BY SUSAN WENZEL
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
June 26, 2013
Most know the Coupeville Farmer’s market as the premier central Whidbey location for farm fresh island produce and other locally made food items. However, thanks to the efforts of Peg Tennant, market manager, it is now also the best lunch spot in town — at least from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, April to mid-October.
“This year we made a commitment to have no fewer than three places to get a good hot lunch,” Tennant said. “It was hit and miss in the past, but from now on the market will always offer several choices for a great meal.”
Hungry market visitors have the convenience of pausing for a sumptuous bite while shopping for Bell’s Farm strawberries, Mile Post 19 raspberries, Rosehip Farm and Garden’s sunchokes and greens, Coyote Bakery’s sourdough and scones, fresh Brett’s Bread and much, much more. The only problem is in deciding which eatery to pick, for each offers fare as remarkable as their individual stories.
Hot Rock Pizza
“Life is too short to not do something you enjoy,” said Reid Schwartz, the kilt-wearing owner and operator of the mobile wood-fired pizzeria, which is also available for private catering.
“I built this oven because I love cooking and connecting people with good food — real food, not that boxed stuff.”
Schwartz, with the help of wife, Christy, daughters, Jennifer Rance and Jes Wagner, and son-in-law, Dustin Wagner, can have ready a white or whole-wheat crust, hand-crafted pizza topped with a range of wholesome toppings in only a few minutes, depending on the length of the line, of course.
“We usually sell out early at the Thursday Oak Harbor Public Market, and the line here can get quite long close to lunchtime, especially if the sun is shining,” Reid said. The expert pizza-maker also offers a “Sunrise” breakfast pizza loaded with pesto, cheese, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and mushrooms for market early birds.
Find out more at Hot Rock’s Facebook page here.
The luscious smoky smell of ShoNuff Food’s cooking draws the crowds, but it’s the delicious BBQ chicken, beef and pork, courtesy of the Bennett family, that keep them coming back.
The husband and wife team of Fred and Barbara, aided by their children, start work in the wee hours of the day to ensure only their best efforts are served at the market.
“The ribs are to die for,” said a passerby as this reporter snapped a picture of the hard-working ShoNuff crew. Equally as delectable are Barbara’s homemade desserts, which change from week to week and include her famous red velvet cake, sweet potato pie and lemon pound cake.
ShoNuff is also available for catering and recently opened a permanent location at 618A Oak St. in Oak Harbor, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for those mid-week smoked meat cravings.
For mouth-watering food served with a smile, look for the orange banner of Orlando’s Fish and Grill where Thomas and Jackie Stoneham and their sons Thomas, Anthony, Timothy and Orlando will happily “Satisfy Your Southern Side” with main dishes, such as fried catfish, grilled chicken and fish, peppered steak and an accompaniment of traditional side dishes. (A fifth brother, Christopher, is currently serving in the Air Force).
“I started this business for my children,” said Jackie. “My family is my life; this is something we enjoy doing together.”
“My mom is the main cook, and my Dad, a pastor in Oak Harbor, handles the business end,” Thomas, the eldest son, said. Thomas is an advertising major at Washington State University who handles the food photography, sign design and publicity.
“My twin brothers Timothy and Anthony are preparing the food, and that’s Orlando on the register — we all agreed he had the right name for the business,” Thomas added.
Stay tuned to Orlando’s Fish and Grill’s Facebook page for news about their expansion into a new, permanent location near the Oak Harbor Marina (Rest assured Orlando’s will still serve their tasty Southern cuisine at the market on Saturdays).
Rohini’s Lunch Box
A South Whidbey favorite changed hands in the spring of 2013 and can now be found a little farther north at the Coupeville Saturday market. Never fear, though, The Lunch Box, despite being under new ownership, still offers the same types of nutritious lunch specials, as well as the fabled Market Potatoes.
Rohini Ray and Wesley Hallock comprise the talented culinary team serving freshly made sandwiches and soups, including many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options featuring primarily local and organic ingredients. (The gluten-free wrap uses Prairie Bottom Farm kale leaves in place of bread.)
“The wagon has been on the island for 25 years,” Hallock said, “so we kept The Lunch Box name when we bought it — along with the Market Potato recipe.”
Coupeville Farmers Market is at Alexander and 8th streets (behind the library) in downtown Coupeville.
Susan Wenzel, food writer, believes in the power of locally produced food to fortify the health and well-being of both the individual and the community as a whole.