One of the many benefits of living in the Washington, DC area is its proximity to many farming communities. Farms abound in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, giving the DC area an abundance of opportunities to shop for locally grown, largely organic, produce, meats and dairy products. Through farmers' markets, community supported agriculture (more about that concept later) and farm stands within driving distance of the District, it's easy to find healthy, quality food at a price that doesn't resemble our national debt. One such option is the local farmers' market and luckily, DC has many to choose from on almost any given day of the week.
On Sunday, I decided to trek over to the Bloomingdale Farmers' Market, on R and 1st Street NW, conveniently located next to the Big Bear Café. Although a relatively new market, Bloomingdale has grown exponentially over the last year, bringing in new vendors to meet the demands of the growing neighborhood. Robin Shuster, the Bloomingdale Farmers Market manager, has been working hard to add a variety of sellers to the market and her efforts have been successful. The market now has sellers of all meats (beef, lamb, pork, veal and even goat), cheeses, vegetables, fruits and breads and pastries!
A new vendor to the Bloomingdale Farmers' Market is Keswick Creamery, a dairy farm located in Newburg, Pennsylvania that is committed to raising their cows in a humane and organic fashion. Their cheeses are made using the freshest of ingredients and the result is in the amazingly sharp flavors of their cheeses. Their cheeses include cheddars, fetas (including my favorite – their Italian herb feta), bleu cheeses and a pepper jack they lovingly call Dragon's Breath. In addition to their hard cheeses, Keswick sells yogurt, Quark (a German style cream cheese), whole milk ricotta and a soft cheese of fresh herbs called Bovre.
As I walked along the market, my eyes were immediately drawn to a lovely display of shiitake mushrooms. Dennis from Greenstone Fields Farm had a nice little haul of these earthy beauties, along with a big silver tub full of fresh rosemary. The rosemary was so fragrant, I could smell it the second I came to the stand. Dennis said the log grown shiitakes were probably the last for the season, so I grabbed a big container, along with a bunch of the rosemary.
The mushrooms and rosemary would make great additions to an idea for a chuck roast that was forming in my head. And thanks to Robin's efforts, I could pick up said chuck roast right there at the market. Truck Patch Farms not only has a slew of vegetables (including brussel sprouts, a variety of greens, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes to name a few), they also sell beef. Huge chunks of beef might I add. The smallest roast I could find was over four pounds and FRESH! Truck Patch, like Keswick Creamery, treats their cows in a humane manner and provides a grass fed, natural diet for them.
I added the roast to my lovely pile of purchases and then decided it was time for some breakfast. With that in mind, I headed to the lovely ode to carbs that is Panorama Artisanal Bakery. I will freely admit my almost slavish devotion to breads, pastries and pretty much anything made with flour. But the sight of the croissants, danishes and beautifully dark loaves of pumpernickel stopped me. Sadly, I only stopped because I couldn't decide what I wanted to devour first. The variety of loaves and pastries that were available was impressive, especially for an outdoor market. Even better? Panorama had an assortment of sweet brioches…something I haven't seen in a bakery since my childhood in Germany. The cheese Danish I purchased was flaky without being delicate and had a subtly sweet filling. The perfect breakfast snack for such a lovely Fall day.
The lovely roast was the center of my attention when I got it home. I've played around with variations of pot roast for years and find mushrooms, rosemary and wine to make a lovely sauce compliment to any beef. The recipe I devised was simple, allowing for the freshness of the ingredients to take center stage. The result was a tender roast marinated in a rich, woodsy sauce.
Shiitake Mushroom Pot Roast
4 lb chuck roast, boneless
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, sliced
1 container shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, finely diced
32 ounces beef stock (preferably homemade)
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the roast dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and ground pepper. Place it in the Dutch oven and brown the roast on both sides for about three minutes each side. Remove the roast from the Dutch oven and allow it to rest on a plate. Add the garlic to the Dutch oven and sauté it for about two minutes before adding the onions. Sauté until browning and then toss in the mushrooms. Stir the mixture until the mushrooms have softened. Add the red wine and the beef stock and then place the roast back into the Dutch oven. Sprinkle in the rosemary and allow the broth to come to a boil. Once boiling, remove the Dutch oven from the stove and place it in the oven. Bake the roast for 2 ½ to 3 hours, depending on the level of doneness you desire. When the roast is cooked, remove it from the oven and take it out of the Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of cornstarch slowly into the broth. Stir consistently in order to reduce lumps. Allow the sauce to boil down to a thick gravy consistency. Serve the roast with the gravy, which should have lovely bits of mushrooms and onions, on top!
Although the Bloomingdale Farmers Market is still relatively small (especially compared to Dupont Circle and Eastern Market's offerings), it is a welcome addition to the LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale/Shaw area of DC. The market will remain open until the weekend on November 22, just in time for Thanksgiving. The market is open every Sunday, rain or shine from 10 am to 2 pm.