Eat your heart out at the Issaquah Farmers Market

August 30, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The farm-fresh produce is no longer the only local and organic offering at the Issaquah Farmers Market.

Summer Saturdays at the historic Pickering Barn blend the food-truck mania and the local food movement. Sellers serve street snacks to crowds hungry for authentic tastes.

So, head to the market and dig in.

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

Customers line up for treats at the Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream truck. By Greg Farrar

The robin’s-egg-blue and chocolate-fudge-brown truck offering cones from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, a Seattle ice cream boutique, parked at the market after ice cream enthusiasts beseeched the owner to open a shop in Issaquah.

“We get a lot of requests on our website to open a shop in Issaquah, so we thought it would be a good way to test out the market,” owner Molly Moon Neitzel said.

Molly Moon’s is passing the test so far.

“We have loved being there and business has been great,” Neitzel said. “I know that we’ve exposed a lot more people to Molly Moon’s ice cream. We get even more requests now for a shop in Issaquah.”

Marketgoers line up for ice creams and sorbets fashioned from local, organic and sustainable ingredients — a scrumptious mouthful. Mainstays include the most popular flavor, salted caramel, plus honey lavender and truck driver Tim Willis’ favorite flavor, chocolate made from Theo Chocolate, a Seattle chocolatier.

Milk in the ice cream comes from a Lynden dairy, berries from a Carnation farm and lavender from a Sequim grower. Other ingredients reach the Molly Moon’s kitchen from Eastern Washington. Rather than cane sugar, Molly Moon’s uses sugar from Idaho beets.

“We just try to keep things really close to home, and I think that we do that more than any other ice cream you’re going to find in the Seattle area,” Neitzel said.

Maximus/Minimus

The pulled pork sandwich from Maximus/Minimus is a top seller. By Greg Farrar

Stationed near the market entrance across from the frenetic action at Costco, Maximus/Minimus attracts curious stares and a constant queue as people congregate at the pig-shaped sandwich truck.

Lance Marlow, general manager and a Skyline High School graduate, said the crowd builds Saturday after Saturday for pulled pork sandwiches and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese macaroni and cheese. (The mac and cheese earned a coveted spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list last year.)

“I don’t know if it’s people becoming more acquainted with the truck being there or actually planning their Saturdays around eating at the market, but we’ve definitely seen an uptick in business there,” he said.

The pulled pork sandwiches reign supreme, but the Oprah-endorsed mac and cheese is the No. 2 seller.

Patrons gather at stark metal tables set up near Maximus/Minimus to dig in and sip ginger lemonade and Coca-Cola from Mexico. (The cola is made from cane sugar, unlike the high-fructose corn syrup formula sold north of the border.)

Marlow started a taco Tuesday in Seattle and, perhaps soon, could offer tacos at the Issaquah market.

“We’ve had a great time coming out to the market and I think as long as that truck’s on the road, we’d like to continue coming out to Issaquah,” he said. “It’s a fun group. It’s a great market and I think it’s one of the best markets that we get the opportunity to go to. I hope that people in Issaquah will continue eating with us.”

Los Chilangos Taquizas, Banquets & Catering

The grill at Los Chilangos Taquizas, Banquets & Catering churns out authentic snacks. By Greg Farrar

The team at the Los Chilangos Taquizas, Banquets & Catering booth dishes out plate upon plate saturated in the rich street food heritage of Mexico City.

The owners, brothers Guillermo and Oscar Mendez, continue a ritual from earlier generations by topping-laden tortillas called huaraches, tacos, tamales and tortas, or sandwiches on a crusty roll. Marketgoers lap up horchata, a creamy, cinnamon-scented beverage.

The centerpiece at the Los Chilangos booth is a rotisserie holding a pineapple-capped pile of pork for tacos al pastor.

“Being able to carry on a family tradition is very important,” employee Kally Mendez said during a brief lull at the Issaquah market.

The Ebelskiver Lady

Ebelskivers hail from Denmark. The appeal of the spherical pancakes is universal.

Customers dig into ebelskivers. By Greg Farrar

Susanne Brown or, as the sign at the booth reads, The Ebelskiver Lady, offers the traditional pastry beneath sugary and salty toppings — sometimes together, as in The Logger, a bacon-and-maple-syrup combination.

Other pairings include the Cheeky Monkey — Nutella and banana — and The New Yorker, a lox-and-cream-cheese-outfitted snack.

Brown, clad in a retro apron, pours batter into a special pan, then slices the piping-hot ebelskivers and adds toppings, a final flourish for customers.

“It was my mother’s favorite thing to make when we would have guests over,” she recalled.

Pompeii Woodfired Pizza

The mobile oven at Pompeii Woodfired Pizza churns out fresh pies. By Greg Farrar

The oven at Pompeii Woodfired Pizza sports a license plate.

The mobile oven roves among farmers markets in King and Snohomish counties and, in October, to the Salmon Days Festival. In the meantime, patrons at the Issaquah market can sample thin-crust pizzas featuring Italian meats and local produce. The menu changes throughout the summer as vegetables come into season.

The oven burns at 900 to 1,000 degrees — so hot the pizzas only require a few moments to bubble and crisp. Ovenmaster Buddie Williams pulls out a classic pizza Margherita, a pear-and-Gorgonzola pie and more for Issaquah marketgoers.

Simply Mediterranean

The falafel at Simply Mediterranean includes tomato, pickled turnip Italian parsley, mint and tahini sauce. By Greg Farrar

Most marketgoers recognize Khalil Akl as a crepe seller, but on a recent Saturday, the chef behind the counter at the Simply Mediterranean stand fried up falafel for the masses.

Using ground fava and garbanzo beans as a base, Akl added cilantro and spices, and then fried the oblong shapes until golden. Then, the falafel is folded into a pita alongside tomato, pickled turnip, Italian parsley, mint and tahini sauce.

Falafel, a popular street snack throughout the Middle East, is also a fixture on the menu at Akl’s Byblos Deli in Bellevue.

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

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