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Lunch at the Market: Saturdays

Federal Way Farmers Market

ZUCCHINIS: Just one of the treats found at the Federal Way Farmers Market. Photo credit: Jennifer Johnson

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A short trip up Interstate 5 North and a brief jaunt west off the South 320th Street exit, the Federal Way Farmers Market springs up each Saturday morning at 9 a.m. As is to be expected when the sun shines, people come out of the woodwork for this weekly happening. The market features a swap meet and garage sale on the first Saturday of each month, Kamehameha Day in June, zucchini races in August, a Fire Department versus Police Department chili cook-off in September and harvest celebrations in October.

From the farm

Women with kids in tow haul cloth shopping bags brimming with fresh produce. While doing some weekend shopping at the Federal Way Farmers Market instead of the grocery store, Browns Point resident Teresa Thomas shows her son, Nick, how to pick out several bright yellow squash. "My son needs to know food doesn't magically appear at Trader Joe's," she tells me. "We're so removed from the reality of farms as our food source at times." She points at her 6-year-old trying to wipe dirt from a squash with his shirt. We chuckle as she tells me, "Bringing him here shows him it's grown by real people and came from the ground." I buy a foot-long squash for $1 and a bag of large sugar snap peas for $2 per half pound from Vue Farms.

Crunching a pea pod, I stopped at the Lopez Farm booth, where a vegetable unknown to me caught my eye. As I nibble a leaf, I'm told it is purslane, and it's best used in a salad or cooked with butter and salt and pinch of pepper. The piece in my mouth is a tad bitter, but I have a stir-fry in mind and grab a bundle for $2 (Monday I cooked as directed, but scrambled eggs into it: muy delicioso!). 

At a live plant booth, I overhear a man talk about the benefits of growing your own produce. I'm on board with that. Green and red leaf lettuce and purple-veined kale are a steal at $1 each. The plants were much healthier than some I saw at Lowe's two weeks ago, and less expensive.

Eat it there

Though the sun is out a chilly breeze whips among vendor booths, carrying with it scents from the market's four hot food vendors: Kettle Korn, freshly roasted corn on the cob, beef grilling in the Ono Charbroil Burger booth and attention-getting barbeque at Three Chicks Catering. A long row of bare, end-to-end banquet tables provide seating under canopies. Trace B., this month's market lunch date, skipped the bread on a smoked beef brisket sandwich from Three Chicks. A side of coleslaw and bourbon baked beans made it a meal for $7. The brisket was tender with a thin fat ribbon left on for flavor. I watched what other people ordered and then opted for the four-inch-tall tri tip steak sandwich with grilled bun ($7) topped with caramelized red onion, Gorgonzola crumbles and creamy horseradish sauce. Rather than eating sweets after such a carnivorous meal, extra dark French roast from Golden Bean Coffee Company proved a good ending.

Special made

The Pappardelle's booth had about a dozen pasta options, including whole wheat, gluten-free, seasoned and spiced, and those made from unusual ingredients like chocolate and sweet potato. At the booth on Saturday, three gluten-free pastas were available: lemon pepper fusilli, basil garlic small trumpet and a porcini mushroom, red pepper and spinach trumpet trio. Flavored pasta from Pappardelle runs $7 per half pound, while the regular pastas are $6 per pound.

Federal Way Farmers Market

Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 7 to Oct. 29
31600 20th Ave. S., Federal Way

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