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Penn Quarter Market-Now Open For The Season


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I hit Penn Quarter market this week. I thought it was very weak, although that could be because I got there a couple hours after it started. Lots of plants and herbs and soaps and the like. Lots of asparagus (naturally) but no strawberries (were they sold out by 5pm?). Perhaps 2 or 3 vendors with the standard offerings of vegetable greenery. One with apples. Goat tart/perogie guy was there. Blue Ridge Dairy with their excellent cheeses.

But the best part of the Penn Quarter market is WB Lanham Bakery...originally of Shepardstown, WV...but now from some other town near there. He says they sold their building in Shepardstown and bought an old stone barn with lots of land. Went to France for a bit, picked up a few new recipes, and shipped a boatload (boated a shipload?) of equipment from France to their new digs.

I bought a loaf of Onion/Bacon bread...one of their new recipes. Wonderful stuff. Tasted his whole grain, too. Even last year, Lanham's breads were consistently delicious. I like Atwaters at Dupont, but I really think Lanham's is leaps and bounds beyond Atwaters in quality. Would like to know what others think.

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This just in via email from FRESHFARM Market:

Penn Quarter Thursday, May 18, 2006

GIANT PAELLA 5-6 pm

Taste the national dish of Spain!

Paella team includes Terri Cutrino, head chef of Jaleo DC.

Llorenç Petras, a world renowned mushroom expert and cookbook author. He is the owner of Petras Fruits de Bosc in the famous La Boqueria market in Barcelona.

Market is Open 3-7 pm

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My wife works for the Smithsonian and she headed over to the farmer's market in the Penn Quarter this past thursday (what's it called?) and picke dup some nice fresh bread and pea soup with morels. Paired those with some fresh greens from our raised bed veggie patch and dinner was complete!

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I had to go downtown on Thursday, so arranged things to coincide with the Penn Quarter Farmers' Market. I picked up some large tomatoes, among other things. They turned out to be really good-tasting, unlike either the ones I grew myself or bought at the Adams Morgan market. Also, I spotted some lovely, tiny okra and found that the okra season lasts until October or so. Needless to say, I slept in this morning and didn't bother going up the street. Instead, I will haunt the Penn Quarter market on Thursdays (and maybe stop in at Cowgirl Creamery) until they go into hibernation for the winter. No crowds, and I don't hafta haul my a** out of bed. What genius thought this up? Somebody after my own heart, no doubt. :)

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Today's haul: peaches, red bartlett pears, empire apples, arugula, tomatoes, and bread. One of the Penn Qtr vendors had a sign saying this is the last week for peaches.

The bread folks had a fine looking bacon quiche. That might be on the menu tomorrow.

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I thought the Takoma Kitchen empanadas were fine but not something I'd seek out.
That's been my impression of the various things purchased from them.

My haul from Penn Qtr yesterday included beautiful baby heirloom tomatoes, squash blossoms and a gigantic bunch of basil from Sunnyside, corn and plums from Toigo, a large bag of mixed mushrooms, pugliese and sweet bread from Quail Creek, and Cibola bacon & ground pork. Penn Qtr might have a smaller selection of vendors than Dupont, but the vendors that do come are top-notch and it's refreshing to be able to shop without having to elbow through crowds.

The pork is destined for spicy larb tonight, and the bacon is frying right now for our breakfast. Mmmmmmm.

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This in from the Fresh Farm e-newsletter:

CHEF at MARKET on April 10: Enzo Febbraro of D'Acqua restaurant; demo starts at 5pm.

CIBOLA is back at market this week. Check out the selection of BUFFALO and PORK, all pasture-fattened and humanely raised in Culpeper, VA.

DOLCEZZA is also at market with GELATO--all flavors made with locally sourced ingredients. Flavors change weekly, so stop by and sample--maybe RAMPS or WATERCRESS gelato in April!*

ANCHOR NURSERY and WOLLAM GARDENS have spring flowers; FLORADISE has orchids.

At market this week: Wes Lanham of Ovens at Quail Creek will have SOUP EXTRAVAGANZA this week including Chowder with baby spinach, saffron, and salmon; Tomato puree with basil, Seafood Gumbo, Mulligatawny, Caldo Verde made with local kale, Angus Chili, and Beef Mushroom Barley. Breads will include plenty of Sourdough, Maize and Cinnamon Walnut Scones, and sundried tomato bread with rosemary and parmesan.

*To be viewed w skepticism. I teased them about experimenting with ramps, but the business is dedicated to incorporating local ingredients...

Also, heads up: GIANT PAELLA next week, April 17 at 5 PM courtesy of Jaleo and ThinkFoodGroup.

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Does anyone know when the Mushroom lady will have morel mushrooms? I see a post about them around this time last year.

She had some this morning at the Dupont Market, as did Eli Cook, a farmer from W. VA. who also had ramps. The mushroom lady's baskets of morels were $20. Eli's were smaller baskets for $15. Ramps were $6 a bunch or 2 for $12. The mushroom lady also had fresh boletus (porcini) for $15 a basket.

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I have to confess I love when I have to be in the city on Thursday's. Last week, in the rain, I snagged one of the Quail Creek's soups--the mushroom, roasted ramp and potato that Mr. BLB loved beyond all reason. So when I told him I was coming in today, he asked if I could buy more soup.

Arrived just after the market opened and got two containers of the mushroom soup and one of the aspargus. Bought containers of strawberries from a Maryland farmer whose name escapes me know. In and out in 10 minutes. Would have been faster but Quail Creek is the most disorganized stand I have ever seen--week in, week out. But the chocolate chip cookies and soup almost make up for it.

(I once again forgot to buy bread to go with the soup... How can I go to a bread vendor and forget the damn bread???)

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Bought containers of strawberries from a Maryland farmer whose name escapes me know. In and out in 10 minutes. Would have been faster but Quail Creek is the most disorganized stand I have ever seen--week in, week out. But the chocolate chip cookies and soup almost make up for it.

(I once again forgot to buy bread to go with the soup... How can I go to a bread vendor and forget the damn bread???[

First, you should tell Wes your husband is crazy about his soup. He loves to make people happy. "I'm just a guy from West Virginia," he says, but you should read his professional credentials. Paris. Austria. He gets around.

I wonder if what you see as disorganized is due to the fact that his regulars rush the market before 3:00 when it opens and then start scrambling for the chocolate chip cookies (first to go), etc. once the bell rings. Wes has at least three folk helping him at all times. Four pairs of hands are a lot for a market that draws no more than 106 customers when it's really busy.

As for the strawberries, you were lucky!!! They sold out in only half an hour. Is this happening at all the markets? Out in Virginia, too? Next week, a third farmer will have them, so maybe they'll last a little longer.

As for the woman who sold them to you, that's Charlene from Sand Hill Farm. She's the real deal. Smokes. Sells firewood when the ground freezes up. At market: quail eggs, too, herbs to plant, asparagus, beeswax candles and honey dark as dirt.

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Ran into Hillvalley yesterday, though I never had the chance to meet BLBabe.

Farm at Sunnyside reports five cucumbers ripe enough to pluck, so in a couple of weeks those greenhouse varieties will have competition.

Dolcezza replaced strawberry-tequila gelato with strawberry-lime-tarragon. Loved the herb and seem to have a fondness for sweet, frozen green flecks because I also found Mojito fantastic.

Since Quail Creek's baked goods are so wonderful, I never really paid attention to the soups before. Yesterday, perhaps because of BLB's post above, I noticed Wes was selling Fresh Virginia Peanut Soup w Crabmeat.

The one brand-new botanical thing I spied was at The Mushroom Stand; Feriel had chanterelles! She explains that there is one sudden outburst of the mushrooms in spring when they wear tight, bullet-point caps. Ephemeral, so I can't guarantee she'll have them at Dupont Circle this Sunday, though you might try her other markets if she puts in an appearance tomorrow. They'll be back come corn season with the frilly caps that sink in the center, turning the funghi into bright, spongy goblets.

Best part of yesterday's market besides the brilliant, blue sky: seeing José Andres blissed out before Blue Ridge Dairy's stand, animated, describing the freshness of all the milky things while spooning tastes for a friend wrapped in a pale pink scarf. Was invited to kiss him on the cheek. Did.

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I was said to see the organic cherries were gone from the Farm at Sunnyside. Picked up cherries and strawberries from Toigo though plus quiche and cookies at Quail Creek. Alas, they Mr. BLB's beloved soup and I had no cooler with me and 5+ hours of the car being parked in the sun before coming home. I think I just won't mention it to him...

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I got there too late to nab one of the dozen ears of corn, but consoled myself with raspberries and green beans from Sand Hill, and cherries and little zucchini from Toigo. Wheatland had their first few field tomatoes of the season.

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Joe Raffa will be preparing sopa de flores de calabaza (squash blossom soup) around 5 PM
The soup was delicious! As was the watermelon agua fresca that had been sweetened with squash blossoms. I picked up some squash blossoms at Sand Hill and will be giving the recipe a try tomorrow. Black Rock Orchards had some beautiful assorted plums - sweet and juicy - mmmmm.

Nice to see you Anna Blume!

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Thanks Anna for the reminder today! Loved the soup, but the toddler claimed my agua fresca. I bought the blossoms from Sand Hill too and cooked them tonight following Oyamel's other recipe, stuffed with goat cheese. Yum.

I did notice, though, that Black Rock's blueberries were twice what I paid in Alexandria Sunday - yikes!

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Happy that the info inspired you all :o

That little sip of soup I snatched certainly inspired me! Despite dinner prepped and in the fridge, I met one of the farmers* and her assistant at Oyamel and we ordered everything on the menu for the Squash Festival (through Sunday): rice, quesadillas, and stuffed w goat cheese among other dishes. (No soup :lol: ) Greeted Hillvalley at another table.

Charlene at Sand Hill was worried no one would buy squash blossoms--which she brought expressly because of the recipe distributed at market, so I was pleased to drop by at the end of the day to learn she sold out! Should have known DR-types were responsible.

*Emily of Farm at Sunnyside, an organic farm that was the only other place selling squash blossoms.

FYI: Endless Summer was selling a weird, new type of cilantro from New Zealand that is darker green w narrow, spiky leaves and w a different flavor. Picked some up, if not as much as Joe Raffa who sent it out instantly as garnish on one of our dishes. ;)

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Charlene at Sand Hill was worried no one would buy squash blossoms--which she brought expressly because of the recipe distributed at market, so I was pleased to drop by at the end of the day to learn she sold out! Should have known DR-types were responsible.
The spot on the table by the "Squash Blossoms" sign was empty but I asked and was very happy when they found a few more containers!
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I did notice, though, that Black Rock's blueberries were twice what I paid in Alexandria Sunday - yikes!
A pound of okra - okra, ferchrissakes - and a quart of cherry tomatoes cost me $14 yesterday. :lol: That might be my last market purchase of the season, as the prices are killing my food budget.
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Sounds like culantro, which is used widely in Central American cooking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eryngium_foetidum

No, judging by picture, but it's always good to meet a new herb. Drop by Mary Ellen's yellow tent on Sunday if you're at Dupont and ask. I still found taste quite distinct, though Chef Raffa (see above) is far more eloquent than I about the flavor. Something about announcing its presence in different zones of the tongue? Or throat?
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That little sip of soup I snatched certainly inspired me!
My attempt at the squash blossom soup turned out very nicely.

I (inadvertently) went along with Chef Raffa's suggestion that the recipe (any recipe) is just a guideline and can be adjusted as the cook sees fit. After reading (and rereading) the instruction about adding scallions, garlic, etc and cooking until the scallions turn very green and wondering how exactly they were going to turn green.... it hit me that I had SHALLOTS and not scallions. Ooops! :lol:

Needless to say, they didn't turn green but it was still delicious and the +1 loved it. I also substituted a long green pepper for the chile Serrano. As a result, there wasn't as much heat as the version sampled at the market.

I used Maseca, but would love the opportunity to find fresh masa and see how that differs. Chef Raffa said that DC is one of only three places in the country where you can get fresh masa - Chicago and Los Angeles being the other two.

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I used Maseca, but would love the opportunity to find fresh masa and see how that differs. Chef Raffa said that DC is one of only three places in the country where you can get fresh masa - Chicago and Los Angeles being the other two.

The only place you can find it around here is at Moctec, in Landover, MD. They are a tortilla and chip factory, and they sell fresh masa to Oyamel. You can call up and order a few pounds from them, but then you have to drive all the way to Landover during business hours to pick it up. They don't sell retail, so you go into the office and they'll bring you what you ordered--it'll have been made that day though. And it is amazingly cheap. Ask for a tour of the factory, if you go--it's a trip. The equipment was purchased used, an old tortilla factory in Texas, if I remember correctly, was disassembled and shipped here. And that was 25 or 30 years ago. It's held together with duct tape and soul. But the smell of freshly cooking masa will transport you instantly to the Southwest, to California, or to Mexico--wherever you associate with that wonderful, utterly distinctive aroma of corn cooked in lime water. Plan to make a few other things with the masa though, because it goes sour on you within three or four days. If I am not using it to make tamales, I'll make a whole bunch of tortillas and sopes, and bag them and freeze them. You can't freeze fresh masa, but you can freeze it once it has been made into tortillas or tamales.

The other option is to make your own, which isn't all that hard, but good luck finding the right kind of dried corn.

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From 3-7 today, Fresh Start Catering (an employment project of DC Central Kitchen) will have a lemonade stand with free samples of Georgia Peach Lemonade and Blackberry Ice Tea at the Penn Quarter Market. Stop by and have some refreshment on this hot day!

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Nando Peri-Peri was there for a tasting. Slight rainstorm in the beginning, but was glad it cleared. Really ripe cantaloupes at a few of the stands, and of course, had to buy some peaches. Glad I was able to run out during break to enjoy these items!

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Please. If you're in the area between 3 and 7 PM, partake of the penultimate market in this extended season. The weather promises to be absolutely, positively dreadful and, thus, your patronage matters a lot to the farmers and bakers and cheese makers who brave wind, rain, more wind, more rain, sleet, snow, increasing cold and so forth.

Incentive? On the top of the street, two great sources of holiday decorations, including wreaths made w juniper berries and all sources of greenery, others w holly berries and chili peppers, or oranges and cloves. Gorgeous.

What will I do when Quail Creek's ovens no longer come to town? Don't know, but Wes has stollen and buche de Noel in addition to his great breads. The Guiness Stout tea cake is pretty damn good, too.

Holly's aged cheddar is back.

Farm at Sunnyside dried its organic black beans (now becoming soup on the stove).

Lamb in all its permutations: organs, legs, shoulders, lanolin skin cream, cheese, pelts, blankets and little woolen sheep with bells around necks, perfect for creche or stocking stuffers.

Cutting boards made from fallen fruit trees on the farm.

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New vendor alert!!! Charcuterie at market! From the FRESHFARM newsletter:

PENN QUARTER

Thursdays, 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm, 8th St, NW near E Street

Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market re-opens for the 2009 season on Thursday, April 2, 2009. Thanks to our community partners at the Downtown DC BID, Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, ThriveDC (formerly Dinner Program for Homeless Women) and all the Penn Quarter businesses and restaurants.

At market this week: Welcome back your favorite farmers and producers and NEW producers like Springfield Farms of Kent County (lamb) and Red Apron Butchery (charcuterie). Opening Day Chef Demo: Rob Weland of Poste; demo starts at 4pm!

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It was pretty busy when I went at around 4pm. Didn't see the new vendors or Chef Weland, but I didn't ask anyone for the story, so I don't know what happened. Did see Owen from Bourbon and Chef Joe from Oyamel strolling around.

Divine Chocolates were very friendly and made up a great quiz.

Quail Creek Farms had these really tasty Bacon Gouda scones ($2) that tasted like a bacon-buttermilk biscuit and was very flaky. They also had really great looking Brioche for $8.

I just finished a really juicy asian pear from Black Orchard and Toigo had juicy, sweet Fuji apples.

Great opening day!

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