Farmers’ Market


Some things are just meant to be.  The stars line up, you find yourself in the right place at the right time, and you’re handed something you didn’t even know you were looking for.  It can be a job opportunity, or a romantic connection, or something even deeper than those.

For us, it was bacon.

On January 26th, Mike read Bonnie Benwick’s profile of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and the Yummy Mummy’s tandem charcuterial endeavor and everything just fell into place.  We were just gearing up to start another one of our Cookbook Challenges – an attempt to winnow our ever-growing collection of cookbooks by attempting a new recipe from each one to make sure we still found the books helpful.  In fact, one of the first books Elizabeth reached for was Mike’s copy of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s “Charcuterie: the Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.”  Although he had received it a little over a year earlier, he had yet to attempt any feats of cured meat.

Enter “Charcutepalooza.”  The article made it sound tasty and fun all at the same time, and anyone who has read at least a few of our posts knows our love of all things brined, cured or smoked.  So we reached out to Mrs. Wheelbarrow through her website and decided to throw ourselves into the challenge along with the hundreds of other bloggers who have signed on.  A contest with some killer prizes has no doubt piqued the interest of some, but most seem genuinely motivated by the spirit that inspired the ladies to begin with.

The process seemed easy enough.  Each month a new pair of challenges is announced, with one for novices and one for those seeking a more intense assignment.  We all agree to work on the challenges ourselves and blog about our results on the 15th of each month.  We’ll continue like this throughout 2011, having cooked our way through a dozen recipes (more if you try both challenges in any given month) by the time we’re through.

So why am I up at 11:30 on a Monday night (Valentine’s Day, no less) waiting for my homemade bacon to reach an internal 150 degrees Fahrenheit?  My delicious, unintentional procrastination after the jump. (more…)

When it comes to food, Seth Cooper knows that process matters.  He embraces the “Fresh, Local, Seasonal” ethos and he even makes his own cheese.  But he found himself frustrated over and over again as he tried to bring that mentality to meat.

From 2006 to 2008, Cooper lived in England and enjoyed farmers’ markets right on his street where butchers would bring freshly dressed cuts of meat to sell.  He loved the freshness and the more assertive flavor of the grass-fed beef.  He could ask questions about the differences between breeds of cattle and even between different steaks taken from the same animal.

Upon arrival in Washington, he found a kindred spirit in Jon Wrinn.  Together, the two engineers sought to tear down all the barriers that the meat industry has built up between the farm and the fork.  They visited butcher shops and market stalls trying to find knowledgeable purveyors offering top-quality local meats, but they found that combination in short supply.  They even toyed with the idea of butchering their own animals before buying a cow and splitting it among a group of friends.  They felt so strongly about what they were doing, they traveled to Penn State’s Meat Laboratory to take classes regarding the regulations and procedures governing small-scale butchering operations.

Thankfully, they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t be the only ones who were looking for this, and so they’ve set out to make it easier for others.  Thus was born White House Meats.  Their idea: bring grass-fed, dry-aged, locally-raised beef to Washingtonians in a way that allows them to promote the cause and have some fun at the same time.  Their method: The Meat-Up.

What is a Meat-Up and how can you get the hook-up?  Find out after the jump. (more…)

Best Farmers Markets – Local Farmers Markets – Delish.com.

The list includes DuPont’s weekend market. Do you think it’s the best in DC? Our favorite is actually the Thursday Penn Quarter market. It’s weekday schedule makes it a challenge for many to attend, but that’s also one of its charms – less crowds!

Summer’s bounty has arrived…

When it comes to eating locally, it can get downright depressing here in Washington from November through March.  Sure, there are plenty of greens to be had and the apples that were picked in the fall tend to last all the way through, but your choices for fresh veggies tend to get pretty slim.  Thankfully, that all changes round about April, and by the time May rolls around we’re already awash in fresh asparagus, ramps and even strawberries from local farms.

For us, however, the real sign of spring isn’t the profusion of new produce – it’s the reopening of some of the more seasonally-oriented farmers’ markets around the city.  This year, the District’s market scene reaches critical mass over the next week, starting with a pair of openings tomorrow and continuing through next Thursday and Friday.  We’ve got your guide right here, complete with a Who’s Who of producers at each market.

Opening Tomorrow (Saturday, May 1, 2010):

H Street NE FreshFarm Market
625 H Street NE (parking lot directly across from the H Street Self Storage between 6th and 7th Streets, NE)
Saturday, 9 AM – noon

Returning vendors: Atwater’s Bakery, Blueberry Hill, Cedarbrook Farm, Clear Spring Creamery, Dolcezza Gelato & Sorbet, Garden Path Farm, Keswick Creamery, Quaker Valley F&O, Richfield Farm

New this year: Dangerously Delicious Pies (weekly); Red Apron Butchery (first Saturday of every month)

Chef at Market this week: Casey Patten of Taylor Gourmet

14th & U Farmers Market
Reeves Center plaza sidewalk (corner of 14th & U Streets, NW)
Saturday, 9 AM – 1 PM

Returning vendors: Truck Patch Farms, McCleaf, Garner, Kuhn, Copper Pot Food Co., Pecan Meadow, Panorama Bakery, Keswick Creamery, Cherry Glen Farms, Dolcezza, Mountain View,

New this year: Chez Hareg (actually returning after a year’s absence)

After the jump, find out who will be cooking at the FreshFarm Market by the White House and the Capital Harvest on the Plaza. (more…)

It’s a big week for DC food bloggers, with two worthwhile events coming up over the next few days.

If you’ve noticed there seem to be a whole lot of folks writing about the DC cooking, dining and drinking scene lately, you’re not alone.  Whether your taste runs to do-it-yourself recipes at home, recreating restaurant classics, or writing about restaurant experiences around town, there are plenty of new blogs out there for you to check out.

bakesaleSure, that means we end up spending a lot more time reading about food…but is that really such a bad thing?

For us, the exciting thing is the potential to give back that the growing ranks of bloggers represent.  Some local food bloggers have been working to help local causes for years, now: DC Foodies donates ad revenues from their site to local food-related charities.  Dining in DC is working as a team captain for Food & Friends’ Slice of Life.  And Foodie Tots and the Arugula Files took the lead on a “Blog for the Bay” campaign earlier this year.

Now Adventures in Shaw is organizing a “Food Bloggers’ Spooktacular Bake Sale” to take place this Saturday at the 14th & U farmers’ market, with the proceeds benefitting Martha’s Table.  We’re officially calling all local food bloggers to pitch in and help.  If you’re a local food blogger and you want to help, there are several ways you can get involved.  You can bake some treats to contribute to the sale.  You can show up on Saturday and help sell the goodies.  And you can help us spread the word on your blog, as well.  It’s a great way to get involved and to help a worthwhile program in the process.

happyhourOnce you’ve done your part to help out, put on your party shoes and join us next Wednesday night for the third monthly DC Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour.  This month, we’ll be taking over the Black Squirrel’s newly opened second floor space to get together with all of our fellow food bloggers, new and old.  Looking for an opportunity to meet your fellow writers?  Eager to spend some time with folks who are just as passionate about eating and drinking as you are?  Or just needing an excuse to check out the Black Squirrel?  These are all good reasons to join us next Wednesday.

The Happy Hour runs from 6 to 8 PM, and it’s being organized by the Arugula Files, Gradually Greener, the Modern Domestic, us, the Beer Spotter, and Capital Cooking.  You can find the Black Squirrel at 2427 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

As always, drop us a quick note and let us know if you plan to stop by.  Hope to see you there!

Gourmet1009It’s a silly question, really.  While Gourmet may be the grande dame of food publications, it was hardly existing in a vacuum.  All the proof you need can be found over at The Bitten Word, where Zach and Clay work their way through recipes from magazines as august as Saveur and Bon Appetit and as accessible as Everyday Food and Food Network Magazine.

Here at Capital Spice, we subscribe to Cooks Illustrated and Food & Wine (we used to subscribe to Gourmet, and we’re really hoping our lapsed subscription didn’t have anything to do with its demise).  But there’s another type of food magazine out there, and a recent visit to the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market reacquainted us with a pair of magazines that focus on our local foodshed.

On the surface, Flavor Magazine and Edible Chesapeake have a lot in common: They’re both free publications that can be found in foodie-friendly places like farmers’ markets, Whole Foods and smaller, locally-owned food shops.  They both emerged in response to the growing locavore movement in the DC area.  And they both call attention to a variety of local issues and producers that tend to go unnoticed in the national publications.

But each one brings a unique voice to the community, and together they offer a great way to stay current on what’s going on among growers, producers and eaters in the region.

A look at the current issues of Flavor Magazine and Edible Chesapeake (and some more info about each) after the jump. (more…)

Forget sweaters and changing leaves. Here are ten telltale signs we know it’s fall in DC. Cupcake Challenge 051

1.       Dinner switches from gazpacho to roasted chicken

2.       Mike gets reacquainted with the Big Green Egg

3.       After a summer of crabs at Quarterdeck and Tangier Island, our go-to seafood is oysters at Johnny’s Half Shell and mussels at Granville Moore’s.

4.       Elizabeth starts baking again

5.       Pumpkin beer!

6.       We’re on the hunt for savory recipes starring leeks and butternut squash

7.       We say good-bye to the basil lemontini and hello to the warm duck Rueben at the Poste bar

8.       Too many local apples, not enough apple recipes

Apple Cake 0349.       Kiss the sunglasses good-bye. We go from al fresco dining to cozy lounges and tea houses.

10.    Fall colors bring road trips and local discoveries like Wasmund’s single malt applewood smoked whiskey.

pickles2A few weeks ago, we received a comment from Jack who made a few tweaks to our favorite recipe for homemade half-sour pickles.  His version added onions and turmeric to the mix, which we expected to give the pickles a more pronounced vegetable flavor.  Considering how popular our pickle post has been, we were eager to see how Jack’s variation differed from the original.

We stopped by the H Street FreshFarm Market and made a beeline for Richfield Farms’ stand at the rear of the market.  Their cucumbers have proven to be perfect for pickling in previous efforts, so we wanted to use them again this time.  While we were there, we may have picked up the ingredients for a batch of gazpacho, too…have we mentioned how often we make it in season?

Jack’s recipe and our thoughts after the jump. (more…)

You have to hand it to Bernie Prince, Ann Yonkers and the rest of the team at FreshFarm Markets.  No sooner do they join the ranks of the Twitterati than they hit us with a bombshell:

FreshFarmTweet

That’s right…all that speculation and investigatory journalism over the past few weeks was right on the money!

As you might expect, news of this magnitude was immediately echoed by at least seven or eight of our DC food-writer friends.  But we noticed that the official press release (linked through the image above) was missing something – the names of the vendors who would be at the market next Thursday when the “FreshFarm Market, by the White House” opens for the first time.

We reached out to Bernie Prince and she gave us all the exciting details.  Like other FreshFarm Markets, this will be a producers-only market, featuring eighteen familiar vendors on opening day.  As Bernie explained, “We want this to be a market where shoppers can get everything in one place – from milk and meat to bread and vegetables.”

MiriamsShe also pointed out two more aspects of the market that make it an engaged partner with the local community.  As at their Silver Spring and H Street Markets, the FreshFarm Market, by the White House, will offer a “Double Dollars” program that will match the first $25 in Food Stamps, WIC and Senior Nutrition Dollars spent at the market.  The program is funded through grants and private donations.  Additionally, the market will work with Miriam’s Kitchen as a “gleaning partner” to provide fresh food for their outreach efforts to the hungry and homeless of DC.

The news you’ve been waiting for – the 19 producers who will be selling on Vermont Avenue – after the jump. (more…)

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