August 07, 2006

An efficiency-junkie's dream - Walnut Creek's Farmers' Market

If Saturday was a touristy exploration of all things fresh and locally grown, Sunday's whirlwind trip to the Walnut Creek Farmers' Market was far more utilitarian experience. Since it's a more regular stop on our market rotation, it's far easier to approach with a shopping list. A good thing, when time is of the essence.

The Experience: Walnut Creek is among my favorite market experiences because it offers me the variety I'm looking for (all four food groups are well-represented) and its functional layout appeals to the process princess in me. Nice straight, wide pedestrian aisles (in contrast to the organized chaos that is the Ferry Plaza), with colorful recently-picked produce occupying the first two rows, followed by breads, prepared foods, meat and seafood.

Having assessed my pantry and my vegetable supply, Sunday's market mission was protein: meat and seafood upon which to build a week's menu. With that in mind, we wound quickly through the produce (in case there was something phenomenal and this-week-only that we couldn't pass up), and grabbed a loaf of bread from the folks at Great Harvest Bread in Oakland. One of the things I miss about living in Oakland are weekend trips to Great Harvest, where the smell of fresh-baked bread is absolutely intoxicating.

Bread in hand, we headed around the corner to Holding Angus Beef, my local-est resource for hormone-free grass-fed humanely-raised beef. We selected a package of ground beef and a couple of pounds of beef shank for making stock. Last stop: seafood. Halibut, sablefish, sea scallops, crab, it was all tempting. In the end, a sunset-colored filet of salmon won my appetite and assumed a spot in my market bag.

And since we've covered the market bag, let's move straight to the menu: Rather than heat the oven and thus heat the house, I pulled out my trusty four-quart countertop Nesco oven and set it to 350. Tweezed the pin bones out of my salmon fillet. Set the fillet on a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread a couple of liberal tablespoons of Stonewall Kitchens' Basil Pesto Mustard across the flesh and sprinkled with another couple tablespoons of panko crumbs. Loosely wrapped the foil around the sides of the salmon and baked for about 20 minutes. I served the salmon over some leftover honey-roasted summer squash. Another yummy low-effort Monday night meal.

Stay tuned -- Markets are closed on Mondays so our next stop on the fresh-food tour is my neighborhood farmstand.

Walnut Creek Farmers' Market
Library Parking Lot, 1644 N Broadway, Walnut Creek, CA
Sundays, 8 AM - 1 PM, year-round

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