Entries Tagged as 'Alexandria'

At The Alexandria West End Farmers Market-May 10, 2009

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One week after a rainy opening day (on which I couldn’t get my lazy ass out of bed), the farmers market at Ben Brenman Park hosted 2 and 4-legged visitors alike. And by 4-legged creatures, I don’t mean just dogs-check out those cute llamas! They seemed to tolerate the curious onlookers like myself, but seemed a bit concerned when my dog Tucker checked them out! I was waiting for one of them to hurl a big lugie his way (they do spit, don’t they?)

The market has some very nice additions this year, from Virginia wines, to Wisteria Gardens, which offers an array of foods including hummus, salsas and sauces. From the Culinate website:

“Primarily a producer-only market, our vendors sell vegetables, fruits, honey, eggs, organic meats, baked goods, artisan cheeses and yogurts, local wine, jams and jellies, plants, cut flowers, dog biscuits, as well as lavender and flowering plants. On the first Sunday of every month local artisans and craftspeople participate in the market. This year we have alpaca yarns, soaps, creams, jewelry, children’s clothing, photography, and paintings.”

I’ve been going to area markets for a few years now, and I can tell you that Alexandria’s West End Farmers Market has a distinct family vibe, where kids, parents, market-goers, dogs and even llamas mingle in a laid-back atmosphere. The park setting is conducive to buying whatever strikes your fancy and enjoying it on the grass, bench or a picnic table; fruits, pastries, cookies, bread, fresh squeezed orange juice, cheese, or perhaps a little jam.

The prices are generally quite good, allowing access to fresh, nutritious and delicous food for everyone.

This week, my market bag included a baguette from Bonapart Breads, and well as hummus and peanut sauce from Wisteria Garden. So much to enjoy!

Be sure to check out the Pictobrowser show, and until the next At The Market, eat and buy local when you can.

At The Del Ray And Old Town Alexandria Markets April 25th, 2009

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Ah, asparagus. It was back in earnest this weekend, most notably at Three Way Farm in Del Ray. A cooler full of uber-fresh bundles sold for about $5.50 each. While more expensive than supermarket asparagus, I am pleased to say that these tender green stalks were delicious and verdant. I chopped the asparagus and browned them in butter, which imparted a deep nutty flavor; perfect to pair with fresh mozzarella from Blue Ridge Dairy, and sharp provolone from Cheesetique on top of Italian Store pizza dough, which was allowed to thaw after a long freeze. Our gas grill finished this pizza with a crisp, slightly charred crust. We polished off two.

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Next to Toigo’s stand is a vendor who sells produce, baked goods, plants and eggs. I decided that I couldn’t pass up their large eggs for $3 a dozen. I didn’t realize just how big these suckers were until I pulled the carton out of my bag and saw that the lid couldn’t even close! Here’s a visual comparison on their size; about a third larger than “Large” brown eggs (Lucerne). As for the taste, well, they made for a creamy scramble on Sunday morning.

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I’ve never gone into Cheesetique and not had some comestible catch my eye; a jewel-toned bottle of balsamic vinegar, or a jar of baby-pink salt. These perfectly-sized cubes of quince sweet just beggd to be scooped up at checkout and used to garnish a cheese plate, and then mingle in the mouth with the perfect wine from the wine wall. Each individually wrapped rectangle sells for $1.50.

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Returning to the Del Ray market this Saturday was Marcella’s Bakery, with beef and chicken saltenas, and cheese empanadas. True to form, the saltenas were filled with a savory filling of meat (chicken), peas, eggs, olives and gravy. All of this was stowed away inside a slightly sweet braided dough, and baked until golden brown.

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Over at the Old Town Alexandria market, I’m happy to say that the crowds are returning. If you’re still interested in ramps, Bigg Riggs’ table was chock full of the stinkers. Emine’s Baklava table with trays of both savory and sweet phyllo packets; perfect to pair up with a hot cup of coffee, or freshly squeezed orange juice.

Next Sunday, the West End Farmers Market at Cameron Station opens at 9am, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Until the next At The Market, eat and buy local when you can.

At The Del Ray Farmers Market April 18th, 2009

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Things were looking up last Saturday at the Del Ray Farmers Market. After a dismal and rainy start one week prior, the market was punctuated with bright beds of flowers, while the produce scene was still redolent with plenty of greens, baked goods, coffee (breakfast, anyone?) canned goods, meats and pasta. Vendors and patrons turned out in greater numbers, and while the market was not yet burgeoning with strawberries or rhubard, Three Way Farm’s earaser board announced asparagus for $5.50 a pound (ouch!), but it was gone by the time I arrived to the market.

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Del Ray and dogs go together like peas and carrots-and while our four-legged friends are not allowed in the market, you can always find a bench or a wall to relax and spend time enjoying the morning. Bowls of water are generally easy to find along Mount Vernon Avenue to quench a pooch’s thirst, while Let’s Meat On The Avenue tempts their well-honed sense of smell with smokes bones that promise hours of enjoyment.

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 Until the next At The Market, eat and buy local when you can.

 

At The Old Town Alexandria, Courthouse And Dupont Markets, April 11 & 12-From Soggy To Sunshine

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Saturday morning was a wet mess, with near constant rain, sometimes driving and hard. I was determined to get my lazy ass to the markets, particularly in light of Saturday being the official opening day for the Del Ray market. Unfortunately, Frank and I decided to pass Del Ray and head to Courthouse because Del Ray’s corner parking lot was woefully underpopulated with vendors. Maybe it was the rain, or perhaps some didn’t get the memo, but we decided for the first time in a very long time, we would make our way to the Courthouse market instead, and I’m glad we did.

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At Courthouse, white tents were huddled together in solidarity against the conspiring elements. Packed into the relatively small footprint of the market macadam, we found a surprisingly light atmosphere where vendors exuded enthusiasm in hopes that it would catch on and draw patron to booth-and it did. The mushroom lady was hawking her morels like there was no tomorrow, giving copious advice on taste, preparation and cooking methods. “Buy the cream from him”, she said pointing to Blue Ridge Dairy, two stalls away. “I always finish the dish with his cream”, she added, as I wondered if she would be going home with some free cream at the end of the morning. “Ah, maybe we should have gotten the cream too”, I said to Frank about our purchase from Blue Ridge Dairy at the Alexandria market not even an hour earlier. We had already bought Greek yogurt and fresh mozzarella from Blue Ridge, and decided to stay on budge. Although you can’t swing a long-tailed cat without hitting an ATM machine, I would finish my morel dish with the half and half already in my fridge at home.

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Not that we didn’t do our part to stimulate the local economy vis a vis the markets this weekend. After a soggy start on Saturday, we decided to go to the Dupont market on Sunday, a glorious Easter Sunday, where I knew a spit-roasted lamb was being served by Zatinya (as part the the Chef at Market series) around 11 a.m. I was not dissappointed. Generous portions of sliced lamb was finished with chunky salt and finished with drizzled olive oil and offered to patrons as they walked the market (and then clamoured back for more). The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth-tender, and I believe it is available all week as a special at Zatinya. For those of you who work in the area, treat yourself to a lamb sandwich even if you have to take it back and eat it at your desk. You will not be dissappointed!

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Now, to update you on what’s new at the markets, aside from my perennial favorites such as Calhoun’s Country Ham and anything dairy from Blue Ridge Dairy and Keswick Creamery, that is.

Ramps (aka: wild leeks) are plentiful and run about $4-$5 a bunch. I bought 2 bunches from Bigg Riggs (W. VA) at the Alexandria market. Each generous bunch had about 2 dozens ramps. Buy them sooner rather than later, as their strength really intensifies as they grow larger, and you WILL have the odor eminating from your pores when they do.  The mushroom ladies at Courthouse and Dupont had morels, both large and small, for $20 a box. Ouch, I know, but I splurge once or twice in season. Plus I was excited to get home and make my Braise Chicken Thighs in a White Wine and Morel Cream Sauce (I’m excited to add here that this recipe has been selected to be include in Patricia O’Neil’s next cookbook, Tables Across America). Asparagus should be at the markets in a week or two. I did spy bundles of asparagus at the Old Town market, but was as wary of them as I was the strawberries. Not. Local.

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Sunshine or rain, I enjoyed the markets this weekend. So, until the next At The Market, eat and buy local when you can.

Dine Out And Shop In Alexandria For The Walk To Fight Breast Cancer-October 21st

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I wanted to put this event on your radars, to help a cause and the merchants who support it. By buying or eating in Alexandria on October 21st, you can help support Alexandria’s Breast Cancer fund at INOVA Alexandria Hospital Foundation. From the City of Alexandria website:

We hope you will mark your calendar to come out and participate in the 4th Annual Dine Out and Shop for the Walk to Fight Breast Cancer to be held on Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Restaurants, retail stores, spas, and many other businesses throughout Alexandria will be contributing a portion of their proceeds throughout the day to the Walk to Fight Breast Cancer. All funds raised from this event will go to support Alexandria’s Breast Cancer Fund at Inova Alexandria Hospital Foundation.

Restaurants participating include La Strada and Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray, Southside 815 and Stardust in Old Town and Tempo in the West End. Visit Let’s Meat on the Avenue and buy Steve’s delicious lamb, and 20% of the proceeds will go to help fight breast cancer.

You can also literally go one step farther and join in the 15th anniversary of the Annual Walk to Fight Breast Cancer on October 25th, at 8 a.m., along Eisenhower Avenue. Join in for a 1.5K, 3.5K or 5K walk or run.