From the moment the West End Farmers Market kicked off its third season on Sunday at 9:30 a.m., the market was bustling with friends, neighbors and visitors in the mood to celebrate. Before the market wrapped up at 2 p.m., most vendors had sold all they brought and there were just a few vegetables here and there that hadn’t found a new home.
“For us, being our first time here,” Phil Schneider of Berkmans Spices said, “we had many curious customers who were discovering our spice blends for the first time.” Berkmans sells individual spices and propriety blends, including four that won gold medals at the 2014 Harvest Fair Professional Awards.
On Sunday, March 22, there will be special features, including compost giveaways to home gardeners from Sonoma Compost. If you are interested, bring a five-gallon bucket or feed sack. There will also be experts on hand to answer your questions about mulching and water conservation.
When it comes to the heart of the market, five vendors are currently offering carrots, lettuces, broccoli, spinach, salad mix, beets, baby kale, grown-up kale, arugula, tat soi, baby bok choy, escarole, pea shoots, herbs, cabbage, chard, fresh herbs, leeks, onions, radishes, some of the first green garlic of the season and plenty of pastured eggs. Produce vendors including Singing Frogs Farm, Blue Leg Farms, Ortiz Brothers and Leisen’s, which will soon be operating under a new name.
Foggy River Farm will join in the market later in the season, as they have recently welcomed a new baby into the world (Congratulations, new mama and papa!).
Gypsy Girl Sausage is here with an outstanding selection, the Sonoma Meat Company attends as does Revolution Breads.
Goodman’s Jewish Deli sold out by 1 p.m. and there were fresh muffins from Undercover Baking Agency. Cafe Gaga pours their great coffees here and Tea and Trumpets attends do.
O’Malley’s Knife Mobile Sharpening Service will join the market on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
Next Sunday, Kyle Martin will entertain with his folk rock and engaging smile.
One of the many things that makes this market such a great destination is the lovely -- and shaded! -- dog park, which is within the DeTurk Park and Round Barn, adjacent to the market. Dogs at farmers markets have been a growing problem, as huge numbers of shoppers ignore the large signs that announce that no pets are allowed. Market managers have so much to do during the markets that it is hard for them to play pup cop, as well, which puts the markets at risk of pricey fines should health inspectors show up. Please, managers beg, leave your dogs at home or take them to this market with a sitter who can hang out in the park with them while you shop.
The West End Farmers Market, founded in 2013 by the West End Neighborhood Association and managed by Allen Thomas, is located on Donahue St., adjacent to DeTurk Park and Round Barn, between West. 8th and Boyce Streets. It takes place on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit wefm.co.
Michele Anna Jordan has written 19 books to date, including the new “More Than Meatballs.” Email Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find her blog, “Eat This Now,” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
THIS WEEK’S BLIND TASTING
Cabernet Sauvignon, the venerable statesman
Rodney Strong, 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alcohol, $20. ★★★★
This is a cab that clearly overdelivers. It has generous fruit — black cherry and black raspberry — with herbs and spicy oak. It has good structure with firm tannins and a nice length.
J. Lohr, 2015 Hilltop, Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $35. ★★★★: This is a pretty cab with black raspberry fruit, herbs and spice, and the flavors meld together seamlessly. The cab has good balance, ripe tannins and a lingering finish. It’s well-crafted.
Duckhorn, 2014 Three Palms Vineyard, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.9%, $98. ★★★★: This is a gorgeous cab with notes of black raspberry fruit, and notes of cinnamon and clove in the mix. It has a soft and supple texture, with ripe tannins. Nice length. Striking.
Cliff Lede, 2015 Stag’s Leap District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 15%, $78. ★★★★: This is a striking cab with complex aromas and flavors. It has notes of jasmine, black currant, blackberry, cinnamon and black pepper. The Cliff Lede has bright acidity and great balance. Top rate.
Justin, 2015 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $25. ★★★1/2: This is a savory cab with dried herbs at the forefront, while cherry and black currant fruit play backup. What melds it together is a hint of caramel. Smart.