Friday, April 20, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmer's Markets: Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22

Kevin and Carie of C and K Orchards at the Newport Farmers Market.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day this year than to head on out to one of these great markets? Climate change is real, and evidence for our role in it well-proven. The least we can do, it seems to me, is support local growers, especially those who implement organic methods and practice permaculture on their land. These are the people that, in the long run, will feed the rest of us and help us rebuild our communities. And even if you don't believe that, you can believe in the good food they offer up from their fields day in and day out. Celebrate that, at least, and head on out to the market.

Koenji Farmers Market

Saturday, April 21*
Spotted a handful of years ago while riding the Chuo Line, this little market is still going strong. A circle of red awnings in front of the Za-Koenji Public Theatre marks the spot where friendly folks with good food and interesting stories await.
*A wee bit of a best guess here as they haven't updated their blog yet. Do check before making the trip over there.
11am - 6pm
Map

Nippori Farmers Market
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
This charming market in the heart of old Tokyo abounds with a sense of community and friendliness as well as good food. Small but lively, particularly on Saturday, it features a monthly geographical theme although regular vendors include Tohoku growers and some of the best steamed manju in the world.
No map, but just head out the East Exit and look for the green awnings
10am to 5pm

Yokohama Kitanaka Marche
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
One of the best markets going in the Yokohama area, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they are only moments away from Baird Beer's Bashamichi Taproom. Started by the same folks who created the Market of the Sun, the Kitanaka Marche to be growing steadily with tasty offerings of fresh seasonal veg, fruit, baked goods and preserves. Read my other review over at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine for the full scoop.
10am to 4pm
Bashamichi Station, Exit 2*
Note that the market has moved, so come out of the station, turn right, and take the next right turn. Keep walking past the construction site and keep an eye out for the white tents running along next to the river.

Oiso Farmers Market
Sunday, April 22
This little gem of a community shindig is one of the best things going outside of the Earth Day Market. Started a handful of years ago, it blossomed into a full-on monthly festival that just happens to feature Shonan area produce in its fresh, seasonal form as well as pickled, dried, and prepared-hot-in-a-bowl varieties. In summer, it transforms into a night market, while year-round a much smaller version takes place every Saturday. Lee's Bread alone is worth the journey. Read my full review at Outdoor Japan's Traveler Magazine.
10am to 2pm
Oiso Port Building

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: Salamanders in the Garden

Salamander loitering on the bag of leaves in my garden.

These little guys seem to have taken up residence in my garden this year. Perhaps feasting on the large number of frogs that have been cavorting there of late, they seem to also enjoy the leaves I spread as mulch last fall. A quick bit of research shows that they also eat a number of garden pests, although, they are somewhat indiscriminate. I like the frogs and some of the other critters they like to dine on, but still I'm happy to see them.

I don't use chemicals of any kind in the garden, and I have made an effort to leave various bits of debris in place. This isn't just because I am a wee bit lazy (I am), but because I know that the various creatures that help me garden make good use of those dried stems, bits of wood, and jumbled messes of old vines for hibernating, sheltering families, and snacking on garden pests. It's nice to build community of all kinds.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Vancouver Farmers Market: A Short Review

The Vancouver Farmers Market in March!
I can't go anywhere without trying to visit the local farmers market. So, even though we had just a couple of days with a good friend and her family in Vancouver, Washington, I dragged everyone with me to the local market.

Bautista Farm apples!
Dubbed as Washington State's second largest market, the Vancouver Farmers Market is set smack dab in the center of the town's historic center and along one side of Esther Short Park. As seems normal for this part of the country, it was softly raining by the time we arrived. And as seems normal for people who live in this part of the country, they carried on mostly unfazed by the drizzle. We followed suit.

Cesar Hernandez of Romero's Salsa.
My first stop was to try a sample of Romero's Salsa. Big bags of homemade chips sat alongside vivid red, green and orange (one incorporates mango) salsas, and I sidled right up to try some. The chips were sturdy and flavorful, and the salsa, I have to say, was out of this world. "It's my wife's business," Cesar Hernandez told me with a smile as he passed me a sample of the guacamole. Flavorful without being spicy, I opted for a tomato-based one with a bit more zip.

RJ Farms kohlrabi.
Vendors selling baked goods, wine, jams, and honey were on hand as were those selling prepared foods. Bautista Farms brought along a beautiful selection of apples, and RJ Farms had a nice selection of winter vegetables. Scratch Meats, who I had met at the Portland State University Farmers Market, was also on hand with samples of their delectable meats. There was also handmade soap, jewelry, pottery, and more. I was on a tight schedule (napping baby woke up), and the rain was transitioning from a drizzle to something more serious.

Rebecca Kawanami of River Wave Foods.
I stopped to talk with Rebecca Kawanami of River Wave Foods and sampled her sauces, dressings and tapenade. Rebecca's love for her newfound craft (she's a retired airline steward) comes shining through. The Berriyaki Sauce is a crowd favorite, but Rebecca's Asian Pickles made with her Thai Vinaigrette were a heart-stealer for me.

Naate McClellan of Nature Nates, LLC.
I also spoke with Nate McClellan of Nature Nates, LLC. I simply had to try his popped sorghum and find out how to make it. A common practice in Japan is to use sorghum as a natural windbreak and bug catcher, but it is simply composted at the end of the season. I was eager to find out if it could take on a third role as edible crop. While Nate's popped sorghum was brilliant, he informed me that varieties vary. We'll have to see.

Kristin's Sweet Delights had, of course, sweets, but they offered me my very first handmade corn dog. "You should never eat a convenience store corn dog," Kristin admonished as she took my order, and after eating hers, I may never be able to again. A tasty sausage encased in crispy-outside, moist-inside cornbread, I was devastated when it finished. I'd go back to the market just for this.

Short but sweet, the Vancouver Farmers Market is well worth a visit. Held every weekend on both Saturday and Sunday, visitors will find at the very least some excellent souvenirs to take home and at most some of the best dinner fixings around.



Vancouver Farmers Market - Downtown
March to October
Saturday, 9am - 3pm
Sunday, 10am - 3pm
Esther Short Park

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Regional Farmers Markets: Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15

Rebecca Kawanami of River Wave Foods at the Vancouver Farmers Market.
Spring has certainly sprung. The sakura are well done, and the nanohana blossoms are not far behind. Farmers are busy preparing their fields for planting this year's rice, and the ume are getting fatter on the branch every day. Head on out to one of these lovely markets to see what goodies the season has brought forth most recently!

Osonbashi Marche
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15*
This new market in Yokohama is one I have only seen a poster and website for, but not been to yet. The venue should be beautiful, and I have no doubt the offerings will be good. Keep in mind that it is relatively new, so it might be small. However, markets don't get bigger and better if you don't go to them and support the people there. I can't go this month, but I'd love to hear from anyone who does!
10:30am to 3:30pm
Nihon-Oodoori Station
Look for the exit for the International Ferry Passenger Terminal and follow the signs.
*They have not updated their website yet for April, so proceed with caution. I'll update as soon as I know something definite.

Market of the Sun
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15
One of Tokyo's newer markets, Market of the Sun (a.k.a. Taiyo Marche), professes to be one of the largest. A short walk from Tsukiji Market and its wonderful surrounds, this market is worth a visit for its lovely selection of foodly and crafty items that rivals the goodies found at the UNU Market.
10am to 4pm
Step out of Kachidoke Station at Exits A4a or A4b and look for the tents.

Kichijoji Harmonica Yokocho Asaichi
Sunday, April 15
Early birds on Tokyo's west side should count themselves lucky to find this little market in the warren of shops just north of the station. While fruits and veg are a bit lacking, the market is big on craftsmen and women doing interesting work, excellent baked goods, miso, rice, and other tasty treats. It's worth noting that a number of places offer breakfast deals in the market!
Look for my review in Outdoor Japan's Spring Traveler!
7am - 10am

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday Snapshot: Cave Ceiling at Silver Falls State Park

Detail of rocks and lichen at Silver Falls State Park.
Our time in Oregon was filled with a number of firsts for me: first time to see an anemone, first time to have beer with lactic acid, and the first time to walk behind a waterfall. The last is something I have wanted to do since childhood. Perhaps it was a Sherlock Holmes story or some other novel where the characters ventured behind the curtain of rushing water in the course of their adventure. Whatever the source, I'd completely forgotten about it until hiking at Silver Falls State Park.

My husband, sister-in-law and I decided on our first evening to explore and stretch our legs after a long drive. By this time in our trip, I'd had more than enough of cars and driving, so the forest and a trail were welcome reprieves. I'd forgotten how much America relies on the car for every little thing, and I'd come to dread it. It was convenient, but it seemed so wasteful and silly. Why not have trains or busses that would provide jobs, get people places safely and promptly, that would help revive economies and reduce carbon emissions? All of that, though, is fodder for a different post. Suffice it to say, I was glad to put my legs to good use.

The sun was giving serious thought to setting as we started. The light caught in the moss that clung to the trees and boulders, birds called, and somewhere in the near distance we could hear a rush of water. The river, though, seemed too small and narrow to produce such a sound; however, North Falls appeared soon after.

Panoramic photo of the trail behind North Falls. 
Coming straight down to the river below, the river had carved out a wide basin that gave the falls a dramatic setting. We stood awestruck for a moment as we watched the water fall and fall. Then we realized the trail went behind the falls. Cut deep into the cliff, we stood again in amazement as the sound of the river surrounded us and the sun filled the cavern with warm light.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Newport Farmers Market: A Review

All signs point to the Newport Farmers Market!
Last month, blustery weather on the Oregon coast escorted me hurriedly through the door of the Newport Farmers Market. Set in an exhibit hall on the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, the winter version of this community event was a perfect way to spend a last, rainy morning in this coastal town.

Dede and the best sweet rolls on the West Coast.
We stepped through the door and shook off our wet hoods to find a bustling market well underway. Our first stop was Dede Mettle's booth where beautiful breads and pastries had people waiting in line. One look at her cinnamon rolls, reminiscent of my grandmother's caramel version, was enough to get us to add ourselves to the queue. Dede, a long-time resident of Newport, previously owned a local restaurant, Volta Deli, but smiled and shook her head when I asked about it. "I don't open it anymore,"she said as a customer got ready to state their order. Her bakery business at the market seems to keep her busy enough. Her tarts - cream cheese and raisin, chocolate pecan and pecan - along with basil and feta cheese scones left nearly as fast as she could set them out for display.

Herb and Gary working up good brews at Old River Coffee Roaster Company.
Just next to Dede's both is the Old River Coffee Roaster Company, which seemed a logical place to find something to pair with Dede's amazing cinnamon roll. Herb Jennings, owner and founding roaster, brewed fresh cups for us on the spot as we chatted. Herb started roasting organic fair trade beans about ten years ago and selling at the market a year after that. "I started for fun," he said, eyes focused on the next round of coffees underway. He offers a range of blends and roasts that customers can find at the market or buy via his website. Customers came in a steady stream to buy whole beans, order a coffee or simply chat with Herb and Gary, a friend who helps out during the market to keep things running smoothly. "Loggers, fishers, and artists live here in Newport," Gary said as he handed me my coffee. "Everybody gets along."

Kelly and J.D. smiling with the Spring.
Kelly Greer, Newport's market manager, nodded in approval of my finds so far at the market when I stopped to talk with him and J.D., his assistant. (My notes get a bit sparse here as I was thoroughly enjoying a very sticky and delicious roll along with my coffee.) Started in 1978, the Newport Winter Market, Kelly told me, has about 33 vendors, but the number blossoms to 55 in the summer. All the vendors grow and produce what they sell, which means everything is fresh and handmade.

Kevin and Carie of C and K Orchards and the bread I loved.
Fresh and handmade is the name of the game for Kevin and Carie of C and K Orchards. Purveyors of scratch artisan local breads and sweets, the pair offered a table of treats too lovely to pass up. "We bake everything on the farm," Kevin said me as he handed me a sample of his Russian Black bread. Dense and flavorful without being overwhelming, the loaf had a pleasant heft as I eased it into my bag. Their ingredients all come from their farm or the area. Kevin uses heirloom wheat grown by his neighbor, Belle Mare Farm, for all of his breads and got the recipe from a Russian woman he used to work with, he told me. Carie uses their duck eggs and berries from the farm for her treats, too. While it's only their second year at the Newport Market, it certainly seems like they have a good thing going.
Veun and Sadie of Veun's Gardens and those amazing mustard greens.
It seemed a good time to hunt up some vegetables to go with all of that bread, so I drifted around a bit. To my pleasant surprise, Gathering Together Farm also has a presence at the Newport Market; however, since I saw their beautiful veg at the Portland State University Market, I kept going. The table for Veun's Garden caught my eye with their lovely mustard greens, broccoli, cilantro, onions and duck eggs, and I headed over. Veun and Sadie travelled from Corvallis to be at the market that morning, and while I loved the zippy flavor of their mustard greens, I was pretty sure my mother-in-law would be much less excited. "I'm just the sales guy," Veun laughed as he handed me the broccoli that we would have for dinner that evening. "My mom and sister do all the seed buying."

Marja Drum and her amazing work.
A separate room hosted the prepared foods - tacos, tamales, and German food - that my husband ran off to "research" while I kept perusing the main part of the market. Jewelry, seedlings, toys, pickles, and jams were all there, and I thought this would be a perfect place for buying local souvenirs. However, it is Marja Drum's stunning handmade rugs that pulled me in for a closer look. Originally from Finland, Drum sat at her loom working while the market buzzed around her. "I moved to Newport because of the market," she smiled. "I love it. You meet so many people." Place mats, coasters, bags, and rugs of varying sizes and colors were welcome splashes of color on this rainy spring morning.

A close-up of Marja's work.
For visitors or new-to-the-area folks, the Newport Market is a real gem of local food, craft, and culture. Don't be shy about stopping in. You'll feel right at home within moments!

Newport Farmers Market 

Winter Market
November through April
Lincoln County Fairgrounds (follow the signs)
9am - 1pm

Summer Market
May through October
Corner of Angle and Highway 101
9am - 1pm

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tokyo and Yokohama Farmers Markets: Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8

Nate McClellan, the Nate in Nature Nate's LLC, at the Vancouver, WA Farmers Market.

The cherry blossoms have come and gone already, and now the world seems to be turning its attention to growing and greening in earnest. Fields and orchards are no different, which means good things for all of us. Nanohana and other spring delicacies are making their presence known, and amanatsu citrus, too, are looking marmalade ready. Head on out to see what these lovely markets have to offer!

Greenmarket Sumida
Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8
Just over the bridge from Senso-ji is the newest market in the heart of the city. A collaborative effort between the local government and the same folks who manage Market of the Sun and Yokohama's Kitanaka Marche, Greenmarket Sumida aims to fill the supermarket gap in this old neighborhood. An excellent selection of food trucks nourish weary shoppers while the Beer Truck is often on hand to slake their thirst.
10am to 4pm
Asakusa Station
Exit the station and cross the river towards the Asahi Building. Turn left and follow the path to the pocket park on the right.

Kamakura Farmers Market
Every day
This market is an absolute treasure of a small local affair featuring Kamakura heirloom fruits and vegetables raised in or nearby another one of Japan's former capitals. Head in early to get the best selection and pick up a loaf of Paradise Alley's charcoal-infused bread while you're there. They also make an excellent cup of coffee.
7am until sold out
Map

Ebisu Market
Every Sunday
A small handful of years ago, the Ebisu Market became a weekly Sunday event. Part of the original Marche Japon movement, this market carries on with a nice selection of regional farmers, seasonal veg, baked goods, and the addition of arts and crafts. It does bill itself as all organic, and there are some; however, I recommend asking vendors to be sure. I also recommend a trip to Afuri Ramen to fortify yourself with some of the best yuzu tsukemen in town.
11am to 5pm
Map

UN University Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
A massive weekend affair that started out as the flagship market for Marche Japon busted out on its own a few years back. Now one of the most happening places on the weekend, the market features a variety of fruits and vegetables and prepared products from all over Japan. Winter vegetables can be found here, but produce offerings do vary in amount by season. There is a most excellent selection of food trucks whipping up everything from salad to zingy curry to roast chicken and falafel! Oh, and don't forget the craft beer truck, too!
10am to 4pm
Map

Hills Marche Farmers Market
Every Tuesday and Saturday
The Ark Hills Marche in Roppongi is perhaps one of the best things going in this part of Tokyo. Originally created to serve residents of the nearby high-rise, it is a bountiful and booming event. Don't miss the chance to meet a grower from Tokyo's very own Kokobunji, take in a little music, and sample a variety of other seasonal delights.
Saturday, 10am to 4pm
Tuesday, 11am to 7pm**
Map

Yurakucho Farmers Market
Every Saturday and Sunday
Smaller than the UNU Market, the Yurakucho Market takes its cue from the antenna shops located nearby and features a particular region of Japan each week along with an excellent selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Growers from nearby Chiba, Kamakura, and Saitama do come weekly, though, with some excellent treats.
11am to 5pm
Directions: Turn left out of Yurakucho Station and cross the courtyard toward Tokyo Kouku Keitan. Look for the fun under the overhang!

Know of a market? Give me a shout, and I'll add it to the list!