Posts Tagged ‘nova’

Opening Day at New Crystal Farms Market

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I was thrilled to hear of a new market opening this year in Crystal City — conveniently located on my way home from the office — that takes place on Tuesdays from 3pm – 7pm. Smartly located on the stretch of Crystal Drive closest to the Metro station, the Crystal Farms Market is geared towards office dwellers on their way home and residents returning home from the District. The bright flowers and first May strawberries are a welcome burst of color amidst the concrete high rises.

crystal farms market arlington va

Some familiar favorites — Bigg Riggs of WV, Cherry Glen goat cheeses (MD), Westmoreland Berry Farms (VA), Atwater’s Bakery and Toigo Orchards (PA). New-to-me were Mount Vernon lamb and several other bakeries, including Alexandria’s Great Harvest Bread Co. The dueling charcuterie hawkers advertised as participating (Red Apron and Meatcrafters) were nowhere to be found, but this market had a great selection of vendors for opening day and is sure to be a popular draw as the season progresses.

crystal farms market arlington va

We picked up some lovely shitake mushrooms from Bigg Riggs which went into a fast scramble with eggs and an aged goat cheese (local but not from the market). Yum!

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.

At the Alexandria Markets: Strawberries!

Monday, May 4th, 2009

It’s Farmers Market week here at FoodieTots, so stay tuned all week for market re-openings and seasonal recipes featuring farm fresh food from the Chesapeake Bay foodshed. Hooray for spring!

veras brazilian tamales pamonhaThe rain held off most of the morning for the Del Ray Farmers Market (Saturdays, 8am-noon). New vendor Shlagel Farms had just a few of the season’s first strawberries. (We were too late for them, but the woman working at Three Way Farms’ stand reported bartering for their last box. Three Way will also have them next week.) Shlagel is a third-generation farm in the District suburbs (Waldorf, Md.) and had a wealth of potted plants and cooler of crisp lettuces. Three Way Farm had plenty of asparagus, and the farm from Riva, Va., returned this week with beets and peas (again, sold out early), broccoli and spring onions. Vera’s Bakery, a.k.a. the scone ladies, have new signage and expanded product offerings this year, including vegan cookies, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and these delicious pamonha (pictured), Brazilian tamales filled with corn and mozzarella. Marcela’s continues to do a brisk business selling their excellent chicken and beef saltenas — my favorite breakfast.

Unfortunately, the vendors at the West End Farmers Market (Sundays, 9am-1pm) grand opening were not so lucky, weather-wise, but they toughed it out despite the deluge. The library volunteers valiantly tried to entertain kids with the promised story-reading, but the Foodie Tot wasn’t going to stand in the rain unless there was food being offered. Poor Westmoreland Berry Farms was relegated to the far end of the lot and looked likely to be washed away in the storm drain overflow. (Her strawberries, though, are deep red and juicy thanks to all the rain this spring.) Tom the Cheese Guy brought his famous 7-cheese macaroni as a special “welcome back” treat (it’s usually reserved for winter months). Next to his booth (where soggy shoppers congregated under his tent with weather-protecting sides – smart purchase, Tom!) was North Gate Vineyard with their mostly Loudoun County-grown wines, including award-winning cabernet franc and petit verdot, and an apple wine. (What is it with Virginia wineries and fruit wine?) Lisa’s dog treats were a welcome reward for the pups whose owners dragged them out in the rain. Papa’s Orchard had Pink Lady and Fuji apples from last fall, while Medina & Son had more strawberries, radishes and a plethora of greens. Medina had potted flowers as well, and the flower guy has also returned with cut flowers.

west end alexandria farmers market

New vendor Wisteria Gardens, of Berkeley Springs, WV, was another popular stop for kids and grown-ups alike with samples of their wonderful fresh salsas and hummus, including spicy and Indian curried flavors. They also had lovely fresh, pesticide-free spring greens and sweet pea shoots. Other new vendors included J-Wen Farms’s fresh Pennsylvania milk and butter, a sheep and goat farm selling wool and soaps, a flavored olive oil vendor, another soap vendor, two coffee stands, and Bonaparte bakery with the soups and pastries seen Saturdays at Del Ray. The Gourmet on the Go truck has returned with other goodies to round out your shopping, including local bison and ham. (Hillsdale will be returning with organic chicken, but was absent this week.)

Sure, the Alexandria markets don’t have quite the diversity of products as the bigger DC markets – though they get closer every year – but we do tend to get items like strawberries a week or two earlier thanks to our slightly more southern Virginia farmers.

strawberry kale salad

Our first pints of strawberries are typically gobbled up whole before we have a chance to cook anything – in this case, we ate half a pint in the car while drying off – but I did make an all-local strawberry, “prosciutto-style ham” and spring green salad for dinner last night. Here are some of our favorite strawberry recipes from last year, which will be revisited soon:

& and check out the strawberry recipe round-up at The Whole Gang.

So, what did you find at market this weekend?

PS Local moms — pass this link on to your kids or spouse for a chance to win a mother’s day spa visit from Northern Virginia Magazine, deadline Weds. May 6.

At Market: Chesapeake Oysters and Arugula

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

This past week finally saw some beautiful spring weather, and market hopping was a lesson in patience and perseverance as the spring crops are only just beginning to roll in. At Penn Quarter last Thursday, morels had sold out within an hour, so I settled for black trumpet mushrooms. Another customer snatched the last two bundles of baby beets at Sunnyside, so it was Harukei turnips for me. The turnips and their greens found themselves sautéed with garlic, salt pork (from Cibola Farms) and the mushrooms.

A beautiful Saturday morning drew a huge crowd to the Del Ray market, a drastic improvement from the rainy washout the week before. Three Way Farm of Warsaw, Va., was back with spring onions, greens and a limited stock of asparagus that sold out early. They assured us there will be plenty more asparagus the next couple weeks, and mentioned that strawberries are just two weeks away. The herbs and seedlings folks were doing a brisk business as people snatched up tomato, chard and other plants for their own gardens. St. Elmo’s was back serving coffee to accompany the plethora of baked goods from Bonaparte, Marcela’s and Vera’s. The most popular items – asparagus, Tom’s cave-aged cheddar, Smith Meadow’s fresh pastas – sold out before 11am. Clearly demand for fresh, local produce continues despite the economy.

at the markets

The quest for asparagus drove me to Dupont Circle’s FreshFarm market on Sunday, but I was too late once again. (Didn’t score any ramps, either.) There I consoled myself with one final pint of Buster’s Chesapeake oysters, the last until fall. Those were pan-fried and served atop chives and arugula (for me), on their own as “oyster nuggets” for the toddler. I tend to prefer oysters from further north, as I like a strong briny flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tasted Buster’s local oysters. They are large, sweet and meaty, with a more subtle saltiness, a blend of flavors that transports you to a dockside perch on a warm summer day. (And you know, they help clean up the Bay.)

Recipe: Chesapeake Bay Oysters on Arugula

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen raw oysters, drained
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 bunch arugula, rinsed
  • several sprigs chives, chopped
  • raspberry vinaigrette
  • lemon wedges

Instructions:

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Combine flour, corn meal and Old Bay in a small bowl. Gently roll oysters in mixture to coat, place in pan and fry until golden brain. Drain on paper towels. Toss arugula and chives with vinaigrette and place on plate. Top with oysters and serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!