A couple of weeks ago all the stars aligned. The weather was beautiful, the workflow eased and unseasonably early strawberries beckoned. Moreover, with a farmer’s market cooking class quickly approaching, it was necessary to make a trip to the Lake Oswego farmer’s market.
Having never been there, this writer came with no expectations as to size, selection, atmosphere, layout or vendors. The first experience was getting there. It required a drive down Country Club Road, past the house with the giant sparkling window and through two frightening all-way stop intersections. It is a wonder there are not more accidents at all-way stops in Oregon; nobody seems to know how to handle right-of-way rules and just goes whenever the coast looks clear.
After the short drive into downtown, the market peeked at visitors through buildings. Perched at the edge of Oswego Lake, the market is in the most beautiful place it could be.
Parking was the next priority. It was easy to find a spot by following the long line of slow-moving mid-size luxury SUVs. There is a free parking garage conveniently located adjacent to the market and the shopping center.
The aromas of cooking food and sounds of gleeful chatter called out to all who passed by. The market was expansive. Perhaps 100 vendors or so lined the perimeter of the terrace, with several arranged in uneven rows down the middle. Though it was late in the day and vendors were starting to pack up displays, everyone seemed to be in great spirits and excited to talk about their food.
Major highlights were Naked Acres, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, and Groundwork Organics. There was also Rhubarb stalks thick enough to serve as a switch for a naughty child in a bygone era at several stands.
The Naked Acres stand was empty by the end of the market, but there were still bags of tasty braising greens for only two dollars each. The farmer explained their unique, no spray, integrated pest management program and explained the difference between Certified Naturally Grown and Organic. The farm is Certified Naturally Grown, meaning its practices go far beyond those required of organic farms, but it is a self-certification not sponsored by the USDA.
Willamette Valley Cheese Company generously shared samples of a raw milk cheddar that was smooth, nutty and just pungent enough. The representative proudly explained that the farm feeds the cows corn they grow and it is not the genetically modified variety.
Groundwork Organics offered an impressive array of juicy red strawberries, greens and baby artichokes that were irresistibly cute. The staff was exceptionally friendly and slipped a pint of organic strawberries and a bunch of organic basil into the shopping basket.
The excursion was primarily a scouting mission to prep for a cooking class at In Good Taste Cooking School, but unfortunately the class was cancelled. There is another one coming up August 3rd, 2013. The bounty of the summer harvest will be quite remarkable by then, so the class promises to be an exceptional opportunity to learn how to cook without recipes with what’s on hand and in season.
At the end of the excursion and 25 dollars later, the shopping basket contained three pints of strawberries, two pounds of rhubarb, a generous bag of braising greens, fresh basil (freebie) and tasty raw milk white cheddar.
The Lake Oswego farmer’s market earned four out of five stars. If there had been live music, it would have been a five-star experience.
The market is open every Saturday from 8:30am to 1:30pm at Millennium Plaza Park. 200 First Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.