Farm Fresh, Shopping

Places To Buy Local Food in DC Year-Round

The dregs of winter are upon us. Where does one buy food that aligns with one’s hippie local, organic beliefs in the dead season?

Here are the places I get excited to grocery shop in the winter:

  • Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. on 14th St. NW: This little grocery store is my idea of heaven. Local everything, including local dried goods, pastas and even some pre-prepped meals for you to grab and go.
  • Union Market on 5th NE: Meat, cheese, veggies, breads, coffee, tea, spices… is there anything you need to whip up a meal you can’t find here?
  • Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market on 20th St. NW on Sundays: Just in case you thought it was summer-only, the city’s best farmer’s market is still kicking in winter. Crab cakes, greens, milk, eggs, you still need these basics.

What did I miss? Leave it in the comments for the greater good!

Farm Fresh, Ward 6

Farm Fresh: New Tuesday Market at Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of ep_jhu
Eastern Market on a Hot Day
courtesy of ep_jhu

So I have to admit, I really do not love the outdoor farmer’s market at Eastern Market on the weekends. I’m not talking about the flea market with all the mirrors, animal hats and necklaces, I’m talking about the food part. Maybe I’m spoiled, but I don’t think repackaged baby carrots or oranges and bananas (clearly not grown in the Mid-Atlantic region) count as a farmer’s market. See, in the picture above, you see strawberries right next to apples. If you’re growing locally, the strawberries would happen for a few glorious short weeks in early spring and the apples arrive much later in fall.

When I go to a market, I want 100% local. And I want fresh, as in, vine to me in less than 24 hours. And sadly, I don’t see a ton of that at Eastern Market normally. But all this might change today with the announcement of the new “Fresh Tuesdays” farmer’s market at Eastern Market. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, The Features

We Love Doing Good: DC’s First Mobile Market

Courtesy of Megan Bailey

There is nothing more wonderful to see than when creativity and mission intersect. Case in point: the Mobile Market. The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, a nonprofit founded by the partners and chefs of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, is dedicated to growing an equitable and sustainable food system in DC. The group has come up with an innovative solution to overcome the challenges of food access: use the food truck model. The Mobile market will serve “food desert” neighborhoods around the area with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat from Arcadia farms and other sustainable producers, at below market rates for those who need it most, bringing it to areas that do not have a bounty of fresh options.

A converted school bus, now bright green and adorned with art by local students,  serves as a visual representation of everything the Mobile Market aims to do, as Michael Babin, owner of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group explained, “Our hope is that the Mobile Market will not only serve as a physical link between farmers and the areas that lack food access, but as a visual representation of the better food and nutrition movement.”

Beyond that, the converted school bus is a moving educational market on wheels, providing information and cooking demonstrations, one-on-one engagement opportunities with the local community, nutritional information and recipes, and resources for how to get fresh, local produce elsewhere in the District. The moving Market is already up and running and will continue through October, with scheduled visits to a senior wellness center, low-income housing site, metro stop, health care provider, and city park and during the school year will also visit schools in DC.

The Mobile Market, the first of its kind in the city, is pioneering change, one stop at a time…

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh: Mixt Greens

Mixt Greens Salad

Here’s another feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends, and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: When I first heard about Mixt Greens opening in DC I was already bored. We have Chop’t, we have Sweetgreen, what in the heck are we going to do with another lunch-only salad place? But someone who eats as much as I do can always use a good salad. So when I was invited to try it out, I went hesitantly, and without much expectation. And I must say, I’m a convert. Continue reading

DC Victory Gardens, Farm Fresh

Getting Started with Community Supported Agriculture

Photo courtesy of 'boboroshi'
"Bull Run Farm Greenhouse"
courtesy of "boboroshi"

Making your own Victory Garden isn’t for everyone. It may be that you live in an apartment or you simply don’t have time to do your own gardening, or perhaps you are a serial killer of plants from the garden center. Regardless, this does not prohibit you from joining the local food revolution. A simple creation by small farmers has spread all over the country and you can now join CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs, or farm shares, and get fresh produce every week from a local farmer delivered to you.
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Farm Fresh, The Features

Farm Fresh: Radius Pizza

Winter Pie

Winter Pie with celery root puree

Here’s another edition of our Farm Fresh feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna explains the restaurant’s environmentally friendly efforts and Katie tells you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Radius is one of those neighborhood gems that make you feel like you won the jackpot when you discover it. Tucked away on the second floor of an old row house on Mount Pleasant Street in Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant, the little pizzeria is one of my very favorite restaurants in the city. Last April, husband and wife team Todd and Nicole Wiss took over the former Italian eatery and turned it into one of the city’s most eco-conscious restaurants.

Donna: Chef Todd and his Nicole met while working at Poste Moderne Brassiere, which also has a commitment to local and sustainable food. It was there, while directing a James Beard Dinner that Todd became passionate about farm-to-table cooking. “Having eaten this way the majority of my life, I found it really important to make it our goal to create awareness to the diner that this is really important for the sustainability of our land, for future farming, and future generations,” said Todd. And then he shared that other reason: “It tastes a hell of a lot better!”
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DC Victory Gardens, Farm Fresh

Winter is for Gardening

The garden, fully planted
‘The garden, fully planted’
courtesy of ‘Boboroshi’

Outside is a view of the grip of winter, fitting more for Boston, Montreal, or Calgary than a typical Washington winter. The snow flies sideways and the cold is enough to make anyone think twice about joining a snowball fight. In light of this, you might think me crazy to state, emphatically, that winter is for gardening.

The trickle began a few weeks ago with a catalog from gardeners.com, followed by Lee Valley and Baker Creek. Suddenly it’s an explosion of the promise of summer: “ORDER YOUR SEEDS NOW!” “GET YOUR GARDEN READY!” they shout. The snow is up to my waist in parts of the yard. The garlic planted in the fall hibernating under straw and three feet of snow and ice.

But this is exactly the time for gardening. If you want to start your own seeds and get your beds ready, this is the optimum time to be working your garden. Some of the things that I am going to talk about may be a bit late, but for future planning purposes, I will include them in this brain dump.
 Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, We Green DC

Farm Fresh: AGAINN

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Here’s another feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna explains the restaurant’s environmentally friendly efforts and Katie tells you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Donna: I don’t want to go overboard about how much I liked AGAINN, but let’s just say that three days after my first visit, I dragged a friend from out of town over there to try AGAINN again. The restaurant’s said to be a modern twist on traditional British Isles pub cuisine, but that makes me think of greasy fish ‘n’ chips, not the savory ham and apple cider pie steaming under a delicate puff pastry crust that I had for dinner.

Katie: I haven’t exactly been subtle about my enthusiasm for DC’s newest gastropub, either. I love the space, the details are impeccable, the drinks, the food, everything. So when I visited and found out that Chef Wesley Morton had constructed a VERY local menu and put a ton of thought into his sourcing, it made me love AGAINN that much more.

Donna: Executive Chef Wesley Morton is from Louisiana, and he grew up on a farm surrounded by cows, figs, oranges, and all sorts of goodness. His family didn’t buy meat at the store; they raised their own food. He’s now continuing that tradition, using food that’s grown and processed locally and animals that are treated humanely. An example is the smoked country ham, cured in Allan Benton’s small family shop in Tennessee. You can order it as a charcuterie, or get a taste of its salty deliciousness atop the soft russet potato dumplings as they melt in your mouth. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, The Features

Farm Fresh: Evening Star Cafe

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Here’s another feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends, and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Evening Star Cafe is nestled on Mount Vernon Avenue in the heart of Alexandria’s bohemian neighborhood, Del Ray. Lanterns twinkle above. Seated at the window, Donna and I watched neighbors pass by walking dogs, running errands and grabbing frozen custard from Dairy Godmother. Evening Star has this wonderful homey feel, so it’s not hard as hard to imagine the farm-to-table concept in practice there, as it is at a super-polished place like Charlie Palmer Steak. Chef Will Artley jokes around with us like we’ve known him forever, and describes walking through the farmer’s market picking up the food for our meal and it just makes sense. We were happy to accept an invitation to learn all about Evening Star Cafe (and Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s) approach to green dining.

Donna: Evening Star is just one of the eateries in the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG), and co-owner Michael Babin talked to us about the philosophy that guides them all. NRG supports mindful growing, with no pesticides or hormones, as well as humane treatment of animals. The restaurants use biodegradable take-home containers, compost scraps, and soon their used cooking oil will be turned into biodiesel fuel.

Katie: We kicked off our meal with a light melon soup. Chef Artley laughed, telling us how he’s allergic to melons, but got so excited when he spotted these that he forgot and sampled some. It was that kind of meal – perfectly accessible, friendly, and so exciting that you forget things like food allergies. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, We Green DC

Farm Fresh: Redwood Restaurant and Bar

Photo courtesy of
‘Cherry Tomato & Watermelon Salad’
courtesy of ‘snapzdc’

Here’s another feature where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to tell you about local restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends, and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Located in the heart of Bethesda Row, Redwood Restaurant and Bar is sleek, clean and stylish. With high ceilings and unsurprising wood decor, it’s a huge modern space with some seriously tasty food. And not only that, they do a great job of sourcing their products from local farmers, and utilizing the Bethesda farmer’s market, conveniently located right outside their door. Donna and I were invited to explore Redwood’s local food, so we went one Thursday night and sampled the fare and heard from Executive Chef Blake Schumpert exactly how he chooses the produce and meats he uses.

Donna: I like that at Redwood, they spell out their philosophy toward local foods up front, with a statement from owner and CEO Jared Rager posted on the Web site and a shorter message printed on the menus, so there’s no mistaking: “We are an independent, locally owned restaurant that showcases a seasonal menu featuring the best mid-atlantic ingredients available. Our produce, cheese, meat, and seafood is naturally-raised, organic, or sustainable whenever possible and is sourced from local growers. We’ve assembled a wine list from around the world with a particular focus on small production vintners who practice sustainable viticulture – making wine in a way which is economically viable, socially supportive and ecologically sound.” Hooray!

Katie: So with a clear mission, and a farmer’s market right outside their door, Redwood is an excellent place to eat some savory fare while feeling good about your meal’s carbon footprint. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

Farm Fresh: Bourbon Steak

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Here’s another installment in the series where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) pair up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: So you don’t always think of a steakhouse as environmentally-conscientious, right? Well, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak goes above and beyond the green call of duty, and plants their own vegetables, and works all of them into the dishes at the restaurant. Donna and I were invited over to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown to take a tour of the garden and sample some dishes that used the herbs and veggies grown there on the property.

Donna: Last spring, Bourbon Steak created a small garden on its property, in a peaceable little spot just across from the C&O Canal. I was happy we were invited to tour this terraced plot and sample the dishes it flavors. It supplies the restaurant with 62 varieties of herbs, vegetables and flowers — 400 plants in all, some of which came from Amish farms. Look around, and up front you’ll see some plants you recognize, such as thyme, chives, marigold and different kinds of basil. Farther back are the harder-to-find plants that produce curries and other unusual spices.

Katie: So with all these herbs and vegetables grown on the property, could you taste the difference in the food? We headed inside for dinner to find out. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, Special Events, We Green DC

Farm Fresh: Charlie Palmer Steak

Charlie Palmer

WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

Katie: Charlie Palmer Steak is situated on the bottom floor of the Carpenter’s Union building, facing the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Senate side. I’d almost be tempted to call it DC stuffy, if I didn’t love it so much. And love it I do, Charlie Palmer Steak gets top marks in my foodie book. Not only is it gorgeous, the food is fantastic, and the service matches. The entire front of the restaurant is glass, and in the winter I’m sure it has a supurb view of the Capitol Building. An impressive walk-in wine cellar sits above a fountain and water pool full of stones. The servers are inconspicuously attentive. Candles flicker on the table. It is a quiet sort of posh, the perfect place for a business meeting, or a very impressive date. Honestly, it’s the type of place that you wouldn’t quite expect to do locovore meals. It’s a bit too conservative, too buttoned-up. But for all the month of August, through September 12, you can stop by Charlie Palmer to do an incredibly affordable “In the Loop” dinner – all food from within 150 miles of DC for $39 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Continue reading

Farm Fresh, Food and Drink, Night Life, Penn Quarter, People, Special Events, We Love Food

Farm Fresh: Cafe Atlantico

Cafe Atlantico

WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) have paired up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?

It is oh-so-trendy, but not just that, it’s plain good for you and the earth. Farm-to-Table dinners have hit DC hard, so when WLDC author Donna and I were invited to sample Chef Terri Cutrino’s Farmer’s Market Dinners at Cafe Atlantico, we jumped at the chance.

Katie: From a foodie standpoint, these dinners are interesting to me, not just because I’ve finally gotten around to reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I’m late, I know), but also because this particular type of dinner and dining can show you what exactly a chef is made of.

Because the ingredients are not picked until Thursday, and the dinner is put together on Friday, it’s a stretch. Sort of Top Chef meets real life, if you will. And the results, I must say are the same, given the short amount of time a Chef has to work on a dish, with specific ingredients, you’re bound to have it be hit or miss – just like Top Chef, you’ll be presented with dishes that shine, and dishes that flop. On our particular night we experienced both. Continue reading