The lure of Ballard

While Iris did the Puyallup today, Laurie and I hit the Ballard Farmers Market. One of the biggest of Seattle’s markets, Ballard’s has some special features. There’s the bruschettina lady, who has been profiled in Sunset as well as all the local media, whose wares are justifiably famous, and who is now moving to Italy. We got a bruschetta trio: octopus and chickpea (which is apparently the best seller), tomato-basil, and Italian sausage with greens. Everything gets a drizzle of Tuscan olive oil, and the sausage is from Skagit River Ranch, whose organic meat stand is right around the corner.

After a bite or two, I could see why the octopus is so popular–octopus takes to charring better than almost any other food, I think. They have both a grill and a stove with well-seasoned cast iron pans at the bruschetta stand, so I assume the octopus prep involves grilling, chopping, and reheating with the beans. I honestly thought that even in Seattle, even at a farmers market, most people didn’t eat things like octopus, but apparently I was just being a snob. In any case, catch her while you can (through October).

Bruschetta isn’t the only ready-to-eat food at the market. There’s also the Dante’s Inferno hot dog stand, which makes a really great dog. He uses Boar’s Head, the best hot dog brand, and keeps them warm in water but finishes them on the griddle. There’s a nice variety of toppings; I had mine with grilled onions and peppers and Rooster sriracha sauce, while Laurie chose pepper mayo and dill pickle relish. They also offer pickled jalapeños, which is what I put on my hot dogs at home, and I thought I’d invented this and was the only person to do so. So not only are my tastes less than elite, I’m not even a culinary innovator. Plus Laurie told me that I’m not enough of a celebrity to be on Celebrity Duets. And this was a good day.

But the most exciting thing in the market was coming across the Sea Breeze Farm stand. I’d read about Sea Breeze Farm on Cookbook 411, when Lara Ferroni visited their farm on Vashon. But here was their stand, where I picked up a dozen duck eggs (laid within the last two days, he assured me) and a pint of veal stock. They were also taking orders for fresh veal, and the only reason I didn’t plunk down for a veal shoulder is that I wasn’t sure I could make it back to Ballard next Sunday. Now I’m thinking, wait, if I can’t get to Ballard for an organic veal shoulder with my name on it, what is my problem?

When Iris got back from the fair I made us a scrambled duck egg. The taste was great, but the texture was mushy. Laurie figured out why: the yolks are so huge, there’s not enough white to give it structure. They’re going to make incredible fried eggs–and fresh pasta, which means lasagna bolognese might be coming up sooner than I’d anticipated.

What should I do with the veal stock? It’s rich, it’s gelatinous, it’s a saucier in a bottle.

3 thoughts on “The lure of Ballard

  1. L

    ooo. I haven’t tried the Sea Breeze duck eggs yet… and I didn’t know that they had a stall at the Ballard Market (just the Vashon and West Seattle markets). I’ll have to go check them out next week… it’s a little closer than heading all the way to Vashon.


  2. mamster Post author

    Hmm, you know what I want? Hash browns with a fried duck egg on top. Incidentally, he had two cartons of eggs left when we got there. One had a dozen eggs. The other had ten eggs, but a couple of them were monster-sized, and the carton wouldn’t even close. I’m embarrassed to say I took the dozen, because I was afraid of escapees.

  3. Fiona

    Taylor Shellfish Farms have a large booth at the Ballard Farmer’s market and they sell an AWESOME oyster stew mix for $15. Just add hot milk and you have an amazing and very generously oystered stew. At a 1:1 ratio of milk to oysters, a large tub yielded 6 nicely sized servings.

    Veal Stock? Dunno, but I bet what ever you decide to cook, it will be as tasty as the Oyster Stew!

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