The first day of the Portland Farmers’ Market is a true Portland party, where the music is live, the coffee is fresh, the pizza is wood-fired, and the decorations take the shape of mounds of colorful chard, Easter egg radishes, and bright green leeks.
As usual, plenty of Portland’s top chefs were among the early risers scanning the stalls for the season’s first bounty. Here’s what you’ll be seeing on early spring menus around town—plenty of wildly-colored carrots, fragrant fennel, pleasantly bitter chicories, fresh crowns of broccoli, wild nettles and hedgehog mushrooms, and a dozen kinds of raab—think kale, collard, Brussels sprout, and bok choy raab, each carrying subtle and sweet flavors of their parent greens.
This year’s new vendors include Bend, Oregon’s Pono Farm & Fine Meats (bringing beautifully marbled Wagyu beef, heritage pork, and handmade sausages and bacon to the market’s crowds) and Brownville, Oregon’s Greenwillow Grains, who grow and mill their grains in the Willamette Valley. On opening day, Greenwillow had freshly-milled regular, bread and pastry flour as well as oats and wheat berries. Chef Greg Perrault of June was happy to find a source for local flour and will be purchasing 25 lb. bags of Greenwillow flour for the restaurant’s fresh pasta and savory pie crusts.
Two additional new vendors will be joining the market a bit later in the season. Champoeg Farm will come to market in the fall with turkeys, and Temptress Truffles will be arriving the first Saturday in April with foraged wild items like mushrooms, truffles, nettles and huckleberries, as well as cultivated mushrooms and small-batch, handcrafted truffle oil, salt and butter.
PSU market to crowded or too far? Check out our handy list to see when your favorite market opens this spring.