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Photos: Stephanie Breijo, Ben Droz, Dakota Fine Words: Mackenzie Bailey, Stephanie Breijo, Morgan Day, Marcus Dowling, Jeb Gavin, Melissa Groth, Avalon Jones, Priya Konings, Farrah Skeiky, Brandon Wetherbee

       WhatMakesAGood

What makes a good farmers’ market, you ask? Did you find yourself rhetorically answering, “farmers,” and then chuckling sarcastically under your breath? You did? You asshat. Yeah, farmers help. Farmers are an essential piece. But saying “farmers,” without specifying is like saying you like breathing gases, without stipulating you prefer they contain oxygen, and not oh, chlorine.

You need farmers, but they can’t all have apples or carrots or one thing. You need some with greens, some with berries, one or two with tree and stone fruits. Often one will focus more on jams, jellies and fresh sauces using the vegetables they sell. Ideally you have at least two cheese stands, one doing aged stuff, one doing cultured things like butter, yogurt, and fresher cheeses. There should be meat stand or three, each specializing in something different (one could even be a sausage and salami stand staffed with dashing, clever gentlemen.) Oh, a bakery is good, but you’re going to want a place that does bread and then a patisserie doing decadent stuff too. It couldn’t hurt to have crafts people, maybe a pickle guy, and at least a few vendors making stuff to eat right then and there: a waffle or crepe stand, and someone selling empanadas or samosas or dumplings are always welcome.

Just as important to the mix is the placement. Nobody selling the same thing too close so one’s business is cannibalized. Snacky stuff can bunch up, but only because not everyone goes shopping for their groceries at a farmers’ market, sometimes you just want to walk around sipping fresh local coffee and noshing on a ripe peach or chocolate croissant on a warm, clear day. That’s another thing- the weather. Warm spring day? Good. But a still day, where no one’s tents are blowing all over the place is almost always preferred to it being blazing hot and sunny. Likewise, no one wants to be out when it’s sleeting, but there’s something peaceful and picturesque about the market in winter, breezeless flurries making that seven spice hot chocolate all the more delicious.

There seems to be this misguided dualism about markets- either it’s somewhere quaint to stop when vacationing in a small town or it’s the snootiest of the hoi-polloi overpaying for organic vegetables and eggs so well cared for they’ll be enrolled in a Montessori school if they’re not first made into omelets. Fuck that noise. This is rudimentary grocery store economics at its best. I work at a farmers’ market, and the longer I work at one, the more I regret not starting sooner. I like food. I like knowing from where my food comes, and ideally, from whom. You eat cheaper, you eat better, and you eat healthier (although it might not always seem like it.) Having a conversation with someone who knew your meat when it was still an animal doesn’t make you pretentious, it makes you informed. Eating well isn’t about guilt; of all the arts one could indulge in, cooking (creating art) and eating (appreciating art) is the only one that’s a biological imperative (just don’t have this argument with the lady who makes scented candles.) Even if you think things are expensive, even if some folks are hired hands and not the “loving, artisanal purveyor” you imagined, find a local market and wander around a bit. It may never replace your supermarket (I know I’m never going to laser off my “I [heart] Wegmans” tattoo, that’s for sure,) but you could do worse than spending a few hours outside with food and like-minded people. -Jeb Gavin

 

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InCaseYouCantMakeIt

I love the idea of farmers’ markets. Supporting local businesses, eating better, getting outside early on the weekend, it’s all great in theory. The problem is I am not an early riser. It’s easy to wake up at 7am on a weekend, it’s difficult to leave the house before 10am on a weekend. I still want to support local businesses and eat better and get outside, I just don’t want to do it on the same schedule I keep on weekedays. For the last 18 months, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of farmers’ market without having to actually go to the farmers’ market. The fine folks at Washington’s Green Grocer will deliver the same goods you’ll purchase at your favorite weekend stop but not on the weekend! My Friday delivery means I feel no guilt about sleeping like an adult on the weekend. We asked Washington’s Green Grocer Zeke Zechiel for his Top 5 reasons you should consider Green Grocer. You really should consider it. -Brandon Wetherbee

TopFiveReasons

1. You get to sleep in on Saturdays…and still get all the best locally grown and produced, fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, bread, meat, flowers, grains, fermented products, cakes, cookies, quiches, soups, salads pizza dough and more!

2. You still get to support all the same local farmers and producers. We’ve been supporting them for all of our 20 years.
3. We come to you, delivery is free, and the absolute best customer service is our promise to you, 24/7. (I will vouch for this. I live in an apartment and one week our box went to an unfriendly, horrible, stealing neighbor. We had a new box delivered, free of charge, later that afternoon. -BW)
4. We deliver 52 weeks a year, even our local-only box.
5. We support great local causes; Fisher House, Arcadia Center for Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Surfer’s Healing, DC Central Kitchen, Capitol Area Food Bank to name a few,  and just about every local PTA in the metro area!

DCArea

Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market

Dupont Circle, 1500 20th Street NW

Sundays, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.; April-December

  • Great for the foodie and the person that happens to need food and could care less about preparing something at home. The quite large Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market features the mandatory fresh fruits and vegetables as well as locally made everything. Want some jerky? You’re covered. Want some vegan yogurt? Done. Want some breads that make you fat and happy? Obviously. The hours are helpful for those that believe Sunday is for lounging, not rushing somewhere to get a deal on greens. -Brandon Wetherbee

14th and Kennedy Street Farmers’ Market

14th and Kennedy streets NW

Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. ; April 2 – November 19

Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market

Penn Quarter, 8th St. NW between D St. & E St.

Thursdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; April 7 – December 17

FRESHFARM Market by the White House

810 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20571

Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; April 7 – November 17

Foggy Bottom FRESHFARM Market

I Street Mall walkway, Between 23rd and 24th st. NW

Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., April 6 to November 23

  • This farmers market is located in a courtyard/walkway between GWU’s campus and a cute neighborhood of pastel colored townhouses.  Convenience is key as it’s literally right next to the metro and a walk from Georgetown and the National Mall. It’s smaller, about 10 vendors, but definitely worth the trip. If you don’t cross off everything on your grocery list, there’s a Whole Foods across the street. A person very dear to me bought me apple butter from this farmers market as a darling surprise gift. Let’s just say I ate apple butter on everything for the next month—a must-buy. -Morgan Day

Brookland Monroe Street Farmers’ Market

Arts Walk at Monroe St. Market

Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; opening mid April

  • Just behind the Red Line’s Brookland/Catholic University Metro station and the giant BROOKLAND signage on the outer eastern wall of the Monroe Street Condominiums is the best once-weekly sign that NE DC’s Brookland community is on the rise. The Community Foodworks-managed Historic Brookland Farmers Market (which has recently changed it’s name) occurs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Monroe Street Arts Walk, and in an enclave that’s for some *just* not walkable enough to reach big-box grocers and department stores, it serves as a sustainable place for shopping for affordable and locally-sourced produce, coffee, baked goods and other items.
    Brookland’s rise as a redeveloping community-to-watch has been well-chronicled. However, like as in Mount Pleasant or Dupont (sites of two very popular D.C. Farmer’s Markets), the market is the best place to see the community’s social and cultural diversity, as well as grab items from the likes of personal favorites including all of the crafters renting space at the Monroe Street Arts Walk, Zeke’s Coffee, Dress it Up Dressing (salad dressing, that is), Pleitez Produce, Chelsea Farms, Upper Crust Artisanal Bakery, Ruben’s Crepes, DC Dills and more. The proximity to Brookland Pint and &pizza? Well, that’s just the cherry-on-top for the experience. – Marcus Dowling

H Street FRESHFARM Market

625 H Street NE

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; April 16 – December 17.

  • Choosing H Street as a favorite farmers market feels like cheating due to my own proximity, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s one of the city’s best. Small but mighty, H Street FRESHFARM Market is home to one to two blocks of fresh produce from all over the DMV area as well as local vendors. Look for homemade preserves, bottled sauces, handmade cheese and organic meats, not to mention some great sidewalk fare. (Frenchie’s for instance, is a go-to stand for some perfect Saturday morning croissants if you can get to them before they’re all gone.) Sit tight and keep scrolling–at the bottom of our piece you can read all about our trip to the market with Toki Underground’s Erik Bruner-Yang. -Stephanie Breijo

Columbia Heights Farmers’ Market

Civic Plaza, 14 St. & Park Rd NW

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; opening April 18

  • If you want your Farmers’ Market to be as crowded as humanly possible, this market is for you! -Brandon Wetherbee

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Rose Park Farmers Market

26th and O St. NW

Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; April 20 – October 26

Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market

102 R ST NW, Between N. 1st St & N. Florida Ave in Bloomingdale

Sundays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; May 1 – November 20

  • Though small in size, Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market is my go-to lazy Sunday stop for all the fresh dairy, meat, baked goods, and fresh produce you could possibly fit in your fridge.  The market is conveniently located blocks away from my humble abode and comes complete with an awesome info booth where you can bug vendors for free recipe printouts and seasonal cooking demos. You’ll find me here on Sundays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m..  I’ll be in PJs. —Rachel Cumberbatch

CityCenterDC FRESHFARM Market

I Street NW (between 10th and 11th Streets)

Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; May 3 – October 25

Shaw Farmers Market

N925 Rhode Island Ave. NW

Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; May 8 – October 30

Capital Harvest on the Plaza

Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 13 st. & Pennsylvania Ave NW

Fridays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; opening date May 15

Southwest DC Farmers Market

425 M Street SW across form the Waterfront Metro Station

Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2p.m.; May 28 – November 19

University of the District of Columbia Farmers Market

4340 Connecticut Ave. NW
UDC Law School building

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.; May 28 – November 26

Eastern Market Farmers’ Market

225 7th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

Weekend outdoor market Saturday and Sunday, “Fresh Tuesdays” Farmers Market every Tuesday 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; year round, South Hall Market open Tuesday through Sunday

  • The Eastern Market farmer’s market is a no brainer because it’s also a flea market and a street market and a covered market and surrounded by restaurants and coffee shops and cool little bookstores. Vendors line 7th St SE in Capitol Hill selling flowers, succulents, a ton of different fruits and vegetables, gourds, dairy products, art, jewelry, soap, etc. Pretty much everything you could ask of a farmer’s market. Since it’s so huge and the street is blocked off, crowds are relatively minimal; like, it’s bustling but not to the point of frustration. The indoor market does get pretty tight for space, but it’s worth rubbing shoulders for a glimpse of all the cool stuff they sell. A warning: the spicy shrimp ceviche is labeled “Spicy” for a reason. Proceed at your own risk. There are also a handful of food vendors parked in the surrounding area if you want to grab something portable to eat on the go. Parking isn’t too difficult to find in the surrounding neighborhoods, but it’s got its own Metro stop about a block away. Bonus- whereas most farmer’s markets are a Saturday-closed-before-I-even-think-about-waking-up thing, the outdoor farmer’s market at Eastern Market is open Saturday and Sunday into the early evening. -Melissa Groth

Twin Springs Maret School Market

3000 Cathedral Ave. NW

Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; year round

 

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Petworth Community Market

Upshur & 9th St. NW at Georgia Ave.

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., May – November

Minnesota Avenue Farmers Market

3924 Minnesota Ave NE in parking lost of Unity Health Care

Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.; June 1 – November 23

USDA Farmers’ Market

12th Street & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20050

Fridays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., May 6 – October 30

Fridays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. (June 3 through September 30)

Glover Park-Burleith Farmers Market

Hardy Middle School parking lot, 1819 35th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., May 7 – November 26

Mount Vernon Triangle FRESHFARM Market

Fifth and K St. NW

Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; May 7 – October 29

DC Open-Air Farmers Market @ RFK Stadium

Benning Rd. and Oklahoma Ave. NE

Thursdays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.; year round

Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market

3210 Mount Pleasant St. NW

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Super small and super cute. If D.C. were to get a Portlandia, at least one main character would work here. The selection isn’t very large due to the small size of the market, but there always seems to be a banjo and acoustic guitar duo making stereotypes come true. -Brandon Wetherbee

14th and U Street Farmers’ Market

Next to the Reeves Center, 14th St. and U St. NW

Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Aside from the fact that this neighborhood has a string of incredible breakfast-brunch-lunch joints to enjoy pre- or post- farmers market shopping, the selection at this market is pretty top notch, too. I’m very partial to the fruit vendors, who have some of the best, most ripe mango around. I’ve definitely been known to buy plastic bagfuls of sliced mango and drag it around with me for hours while I peruse the cut flowers. -Morgan Baskin

Broad Branch Farmers’ Market

Lafayette Elementary School, Corner of Broad Branch Rd & N. Northampton St. NW

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Union Market

8th St. NW

Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday to Sunday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; year round

  • If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop head to Union Market, Northeast’s shining beacon of commerce. Looking for cheese? Check out Righteous Cheese or Trickling Springs where you’ll also find butter, eggs, milk, yogurt and ice cream by the scoop, pint or gallon. Red Apron Butcher serves up gourmet sandwiches, deli meat, sides, beer, wine, and cocktails on tap, and Rappahannock River Oysters shells out a full-service raw bar and restaurant. Stop by Peregrine for some flavorful and sustainably-minded coffee and then be sure to visit Neopol the next stand over and order the smoked salmon BLT on rye. Just do it. Make the rounds to Salt & Sundry for some gifting and home goods, whether it’s for yourself or someone other, and sip on one of Buffalo & Bergen’s egg creams for a taste of summer. -Stephanie Breijo
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Adams Morgan Farmers’ Market

Columbia Road and 18 St. NW

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

  • The market is very small but entertaining. If you’re not really looking for anything in particular but might like some flowers, why not stroll over? Occasionally there’s a performance that is confusing. A few weeks ago 10 individuals between 25 and 65 were doing a choreographed dance that included 2x4s. I learned nothing but it looked neat. -Brandon Wetherbee

New Morning Farmers Market

13th and E St. SE

Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; June – October

Ward 8 Farmers’ Market

THEARC at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; 2015 opening date TBA

Chevy Chase/Broad Branch Farmers Market

5625 Connecticut Ave. NW

Chevy Chase Community Center

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; year round

Orchard Country Produce Farm Stand at National Geographic

1145 17th St NW (National Geographic)

Tuesdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.; May 3 – December 20

Rhode Island Row Farmers Market

2300 Washington Pl. NE

Thursdays, 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; May 5 – November 17

Palisades Farmers’ Market

48th Pl NW & MacArthur Blvd, Washington, DC 20016

Sundays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., year round

 

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Branch Avenue in Bloom Farmers Market

3737 Branch Ave., Temple Hills

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; April 25 – November 21

Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market

Ellsworth Dr., Between Fenton St. and Georgia Ave.

Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. January – March, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. April – December

  • If you want to experience Silver Spring as a proper city, go on a farmer’s market Saturday. Saturday mornings are a perfect scene of fresh produce, restaurants opening up their patios, and there are always a few performers or bands rotating throughout the day. It also seems to attract the best/most ridiculous looking dogs. The highlights of this market include their knack for being on top of popular seasonal items, like ramps, quality fruits presented in the shapes of animals from Three Springs Fruit Farm and incredible goat cheese from Peachy Family Dairy. The whole market ends up smelling like heaven thanks to Talking Breads, a baking company from Perry County, PA. This market fills up fast but Silver Spring’s got a lot of space for it. Get there early to avoid the stroller crowd. -Farrah Skeiky

College Park Downtown Farmers Market

4500 Knox Rd, College Park

Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; April 24 – November 20

Olney Farmers and Artist Market

MedStar Hospital Thrift Shop Grounds, Rt 108 & Prince Phillip Dr.

Sundays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; May 1 – November 8

Annapolis FRESHFARM Market

Donner Parking Lot, Compromise St., Annapolis, MD 21405

Sundays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Opens May 1

National Harbor Farmers Market

American Way

Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; May – October

Potomac Village Farmers Market

Potomac United Methodist Church Parking Lot, 9808 S. Glen Rd., Potomac, MD

Thursdays, 2 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.; May – November

Rockville Farmers Market

Rockville Town Center, Corner of Route 28 and Monroe Street

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., May 14 – November 19

Anne Arundel County Farmers’ Market

Riva Rd. and Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis

Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 12 p.m. Sundays, 7 .m. – 1 p.m.; May 24 – September 27

Bowie Farmers Market

15200 Annapolis Rd., Annapolis

Bowie High School parking lot

Sundays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; May 15 – October 30

Cheverly Community Market

6401 Forest Rd., Cheverly

Cheverly Community Center

Every other Saturday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Takoma Park Farmers Market

Laurel Ave, Takoma Park, MD

Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; year round

  • Takoma Park is known as being the crunchiest neighborhood in town, and its farmers market lives up to its reputation. From local eggs to a local musician to a local guy who makes fresh empanadas, this Farmer’s Market has everything. Highlights include visits from food trucks, street performers, an annual apple pie contest, and best of all, all summer long a local winery serves wine at the Market. Because let’s be honest: everything, even visiting a Farmers’ Market, is better with booze. -Priya Konings

Bethesda Central Farm Market

7600 Arlington Blvd, MD

Sundays, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., year round

Bethesda Farm Women’s Market

7155 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda

Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Year round

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City of Falls Church Farmers Market

30 Park Ave, Falls Church, VA

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. April – December; 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.  January – March

Crystal City FRESHFARM Market

Between 18 St and 20 St in Crystal City, VA

Tuesdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; April 5 – November 22

Clarendon Farmers Market

Wilson Blvd. and North Highland St., Arlington

Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; April – December

Ballston FRESHFARM Market

Welburn Square, 901 N Taylor St, Arlington, VA 22203

Thursdays, 3 p.m – 7 p.m., April 14 -October 27

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Del Ray Farmers’ Market

East Oxford and Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; year round

4557 Old Tavern Rd., The Plains, Virginia

Sundays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; April 24 – November 13

Annandale Farmers’ Market

6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA

Thursdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; May 5 – November 10

Reston Farmers Market

1609 Washington Plaza N Lake Anne Village Center

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; May – November

McLean Farmers Market

1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA

Fridays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.;  May 6 – November 18

McCutcheon/Mount Vernon Farmers Market

2501 Sherwood Ln. Alexandria VA, 22306

Sherwood Library

Wednesdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; May 4 – Dec 14

Vienna Farmers Market

301 Center Street South, Vienna, VA 22180

Faith Baptist Church Parking lot

Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.; May 7 – October 29

  • Often swarming with locals and their tiny children on Saturday mornings, the Vienna Farmers Market provides such a wide variety of foods and flowers. An awesome beautiful small-town feel with friendly vendors, this Farmers Market is assured to satisfy all your Farmers Market needs. 10/10 would recommend the kettle corn, and even just getting up to walk around and see what’s for sale on Saturday mornings is worth the trip. – Mackenzie Bailey

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Arlington Farmers Market

Intersection of N. Courthouse Rd. and N. 14 St.

8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market

Market Square, 301 King St.

Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.; year round

  • When I lived in Alexandria I would go to the King Street farmer’s market every Saturday. Occasionally I’d make it there before 9am when it got super hectic and packed with strollers and kids on leashes, but mostly I’d walk over around 10:30 or 11 when it was pretty much chaos. I approached this market strategically because I knew it’d be crazy, and that strategy was to get in, buy flowers, get out, go to Trader Joe’s (I’m not good in high stress environments). There are two flower vendors at the King Street market. One caters to the hoity toity calla lily hyacinth peonie spend-40-dollars-on-five-flowers crowd; the other, the one I go for, is a bit more reasonable, and run by three good ol’ boys from the country. I regret that I only learned one of their names, and that was because he had it tattooed on his arm. Randy. What a guy. He said it was in case he ever gets too drunk and forgets it. Anyway, they’re charming fellas and they’ve got a huge selection of gorgeous flowers in $5-$15 bouquets. Every week they’ll have something different mixed in. One week it’s Asclepias, or colloquially “monkey balls.” Their stall is right on the corner of the market so I never had to actually go into all the craziness that is an Alexandria farmer’s market, but if you love a challenge, this is the market for you. When I did venture into the center of the market, I was mowed down by a lady with a stroller. It was absolutely intentional. You’ve gotta want that loaf of fresh baked sourdough real bad. This is a high stakes market; this is not a market for browsing. Know what you want, plan your attack, execute fast-paced organic goody grab, and get out. Say hi to Randy for me. -Melissa Groth

 

Tips

1. Get there when it opens— If a farmers market is popular, you’re definitely going to want to get there early to beat the crowd. You’ll also have first choice of the products, early bird catches the worm my friends.

2. OR when it closes— for a deal! A lot of vendors want to get rid of the food they brought and are willing to lower their prices at the end of the day.  There’s the possibility you won’t be able to get everything you need, but hey risk it for the biscuit! (okay we’ll stop now)

3. Watch the crowd— if the crowd is swarming one vendor then they probably have an awesome product. Pay attention the avid farmers market goers (typically clad in clogs, light wash jeans, and a farmers market specific bag)— follow them. Stalk them, buy what they buy, no shame here.

4. Talk with the vendors— Being friends with the vendors has a number of benefits.  First, they definitely play favorites so you’ll inevitably get the best bread or beans, and when you sample their new products they won’t be shy with portions. The vendors are also generally pretty cool people with killer knowledge on produce. Win-win. -Avalon Jones

ProduceShopping

This piece originally ran in our 2013 Fall/Winter Food guide. Though the crops have changed, it’s a sneak peek into what a weekend trip to an outdoor market is like for one of D.C.’s top chefs. Here are some tips, and a recipe, from the founder and backbone of Toki Underground.

While perusing your area farmers’ market might seem like a perfect weekend pastime in spring and summer, don’t let the cooler months fool you–seasonal fruits and vegetables picked fresh can yield the most delectable and hearty produce to fill you in fall and winter. We caught up with Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground and  Maketto for a walk through the H Street Freshfarm Market and talked his favorite fall/winter produce, his favorite cold-weather recipes and the importance of shopping local.

“It’s nice to have a relationship with where the food is coming from,” Bruner-Yang tells me. “This particular farmers’ market is right in front of my house. It would feel weird walking right in front of it and not cooking with food that’s right there.” The food he’ll usually hand-select often stems from Richfield Farm, a family-owned Maryland operation that supplies much of Toki’s produce every Saturday. As of now, he notes, they’re getting good greens, specifically bok choy. After the weekend’s vegetables are sold out, the restaurant tries to shop from agricultural commodities. “We don’t have a walk-in at Toki so we have to get everything every day.”
Fall Winter Food Guide DC Toki Underground Maketto Photos Erik Bruner Yang Brightest Young Things2

“You get a lot of root vegetables,” Bruner-Yang says eyeing a crate of sweet potatoes. “But it’s tough [to predict] because over the last year the seasons have been so inconsistent.” He inspects the box, cracks one open and takes a bite. What are you looking for? “To see if they have any flavor.” And do they? He  shrugs. “A little.” This particular batch, the chef tells me, is a bit early. When they’re at their prime you’ll find them at Toki as a special, perhaps baked and grilled, topped with soy miso butter–a traditional street snack by temples in Asia. You might also see them at Maketto, served in a curry soup. When cooking at home, Bruner-Yang recommends using the smaller, thinner potatoes in a hash.

We walk past multiple varieties of eggplant, some large and deeply purple, others thin and light with spindly green stocks. ”They’re super essential to Asian cooking,” the chef says. “We don’t use them a lot at Toki but we use them a lot at Maketto in papaya salad, on the dim sum carts, or as sauce thickeners.” When it comes to choosing a variety, Bruner-Yang notes that the regular, dark purple household variety are the best choice for baking. White eggplant, much smaller in size, is better in simple dishes that highlight the body and flavor of eggplant. Lastly, the fingerling eggplant–small and thin yet plump–are the best for sauces because they break down and absorb the flavor.

Fall Winter Food Guide DC Toki Underground Maketto Photos Erik Bruner Yang Brightest Young Things1

The woman from Richfield Farm recognizes Bruner-Yang instantly. “How’s your niece? She likin’ married life?” The young chef makes conversation and laughs with the local vendors. “Do you want some flowers? Here, take some flowers.” Bruner-Yang offers to pay, but she refuses. “You can get me next time.” From behind the counter, she pulls a large box of  yellow wax beans: another standard Toki purchase toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. “These are cranberry beans,” he tells me. “You can eat them like edamame. When we do it at Toki we’ll put kimchi on top of it.” (See Bruner-Yang’s recipe below.)

And what’s his secret to choosing perfect produce? “Smell. It’s always smell,” he says. “You want it to smell like the vegetable and feel like one. Also put your fingers to use to test the texture.”

For those far from H Street, Bruner-Yang recommends the farmers’ market at 14th Street and U, conveniently located across from Hanoi House–Maketto’s pop-up home. ”It’d be nice to have that farmers’ market inside of Maketto so it could be year-round,” he mentions and adds with a wry smile, “That might not be too far off in the future.”

Grilled Yellow Wax Bean “Edamame” Recipe
Local yellow wax beans
16 oz. store bought kimchi or homemade 
4 oz. gojuchang

1) Puree kimchi and gojuchang together until smooth.
2) GPlace wax beans on an open grill for 5 – 8 minutes. When a light char and blister on the skin develops, remove from heat.
3) Top beans with kimchi puree.
4) Garnish with fresh lemon wedge and sprinkle with a nice finishing salt.

Fall Winter Food Guide DC Toki Underground Maketto Photos Erik Bruner Yang Brightest Young Things4Fall Winter Food Guide DC Toki Underground Maketto Photos Erik Bruner Yang Brightest Young Things3

Have any favorite markets we forgot? Let us know in the comments!
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