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Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market

Fans of food already know that the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market is the place to stock up on ingredients and inspiration for a fresh local meal.

And green-thumb types can find plants that will keep their kitchen gardens supplying herbs and vegetables all season long.

But every eater can find something to enjoy from the vendors who offer a variety of prepared foods on market days in Ashland and Medford.

Street food favorites from around the world, such as Middle Eastern falafels and gyros, tasty tamales, burritos and quesadillas, sushi and teriyaki, and all-American hamburgers are all served up in a festive atmosphere, replete with happy shoppers, kids and even a few dogs. The array of offerings changes from week to week, depending on which chefs show up and what they've cooked up.

One of my favorite stops is White Orchid, a catering company from Ashland that sells panini and spanikopita at the market, along with exquisite desserts. The panini, which most often feature mozzarella, tomato and pesto, although other options are sometimes available, too, cost $4 for a half a sandwich that adequately satisfies my appetite — especially when grilled to crunchiness on a sandwich press and oozing fresh mozzarella.

The thick wedges of spanikopita, just $3.50, are stuffed with rice along with the traditional spinach, onion, herbs and feta. The woman behind all this wonderful food, Lorey Myers, will heat them on the sandwich press to crisp up the phyllo pastry.

But it is White Orchid's baked goods, all priced around $2, that truly make me swoon — a rich brownie made with Scharffen Berger chocolate, a lemon bar, a tart of lime curd and blackberries on puff pastry.

World Feast, another Ashland-based kitchen, serves a multicultural menu made with top quality ingredients. A chicken gyro ($6) piles hummus, baby greens, shredded carrots, olives and tender sliced chicken breast, all dressed with a delicate sauce, on a fluffy pita. A vegetarian option is available for $2 less. World Feast's burrito ($6) and quesadilla ($5) are also available meat-free, but plenty tasty, or with chicken for $2 more.

Phoenix-based Logical Foods offers similar fare, including a hummus plate and falafels.

Fans of tamales have two choices, and that's lucky because both can sell out on a busy day. Katrina's, known for salsa that appears on shelves at many local grocery stores, cooks up delicate tamales with varied, trendy fillings such as spinach, mushroom and feta, red chili chicken or pork, and green chili with chicken or vegetables.

The costs of ready-to-eat tamales vary, depending on the filling, and they are also available to take away and steam at home. Maria's Tamales sells hearty chicken and pork tamales topped with spicy salsas for $3.50 each.

Daddy's Donuts is a market regular, with the whole family making the sweet morning treats right before your eyes, then segueing easily to hamburgers and sandwiches on the other side of the booth for lunchtime.

The burgers, Prather Ranch beef topped with market-fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and garlic herb sauce, cost $5. Daddy's avocado sandwich $3.50, with lots of veggies stacked on whole grain bread slathered with good mustard, is a thing of beauty, and adding a slice of aged natural cheddar for 50 cents will give you one of the best cheese sandwiches around.

Newcomer Megumi offers what the owners promise is authentic Japanese cuisine, and, after the quick lesson served up along with the delicious sushi set I ordered, I'm inclined to agree.

The set ($8.50) included a futomaki roll with egg, spinach, shitaki mushroom and ginger, the ubiquitous California roll, and inari-zushi, a fried tofu pocket stuffed with sweet, savory sushi rice spiked with sesame seeds, as well as tips on how to enjoy each option to its fullest. Megumi also serves teriyaki chicken, tangy chicken nanban, and dishes of vegetables stewed or pickled.

— Anita Burke