Saturday, February 23rd, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Portland: To Market, To Market

Whenever we’re travelling, we make it a point to visit the city’s markets – they are not only great places to shop for memorable souvenirs (edible or otherwise), but it is also a wonderful opportunity to learn about the range of produce that can be grown, and the unique artisans and artists that call that city home. Things were no different when we vacationed in Portland.

Farmers’ Market @ Portland State University

I had been looking forward to visiting the Portland Farmers’ Market located at Portland State University since we arrived. It was easily among the first things to go on our itinerary, and with over 200 food vendors, we knew we would need a bit of time to explore the grounds.

Portland Farmers' Market

Portland Farmers’ Market

Portland Farmers' Market

Tempting

It was a beautiful location to start with, the paths lined with mature trees. Vehicle access was limited (as it is on our own campus), so it made the shopping experience even more pleasant.

Portland Farmers' Market

I loved the trees

Portland Farmers' Market

Mack enjoyed the didgeridoo

Portland Farmers' Market

Peppers being roasted on site

We started our visit off with breakfast at Pine State Biscuits, an institution in Portland (I remember Filistix’s first What the Truck?! menu featured a Pine State-inspired dish). They had quite the set-up for a food vendor, complete with a griddle and an oven (they had to keep those biscuits warm somehow!).

Portland Farmers' Market

Pine State Biscuits

Each oversized biscuit was a buttery indulgence, flaky and perfectly soft on the inside. The additional cheese and bacon was probably overkill at that point, but I can’t say we didn’t enjoy every calorie.

Portland Farmers' Market

Bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich

Satiated, we joined the throngs in exploring aisle after aisle of harvest goodness. Mack got a little sick of me fawning over all of the produce, but it seemed around every corner, there was another gorgeous display of heirloom tomatoes, greens, or fruit.

Portland Farmers' Market

Fresh collard greens!

Portland Farmers' Market

Gorgeous squash

Portland Farmers' Market

Artichokes

Portland Farmers' Market

Many varieties of apples I’ve never encountered before (including a sweet red-fleshed one)

Portland Farmers' Market

Ginger

Portland Farmers' Market

I heart heirloom tomatoes

Given the vast majority of vendors seemed to offer fresh produce (instead of prepared food), aesthetics were even more important, as a means to lure customers in and away from the competition. As a result, vendors used quantities and colours to their advantage, and I have to say, it was even harder for me to look and not buy everything around me!

Portland Farmers' Market

More greens than we could handle

Portland Farmers' Market

Tomatoes

Portland Farmers' Market

So much colour

Portland Farmers' Market

More tomatoes

In addition to the vendors, the Farmers’ Market had organized cooking demos, spread throughout the day, and had a “veggie valet” as an option (something that has been employed by the City Market for the last few years).

Portland Farmers' Market

Chef in the market

If you’re visiting Portland, the PSU market is a must!

Portland Saturday Market

The farmers’ market at PSU did not feature any non-food vendors, so for our arts and crafts fix, we headed over to the Portland Saturday Market immediately after.

Portland Saturday Market

Portland Saturday Market

Located under the Burnside Bridge in Old Town, the market looked like tourist central, with attention-grabbing buskers and summer fair food stands vying for our attention in and amongst the great variety of jewellery, paintings and other handicrafts available for sale.

Portland Saturday Market

Busy place

It was certainly a festive atmosphere, and a great place to browse. I ended up with a beautiful acid-etched necklace from Heartstrings Studio.

Portland Farmers’ Market @ Pioneer Courthouse Square

Unlike Edmonton’s farmers’ markets, which are all individually-run, the Portland Farmers’ Market runs six different markets that take place in the urban core (not all of the area’s markets, but a significant number). We had the chance to visit a smaller collection of vendors run by the Portland Farmers’ Market at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Mondays from June to September.

Portland September 2012

Monday farmers’ market

The hours of 10am-2pm seemed a bit unusual to us, as only those who worked in the immediate area would be able to partake, but perhaps that was their target demographic after all.

Portland September 2012

Vendors

It was a modest market to be sure, but with several produce and meat vendors on hand, staples were well covered. We were also happy to see Olympic Provisions on hand again – we would never turn down an opportunity to sample their salumi!

Portland September 2012

“Meat Here”

There were also quite a few hot food vendors, so later that day, we were certain the business crowd would be descending to take advantage of the al fresco lunch possibility.

The markets all provided a peek into Portland’s agricultural and creative wealth. Make sure to check them out if you have a chance!