The (much needed) rain was unrelenting last Friday, as was my determination to visit my nearby farmers market on the last Friday of the season. Kingstowne Market is for me, a recently discovered gem of a market. It’s home to 20 or so merchants, some like Cibola Farms, Blue Ridge Dairy and Smith Meadows Farm, are familiar to many of you who visit other markets in the area. Merchants come from as near as Vienna, and others from the far reaches of Maryland and Virginia to bring their produce and goods. So, if they could haul their vendibles to the market on Friday, I could drive my vehicle 10 minutes to get there, rain slicker and all.
Frankly, I had been a bit of a market vagabond until this season. I’ve enjoyed the farmers markets in Arlington, Dupont, Del Ray and even Old Town (which is much improved) since my husband Frank and I returned to the area 3 years ago. I didn’t waste any time acquainting myself with Eastern Market either. I remember being compelled by the passion of the local food community when Market Lunch closed down its’ Saturday breakfast service. The groundswell of “oh my gawd, no bluebucks over the weekend!” prompted the owner to reinstate breakfast hours within a few weeks. “Wow”, I thought, “the patrons really matter”. When it comes to spending my time and money, I like to think that the benefit works both ways. I enjoy the markets and I need to support them. It’s nice to know that I can and do directly affect their sustainability. It’s a social investment of sorts and helps maintain the wonderful food culture we enjoy here in the D.C. area.
So, having this concept firm up in my head, this spring I decided that I’d check out Kingstowne Market, which is nearest to me. I’ve known there was a market in the shopping center for a while, but for some reason I assumed it was small and therefore had little to offer. I’m happy to say I was wrong and over the course of this past spring, summer and fall I’ve become acquainted with the market in general, and a handful of merchants in particular.
Among my favorites is Allenberg Orchards from Smithburg, Md. Their produce is lovingly cared for and brought to the market fresh and at peak flavor. As the season progressed, I’ve enjoyed (takes deep breath) Ranier cherries, sour cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, apple cider and squash. Whew!
I also learned to bring a cooler to the market in order to keep Middleburg Country Store and Creamery’s pints of ice cream from defrosting on the way home. The owner’s ice cream truck has been a joyful sight in the 90 plus degree parking lot- heat of the summer. Standing at her window with the smell of nearby kettle corn wafting up my nose, I would get my usual order of mint chocolate chip and whatever special tickled my fancy. Pumpkin was particularly good this fall.
And Saturday mornings with Cenan’s Bakery croissants will be missed. A cup of coffee with either a savory ham and cheese or sweet cherry croissant has been decadent and honestly will be good to forego for a while. Besides, I’ve got braises to make! So, it’s not good-bye, but see you next May to all the hard working folks who brought me their vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, breads and ice cream. I’ll be back next year.
So tell me, what are your favorite farmers markets and whom would you like to give a shout out to in appreciation of the wares they bring?