Seattle has been getting some serious national props lately on the food and restaurant scene. There was the announcement of the finalists for the James Beard Awards a couple weeks ago (in which Tom Douglas made the cut for Outstanding Restaurateur, Ethan Stowell and Jason Wilson are up for Best Chef Northwest, and I am in the running for Best Restaurant Reviews). Then there was the double-hit for Seattle in the Restaurants & Institutions list of top performing independent restaurants and, more recently, the announcement that Jason Stratton of Spinasse had been tagged by Food & Wine magazine as one of the ten best new chefs in the United States. It's been a big season for Seattle's sauce-stained working chefs is what I'm saying. And the hits just keep on coming.
In this months issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, our fair city got another big shout-out with the announcement that the University District Farmer's Market had been named among the best farmer's markets in the country. After taking the #1 spot in that magazine's survey of America's Favorite Cities, Seattle again snagged some prime real estate in the list with the U District market being the first on the list of ten best.
"On Saturdays," the write-up read, "60-odd growers and procurers gather in the University Heights Community Center playground to sell their wares--which all come from within Washington State. Award-winning chefs like Maria Hines and Jerry Traunfeld (of Poppy) are often seen stocking up here on seafood like Alaskan spot prawns and tiny Pacific oysters; cuts of heavily marbled Mangalitsa pork; and foraged edible plants from the state's deep, wet forests--including fiddlehead ferns, stinging nettles, and morels."
I found out about this good news courtesy of Chris Curtis, the director of Seattle's Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance and the person responsible for getting the U District farmers market (which was also Seattle's first farmers market) up and running in the early 90's. This first market paved the way for the massive boom in local farmers markets we've seen over the past decade, and the Alliance currently oversees seven of them in Seattle (including the West Seattle Farmers Market, the Broadway Farmers Market and the ones in Columbia City, Lake City, Magnolia and Phinney).
But the U District market was the first. And, at least according to Travel + Leisure, it remains one of the best. Not just in Seattle, but in the country.