Part 2 of 3 in our Oregon travelogue. Read about our farmers market visit, or skip to the end for some Maryland local food events this weekend!
As I mentioned previously, it is berry season in Oregon and the food theme of our trip can be summed up in three words: berries, berries, and berries. We found more than a few at our market destination of choice this trip. The Beaverton Farmers Market, one of Oregon’s largest markets, is located in a western suburb of Portland and has a distinctly family-friendly vibe. From the balloon man to the kettle corn to the live music, kids have plenty to tempt their eyes and taste buds, not to mention the fountain to cool off in and adjacent playground.
Have you ever met a Superfood in person? We did, the charming Super Blueberry who handed out recipe pamphlets courtesy of the Oregon Blueberry Commission. (Really, blueberries need marketing? How do I sign my kid up for that gig? They could pay him in berries.) My son was thrilled to receive a bookmark “with smiling blueberries because blueberries make me happy!”
I could go on all day about the wonderful produce – artichokes, sweet sugar snap peas, Walla Walla onions, Rainier cherries, apricots, dried cherries – meats and seafood, bread and baked goods, wine (yes, wine tasting at market), flavored vinegars and of course some of my favorite cheeses, not to mention the coffee truck (Pony Espresso) and cold drinks served in compostible cups — or the fact that I didn’t even make a complete pass through the market and still left green with envy — but I’ll just point you towards two favorites to wrap up your shopping trip with a satisfying brunch: Zest crepes and Hot Lips local berry sodas.
You might be surprised to hear such a ringing endorsement from me for a soda, but Hot Lips Soda is truly a special treat that kids will love and you can feel good about. Hot Lips is a Portland pizza chain I had more than a few pies from during my high school years, but since I’ve left town they’ve branched out to create their own line of all-natural, locally-sourced fruit and berry sodas. The ingredients are simply carbonated water, fruit, cane sugar and organic lemon juice. In that order. While sweet, they taste of pure, ripe fruit, without that chemically-sweet aftertaste of conventional sodas. Strawberry is so fruit-laden it is almost as thick as a smoothie, and the strawberry flavor is so intense you may have a hard time settling for a plain old berry after drinking this. My favorite is the boysenberry, the heady, fragrant berry just tastes of summer. Pear is crisp and clean, and you can get a few limited-edition flavors, like currant or loganberry, on tap at their stores. And not only are the ingredients local, but the bottles are manufactured from recycled glass in Portland.
Zest crepes are made to order from market-fresh ingredients, fun for the kids to watch and of course they have their own menu options to choose from. The boy enjoyed the “Cheese Louise,” naturally, and I had the “Sweet Basil” with basil, tomato, feta and mozzarella. Delicious. If only I had had room to try a sweet version as well, with flavor combinations including berries and mascarpone, berries and Nutella, and lemon curd and ricotta. Zest debuted at the market this year and plans to open a stand-alone shop in the near future, but for now you can find them at the market on Saturdays, 8am-1:30pm, May through October. (The market is also open Wednesday afternoons, June through August.) See more pictures of our market finds here.
Note for DC-area local food lovers: Maryland’s Buy Local Week is wrapping up this weekend, and you can celebrate the best of the Old Line State close to town with the Montgomery County Farm Tour or venture further afield to St. Michaels for the 2nd annual Chesapeake Folk Festival on Saturday — my favorite local foods event of the year. And if these crepes have you drooling, visit Farm Fresh Chef up at the Clarksburg Md. farmers market on Sunday (or make your own).
And, save the dates for National Farmers Market Week, August 2-9, which will be observed in Virginia with a Virginia Grown recipe competition.