Wednesday, September 21st: Chef Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table, A Rainbow of Mushrooms, Eggplant & Carrots, Heirloom Italian Deliciousness & Washington's Native Potato!

Chef Dustin Ronspies of Wallingford's beloved Art of the Table returns for the second to last cooking demonstration of the 2011 Wallingford Farmers Market season today at 4 p.m. Dustin's menus at his restaurant are always built around what he finds local and fresh at the Wallingford and Ballard Farmers Markets, so you know he will have plenty of great ideas to share with you today for enjoying the bounty of Washington available at your Wallingford Farmers Market.

Fall starts on Friday, and your Wallingford Farmers Market winds down its 2011 season next week! Perfect timing for this beautiful winter squash from Stoney Plains. Stock up now, store in a cool, dark, dry place, protect that stem, and it'll last well into the winter for you to enjoy!

Red Owl Mushroom Farm is going technicolor! Just look at this spectacular collection of pink, yellow and white oyster mushrooms they have right now. Forget all the nutritional benefits of eating fresh mushrooms. Forget the fact that these mushrooms are grown just five miles from your Wallingford Farmers Market in Lake City. Forget how yummy mushrooms are. Buy them because they are friggin' beautiful!

These are fresh shelling beans from Alm Hill Gardens. They grow several varieties, including cranberrycannellinipintodragon’s tongue and more. And because these are fresh, all you need to do is boil them until just fork tender, then add them to whatever dish or salad you like, or simply add them to soup raw and let them gently cook in short order. No overnight soaking required! And you can put them into freezer bags and freeze them for up to a year. Then, when you need some fresh beans, just pull them out, boil them until tender and use as fresh!

Leave it to the spin doctors in California to try to change the name of prunes to plums, apparently because the name “prune” has negative connotations in their market research studies. Whatever! These are Italian prunes from ACMA Mission Orchards, and they are perhaps the finest stone fruit there is, for my money. They are deeply sweet and flavorful. Eat them fresh. Make jam, sauces and pies with them. Dry them. They are easy to work with as their flesh comes right off the pit. However you enjoy them, respect them with their proper name: prune!

Ozette potatoes, like these from Olsen Farms, are the closest thing we’ve got to a native potato here in Washington, the potato producing capitol of the United States. See, all potatoes originated in South America. And almost all potatoes now in North America are descendants of potatoes that first traveled to Europe before coming here. But there are a very few exceptions. The Ozette, along with three other fingerling potatoes, were brought up the West Coast by the Spanish in 1791 and planted near their ports from Northern California to Vancouver Island. The Ozette was brought to the area inhabited by the Makah Nation out near Neah Bay. But the Spanish couldn’t hack our Northwest weather, so in 1793, they buggered off back down the coast, leaving behind these potatoes. So, pick up a little bit of local, and potato, history today. Oh, they taste pretty good, too!

Billy’s Gardens has an almost absurd selection of spectacular eggplant right now, from Japanese to Thai to the regular old egg-shaped purple stuff you’ve always known and loved. Grill it, fry it, curry it — each variety has its own unique qualities suiting it for different preparations.

More sweet, delicious color for your dining pleasure: orange, yellow and purple carrots from Lee's Fresh Produce! I so love it as we phase into fall, as it is the most colorful season of the year, especially for local food!

San Marzano tomatoes are prized for their dense flesh and deep, rich flavor. These are the tomatoes of Naples, growing in the rich volcanic soil of Mt. Vecuvius. If you’ve ever been to a Neapolitan-style pizzeria, odds are the sauce on your pizza was made from these tomatoes. These San Marzano tomatoes are grown by Alvarez Organic Farms in the rich volcanic soil of the Yakima River Valley.

And speaking of stunning, take a gander at these stacked sugar cookies from Dolce Lou. They're beautiful, delicious and gluten-free! If you haven't checked out Dolce Lou, you are missing out on the antidote to that sweet tooth of yours, whether you are avoiding gluten or not!

Of course, this is just a highlighting of what you will find today. There is still plenty of other stuff just waiting for you at your Wallingford Farmers Market this week. For a full accounting of what you will find, check out What’s Fresh Now!