There was nothing sunny about last week's farmers markets. Fresh snow and low temperatures greeted vendors and customers alike.
It's difficult to focus on plant starts when the ground is covered in snow.
But this week promises to be different.
"Say good riddance to your snow shovel and come to the heart of Anchorage where the best food, friends and culture meet," says Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer. "The Spenard Farmers Market welcomes new and returning vendors to Anchorage's most diverse and friendliest farmers market!"
Vendor highlights for the Spenard Farmers Market include:
• Alaska Gourmet will have Alaska caught seafood including king crab, salmon, halibut, scallops and even caviar.
• The Spenard Farmers Market Blooming Youth Booth featured vendors are Will, Nick and John Paul Deering of Skeeter Farms selling fresh quail eggs (see fried quail eggs and reindeer sausage recipe below) and handmade up-cycled mini camp stoves cleverly made from aluminum cans.
• Chugach Farms of Chickaloon will have medicinal and herb vinegar, apple butter, kombucha and hand-crafted local salves created with gardener's hands in mind.
• Featured food wagons include Bistro Red Beet, Urban Bamboo cooking fresh and live, and Tiers From Heaven Cupcakes.
Last Saturday's South Anchorage Farmers Market and Anchorage Market and Festival vendors also felt the wrath of our late spring.
"The Southside market survived last week's snow and freezing temperatures," says Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm and South Anchorage market organizer. "It wouldn't have been possible but for the incredible customers we have in Anchorage, so, yea Anchorage!"
Says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market: "Last week's farmers market certainly fell on exactly the wrong day, as far as the weather goes. After the snow on Friday, on Saturday it never went above 34 degrees, and so we were unable to unload the truckload of plants we'd brought to market. Things seem to be settling down and finally drying up in the field, and we should be able to start planting this week."
Bean says Arctic Organics will have greenhouse-grown greens available Saturday, including arugula, basil and a few lettuces. Potatoes will also be available, along with vegetable and flower seedlings, hanging baskets and fertilizer blends. "It's time for gardeners to get planting as well! The good news is that we still have a full selection of bedding plants and tomato plants we'll be bringing to market this week."
Other vendors are lined up for the market: Bushes Bunches, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Fee's Seafood, Turkey Red baked goods and ACAT compost tea.
Vendors at the South Anchorage Farmers Market include:
• Arctic Choice Seafood with including fresh Copper River sockeye salmon, king salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish, sablefish, sidestripe shrimp, spot shrimp, scallops and oysters in the shell.
• Southfork will have with heirloom tomato plants, assorted heritage vegetable starts and hanging baskets. There will also be a limited supply of jams and jellies, Alaska wildflower honey and sweet dill pickles.
Other vendors include: Glacier Valley Farm, Gray Owl Farm, the Blue Poppy, Sweet and Sassy Kettle corn, Alaska Sprouts, Mat-Valley Meats, Green Winter Farm, Earthworks Farm and Country Garden Farm.
And the South Anchorage Market will be hosting the VFW Post 1685 selling Buddy Poppy Pins leading up to Memorial Day. WineStyles will also be on hand with wine samples and dessert for a fee.
At the Center Market at The Mall at Sears, things continue indoors -- where it may not be sunny, but it's always warm and dry.
"The events of this late wintery spring mix has brought us to a place where the mall is now hosting the market indoors all summer," says Duane Clark of Country Health Foods. "This week is our two-year anniversary of having our market at The Mall at Sears. Our Saturday market will start sometime in July."
This week, Clark has grass-fed Alaska beef, Alaska seafood and honey, along with eggs, including goose, duck and quail. He will also have produce from Alaska Sprouts.
Alex Davis says he will have plenty of pork products, barley products and some potatoes from last fall.
Tapa Spenarda: fried quail eggs with reindeer sausage
1 dozen quail eggs
12 slices of toasted and buttered baguette
12 slices of Alaska reindeer sausage
Virgin olive oil for frying
Fresh ground pepper, and topped with chopped chive to taste
w Arrange the slices of baguette on a large dinner plate.
w In a medium frying pan pour a few tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium. When hot, fry quail eggs, 2 at a time. Be careful not to over-heat the pan because the eggs will burn easily.
w Cut the reindeer sausage into slices about 1/4 inch thick. In the same pan you fried the eggs, lightly fry the sausage on medium heat. Remove the slices one at a time and place atop a slice of bread with egg.
Note: Quail eggs are about a quarter the size of chicken eggs and have a higher yolk to white ratio. This easy and quick recipe makes 4-6 servings as an appetizer.
Note: Quail eggshells are harder than the shells of chicken eggs. It's recommended that you crack the quail egg open by giving them a quick, sharp tap with the blade of a butter knife rather than risk breaking the yolks with your thumbs.
Source: Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.