Mount Pleasant Farmers Market wasn’t the only market opening the weekend of May 2nd. The market at 14th & U Streets also had its opening day and I was determined to check it out. After hitting up the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, Brian and I hopped on the bus and traveled down 14th Street curious to see what we’d find. In its second year, the market has grown at an alarming rate. From it’s beginnings as a sidewalk market standing only in front of the Reeves Center on 14th Street, the market now wraps around to U Street. Like the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, 14th and U is a producers only market with local vendors selling locally grown and produced goods.
Market manager Robin Shuster (who also manages the Bloomingdale Farmers Market) has listened to her customers’ pleas for a fresh pasta vendor, welcoming Stefano Frigerio’s newest venture, The Copper Pot. Stefano, the former executive chef at Mio Restaurant in DC, produces fresh pastas, jams, sauces and vinegars (the vinegars, however, are not sold at the market but will be available soon via The Copper Pot website) all from locally grown fruits and vegetables. On his first day at the 14th and U Street Farmers Market, the reputation of Stefano’s quality products led to him selling out faster than he anticipated. Brian and I tried a sample of his strawberry and vanilla bean jam…only to learn he’d sadly sold out of it. The jam had a strong strawberry flavor without being overtly sweet. The undercurrent of vanilla added a depth to the jam that was unexpected but complimentary. I was quite disappointed to learn I couldn’t buy a jar of my own, but Stefano assured us he would have much more inventory next Saturday.
Robin also had the tough job of replacing one of 14th and U’s favorite vendors Breadline with a new bread maker. I will confess that I have never tried Breadline’s breads, so I am not able to compare them to the new bread vendor, Panorama. But hands down, Panorama turned out to be the best surprise of the day for me. Why? Because they sell SLICED fresh bread. As much as I love getting fresh bread from the farmers market, I hate having to slice it up. So when I went over to the Panorama stand, my eyes immediately went to the loaf of deli rye, neatly sliced and wrapped in a plastic bag. I clapped my hands excitedly and asked for a loaf. While waiting for my change, I accepted a sample of their multi-grain roll. Topped with sunflower seeds and other grains, the roll was crusty on the outside but soft on the inside. Tempted to get a few for that night’s dinner, I decided to wait and see if I liked the rye before buying anything else from Panorama. I shouldn’t have worried…the loaf didn’t last a week in my house. And it was the perfect bread for a grown up grilled cheese sandwich made with Keswick’s Vermeer cheese (another 14th and U Street vendor) and arugula from the Truck Patch stand.
I was also happy to see one of my favorite Penn Quarter market vendors, Dolcezza Gelato and Sorbetto. Dolcezza uses fresh cream and milk from Perrydell Farms in York, Pennsylvania for their gelatos and a host of herbs, fruits and honeys from farms all around the Mid-Atlantic region. Their dedication to quality ingredients is evident with just one bite of their gelatos and sorbets. I regularly pick up a half pint of one of their flavors every Thursday as a weekend treat, so I was pleased to know I could also pick up more on the weekends (trust me a half pint doesn’t go far when you’re sharing). More and more fruit and vegetables were on display as the Spring crops make their way to the market. Mountain View Farm even had stinging nettles for the adventurous cooks. I was tempted to pick up some, but admitted to myself I would need to research how to cook them further before plunking down the money for them. Over at the Truck Patch Farm stand, silver tubs of mesclun mix, kale and arugula were interspersed with coolers of their fresh pork and beef products. I picked up a slab of their bacon, along with some of their mesclun mix with the intent of making a bacon centered salad dressing for the salad.
As with the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, asparagus was in abundance all around 14th and U. I have been itching to try an asparagus and mint risotto recipe I saw in Food and Wine magazine, so I picked up extra asparagus from Kuhn and McCleaf, along with a half gallon of their apple cider (which is my new favorite morning drink…liquid apples in a cup people!!!). For the mint, I headed over to Garner’s stand, which is filled with herb and vegetable plantings, as well as lettuce mixes, asparagus, spring onions and colorful chards. I overheard the mention of strawberries at the market the next weekend, so I made a mental note to come back for my favorite berries. With rhubarb still in season, I knew I wanted to make the strawberry rhubarb pie that was such a hit at a neighborhood brunch last year. So this past Saturday, I returned to the 14th and U Street market for the first strawberries of the season! With rhubarb from Kuhn and McCleaf and Garner's strawberries, I made the perfect Spring dessert.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
6 stalks rhubarb, diced into cubes
4 cups strawberries, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg wash for the pie crust
1 1/2 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place the fruits into a mixing bowl and sprinkle with both sugars. With either a spoon or your hand, toss the fruits around to evenly coat them with the sugars. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla and continue to toss. Add the cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens and a bit of a glaze is created.
Set the filling aside and roll out the pie crust dough. Place it into a pie pan, trimming the excess off the sides to ensure an even crust. Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash on the entire pie crust. Pour the filling into the pie crust and place in the oven for 45-55 minutes. The crust should be golden and the filling should start to gel. This may require you rotating the pie halfway during the baking cycle. Allow the pie to cool and then place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours to allow the filling to fully set.
The 14th and U Street Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm and is located at the corner of (where else) 14th and U Street NW in Washington, DC.