January 6th, 2013

  • rekre8

Winter market

Short version: I heard about Cloverstreet Indoor Market at 4:30 today and rode a bike over before it closed. Small but with potential. Please go next weekend.

Long version:
I'd been sent to Toronto for work in February, and while wandering about on a cold blustery day, ended up in the St Lawrence Market. Here's a video of it, mostly shot in summer, but its bustling in the winter too. I love a good farmers market, and am used to the size of the summer market in Madison, Wisconsin, which laps the state capital and is where folks will get up and head downtown at 6am to get fresher broccoli than their neighbors. Toronto had the same vibe, although it was particularly wonderful 'cause it was unexpected to find that sort of break from the depth of winter.

A vacation got me overseas to Italy, and at the San Lorenzo market in Florence I found a similar structure, and I have no doubt that the market continues through out what passes for cold weather there - folks in Europe seem to be much more willing to go to the source for *good* food rather than swinging through a Costco for cheap & convenient food.

Which brings us to hipster Portland, where the youth drink PBR but insist on locally sourced organic French fries. CSA (community supported agriculture) shares are a great way to get a large weekly box of veggies, but how do you pick up a couple carrots for this week's soup?

This weekend was the grand opening of the Cloverstreet Market, which is probably a stopgap, as the James Beard Market is still in fundraising stage to put up a building for this sort of event - I suspect they are aiming for something similar to Pikes Place in Seattle with that process. Meanwhile, some venders are setting up booths in the underutilized, somewhat segregated portion of a mattress store on Sandy Blvd on the weekends.

I found out about it rather late in the day but popped over to see what was there. Parking by car looks to be limited, but there was a staple for my bike right out front. Through the automatic doors, I found:
* tamale vender
* sipping chocolate (I missed the samples!)
* tea blends
* potatoes, carrots, cabbage, beets, and other winter veggies (only 1 veggie vender?)
* frozen but local meats (got some tasty teriyaki beef sticks)
* pottery
* fabric crafts (sorry, doesn't interest me, so I can't tell you what)
* fired tiles painted with portland scenes (I loved the voodoo donuts sign)
* empty spots where folks had already packed up (I did say I was late)

I hope this one takes off. The current location is extremely convenient to me, but I think a more down-town-y location might be better, once they outgrown the location on Sandy & 24th. More business means more venders - one would hope a CSA brings in extras for marketing purposes, or uses this as a drop point.

I encourage the locals to head there next weekend - they are doing Saturdays and Sundays from 9-5.