here is something about markets I love. I can while away hours in a market of any kind – street market, farmer’s market, supermarket. I am probably the only person I know who gets a kick out of going to food markets in foreign cities. There is something wonderful and local about a market whether it is the little place where I picked up fixings for dinner in Hvar, Croatia or the elegant market in Bruges where I got a sandwich while bicycling around the town or the places I go for my groceries at home. I love a market.
I especially enjoy local markets, ones that are part of the woof and weave of the community – locally owned places that really get the communities they are part of. In Seattle, my great joy was Metropolitan Market on top of Queen Anne. I could rely on it for the everyday and the quirky. The meat counter had ready to pop in the oven selections that saved me from many a frozen meal. Meatloaf, mushroom burgers, kebabs. A local bakery supplied the breakfast Danish, the deli section had a generous apportionment for wonderful local and exotic cheeses, and I could always find something new and interesting on the shelves.
Now that I am a bit further south I have finally gotten over my poutiness for not having a Met Market. In its place I have three rather wonderful alternatives. The first is Chuck’s in Vancouver. This is a lovely place that has an emphasis on local vendors. Most of the produce is from local farms, the shelves show a definite local bias in everything from pickles to coffee. I like that they support the community they are in, and I like that I can find many of the things I love at the farmer’s market here, especially during the months when that venue is closed.
We also have Zuppan’s, a local, somewhat upscale market based in Portland. Zuppan’s is beautiful inside, gorgeous and unusual produce, a spectacular deli counter, shelves filled with exotic and local specialty foods. Zuppan’s is one of those places you go both for favorites and for finding the unexpected. It’s fun, it’s interesting just to wander the aisles and see all the things you had no idea someone had canned, boxed, dried or otherwise packaged. Zuppan’s is shopping as a destination activity rather than a chore.
And then there is the hybrid of the two, New Season’s. This place also has a great selection, but also carries some of the brands you would find at Safeway or other such national chain. Great deli and meat counter, where they smoke all their own sausages and bacon. Really, really good bacon. A good wine selection, and a sampling bar that greets you when you walk in.
Sure, I still love my Safeway, I still go to Whole Foods, I still peruse the aisles at Trader Joe’s. There are things I can get there that are either cheaper, more mainstream, or just not available at the local places. But I find I go there less and less. Unlike my time in Seattle where I split my marketing between Met and Safeway (they were two blocks away from one another), I find that the majority of my marketing is done at the local joints, that they begin to be my winter stand in for the farmer’s markets, and because I found a local alternative for that national brand.
I like that it is relatively easy for me to live up to the shop locally ideal. I know that many places are not so lucky. We really are spoiled over here in this corner of the country, and I am proud to admit it!