Saturday, May 4, 2013

Honeymoon: Portland Farmers Market @ PSU

Saturday May 4, SW Portland OR

When I am traveling (or I should say, before restaurant when I used to travel) I love to spend time at local markets and the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University is consistently ranked by those who rank farmers markets in the top ten in the country. Naturally the PSU market was first on our list of things to do and see after breakfast. It turned out to be a great way to start the last day of our trip.

Having spent our first night in Portland proper, at 9 am we went downstairs to the dining room to have a communal breakfast with the other two couples staying at the B&B, one from Chicago and the other a hippie couple from Ann Arbor. We were the youngest ones at the table by 15 or 20 years. We got to meet our hosts Jason and Ann at breakfast as well, when they brought out platters of spinach frittata, made in part with eggs from the back yard.

There was also some kind of cured pork product, in long strips that were uniformly lean and pink; I never got the chance to ask what it was. Each of us had a bowl of fruit as well and there was a plate full of muffins in the center of the table, but I didn't taste them, not being a big sweets fan, but they certainly looked good.

Right after breakfast, we took off to the market and as we got close, we couldn't find any parking. Maybe the locals know where to park, but we were several blocks away on the street before we found anything resembling a free spot. As we made our way there, I sure wasn't prepared for the size and diversity of the market that we found. It is a vast market with up to 200 vendors of produce, mushrooms, meat, seafood, charcuterie, bread and baked goods, cheese and dairy products, honey, ready to eat food, and value-added products such as sauces and condiments. I've never seen anything like it, not even in Europe, especially with thousands of shoppers at any given time crowding the walkways and making it difficult to move.

Judging from the market managers and conversations with vendors, there seem to be a ton of rules and regulations, but at the end of the day, it is a producer-only market. One consequence of these rules and the pervasive hyperenviroconsciousness is that although there are stations for refilling water bottles, there is no place at the market where you can buy a bottle of water. So on our way out of the market, we stopped in to a little corner market for a bottle of water. Naturally, there were shelves and shelves of bongs, bowls, and hookahs of every size and description. Toto, we surely aren't any Kansas any longer!

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