Posts Tagged ‘fairfax county’

May Farmers Market Openings in Northern Virginia

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Tomorrow begins the 2010 farmers market season for much of Northern Virginia. And, our Virginia farmers tend to be the first in the area with ripe strawberries, so be on the look-out for them in the next couple weeks!

Alexandria: The West End Market in Ben Brenman Park opens this Sunday, 9am-1pm. Alma from Westmoreland Berry Farms brought fabulous homemade tamales to the market last year, perfect for a post-shopping lunch in the park. And a soup vendor will be joining the market this year, among other new additions. The Upper King Street Market opens Wednesday, in the triangle across from the King Street Metro, and runs weekly from 3pm – 7pm. (Alexandria‘s Del Ray and Old Town markets are year-round.)

Arlington/Falls Church: The Ballston Farmers Market is moving to Thursdays, 3pm-7pm. The Crystal City Farmers Market, now run by FreshFarm Markets, opens Tuesday, May 18, 3pm – 7pm. (The Courthouse, Columbia Pike, and Clarendon markets in Arlington and the Falls Church Farmers Market are year-round.)

Fairfax County: Fairfax County-sponsored markets, in Mount Vernon, Fairfax, Vienna/Oakton, Wakefield, Herndon, Annandale, Kingstowne, Burke, McLean, Reston and Lorton, all open this coming week. The independent SmartMarkets, in Centreville, Fairfax Corner, Herndon, Oakton, Reston and in Maryland at National Harbor, have staggered opening dates over the next couple weeks.

Loudoun County: The Loudoun Valley Homegrown Markets Association opens their markets in Ashburn, Brambleton, Cascades, Leesburg and Purcellville this weekend.

Grab your kids, cameras and reusable bags and get out there and enjoy the markets this weekend!

At the Fairfax County Farmers Markets: Ready-to-Eat

Friday, August 14th, 2009

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard me mention it, but last week was National Farmers Market Week. Unfortunately I didn’t top last year’s personal record of five markets during the week; in fact, I only made it to four as our weekend plans were curtailed by a sick child. But, I did take advantage of the chance to revisit the McLean Farmers Market for the first time this season, and to finally check out one of the markets managed by Smart Markets, Inc.

One of the things I love about farmers markets is that it feels so European to pop by a market and pick up something fresh for dinner that night. Unfortunately, the after work/school rush to get something to eat on the table doesn’t exactly evoke the leisurely French lifestyle I have in mind most nights. So when we can visit a market and get something already cooked, or that we can eat right on the spot, that’s a winning formula in my opinion. Here are a couple prepared food options that we came across on our market crawl.

mt olympus peppers vaMcLean Farmers Market: This market is held on Friday mornings, so if you time your visit near the end you can pick up lunch in the form of Emine’s savory baklava, some fresh peaches from Reid’s Orchard, and dessert of Middleburg Creamery ice cream or a whoopie pie (pumpkin or chocolate) from Valentine’s Country Bakery & Meat. Be sure to take home a Shoo-Fly Pie from Valentine’s for later. If there were an award for most colorful market stand, I’m pretty sure Mt. Olympus Farm would win hands down with their amazing rainbow array of sweet and hot peppers. (McLean Farmers Market, Fridays, 8:30am-12:30pm; Valentine’s can also be found at the Fairfax County Oakton, Annandale, Mount Vernon and Reston markets, not to be confused with the Reston Smart Market, below.)

Reston Smart Market: This market was lighter on produce and heavier on the condiments and baked goods, including two pastry shops and Anne’s lemonade and bread stand. There’s also a winery table, for your after-work happy hour sipping, and a children’s story-time area in the center. There was a kids’ cooking lesson taking place as well, though I have to confess that my son turned up his nose when asked if he wanted to help make a salad and made a beeline to the man offering free cake samples instead. We met two young men from New York who are learning the farming ropes in preparation for starting their own organic farm in the future; in the meantime, check out their Grinning Greens line of vinaigrettes and marinades.

reston smart market va

After a quick round of samplings we made our way to the gleaming silver food cart of Local Sixfortyseven. You may have read about this recent addition to the burgeoning local food cart scene; the husband-and-wife team of Derek and Amanda Luhowiak are taking farm-to-table on the road to area markets and cooking up juicy fresh burgers from Fauquier County’s Angelic Beef, Polyface hot dogs and soups and salads featuring ingredients from the markets or their own garden — on eco-friendly compostable dishes, no less. (Though I didn’t notice a composting bin at the market?) I’ve always lamented burger joints that don’t serve milkshakes, but after sampling Sixfortysix’s blackberry ginger thyme pie I’m fairly confident in declaring that burgers and pie may just be the new happy meal.

local sixfortyseven pie

(Reston Smart Market, Reston Town Center, Thursdays, 3:30-6:30pm; but Jane Black notes that Local Sixfortyseven is not guaranteed to be at Reston every week. Find them on Facebook to stay up-to-date.)

Don’t Forget! Submit a photo of your tot(s) at the market to the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets Flickr pool by August 31 and you’ll have a chance to win a kid-sized reusable market tote filled with foodie goodies. For an extra entry into the drawing, blog about your local farmers market with a link back to this post &/or retweet a link to the “Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets” contest. More bonus points for sharing why you love your farmers market.

The Copper Pot and more at the Oakton Farmers Market

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

FoodieTots @ the Farmers Market Week continues with a field trip to the Vienna/Oakton Farmers Market to sample The Copper Pot by Chef Stefano Frigerio.

copper pot food co jamIt’s opening week at the Fairfax County Farmers Markets, and perhaps the most publicized new vendor in local market history was the Copper Pot Food Company by Chef Stefano Frigerio. An Italian-born chef-turned-stay-at-home-dad, Chef Frigerio turned to home preserving to stay connected to the kitchen and the local farmers he developed relationships with during his days cooking at DC’s Maestro and Mio restaurants. We really enjoyed Chef Frigerio’s cooking at Mio, so I was eager to check out the new product line of jams, pastas and sauces. One of the nice things about markets further out in the ‘burbs is the more leisurely pace and ability to actually converse with the farmers and vendors. Chef Frigerio explained that he started making jams out of concern for his kids’ love of sweets. “I can’t feed my kids high fructose corn syrup every day,” he said, describing his son’s ability to slurp down an entire jar of jam at once (if allowed). Jam flavors include orchard fresh apple, white fig & balsamic, peach & prosecco “bellini,” and strawberry & vanilla bean. Now despite my foray into jam making last summer, I actually don’t eat a lot of it as I find so many jams are too sticky sweet for my taste. The strawberry & vanilla, in contrast, tasted just like strawberries at peak ripeness and was not at all cloying.

copper pot food co ravioli

Chef Frigerio also offers fresh, handmade pastas and tomato sauces. When asked how the reception was at his first market this weekend (14th & U in the District), he expressed surprise at how quickly he sold out of his braised rabbit ravioli – something he claimed people rarely ordered at the restaurant. I picked up some of the rabbit ravioli and a jar of the roasted shallot Barolo tomato sauce for a quick dinner. Sure, at $10 for 8 ravioli it was a little pricey, but having an Italian chef in your pantry is a nice treat for a busy weeknight! The tomato sauce was richly flavored and will definitely make a repeat appearance on our table.

Other vendors at the market included Long Meadow Ecological Farm (“no spray” asparagus, radishes, watercress and other greens from VA’s Shenandoah Valley), Kuhn Orchards (IPM fruits, rhubarb and asparagus from near Gettysburg, PA), Garner’s Produce (more VA strawberries, asparagus and plants), Lois’s Produce (Northern Neck VA, strawberries, asparagus, spring onions, flowers – and their website promises artichokes in late summer!), Cenan’s Bakery (Vienna, bread and pastries), Bees ‘n Blossoms (VA honey and soaps), Emine’s sweet and savory baklavas (also available at Old Town Alexandria), Fields of Grace farmstead cheese (and curds, from Remington, VA), and Valentine’s Country Meats with hormone-free, grass-fed/free-range Angus beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, incredible pastel eggs (pictured below), pies and sweets.

vienna oakton va famers market

As if the first rhubarb sighting of the season wasn’t exciting enough, Kuhn was giving away free sample of asparagus with every purchase. As with most Fairfax County-managed markets, local gardeners were on hand to offer free gardening advice.

This is a great market and I appreciated the detailed signage at most vendors explaining their growing practices; when markets get busy, it gets difficult to ask farmers about their methods so signage is a great way to provide more transparency for market shoppers. (Of course, you should always feel free to ask for more information!) And Fairfax County requires that all vendors be within a 125-mile radius of the county, so you can be assured that the products are truly local.

The Vienna/Oakton Farmers Market is located at the Oak Marr RECenter, 3200 Jermantown Road, and open Wednesdays from 8am-noon, May through November 18. Find Chef Frigerio and the Copper Pot Food Co. at Fairfax (Tues.), Vienna/Oakton (Weds.) and Herndon (Thurs.) markets in Virginia and Georgetown (Weds.), 14th and U (Sat.) and Bloomingdale (Sun.) markets in the District.