* this post was written for Eat Boutique and the local Farmer’s Market report

Spring has sprung.  It was a glorious morning as I set out for the east bay to check out the Berkeley Farmer’s Market.  The air was crisp and was heavily scented with jasmine and cherry bloosoms.  *sigh*  I love spring mornings …….

I decided to head across the bridge to the other side of the bay to check out the Berkeley Farmer’s Market.  A bit about the Berkeley Farmer’s Market ….. the BFM started in 1987 and is committed to supporting small-scale farmers who produce sustainable agriculture.  It is merely a block in length and has that good ole homey feeling as soon as you walk up.

The first thing I like to do when I arrive at a market is to grab a cup of coffee and walk the length of the market, once or twice, to see what is available.  I was in luck!  As soon as I walked up to the market I could smell coffee, not any coffee, but very good coffee.  Not only could you smell the dark roasted brew but I could see the crowd around the stall.  What a great surprise to see that Blue Bottle coffee was available.  Blue Bottle coffee is a local coffee and is based in Oakland.  They take great pride in micro roasting their beans.  Blue Bottle uses only the finest organic coffee beans, which are roasted in small batches.  Every cup is made to order using the drip method.

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The nice thing about getting to the market a little year is being able to enjoy the serenity that is hanging over the market, as the vendors are setting up.   Hot coffee in hand, I strolled the market, planning my menu for the week.  It was very evident that spring is on the cusp of breaking through as there was an abundance of fresh asparagus, artichokes, baby leeks, green garlic, bitter but sweet dandelion greens, golden yellow chard  flowering bok choy and a rainbow of spring time beets.  I love (big inhale as I typed these words) the smell of spring time beets …. musty, slightly dirty and a crispy dewy scent, it is hard to describe but I can almost taste them as I pull them to my nose.  I find it intoxicating like a big bold red wine.   Oh, how I love that!

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The last of our favorite winter time veggies, such as watermelon radishes, carrots and butternut squash are still hanging on.  How I will miss them but I am eagerly excited for more leeks, green garlic, chards, berries and the first sweet cherries, that were promised to be arriving in a couple months.

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The Berkeley Farmer’s Market in only a block in length but they have a huge variety available.  Not only  is there a beautiful assortment of produce but they also offer fresh honey, fresh baked breads, cookies and pastries, beautiful orchids (which are a steal at the price of $5 for a small one or $10 for a larger one), multi-colored eggs more beautiful than Easter dyed ones and their yolks are the most vibrant golden yellow I have ever seen.  There was fresh chicken, lamb, beef and seafood.   I was entertained by a charming fellow at Hog Island Oyster as he shucked fresh oysters for me – nothing like a hot cup of coffee and oysters  that are merely flavored by the sea, to get you going for the day.  I ended up leaving with 2 pounds of fresh Manila clams!

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I was in love with everything about this market.  The small time charm, the variety of the bounty, and the friendiest of the people. You will want to bring the entire family as there is not only lovely and organic produce and food to nibble on as well to bring home but there was entertainment, too.   Your children will love listening to the music and playing in the large grassy area and playground that is right next door.

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I really enjoyed the Berkeley Farmer’s Market and I can definitely see myself making it a regular habit!  More market photos can be found here.

Vendor purchases:  Riverdog Farms, Happy Boy Farms, Happy Hen Farm, and Hog Island Oysters.

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