Happy New Year, good people of Ballard! 2013. Can you believe it? We weren’t even supposed to be here now. Good thing the Mayans are smarter than us. Well, tomorrow night, we’re gonna party like it’s 1999. Um, well, never mind. If I recall, that was about the lamest New Year’s Eve party in Seattle — maybe anywhere — ever. It was a month after WTO, some guy had just tried to smuggle explosives in from Canada on a ferry to Port Angeles, and then Mayor Paul Schell, scaredie pants that he was (not to mention his inability to manage public safety in this town), cancelled Seattle’s millennium celebration. We were the laughing stock of the world. After Seattle’s finest kicked us out of Seattle Center at 6:30 p.m., we were, err, “treated” to three minutes of fireworks “magic” from the Space Needle that amounted to one enormous pffft, and people by the thousands were heard chanting disparaging things against the mayor all over the city, followed by the mayor failing to even make it through the primary in September — the first since the 1930s. I can still remember the Tonight Show making fun of Seattle, showing big parties all over the world, and then Seattle, with three old guys sitting around in an otherwise dark, empty room in their boxers, blowing on noise makers. Then, there was the January 2nd banner headline on the front of the Sunday Seattle Times that read, “Schell: ‘I’m Not A Wuss’.” Oy. (BTW, these are lovely wines from Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery.)
Of course, back then, we also expected the world to come to an end. Our electric grid would screech to a halt come the turning of the calendar to the year 2000, and all of our computers would burst into flames. We all filled our bathtubs with water before going out to party that night, and we all had plenty of ready-to-eat canned food, bottled drinking water, first aid kits and gas masks. Mind you, I think most of us got the gas masks more in response to the WTO being in town than the threat of Y2K meltdowns, but in any case, we all woke up the next morning with throbbing heads, tubs full of tepid water, and plenty of regularly scheduled bowl games on perfectly functioning televisions. We all felt more than a little silly, because unlike this year’s Mayan calendar mania, in 1999, a lot of us really expected the new year to greet us with calamity. Humans is such stupid animals. (Mmm. Tasty head cheese from Sea Breeze Farm.)
You know, your Ballard Farmers Market was born in the year 2000. It was that summer that the farmers left the Fremont Sunday Market, back when Fremont was being completely redeveloped, and set up shop in the parking lot of the U.S. Bank at 56th & 22nd, now, the location of the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library. And this time 12 years ago, we were in the midst of a grand experiment — the city’s first year-round neighborhood farmers market. The winter of 2000-2001 was miserable, wet and cold, and many Sundays saw just our Market Master, Judy, and Anselmos Farm out there, sticking it out for a very loyal core of Ballard customers. (Bloody Mary mix and pho sauce from Zane & Zack’s World Famous Honey Co.)
Hard to believe that what we see every Sunday on Ballard Ave now had such humble beginnings, but there it is. So perhaps we should wish you into the new year with this thought: start small, but dream big, because you can make it happen. A handful of people dreamed of a great market in Ballard, and today, Ballard Farmers Market is the highest sales volume market in the state, world renowned, and one of Seattle’s top tourist destinations. In 1998, the Ballard Chamber of Commerce said it wanted a Sunday farmers market, because the neighborhood was empty on Sundays. Ballard Ave was loaded with empty storefronts. While the rest of Seattle boomed, it seemed Ballard had gone bust. Today, it is challenging to find parking in Ballard on Sunday, Ballard Ave has blossomed with dozens of new businesses, many of which were lured to the neighborhood by the success of Ballard Farmers Market. The neighborhood is perhaps the strongest in the city, and Seattle’s finest chefs fight for locations near Seattle’s finest farmers market. And your Ballard Farmers Market could not be more proud. (Pickled keta salmon from Loki Fish.)
So we’ve got plenty to celebrate. Let’s party like we’re happy, folks, not like we’re expecting the end of days. Your Ballard Farmers Market has everything you need to make for a great party… well, except for fireworks. But for that, you still have the Space Needle. I know you’ve been riveted by every word I’ve written here so far, but please take the time to notice all the delicious photos above and below of all sorts of wonderful, local goodness that’ll help you ring in the new year in style, while supporting good, local, living-wage jobs, and in so doing, will help continue to build Ballard’s robust economy. Like these fresh sodas from Soda Jerk Soda Company. And did you know that these fresh sodas, made with great, local ingredients, are available for you to take home in half-gallon growlers, for you to serve to the designated drivers and minors at your whoopdeedoo, or, if you desire, for you to mix with an adult beverage of your choice.
Of course, we’ve got local wine (up top), superb charcuterie, mixers, pickled salmon and sweets! Like these irresistible caramels from Jonboy Caramels. Made right here in Ballard from local ingredients, these are some of the finest caramels you will find anywhere, and they will make your guests very happy.
You’ll need crackery and snacky things for munching, crunching and dipping, and why not make them raw and vegan while your at it, so none of your more high maintenance guests will complain. Visit our own House of the Sun, also born right here in Ballard, for these amazing crackers and kale chips, as well as some great hummus, too. They please any palate, vegan or not!
Eggs? What do eggs have to do with a New Year’s Eve party, you ask? Simple. Two words: deviled eggs. Yeah, baby. I mean, I suppose they could symbolize fertility — the birth of a new year ripe with new opportunities — but seriously… deviled eggs are like garlic — there is no such thing as too much. Am I right? That said, you may also want to have eggs for breakfast the next afternoon, too. Stop by Stokesberry Sustainable Farm for some of these beautiful, pastured eggs from happy chickens down in Olympia. (If those chickens only new what else happens down there, they might not be so happy.)
It is hard to have too many pickles, either. They make every gathering more delicious. Have you checked out the newly expanded selection of pickliciousness from Gaia’s Natural Goods lately? They are making pickles, like these pickled golden beets, from produce they grow on their own farm! Not only tasty, they are good for you, too, but don’t let that discourage you from enjoying them on New Year’s Eve.
Whether you want to impress your guests with an elegant Crab Bisque, or settle in for a day of watching football in your jammies on New Year’s Day with some Curried Cauliflower, Got Soup? makes it easy. They’ve got a great lineup of locally-produced gourmet soups made with ingredients from Market vendors, conveniently packaged in frozen quart containers. All you do is take ‘em home, heat ‘em up, and lie to everyone else about how long you spent slaving over a hot stove recreating it from your grandmother’s long lost recipe.
Nothing makes a party a party like fresh oysters on the half shell from Hama Hama Oyster Company, the oyster company so nice they named it twice. They’re delicious. They’re an aphrodisiac. Heck, they’re even loaded with zinc, to help you ward off, or fight off, that nasty cold that’s been going around. And they’ve got pickled and smoked oysters, too, plus shucked jar oysters.
You’ll need crusty, artisan breads to soak up the party juice tomorrow night. Plus, it makes a great foundation for cheese, smoked salmon, hummus, what have you. Check in with Ballard’s own Tall Grass Bakery for breads like their Pain au Levain (left), Baker Street Sourdough, and Avery’s Pumpernickel. And did you know that Tall Grass got its start with us over in Fremont in the late 1990s, using other bakeries’ kitchens at first, before growing in the storefront you see today on 24th Ave?
Speaking of sweets, nobody makes them better than Pete’s Perfect Toffee. Stop by for a sample, then load up on toffee, fudge or some of this peanut butter brittle. Just make sure you get enough for everyone at your party, so no fights break out. Heck, just stash it in your closest and eat it all yourself on New Year’s Day!
Ooh. Smoked salmon. Local smoked salmon from Wilson Fish, in fact. They catch their fish off the coast of Washington. And you’d be hard-pressed to find better smoked salmon anywhere. Just get here early to get yours, because last week, they were sold out before noon! It’s that good!
Rockridge Orchards bottles a variety of sweet apple ciders, great anytime, but also perfect as a mixer, or for your designated drivers and minors, at your New Year’s Eve party. Of course, keep in mind that they have plenty of the high-octane stuff, too — hard ciders and berry wines — to please you and your guests!
Blessed are the cheese makers. And you will need cheese tomorrow night. If you haven’t tried the incredible selection of artisan, farmstead cheeses made by Samish Bay Cheese, you are missing something special. Several are award winners from the American Cheese Society, and they are quite unique styles of cheese here in the Northwest. Stop by and sample some today, even if you think you remember them from before. Because they’re not making gouda anymore, folks. This stuff is in an entirely different league!
Please be safe out there tomorrow night, have a great time, and please don’t drink and drive. We want to see you back here again next Sunday.
Please remember bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.
There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.
Tags: Ballard, Ballard Farmers Market, bread, caramels, charcuterie, cheese, cider, confections, eggs, farmers market, fish, food, fresh soda, mixers, oysters, peanut brittle, pickled salmon, pickles, raw & vegan foods, salmon, seafood, Seattle, smoked salmon, soup, Sunday, wine