It was bound to happen-this is D.C. after all. Summer’s perfunctory heatwave turned what had been July’s pleasant warm days into August’s sweltering, swamp-like soup. Forget sultry, as the character Harry Goldenblatt said on Sex in the City, I was “schvitzing like a pudding at a picnic” this weekend. And that was before 10 a.m. While the heat can be oppresive, the produce is at its best. While market patrons filled the aisles (and oh yes, gotta love those strollers at Dupont), the producer’s tables were brimming with vegetables, fruits and herbs.
The abundance was remarkable.Now. Now is when farmers markets are at their best. Yes, I adore them year round, but summer’s heat draws out sweat, as well as every bit of color, flavor and juice in just about every product that grows to fruition at this time of year.
Bell peppers come in a plethora of colors, corn-whether white, yellow, or both, is sweet with plump kernels, tomatoes of all shapes and sizes actually taste like tomatoes, and vivid flowers lend a outward sign on the table that this short, fleeting time of year will all too soon yield to Fall leaves and pumpkins. When even now, stores are carrying Halloween gear. Yikes! You know you have to seize the opportunity. Carpe Produce!
At the 14th & U St. farmers market, I snagged a box of cipollini onions from Kuhn’s Orchard (perhaps one of most beautiful stalls to walk in). Cippolini’s are small, sweet, rather flat, disc-like onions that happen to be wonderful when roasted. Here’s my method for preparing them: I peeled the onions, put them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and gave them a little dousing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and s+p. Then, the onions roasted in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes, getting turned once or twice. The onions became tender, and the balsamic thickened as it coated each onion. This is terrific on warm or cold salads, or as a part of an antipasti platter-just pop them in your mouth. You won’t believe how sweet they are!
At The Copper Pot Food Company, Stefano Frigerio has recovered from an earlier loss of many, many jars of sauce, and featured several varieties, including Virgini’s Blended, and Smokey Bacon tomato sauces. I paired the former with his veal osso-bucco tortellini. Stefano’s sauces are clean, simple, and not overwhelmed by flavors that obfuscate the fact that these are tomato sauces. The veal osso bucco tortellini-guess how good that was? So good, that we used our Panorama baguette to mop up every bit from the bottom of the bowl.
Panorama’s sticky buns continue to be a weakness of Frank’s and mine. We split one every time we go to the market. Each bun is perfectly sticky (you’d best have a Wet-Nap with you) on the outside, and yeasty on the inside. We also bought a baguette for future use with a tomato and peach jam that I’ll post about tomorrow for WaPo Wednesdays.
Knowing that I needed a handfull of tomatoes for the jam, we drove back to Alexandria via the Del Ray market, where I was hoping to get my ‘maters from the “seconds” bin at Toigo Orchards. Fortunately, they did have them at $.99 per pound- about a third of the price that most producers were fetching. I recommend you look for “seconds” bins for tomatoes-especially if you need bulk. The only caveat is that generally, you will want to use your tomatoes very soon, as they tend to be bruised and in imminent danger of skin poppage. Is that a word? Poppage? Anyway, they can go south quickly, so use them up as soon as you can.
Lastly, Sunday I visited the Dupont Farmers Market, where as I remarked earlier, was what I like to call the “two-s’s”. Sticky, and strollers. I have nothing against strollers, but movement is key to trying to keep cool on the asphalt with little to no air circulation. There should be HOS lanes at Dupont-High Occupance Strollers!! Even the shade afforded by some of the producer’s tents offered little relief from macadum-driven heat. I was tempted to pick up Dolcezza’s ice-filled tub and douse myself with it in a Miles-from-Sideways-fashion-being fueled by heat stroke instead of mid-life angst. I didn’t, but I thought about it.Yeah, so you won’t catch me living South of the Border anytime soon, but you can expect me to give you more updates in the next, At The Market. Until then, eat and buy local when you can. Enjoy the slide show-just clicky on the right arrow!
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