Despite the intense heat, the Alexandria markets were mobbed this weekend. I’m actually starting to prefer the West End Market over Del Ray, because DR is just too crowded this summer. And West End has more and cheaper fruit and berries. (Blueberries at Del Ray were $3.50/pt, while Papa’s at WE had them for $3/pt, $5.75/qt. or 2 qts./$11 – a savings of 75cents per pint!) You also get a wider variety by market hopping, as each farm has a slightly different growing schedule. Last week, I picked up Papa’s last two pints of blueberries and asked if that was the last of the season, but he said he’d have them for another week or two. His cherries then were labeled “last week,” so I was surprised that Toigo had them this week. One of the benefits of having farms from all around DC is that we get a longer range for most items — Virginia farms usually have things first, while Pennsylvania farmers keep bringing them for a few weeks longer.
In other Alexandria market news, Tom the Cheese Guy is headed to the Annapolis Great Grapes festival next weekend; his wife will be at the markets with only pre-cut portions of his aged cheeses. The honey stand is only coming once a month now due to winter losses this year, so if you missed them at Del Ray you’re out of luck until the 3rd weekend in August. But, Buzz Bakery keeps Virginia honey in stock in the meantime.
At Del Ray, I picked up white nectarines, peaches, tomatoes and jalapenos (D&S), sweet cherries (Toigo), blueberries, honey mushrooms, mozzarella.
At West End: apricots (last week) and blueberries (Papa’s Orchard, 2 qts./$11), cantaloupe, peppers, orange romas, sweet plums and ramp mustard (Bigg Riggs), waterlemon jelly (Crackpot Gourmet, watermelon & lemongrass).
On the menu – One Local Summer Supper: Saturday night, my in-laws were in town so I cooked a fairly simple, all-local dinner of chimichurri flank steak, buttermilk & herb marinated chicken breast, tomato mozzarella salad and potato salad. I used my patriotic potatoes from Bigg Riggs Farm (WV, 117mi.) in a German-style salad. I picked up Bigg Rigg’s ramp mustard, at Tiffany‘s recommendation (check out her story of visiting Bigg Rigg’s last week!), and will definitely try this again using that mustard. Since I made this Saturday, I had to make do with non-local Guldens. Incidentally, red and blue potatoes are more pink and purple when cooked, so this would make a great summer bridal or baby shower dish as well…
Recipe: Patriotic Potato Salad
- 6 cups new potatoes, washed and cut into large chunks
- 1 sm sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/4 c brown mustard
- 1/2 c cider vinegar
- 1 t corn starch*
- 1 t plus 1/4 c water
- 2 T chopped fresh chives or parsley
- salt & pepper
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and reduce heat, simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are just tender when pricked with fork. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour olive oil in pan and saute onion over medium heat until translucent. Add mustard and vinegar. Stir cornstarch into 1 teaspoon water, then add to pot, along with additional 1/4 c water. Simmer for a minute until sauce thickens. Return potatoes to pan, stir to coat and add herbs, salt and pepper. Best served warm or at room temperature. Makes 6-8 servings.
*I recently discovered tapioca starch at my local natural foods store, which I used in place of the cornstarch.
For brunch on Sunday, we had the juiciest fruit salad of market-fresh cantaloupe, peaches and blueberries — plus bread with Waterlemon jelly, (deli) chicken salad, and leftover salads from the night before. Followed by … homemade cherry pie. Yum!