Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ballard Market, Tamales, and The Patty Pan Cafe

I made plans to visit the Ballard Farmers Market last Sunday and when I checked the Website for the hours that it was open, the Website opened up to this great blog by Zachary Lyons. The most recent post listed many local things you can get as gifts for the holidays, so of course I got distracted reading them all.

I'd check the market out for gifts when I got there, but what I really wanted was tamales.They're my favorite market food and it's too bad that's what killed my grandfather or so my uncle told me last summer, but not even that story could stop me from loving tamales from the market. And so many markets have them, it's fun to compare different fillings and sauces.

I've had tamales at the Austin and Medford farmers' markets, and I ended up buying a case of tamale sauce in Austin, but the tamales I like best are from the Patty Pan Grill at the Ballard Market. You can get these tamales steamed but I like easy dinners and now almost always buy them by the bag to take home. If you want something to satisfy your hunger right now, those seasonal veggie quessadillas are to die for. Roasted beets in the winter, peppers and zucchini in summer--the thing I love about these quesadillas is they shift veggies with the seasons.

Patty Pan Grill is the creation of Devra Gartenstein, author of two cookbooks--The Accidental Vegan and Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes. Devra has this great talent for creating simple foods with great flavors, and if you want to try making tamales, you can find the recipe in The Accidental Vegan, pages 90 to 93. While you only get two choices for fillings at the market, there are four options in the book. And, if you're as lazy as I sometimes am in the kitchen, the next recipe after tamales is tamale pie-- all the flavors of tamales without the hassle of actually making them. Look for the the book at the Ballard Market, too. It's a keeper along with Local Bounty and both are under twenty dollars--my best price category for holiday gifts.

This fall Devra opened the Patty Pan Cafe. It's open breakfast through lunch (7 to 3pm) from Tuesday to Saturday. The food is simple, delicious and totally affordable. It's a very cool neighborhood cafe and if this place was in my neighborhood, I'd seriously conjure up reasons to go there.

When I went there for lunch, I got this great spicy pumpkin soup with bread and the spice was smooth and hot. It was one of those meals where I wanted more and felt like I should have ordered a larger portion. I dreamed about the flavors of that soup for days. I've already invited some friends to go there and enjoy this great simple food for themselves.

Unlike Devra's books, the cafe isn't totally vegan. I heard a rumor that meat products are on the menu, but I'm sure it's all sustainably raised, grass fed and all that, plus a wider menu selection would accomodate meat-eaters who dine with vegetarians, like Tom and I.
On my way out of the cafe, I noticed this granola that looked so inviting, all freshly made with primo ingredients. I can't take that stale stuff that passes for granola in the big bins in natural food stores. I took this picture, but wished I could have taken the granola to go instead.
When I returned home, I had little to show my eager Cooking Assistant, except the usual carrots and apples I'm always bringing home these days. Here's the HoneyCrisp apples I got from Jerzy Boys and an amazing-sweet tart Newton Pippin from Grouse Mountain Farm that I took from my "root celler" experiment. The apple scent was so overpowering I'm sure my Assistant completly forgot about my market excursion.
He was only really satisfied when I cut the small apple into thirds for him and his friends who are always waiting for something good to drop in front of them.


Joan said...

my sister has a stand at the Ballard Market often. Red Barn Organic Farm. She's got a great selection and georgeous vegies!

Love all the fun places you find for us to visit. Thanks!

ddzeller said...

Hey, I might have bought some things from her last weekend. I don't know all the farmers at Ballard but they certainly have a great selection. I'll look for her next time I'm there!

Joan said...

She's also at Puyallup on Saturdays.