse farming, so even though the summer weather hasn't fully stabilized, you can still find fresh, funky heirloom tomatoes in all shapes and sizes.
The Bellevue Farmers Market has quite a few farms selling vegetable and herb plants. You could literally buy all your salad ingredients in pots and start a backyard salad garden. A variety of greens, familiar and unusual herbs, and plenty of young tomato plants are for sale, and often at a bargain compared to large nurseries and chain garden stores.
If you're just heading to the market to have a meal, there are plenty of prepared food options, too. You've got the portable wood-fired oven of Veraci Pizza, Indian food from Tandoozy, and Los Agave's Mexican food. And the best argument for having dessert first is heading to Molly Moon's ice cream truck to beat the inevitably long lines. The market has a few tables and chairs set up near the live stage area but because it's in a parking lot, there's plenty of little curbside nooks for sitting and eating in the open air.
What's in Season Right Now
Chard (Swiss and Rainbow)
Garlic (heads and ramps)
Bellevue Farmers' Market Days and Hours
Thursdays (May 12 to October 13) from 3 to 7 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church: 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004 (map)
Saturdays (June 4 to Nov 19) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Washington Square: 10610 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98004 (map)