Farmer's Market Report: Portland, Oregon

Heading out to the downtown Portland Farmer's Market this past Saturday was like one big, collective sigh – it seemed everyone knew to get in one great visit before the winter sets in and produce gets scarce. The leaves fell softly to the ground and I took in the scene. I am so thankful to partake in one of the best farmer's markets in the world! Find out about what makes this spot so unbelievable, after the jump.

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While shopping for a new city to move to post-college, Portland, OR was high on my list. We hiked in the forest, drank strong coffees and hung out in a fantastic book store, but it was a morning of browsing, sampling and eating at the Portland PSU Farmer's Market that made me swoon. I declared, "This is it!" About five years later, I am still captivated by the bountiful organic produce, diversity of prepared foods, tender baked goods and general happiness that seems to envelop everyone who steps foot on the grounds. It's an incredible feast for all the senses, one that after making my way through many markets throughout the world, I still feel is the most spectacular.

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The Portland Farmer's Market is home to more than 250 vendors, chef demonstrations, kids classes, and musical entertainment. It is held every Saturday from March through December. It's a weekly event that truly nourishes the community, in the tummy and soul. As a weekly shopper, I've grown to know several of the vendors and now count them as friends, it's that type of atmosphere.

My shopping list includes a seasonal rotation of produce, as well as a few food items I cannot live without.

Shopping List of Market specialties:

Pearl Bakery's chocolate panini– it's a roll, mixed with bittersweet cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and it is as amazing as it sounds.
Freddy Guys' roasted hazelnuts– recently featured in Martha Stewart with good reason, these crisp hazelnuts are the most flavorful I've ever had
Zuppa Soups' South Indian dhal– Simon, the owner, makes this simple, nourishing soup (perfect on a gray day) and loads it up with mango chutney, cilantro and a little plain yogurt
LoveJoy Foods' Caprese sandwich– Jo, the chef and owner, makes this amazing sandwich on salted Foccacia bread and covers the tomatoes in a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil
Monteillet Fromagerie's Provencal goat cheese– this French and American artisan cheese-making couple have created rich and tangy goat cheese that elevates a meal from the ordinary to the sublime. I always buy it for special family dinners. Joan and Pierre Louis sip red wine and laugh whole-heartedly while doling out delicious samples.

I carve out a special spot in my weekly budget for one or two of these other-worldly treats. This purposeful purchase or two brings me great joy. I always leave this place feeling relaxed and renewed, with a sense that the farmers, chefs and artisans of Portland are among the best in the world. I'm such a lucky lady!

Visit the Market: Portland Farmer's Market

Related: A Food-Lover's Guide to Portland, Oregon

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)

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