TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

Category: Farming and growing

June
20th

Estrella cheese on the menu at new Tacoma farmers market

Kelli Estrella will bring her award-winning cheeses to a new farmers market in Tacoma.

Kelli Estrella’s cheese are sought after by chefs from Seattle to New York. Tacoma shoppers will soon have a chance to buy the Montesano cheesemaker’s products at a new farmers market.

Estrella is among 24 farmers who’ve committed to selling their cheese, vegetables, fruit, meat and flowers at Tacoma’s newest farmers market, which will debut July 15 at corner of Sixth Avenue and Pine Street.

More info from the press release after the jump.

The 6th Ave Market, Tuesdays starting July 15, 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Pine Street.

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June
17th

Farmer-friendly food challenge goes to the dogs

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If my dog could speak, she’d tell you about organic dog treats made with farmers market artisan cheese.


Let’s eat out of the e-mail bag today. Here’s one from a vendor at the Proctor farmers market, responding to my challenge for food vendors to incorporate local ingredients into the foods they make and sell at farmers markets:



So I tried to find organic ingredients at the Market, that I could use in my dog treats. The only thing I could find is organic goat cheese,

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June
17th

Yukon River salmon are on their way

Are you ready for some really fatty, really delicious salmon at reasonable prices? Hold the Canadian Copper River king salmon. Get ready for Alaskan Yukon River king salmon.


"Copper River is insane," said Edna Crawford, whose company, Graham-based Boreal Fisheries, has bought and sold Yukon River salmon since 1974.


"We’re jealous that we don’t have the marketing campaign they have. Our fish has twice the oil content. But we come after Copper River. We still don’t have the market awareness that Copper River does."


Crawford is currently in St. Mary’s, Alaska, where Boreal

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June
11th

Holding the tomatoes, but loving Fish House’s catfish sandwich



Fish House Cafe’s deep-fried catfish sandwich — great, even without tomatoes.


I usually order Fish House Cafe‘s fried catfish sandwich with cheese. Yesterday, I forgot to order the cheese. Something else was different: Fish House eighty-six’d the tomatoes.


Blame it on the tainted tomato tornado that’s affecting only a small percentage of the nation’s tomatoes but is sweeping across America, with many restaurants pulling fresh tomatoes off their menus. (At Steamers at Titlow Beach today, fresh tomatoes graced my fish taco. When I inquired, the cook said

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May
31st

Foraging farmers markets, cooking up good stuff at home



Asparagus rellenos, on my deck.


After scouring South Sound farmers markets for marvelous munchies, I’m looking for farm-fresh foods to cook with. I stopped briefly at both the Puyallup and Proctor farmers markets this morning. I picked up asparagus, leeks, Walla Wallas, chives, sorrel, goat cheese, eggs, chorizo, grass-fed ground beef and a day-old cinnamon roll. (The latter’s going to be French toast tomorrow, with either apple-cider syrup or blackberry rhubarb jam, both purchased from farmers at markets.)


Pictured above is the lunch I cooked today: asparagus rellenos. Here’s the

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May
19th

Throwing down the Farmer-Friendly Food Challenge



The food served at local farmers markets — hot dogs, barbecue, teriyaki, kettle corn — isn’t much different from what’s served at carnivals. Why is that?


I ate at three South Sound farmers markets between Thursday and Saturday.


I really liked those My Newt mini doughnuts, but let’s skip dessert. In fact, let’s skip past the carnival fare that dominates food booths at farmers markets.


Vendors of soups, tamales, gyros, buritos, fried oysters, full breakfasts, pulled pork, barbecued brisket, teriyaki sandwiches, salmon caesar salads and even elephant ears,

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May
15th

Farmers feel pinch of rising food prices

Food prices are rising around the world and across the board. Farmers’ markets in our back yard are not immune.


At Isela Bautista’s vegetable stand at the downtown Tacoma Farmers market this morning, the Yakima farmer priced bunches of asparagus at $2.95.


Her asparagus didn’t sell.


A few hours later, she lowered her price to $2.59.


Sales were still slow.


"Last year I was selling for $1.99," she said. "All of my costs are 20 percent higher this year. More gas for the tractors, more diesel for the machinery and the drive from

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May
8th

Fatal farm lesson invades South Sound farm-to-table gathering


Charlie McManus and a local pig.

The local foodie forces behind the drive to start a South Sound cell of Seattle’s Chefs Collaborative chapter report encouraging turnout at Tuesday’s meeting: about 50 people, including representatives from a dozen Tacoma-area restaurants and one from Silverale, turned out to disscuss how local chefs and farmers can work together.

There was, however, one casualty: A heritage pig that Summit farmer Cheryl Ouelette (aka Cheryl The Pig Lady) donated for the evening’s dinner never made it to the meeting at Primo Grill.

Before the dinner-bound pig could be sent to slaughter, The Pig Lady’s little piggy wandered into the wrong pig pen and “got savaged by a pregnant sow,” Primo chef/owner/farm-to-table organizer Charlie McManus said.

The Pig Lady sent a replacement piggy, which gave McManus the opportunity to share some farm facts.

“We got a younger replacement,” McManus said. “Pigs have two growth stages: bone growth and muscle growth. The replacement was at the peak of its bone-growth phase. It was a lean pig.”

Nonetheless, McManus roasted the pig in his apple-wood oven and served it with caper-mint salsa verde, along with a side of Puyallup farmer Terry Carkner’s greens braised in apple cider vinegar and butter.

Next up for the group: a meet-and-greet for chefs and farmers, possibly in August.

As for McManus, whose goal for his restaurant is total sustainability by the end of the year, he’s sharpening up his butchery knowledge. He plans to buy 250-pound pigs from The Pig Lady and butcher them in his restaurant, making local pork a regular menu feature.

“It’s been 15 years since I dealt with large hind quarters,” McManus said. “This will be interesting.”

Who attended Tuesday night’s organizing dinner? Click below.

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