Licensed cheese artisan Julie Steil and her husband Rob once crafted cheeses as a part-time hobby, until encouragement from those who had tasted the results prompted them to turn the delectable pastime into a full-time passion. Today, the Steils manage their own herd of goats and cows who lead pampered lives on the couple's 20-acre farm, where a diet of alfalfa, blackberry thickets, and chocolate syrup yield better-tasting milk. The Steils create different cheeses in small batches, ranging from a semihard cheese bathed in raspberry port to a raw milk tomme bathed in Naughty Nellie ale from Pike Brewery. Landing River Valley Cheese on Sunset magazine's list of the Top 100 Cultural Trends Shaping the West, Julie and Rob also share their love of fromage fashioning at hands-on cheese-making classes, where attendees can learn to create their own wheels of fresh and aged cheeses, instead of relying on the questionable quality of the cheeses peddled by door-to-door sales cows.
Founded by Floyd Remlinger, Remlinger Farms first began as a wholesaler of fresh strawberries. Ten years later, his son Gary Remlinger made sure to keep up with the ever-changing times, opening up the fields to the public to pick their own. When he and his wife, Bonnie, got married, they planted pumpkins—the first crop of their new life together. When groups of children visited the farm, curious about animals and harvests, Bonnie found new ways to teach them about how simple seeds sprout into giant trees to escape from worms' constant requests for directions.
Today, the family's farm stretches across 200 acres of land and attracts 200,000 visitors annually to its home in the picturesque Snoqualmie Valley. The third and fourth generations of the Remlinger family have kept adding their own personal touches and new features, while still keeping true to the farm's original vision. Though visitors can still pick their own berries by the pound, crates of fresh fruits and veggies overflow at the market, demonstrating the abundant yields possible through the Remlingers' use of organic fertilizers and sustainable-farming practices.
Beyond the agricultural attractions, a theme park with more than 25 family-friendly rides lets young guests frolic among the grounds, whether watching live children's entertainment or hopping aboard a pint-sized steam train to chug along the Tolt River and past the homes of barnyard animals. Elsewhere, families can replenish their energy levels at the full-service Country Kitchen Restaurant, or corral treats from the bakery or ice-cream parlor before enjoying them at one of the spacious picnic areas. Aside from stocking home refrigerators and igloo garages with all-natural goodies, Remlinger Farms consistently gives back to the community by hosting fundraisers throughout the year.
Kim and Jim Oswalt opened Gemini Fish Market to bring the finest fresh, frozen, and live fish and seafood to the tables of their neighbors. At a young age Jim was working in multiple segments of the seafood industry, ranging from commercial smoking to large-scale processing. His lifetime passion for seafood has afforded Gemini Fish Market certain connections, allowing them to procure fresh modern delicacies such as North Atlantic sea scallops, Maine lobster, and premium Hawaiian exotics such as hand-line caught swordfish. They have also enlisted the help of chef Dave Gipson to create specialties such as crab cakes, salmon burgers, and fresh dips and spreads.
Kim and Jim also focus on superior quality, sustainable fisheries, and best-catch methods, which they believe lead to healthier oceans and healthier customers. The passionate pair fills their website with free seafood facts and cooking and preparation tips, as well as recipes such as sea scallops over wilted spinach and Chef Dave’s fish tacos.
Under red-and-white striped tents, handwritten signs beckon passersby over to wheeled carts filled with bundles of greens or smooth, symmetrical apples. At Newcastle Fruit & Produce’s open-air market, visitors survey a vast selection of seasonal, locally sourced fruit and vegetables that can include Bartlett pears, red-leaf lettuce, Yakima asparagus, and blueberries. Aside from assembling salad essentials, Newcastle’s team also stocks shrubs, perennials, and potted trees, and cuts pines for Christmas or anti-Arbor Day celebrations.