Posts Tagged ‘Estrella Family Creamery’

Sunday, December 19th: Delicious Local Fixins For Great Holiday Meals, Unique Gifts Hand-Crafted By Local Artists & Morris Dancers! Where Else But Your Ballard Farmers Market?!?

December 19, 2010

Whole emmer/farro from Bluebird Grain Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

(Note: Ballard Farmers Market will be open next Sunday, December 26th.)

I spent last week on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Okay, I hear you thinking, “lucky bastard,” but believe it or not, it was colder there on a few days than it was here, and just as stormy. With weather like that, if my parents didn’t live there, the place would hold no redeeming value for me at all. I bring this up to remind us all that we’re pretty friggin’ lucky to live here in the Pacific Northwet. Even when the weather is crappy, we’ve got plenty to keep us going. So I don’t wanna hear anymore whining about La Nina. Get on out to your Ballard Farmers Market today and get everything you need for a great holiday season direct from the local farmers, fishers, ranchers, food artisans and artists that help make this place the best place on earth to live, and visit all of our neighbors terrific shops, restaurants and watering holes. Invest in your local economy this holiday season instead of the Mall, and maybe by this time next year, we’ll all feel more comfortable. That said, Bluebird Grain Farms is here today with all of their magnificent organic heirloom grain products, from whole grain emmer/farro to cereal blends, flours, pilaf, mixes and more. Stock up today, as Bluebird likely won’t be back again for at least another month!

Various fish products from Cape Cleare Fishery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Cape Cleare Fishery is back today. They are the folks who peddle their bicycles all the way from Port Townsend to Ballard each week… except last week. Apparently riding face-first into a driving rain along flooded roads didn’t sound too attractive to them last week. Go figure. But they’re back today. So pickup some frozen-at-sea Alaskan salmon, maybe a nice package of lox, or perhaps some smoked salmon to impress your guests with this holiday season.

A display of FDA documents and U.S. Marshall postings from Estrella Family Creamery. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you are interested in learning more about the FDA seizure of Estrella Family Creamery, and efforts to help the Estrella family during this difficult time for them, a group of supporters and friends have set up a blog here on WordPress. It contains discussions of the situation and info on how you can help. There has also been setup a “Save the Estrella Family Creamery” Facebook page.

Pepper strands from Alvarez Organic Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Today may be your last chance to get a pepper strand or wreath from Alvarez Organic Farms. These beautiful creations will liven up any home, and they make great gifts. And the best thing is, once they are dried, if you don’t want to leave them hanging, you can actually cook with the dried peppers. Of course, if you don’t want to break it up once it’s dried, why not pickup some dried peppers from Alvarez. They have several varieties of peppers dried this year. Stock up.

Winter squash from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Growing Things still has some lovely winter squash available this week, and of course, they also still have amazing pastured poultry, eggs, jams and soaps. Michaele makes an amazing variety of soaps, in fact, from spearmint — my favorite — to lemongrass to cinnamon. And she makes her soap from beef tallow and lard from her own animals, the old-world way.

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Gluten-Free Bread from Platypus Breads. Photo courtesy Platypus Breads.

The bad news is, this is the last week for Platypus Breads at your Ballard Farmers Market. The good news is, Lindsay is here today with her amazing gluten-free breads for one last hoorah. Frankly, Platypus Breads is one of the most remarkable new vendors of 2010. Lindsay decided that people who must eat gluten-free products deserved to have just as good bread to eat as everyone else, and she set out to make it. And she succeeded. She proved that the terms moist, flavorful and gluten-free are not inherently mutually exclusive, if you just put some effort, thought and creativity into it. So thank you, Lindsay. You, and your bread, will be missed.

Shucked oysters from Taylor Shellfish make it easy to add fresh, local oysters to any recipe. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Shellfish. You need it. Lots of it. Especially during the holidaze. Think oyster stuffing or stew, baked oysters or oysters on the half-shell, sauteed mussels or clams, or even some geoduck ceviche. Whatever you decide to do with your shellfish, Taylor Shellfish has what you need. So visit Oyster Bill today for this week’s fix, and maybe put in a request for next week’s.

Holiday wreath from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Alm Hill Gardens still has some of their beautiful holiday wreaths today. They handcraft these marvelous creations using foliage from their farm just for us. And they smell amazing! Oh, Alm Hill should have some saute mix, squash and other edibles today, too.

Parsnips from Nash's Organic. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

All the Northwet loves a tasty root roast this time of year, and what root roast is complete without parsnips, like these from Nash’s. Actually, you can also make soups, purees and mashes with parsnips, too, combined with celeriac and maybe potatoes. Parsnips are so wonderfully sweet and delicious, and they cook pretty quickly, so beware and don’t overcook them. Though they look like carrots, they are not nearly as dense as carrots. Enjoy!

Rutabagas from Boistfort Valley. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

On the other end of the root density spectrum, though equally loved by me, is the humble rutabaga, a.k.a., Swedes or Swedish turnips, like these from Boistfort Valley Farm, which will hopefully grace us one more time today with their presence. These giant-looking turnips are not really turnips at all. Their dense flesh has a deeply sweet, savory flavor that is great steamed and mashed with plenty of butter. Or toss them in the root roast, too. But remember, they will take the longest of any of your roots to cook, as they are the densest.

Family-sized cheesecake from Pasteria Lucchese. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Oh, I hope Sam & Sara of Pasteria Lucchese made some of their incredible cheesecakes this week. Have you tried one? Well, take it from this ex-pat New Yorker that they are the real deal, and you will want one, or three, on your holiday table. You can thank me later.

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.

Sunday, April 11th: We’ll Miss You, Arlene.

April 11, 2010

I didn't realize how effectively camera shy Anselmo's Arlene Dabrusca was with me until I tried to find a file photo of her amongst the thousands I've taken at Ballard Farmers Market over the last five years. And while you can't actually see her face in this one, it is representative of what she stood for at Ballard Farmers Market. Here, Arlene has her face buried in the chest of her daughter, Marie, on a very cold November day in 2005, back when the Market still used to retreat into that little lot off Ballard Avenue, before we were on the street year-round. (Moshi Moshi now sits where that lot used to be.) You see, Arlene showed up every Sunday that Ballard Farmers Market has existed, regardless of the weather, until just recently. So while she may have been hiding from the camera, or protecting herself from the cold, still she was there, always. Photo copyright 2005, 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It is with profound sadness that I must tell you of the passing of Arlene Dabrusca of Anselmos, one of Ballard Farmers Market’s founding farms. Arlene died suddenly Saturday, after successfully undergoing treatment for cancer over the past several months.

Arlene, with partner Chuck Long, started Anselmos in 1998. Arlene had been a nurse, her daughter, Marie, worked in the health insurance industry, and Chuck was an auto mechanic. Chuck wanted to grow organic vegetables, so they got a 4-acre patch of dirt in Mukilteo. They originally sold at Fremont Sunday Market, as well as several other markets. They followed Market Master Judy Kirkhuff to the U.S. Bank parking lot in Ballard (where the library is now) in August 2000, when redevelopment in Fremont forced the Fremont Sunday Market to move to a location that hurt farmer sales.

During the first winter in Ballard — the winter of 2000-2001 — Arlene faithfully represented Anselmos in the U.S. Bank parking lot every Sunday without fail. In fact, for almost all of that winter, Arlene and Marie were the only farmers at the market. “We would give people bags through their car windows in the rain,” Arlene told me some time back. “It was a drive-up market!” Indeed, says Judy, Arlene was a trooper through rain and snow and cold to provide service to her loyal customers. And her customers were loyal. “One loyal Market friend, Jason, would hang with us, make us feel safe, and then help us break down” Arlene told me.

In 2001, Anselmos moved to a 28-acre parcel in Machias, in Snohomish County, where they began cultivating 10-12 acres, and where they produced greens all winter in their 90′ x 20′ greenhouse. By the winter of 2001-2002, they had been joined by five other vendors in a little off of Ballard Avenue (where Moshi Moshi resides now) after the Market moved to Ballard Avenue in late 2001. Anselmos eventually stopped selling at any other farmers markets because of the support they had in Ballard.

“The customers we got when we were alone in the U.S. Bank lot still buy from us today,” Arlene told me in early 2009. “We love the folks in Ballard.” And Ballard loved her back.

We truly owe a debt of gratitude to Arlene. Without her commitment to Ballard Farmers Market and the people of Ballard, we might not have seen to creation of the first year-round farmers market in Seattle, which has, in turn, inspired other markets to operate year-round. One farmer, standing alone in cold winter rain forged a path for what we know today as this amazing weekly event called that Ballard Farmers Market that, during March, drew more than 9,000 people per week to a neighborhood that once was a ghost town on Sundays. Arlene, thank you. You will be missed.

Arlene had some medical coverage from Medicare, but it was insufficient. As a result, Arlene’s family is left behind not only with their grief, but with thousands in unresolved medical expenses. There are two things you can do to help. First, you can make a donation to a fund to help her family retire her medical debt at the Ballard Farmers Market Information table at the Vernon Place end of the Market.

Second, you can continue to fight for real health care reform. Do it for Arlene. Do it for the other farmers you see every week at the Market, and for the artists and buskers, most of whom also live without health insurance. These are the people who feed our bodies and nourish our souls, and it is unforgivable that in a country as rich as ours that we would turn our backs on these people just because they are not part of some major corporation that has a health plan. You love Ballard Farmers Market for these people because they are independent. Why shouldn’t they be covered by the same kind of health care system found in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and just about every country in Europe? Be sad today for the loss of our dear friend, Arlene. Then wake up tomorrow mad as hell and see to it some real change takes place.

Anthony Estrella shows off some Jalapeno Buttery cheese from Estrella Family Creamery. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I am not going to spend much time speaking of other vendors today, but one in particular requires mentioning. Estrella Family Creamery returns to Ballard Farmers Market today after a long absence. The Estrellas have been suffering from a different kind of hardship in recent months, though they would be the first to tell you that it pales in comparison to the lose of a loved one. Still, earlier this year, health officials discovered that one of their three cheese-aging caves had become contaminated with listeria, a dangerous food-borne pathogen. While no illnesses have ever been reported as result, the Estrellas still recalled several cheeses and destroyed tens of thousands of dollars in product. Then, they had to completely strip clean, sanitize and rebuild the cave in question and start over from scratch making the cheeses housed in that cave. Just to put this in perspective, the minimum time any one of Estrella’s cheese is required by law to be aged is 60 days. They age many of them longer. And, of course, they lost weeks of sales, too. While they will be back at Ballard today, it will be with an inventory limited to their two remaining caves, which both tested clean. That said, do buy their cheese today and welcome them back. The best thing you can do to help the Estrellas get back on their feet making some of the world’s best cheeses (and they have the awards to prove it) is to buy it from them now, and to share with them some love.

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for  your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.