COOS BAY — You don't know how much it does my heart good to walk through the Wednesday Farmers' Market and see it so full.
Not just with customers, but with vendors as well.
Last week, sports editor John Gunther and I strolled through the entire market to see if there were any food vendors further east than 3rd Street, but outside of getting to wave at the hummus vendors and smelling the kettle corn up by the highway, no lunch vendors.
That's OK, that means that when you go for lunch, you only have to navigate one block between 3rd and 4th streets.
But, oh, the choices in that one block. From vegan to full-on carnivore there is something for just about everyone.
John and I will take a break from the restaurants for a few weeks and be bringing you our assessment of the food choices at the farmers' market.
It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. I think we are up to the task.
We counted 11 food vendors last week, and we will visit two per week. I think we can all do the math from there. This may get tricky, because John and I are both supposed to be on vacation during this time frame, but will do our best to keep things going.
John's choice may have been influenced by our Cuisine story from last week. On Monday, we went to Shake 'N' Burger and he had one massive hamburger. So, on Wednesday, he went to the complete other side of the menu and visited Wrappin' and Rollin'. Their green food truck sticks out, even without the words "KickAss Vegan Food" written across the ordering window.
"I got a wrap," he said. "I like the look of the greens."
John ordered the Asian Wrap from Wrappin' and Rollin'. The Asian Wrap comes with quinoa, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, slivered almonds, mint, chow mein noodles, sesame seeds and peanut sauce.
"I liked the fresh flavor of the various green," he said. "I'm not normally into vegetarian food, but it was very good."
John found out the food truck is run by Daryl and Darci Hawkins from Roseburg. They started their food truck last fall and plan to be in Coos Bay all season unless there is a competing event at home.
"It's been a real good market for us," Darci said.
Besides the Asian wrap, there is also a Mexican barbecue option and either one can come in a bowl with rice or a wrap with greens. They also serve spring rolls, street tacos, quinoa salad and curry with rice.
"I make the foods I like," Darci said, adding that the vegan concept gives people another option for food.
When the truck ran low on greens last week during the peak lunch rush, Daryl ran down to the Lehne Farms (Roseburg) booth to pick up some more. I guess that's one of the advantages of having the truck at a farmers' market.
Darci said she knows some people shy away from vegan offerings, but hopes to change their minds by getting them to try her food.
John, wholeheartedly, would agree.
I ordered the BBQ Tuna Bowl from Graham's Pacific Grill, owned by Graham Keller.
Keller said he started coming to the farmers' market last year toward the end of the season and says business has been good this year.
"We buy local seafood and make healthy sides," Keller said. "And I make my own barbecue sauce."
The biggest seller has been the tuna bowl.
"The last few times we've brought tuna, we've sold out of everything we bring," he said.
Keller ran into a small snafu, when he ran out of rice during the peak lunch hour. But, outside of that, the food was really, really good.
The tuna was done just right and the portion was generous. And the veggies (zucchini, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms) were also very good.
I wasn't sure about the barbecue sauce, but I'm glad I got it. It brought all the flavors together.
Pacific Grill also serves grilled shrimp bowls, a veggie rice bowl and a bay shrimp cocktail.
Our lunches were $9 each.