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!

Resident mixologist and cocktail nerd Derek Brown guest posts on Young & Hungry, explaining how he stays in the loop of new cocktail trends and educated on vintage ingredients.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Lyons

Photo courtesy of Matthew Lyons

Carla Hall fans should stop by the Banana Republic at 13th and F NW. The store’s display features professional photographs of Chef Hall wearing clothes from the new fall season. . 
Is the famed New Jersey diner scene in danger?  

All We Can Eat has a recap of the American Cheese Society’s annual competition. Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk, that stinky beast of a cheese, took second place. You can find Red Hawk at Cowgirl Creamery downtown and Cheesetique in Del Ray.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse makes some changes to adjust to the economy.  

Brunch and the City checks out Argonaut brunch
Tips on making your own condiments.
Three DC farmers markets have been named the best small markets in the country based on a new poll by the American Farmland Trust. You’ll never guess which three.  

Rouge My Knees found some fantastic olds ads from late 60s Playboy issues, including this Henessy ad.

Have an abundance of peaches from the market? Try The Bitten Word’s peach-cardamom pie with cardamom-vanilla ice cream.   
Frank Bruni of the New York Times hands out a 4-star review to Eleven Madison Park, before stepping down from his post. 
No plans this weekend? Check out Café Atlantico’s Caribbean rum tasting events.

RedApronWashington area farmers’ markets have always offered a wealth of options when you’re looking to pick up fresh produce, local cheeses and even humanely-raised meats.  We’ve even had some vendors take the fruits of others’ labor and turn them into delicious baked goods, soups and gelati.  Anyone who tells you they don’t visit farmers markets because they don’t have time to cook or they want more than just vegetables just isn’t looking hard enough.

Two new vendors who have arrived on the scene this year epitomize the value-added mentality that defines the producer side of “grower/producer only” markets.  Red Apron Butchery, an undertaking by Chef Nathan Anda of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has emerged as a go-to source for all things cured when it comes to pork and beef.  And Chef Stefano Frigerio’s Copper Pot Food Company is blowing people away with handmade pastas and jams using fresh, local ingredients to create huge flavors.  Here at Capital Spice, we’ve been buying up a variety of products from both of these new ventures over the past few weeks, tasting as we go. 

BresaolaThe verdict in a nutshell?  Wow.  In each case, we’ve found ourselves smiling and shaking our heads as we devour entire packages of bresaola or duck-confit ravioli in one sitting.  If you’ve already tried some of Red Apron’s charcuterie or Copper Pot’s filled pastas, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

If you haven’t tried them yet, read on for descriptions, photos and where to track them down after the jump. (more…)