The Northwest Flavor Issue
Farmers Market Finds with Cult Followings
Produce so incredible, it has its own fan base.
They can be found at farmers markets all spring long—bigger and hardier as the season wears on—but those truly devoted to nettles’ herbaceous flavor have been known to take their rubber gloves and pruners to the park the instant the first tender sprouts appear.
Season: February – June
Find Them: Foraged and Found Edibles, foragedandfoundedibles.com
In years past, Phocas Farms has produced just enough saffron to satisfy local chefs. But lo and behold, 2013’s crop was large enough that lucky marketgoers can still get their hands on some.
Season: February, until supplies run out
Find it: Phocas Farms, 360-457-2917
Few fungi inspire such fanaticism as earthy-tasting morels. There are field guides and forums devoted to identifying the little guys—and if foraging isn’t your thing, you can buy them at the farmers market.
Season: May – September
Find Them: Foraged and Found Edibles; foragedandfoundedibles.com
The Pacific Northwest produces most of the nation’s sweet cherries, but just a sliver of its sour cherry crop. Local chefs place their orders on the small bounty up to a year in advance.
Find Them: In limited supply at farmers markets
Ruby red and heavy with juice, Shuksans are reputed to be the Platonic ideal of the strawberry. Then again, maybe brevity makes the heart grow fonder—if they’re not eaten the day they’re bought, they’ll macerate overnight.
Season: February – May
Find Them: Sakuma Brothers Farms, sakumabros.com
Walla Walla Sweet Onions
They’ve come a long way since a French soldier first brought sweet onion seeds to the Walla Walla Valley in the 1900s. A two-day festival dedicated to this oversize, gentle-tasting onion draws thousands to the valley every year.
Season: June – August
Find Them: Walla Walla Sweet Onions; sweetonions.org