Farmers Market Update: Eastern Market, D.C.

by | Sep 18, 2011
Eggplant

Eggplant

Ali is a reformed loather of all-things cooking. She recently found her inner chef after losing herself in the farmers markets and local grocers of Washington D.C. She now counts cooking with her beloved husband among the highest joys in life. Ali lives life through her taste buds, and considers the countless foods growing and living on this earth as true gifts from God.

Ali works for the United States Army in public affairs and communications and is also an instructor of cause and non-profit related communications at Georgetown University.  She has a master’s of public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University, and lives outside D.C. with her husband and two overfed felines. When not in the kitchen, Ali enjoys training for triathlons and bikram yoga, though is admittedly terrible at and uncommitted to both. She can be found on LinkedIn as Ali Zimmer Sanders, or on Twitter as @AliZimmer.

Farmers Market Update: Eastern Market, D.C.

by Ali Sanders

Every weekend, DC’s Capitol Hill sheds its buttoned-up, political shell and exposes its warmer, friendlier side through its Eastern Market. Thousands pour in every Saturday and Sunday to walk the colorful streets and choose among the myriad odds and ends in an endless party for the senses.

Eastern Market

Eastern Market

Eastern market is a veritable mecca for vintage furniture and hand-made art, jewelry, soaps, beauty products and clothing. But the greatest draw of DC’s longest-running farmers market is the local, homegrown and farm-raised food.

My family visited us this past weekend for Labor Day, and we had lofty ambitions for cooking something special together at each meal. I introduced them to a realer side of our city, devoid of memorials and museums, tourists on Segues, and pretention. Eastern Market serves, twice a week, as DC’s thumping heartbeat, where the energy, excitement and lust for life among DC-ists is palpable.

Prior to flinging ourselves into Eastern Market proper, we enjoyed the offerings of the various merchants flanking the market on Capitol Hill. We started with a coffee and various French provisions at Montmartre, followed by deep diving into the extensive and cavernous Capitol Hill Books. We emerged ready to take it by storm.

Eastern Market consists of an indoor area for perishables like meat, dairy and seafood, and a colorful and extensive outdoor area for everything else, including all fruits and vegetables. We started at the peach stand. Can you blame us?

Peaches

Snow King Brand Peaches

These peaches suffered the fate of becoming the evening’s dessert. We sliced them, grilled them, basted them in a melted unsalted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar mixture, and dumped them, still hot, on vanilla ice cream. We then drizzled a simple raspberry sauce (made by crushing and heating raspberries over the stove and adding a touch of sugar).

A peach and tomato smorgasbord

A peach and tomato smorgasbord

Also on the side to drizzle over the dessert was fresh, local honey… purchased today.

Local honey – did I mention how delicious this tasted

Local honey – did I mention how delicious this tasted

For dinner, we created a linguini pasta mixed with fresh, late-summer veggies and a healthy amount of good-quality extra virgin olive oil. We included some of these beautiful, juicy tomatoes, almost too pretty to chop. We could sample each farmer’s tomato offering before buying the meatiest ‘maters for our meal.  This was the winner today!

Agora Farms Heirloom Tomatoes

Agora Farms Heirloom Tomatoes

We removed the casing from this sausage, cut it into small pieces and sautéed it for the pasta, keeping the juices for our sauce.

Sausage

Sausage

Chopped zucchini and onion complimented the flavors perfectly.

Mom with Zucchini

My mom displays her zucchini selection

Add chopped mozzarella, just a drizzle of marinara and a splash of parmesan.  It will rock your world.

Onions

Onions

We continued our meanderings through the market looking for the ingredients for the rest of the weekend. We decided to make berry pancakes for the next morning’s breakfast, and Coquille St. Jacques, sautéed asparagus, and oniony rice pilaf for the following evening’s dinner.

Here are a few more photos from our day in Foodie Heaven. Call me inexperienced in the world of brussel sprouts, but these were by far the daintiest, smallest sprouts I’ve ever seen. Perfectly bite-sized!

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Not a very good day for these poor dudes. But the extensive seafood selection was impossible to resist. Enter our sea scallops. They don’t have faces, so it was easier to nom them later ;)

Blowfish! The notoriously deadly sushi fish

Blowfish! The notoriously deadly sushi fish

My brother’s favorite – sunflowers.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Fragrant herbs abounded. The merchant knew special tips about each herb and how best to use them in meals.

Herbs

Herbs

Here’s to breakfast! The next morning, we paired homemade blueberry pancakes with smoked bacon and local coffee.

Blueberries

Blueberries

I have a special place in my heart for shiny, plump little blackberries. These were just gorgeous.

Blackberries

Blackberries

At this time of year, when in the presence of black cherries, seize the day! Summer is almost gone.

Black Cherries

Black Cherries

Agora farms Oyster & Shitake mushrooms.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

I wonder why the basil in my garden looks nothing like this.

Basil

Basil

Gracie samples Spanish manchego cheese in the market to go with our Spanish tempranillo wine.

Cheese

Cheese

The first sign of impending fall and many more seasonal blessings to come.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

Our grocery list:

  • Peaches
  • Honey
  • Tomatoes
  • Sausage
  • Scallops
  • Blueberries
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Manchego Cheese

Would you like to share your farmers market with Summer Tomato readers? Find out more.

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5 Responses to “Farmers Market Update: Eastern Market, D.C.”

  1. Chris S says:

    That is my hood. Great place!!!

  2. Terry says:

    Eastern market was such a pleasant surprise for me! I have been to DC dozens of times, but never knew about this gem. Great to meet some real, down to earth people in DC and sample some excellent food!!!

  3. pamela says:

    Beautiful pics. I’m ready to go shopping right now.

  4. Jojo says:

    “I wonder why the basil in my garden looks nothing like this.”

    what kind of soil are you using?
    I switched to an all organic soil and everything took off this year.

    • Ali says:

      Hi Jojo- thanks for the question – We’ll give the organic soil a try. I am currently using a basic topsoil with some organic fertilizer. I think our biggest problem is the lack of sunlight from all the beautiful trees in our yard!

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