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!
The 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.
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.
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.