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Winter, Seattle farmers markets

February 13, 2008 |  1:10 pm

A recent Saturday in Seattle was cold enough to require hats, gloves and silk long johns, but we decided to go to the U-District outdoor farmers market anyway. In the summertime it’s spilling over with fresh flowers, berries and vegetables. In February, it’s smaller, but still has some terrific vendors selling some very different things than we find in L.A. One stand sells clams and oysters from up the coast. A sturdy woman in a hand-knit sweater offers various cuts of goat meat, but she’s not getting many takers.

The enticing smell of bacon frying wafts around the corner. I follow it to a stand with a sign for “wooly pigs.” A photo shows a rotund animal covered in a curly pelt. “It’s a special breed from Europe called Mangalitsa,” the man behind the counter tells me, “and we raise it just like they do there.”

The bacon is incredibly delicious, but what caught my eye is the sign for leaf lard for $2 a pound. Coming from these pigs, which are sold to top restaurants in Seattle, it’s got to be great. However, it only comes frozen in 10-pound bags. I could just picture myself trying to explain to an overzealous airport security officer why I was hauling 10 pounds of fat onto the plane with me, so I decided, no, not this time. I haven’t given up on the idea though. You can read about wooly pigs at Wooly Pigs founder Jess Thompson's blog.

For more on the farmers market (and Rolling Fire Pizza), see the jump.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Farther down that same row I come across Rolling Fire Pizza, a wood-burning oven built hobbit-like into a little trailer pulled by a strong truck. The proprietor went to Naples to learn how to make pizza, he tells me, as he stretches dough over the backs of his hands. He fires the oven with applewood, which burns hot and clean. Sliding a pizzette (small pizza, $6) into the oven, he waits what seems like only a minute or two before sliding it back out again on his pizza peel: It looks beautiful, a Margherita with the red, white and green of the Italian flag. A bigger pizza is $11, and he’ll make either Margherita, puttanesca (with olive and anchovies) or a four-cheese version.

He also does parties. I took his card. You never know, do you?  Rolling Fire Pizza, (206) 650-7633. The amazing thing is that the next day I came across a different rolling pizza oven on the outskirts of the Sunday farmers market in the Ballard district. This time I didn’t have my camera with me. I wish I had, because it was a tremendous scene, the oven belching fire, the cooks working the dough, and people sitting around a bonfire in the middle of a small empty lot, eating pizza. They really know how to live in Seattle.

-- S. Irene Virbila