Yesterday I took a break from the farm (Highwater Farm) here in Mount Vernon to drive up to Bellingham for the day; a coastal town known for its progressive energy, local-centeredness and bike-friendly streets (I believe Bellingham was actually named most bike-friendly city in the US?) It’s Saturday market – The Bellingham Depot Market – is by far the most hustling and bustling I’ve seen yet.
On a breezy, sun-soaked Saturday I found myself down by the bay amidst produce, textiles, flowers, garden art, hot food kiosks, herbal soaps and creams, specialty tea-blends, bakers, massage booths, multiple buskers, and a healing henna tent. Most all of the market was sheltered under permanent awning structures (much like the ones just outside of the Grove Arcade, for all my Asheville readers) except for one semi-indoor area with garage-type walls and windows and the 6 or 7 vendors with EZ-Ups. And the entire market is run off of the solar panels beaming on the roof of the enclosed area and one of the awnings.
Interestingly, it doesn’t open until 10 in the morning, and goes until 3pm. I guess with the amount of shaded space it provides, and the cool breeze the bay offers, the fruits and veggies can stand to show off (and survive wilt) a little later in the day.
And there were some shows off! Just check out these tomatoes, yes tomatoes!
I made my way through 2 chai tea samples, one (gluten-free, vegan, maple-sweetened) raspberry loaf slice, and samples of bison sausage, cinnamon-roasted almonds, fresh hazelnuts, beef jerky, Rainier cherries, pluot, and white peach before feeling the rumbles that told me it was lunch time.
And now I know why Ethiopian food was voted Asheville’s most needed ethnic cuisine. A seemingly simple dish of lentils, beets, carrots and cabbage was served forth on a injera-lined plate to take my senses to elevated and melodious heights. The earthiness of the carrots and beets, the sweet-and-harsh of the cabbage, the nutty spiciness of the lentils and sweet-hot of the jalapeno chutney all married together in creamy matrimony with the underlying sourness of the injera to envelope it. It goes down like a dream (and a finger on a recipe index.)
Injera is a traditional bread of Ethiopian food culture. It’s made of fermented teff flour (I’ve also heard sorghum flour) an African-native grain, and is thin and very spongy. It’s supposed to be used in place of utensils to scoop the meal, it is placed underneath stews and signals the end of the meal once it’s eaten.
A mix-n-match fruit bag of cherries and pluots rounded out the market experience, and I pedaled off for a bayside scene and a quick West Coast dip before heading into town to experience………
…..the best creamy, vegan coconut ice cream I’ve ever had. At one Mallard Ice Cream (Bellingham’s famous little shop of flavors; think curry, lemongrass and thyme, hibiscus-mint and you’re almost there) a scoop of Creatively Conceived and Concocted Coconut Cinnamon Spice Ice. Truly necessary for a full taste of Bellingham.