Posts Tagged ‘northern virginia’

Best Berry Picking Farms & Festivals

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, and the foodie tots tend to eat through our weekly market haul of berries well before I get a chance to cook with them. So a trip to the pick-your-own farm is essential for stocking up!

Here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own berries in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  1. Great Country Farms: Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  2. Hollin Farms: Delaplane, Va.
  3. Wegmeyer Farms: Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  4. Butler’s Orchard: Germantown, Md.
  5. Shlagel Farms: Waldorf, Md.
  6. Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

Wegmeyer Farms is an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and we love it for the younger kids in particular. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch. {Update: Wegmeyer has three separate locations this year — Hamilton, Gilberts Corner and at Oaklands Plantation — visit their website for details.}

Hollin Farms is also an easy drive, off of I-66 at exit 23, and grows a variety of crops from berries to peaches, greens and even peanuts. They also practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — while I’m not aware of any truly organic local pick-your-own farms, IPM farms typically use more natural/less synthetic pest control methods.

foodietots at delaplane strawberry festival

For more than just picking, two popular festivals take place this weekend, May 23 & 24 —

Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park, 10am to 5pm each day. Take a hay-ride, listen to live music, enjoy food and crafts, pony rides, games and more. Find our recap here.

& Great Country Farms Strawberry Jubilee, 9am to 6pm (but strawberry picking only from 9-11am) and next weekend, May 30-31. Features a Diaper Derby for crawling tots, a Strawberry Princess, strawberry shortcake and much more!

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ’em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

5 Local Taco Joints for Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

As one-time Californians, the husband and I take our taco eating very seriously. Fortunately, we’ve staked out a number of acceptable local places over the years, and they’ve become favorites of the foodie tots as well. It’s hard to go wrong at any restaurant that provides free chips and salsa to satiate the can’t-possibly-wait-another-second-before-eating needs of toddlers and kids and tasty margaritas for mom and dad, but these in particular are our family favorites.

A photo posted by Colleen Levine (@foodietots) on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:26pm PDT

Los Tios, Del Ray: We’ve been eating here my kids’ entire lifetimes, and even though we no longer live in the neighborhood, we still get a warm welcome each time we return. It’s always loud, no need to worry about noisy kids, and a great place to celebrate birthdays — complementary ice cream for birthday kids or flan for adults. Get there early for a patio seat and then let the kids burn off energy on the playground across the street after you eat. Oh, and we always order the Tacos al Carbon, side of fried plaintains for the kids, though once in a blue moon we branch out and order something off the Salvadorean side of the menu.

District Taco, Arlington, Alexandria & DC: We have the original Arlington location of this beloved local chain conveniently located between home and the kids’ tae kwon do studio, so you’ll find us here often. The kids take their quesadillas with guacamole, rice and beans, while mom appreciates fish tacos (Tuesdays and Fridays) and the Boylan’s cane-sugar sodas (or bottled Jarritos sodas) for a treat.

Taqueria Poblano, Del Ray & Arlington: These popular taco spots make a fantastic margarita and have LA-style deep-fried tacos. The duck tacos are my favorite, and we always get a side order of jicama to share. Best to plan to eat early, though, especially at the smaller Del Ray location. (Look for the special spicy chocolate sorbet for dessert!)

Tacos de Jaiba Azul! #softshells @tacobamba A photo posted by Colleen Levine (@foodietots) on Jun 1, 2014 at 4:15pm PDT

Taco Bamba, Falls Church: When we’re craving something more authentic/unique, Taco Bamba fits the bill. Located in an out-of-the-way spot behind the Tyson’s Whole Foods, chef/owner Victor Albisu turns out classic and seasonal special tacos. My personal favorites are El Beso (yes, tongue) and soft shell crab, while the tots stick with flautas and El Gringo. Bonus: house-made horchata or agua frescas and elote. (Note: this is primarily a take-out spot with limited counter seating.)

Chaia, farmers markets, DC: Currently only available at farmers markets and occasional street festivals, Chaia’s fabulous vegetarian tacos will soon be available at their first retail spot in Georgetown. The flavors vary with the season but are always served on their homemade corn tortillas. For now, seek them out at FreshFarm Dupont Circle (Sundays) or White House (Thursdays) markets.

What’s your family’s favorite taco spot?

Scenes from Mosaic Central Farm Market

Friday, May 16th, 2014

May, as you locals know, brings opening day to the rest of the DC region’s seasonal farmers markets. Brand new this year is the Mosaic Central Farm Market in Merrifield’s Mosaic District. If you follow us on Instagram (@foodietots), you know the Mosaic District is one of our family’s new favorite hang-outs. From fast, healthy lunch options at Cava Grill, Sweetgreen and Chipotle to Friday night outdoor movies on the big screen — last weekend I enjoyed a date night with the foodie boy to watch E.T. — it’s not hard for us to find an excuse to stop by. You’ll likely catch us there on sunny weekends, in particular, when the kids can be found splashing in the water fountains while mom and dad enjoy iced coffee from Dolcezza. (And yes, there’s also a big Target there for those less glamorous essentials and MOM’s Organic Market for our organic pantry staples. And an Angelika Theatre, where we escape for date nights without the kids.)

Mosaic Central Farm Market from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Central Farm Markets, which currently operate locations in Bethesda and Rockville, is now operating a Sunday market along District Avenue each week from 9am to 2pm. The first week was bustling, and I was pleased to recognize a few favorites from other markets, like Toigo Orchards, Twin Springs Fruit Farm and Westmoreland Berry Farm (they’ve got asparagus & strawberries) and two new-to-me, certified organic farms, Bending Bridge Farm and The Farm at Our House. All-natural meat vendors include Cibola Farms and Springfield Farm. One of our favorite pickle stops, Number 1 Sons, is there too.

Mosaic Central Farm Market -- Opening Day -- FoodieTots

There are prepared foods, too — I brought home asparagus ravioli from Ovvio Osteria — and Nicecream, the made-to-order ice cream sensation that launched last year. Rumor has is it their new shop is now open in Clarendon, too. We enjoyed the strawberry ice cream at market and look forward to sampling many more flavors as the weather heats up.

Nicecream at Mosaic Central Farm Market |

Did you hit the market this weekend? We finally scored some strawberries! All our cold and rainy weather has put a damper on strawberry season, but local pick-your-own farms are opening very soon. Asparagus season lasts for a few more weeks, so stock up while you can.

Around Town: Arlington County Fair

Friday, August 9th, 2013


Did you know Arlington County, Virginia, has an annual county fair? Now, there are no working farms in the county, so you may be wondering what exactly an urban fair looks like. If you’ve ever lived in a rural area or visited an agricultural state’s fair …. this isn’t like that. It’s really more of a carnival, with piglet races and pony rides. But if you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend, there are rides and carnival games galore. And no risk of stepping in cow pies.


And I was thrilled to spot the Big Cheese truck at the end of the row of food stands. I’ll take a grilled cheese with Vermont cheddar and a natural, honey-sweetened lemonade over greasy fair food any day. (The foodie tot was thrilled over the baby pickles that came with the kids’ grilled cheese.)


But there are fried Oreos, Twinkies and Reese’s, if that’s your thing. And funnel cake. And cotton candy.


Visit the Arlington County Fair website for scheduled events and parking directions.

Best Ever Roasted Turnip Thanksgiving Side Dish

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Well if you’re reading this, my shameless headline ploy must have worked. In a world of Thanksgiving dinner-in-a-cake, deep-fried turkeys and enough stuffing recipes to fill a thousand (free-range, please) turkeys, I was worried the lowly turnip might be overlooked.

Truthfully, we’re a little fed up with turnips here at the Foodie Tots house. Victims of an apparent turnip glut at our CSA farm, we’ve gotten gobs and gobs of these bland root vegetables week after week. Now, they’re not all bad. They have just one-third the calories of potatoes, and a generous dose of calcium, iron, vitamin C and even folate. (And be sure to eat the greens, too!) They also have that slightly bitter taste that gives them away should you try to pass them off as mashed potatoes. (Though a 75/25 potato/turnip blend might be more palatable.) I’ve found roasting these, with fresh thyme and a hint of honey, to be the best way to sweeten them up a little. Adding bright carrots and earthy mushrooms further helps balance the flavors, while making a simple and attractive side dish for Thanksgiving or just alongside your weekend roast.

Recipe: Honey-Thyme Roasted Turnips, Carrots and Mushrooms


  • 4-5 medium sized turnips, scrubbed clean
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup thickly-sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop turnips and carrots into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss turnip and carrot pieces with 1/4 cup olive oil, making sure to evenly coat vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and pour into a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Tuck thyme in between the vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes, until bottom sides are beginning to brown. Remove from oven, add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Sprinkle mushrooms across top, and drizzle with additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a little more sea salt, return to oven and roast an additional 20-25 minutes. Turnips should be easily pierced with a fork when it’s done. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

{Round out your meal with green beans almondine (instead of that goopy green bean casserole), homemade cider & maple-syrup sweetened cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie (from a real pumpkin).}

Winter Farmers Markets: Looking for turnips? If your CSA’s not delivering (ours ended this week), you can still find turnips at local farmers markets. Many Northern Virginia markets closed for the season at the end of October, but the West End Alexandria market, in Ben Brenman Park (at Cameron Station), is open this Sunday, Nov. 21, from 9am-1pm. (Papa’s Orchard has a great selection of pears and apples for your Thanksgiving baking!) The Falls Church, Arlington/Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Del Ray and Old Town Alexandria markets are open year-round.

I know I’ve been slacking in sharing new meals with you, meatless and otherwise. Would a cute baby picture make it up to you? I mean, can you fault me for not writing with this cute tot around?

foodie bebe november