What’s fresh at the market?

April 12, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Issaquah market returns April 16, features updated lineup

Evangeline Flickinger, 2, of Snoqualmie, meets Maximus/Minimus, the pig-shaped sandwich truck, at last year's opening day for the Issaquah Farmers Market. By Greg Farrar

Expect a thoroughly modern market boasting artisan products and street snacks, plus the usual organic produce, as the Issaquah Farmers Market returns April 16.

Sellers and patrons descend on the bucolic Pickering Barn site from all directions. The bustling Costco across the street also attracts customers to the market.

The market is a boon. The historic barn can attract up to 4,500 people on a busy Saturday. Crowds build throughout the season as rain turns to sunshine, temperatures inch upward and sellers proliferate.

The historic Pickering Barn site nods to Issaquah’s agricultural roots. The local market predates other Eastside farmers markets by several years. The market opened in downtown Issaquah early on, and then settled at the barn more than a dozen years ago.

The market includes farmers from East King County and Eastern Washington, artists and craftspeople from throughout the Evergreen State, and a Seattle food truck sporting ears and a pig snout. Entertainers plan to roam the grounds throughout the season.

Longtime sellers include beekeepers, carpenters, farmers and jewelers, though the market changes from season to season. The eclectic lineup includes fresh offerings as the bazaar returns for a 21st season.

Market is hog heaven for foodies

Maximus/Minimus started rooting for customers at the Issaquah market last season.

The swine-shaped sandwich truck acts a magnet for the faithful following Maximus/Minimus on Twitter and uninitiated onlookers alike.

Skyline High School graduate Lance Marlow is the general manager for the porcine purveyor.

“That is a big part of our marketing strategy, word of mouth,” he said. “By building a big pig — if you build it, they will come. Something about the snout and the ears certainly draws a lot of people.”

Indeed, Maximus/Minimus resembles a crossbred American Yorkshire pig and Airstream trailer.

“It’s kind of ‘Mad Max’ meets the Babe the pig,” Marlow said. “Customers become curious and look at our menu, and figure out who we are.”

Offerings include a classic pulled pork sandwich gussied up in special sauces and macaroni featuring cheese from sister company Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

“I grew up going to the market, and it was a big part of my weekend,” Marlow said. “I love the family vibe that the market has. I love seeing families out there getting involved in pure, all-natural food.”

Elsewhere at the market, proprietor Kirke Smith plans to dish out self-described old-school Italian food: sautéed sausage and peppers stuffed inside a Le Panier baguette. Redmond Saturday Market patrons tore through more than 200 sandwiches from the Wiseguy Dinner Club booth on market days last year.

“Every place we go, we sell out before closing,” Smith added.

The Ebelskiver Lady, a.k.a. Susanne Brown, offers sugary or savory spherical pancakes. The distinctive Danish pastry is a traditional treat. Fillings include the customary raspberry jam or less-conventional Nutella.

Kirke Smith (right), and Brandon Salmeri prepare samples of Wiseguy Dinner Club sausage-and-pepper-stuffed baguettes March 26 at Pickering Barn. By Greg Farrar

The street food is another addition to the Issaquah market for the upcoming season. The most common question Brown faces from customers is “ebel-what?”

“If people know what they are, there’s usually some sort of family connection,” she said. “Their grandmother made them, or their favorite auntie way back when, so they have an emotional response, not just a taste response.”

Evergreen State offerings abound

The array at the Issaquah market comes from farms and forests far and near.

Seattle forager David Moyes scours forests for berries, greens, mushrooms and other seldom-seen delicacies for the Pacific Crest Foraging booth.

“I get a lot of customers that have never seen the products that I carry,” he said. “Most of the things that I carry are unrecognizable. You don’t find them at most grocery stores.”

Vortex Cellars proprietor Edward Wicklein is also preparing to debut Washington wines at the Issaquah market.

“In Washington, we can grow such a good fruit,” he said.

Customers cannot sample the product at Pickering Barn, although the state is considering looser restrictions for wine tasting at farmers markets.

The vintner turns Washington grapes in French- and Spanish-style wines — “all with the American twist,” Wicklein added.

Lind’s Custom Meats offers handcrafted beef jerky, pepperoni and smoked cheese, plus a beef stick made from a family heirloom recipe. The business is a fresh addition to the market for 2011.

Proprietor Mike Lind said the Issaquah market could introduce additional customers to the Kent shop.

“I really want to get my product out there in the public eye,” he added.

Sellers create ‘mix of products’

The trip to the Issaquah market requires a ferry journey for Sequim Prairie Star entrepreneurs Harold and Virginia Vadset.

The former Issaquah residents settled on the Olympic Peninsula and put earthworms to work to produce rich compost. Then, the Vadsets soak the material in water to produce a tea-like substance to boost flowers and produce for home gardeners. The natural fertilizer — called Worm Tea — turned into a hit at other farmers markets.

“We have gone to markets before, and people start out buying a quart and then end up buying gallons of it,” Virginia Vadset said. “We’ve gotten such good feedback. It’s really very gratifying.”

Craftspeople, like retired architect Michael Osburn, cart imaginative pieces to the market.

Wood Shed Production, the business Osburn set up to offer furniture and other pieces, is planning to debut at the Issaquah market after a year spent building inventory for customers.

The craftsman turns old lumber and salvaged timber into furniture and more. Osburn refers to some of the pieces as “functional sculpture” — benches, tables and more.

“There’s a really good mix of people, mix of products” at the Issaquah market, Osburn said. “Everybody seems to be there to have fun and show what they do. It’s just a really fun atmosphere.”

If you go

Issaquah Farmers Market

  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Saturdays from April 16 to Oct. 8
  • Pickering Barn
  • 1730 10th Ave. N.W.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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One Response to “What’s fresh at the market?”

  1. Get your Spring on at the market this weekend. « teamrealtynw on April 29th, 2011 1:33 pm

    […] Get your Spring on at the market this weekend. Even though it doesn’t feel like Spring, the evidence is all around us.  Flowers are blooming, people are sneezing and it’s time to shake off the Winter blues and go outside!  One of my favorite things to do is check out the local farmers markets and I’m happy to say the Issaquah Farmers Market is now open (unlike other farmers markets that wait til late May and June).  You’ll find bountiful amounts of flowers and produce as well as dairy and meat vendors.  There’s also a plethora of arts and crafts to ogle and you may even hear some live music.   I like to go around lunch time as there are always good things to eat.  Check out this great write up from the Issaquah Press:   http://www.issaquahpress.com/2011/04/12/whats-fresh-at-the-market/ […]

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