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To Market, To Market: Come to the Crossroads

Deals at Crossroads Farmers Market: green tomatoes for $2 a pound; French breakfast radishes for $2 a bunch; pupusas for $1.50 each. (photos by Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

Big smiles all ‘round at yesterday’s first Crossroads Farmers Market of the season. It’s way out New Hampshire Avenue on Holton Lane, situated between Takoma Park and Langley Park, from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays until Oct. 28. (There’s free parking at the Aldi grocery store nearby.) The market has a well-deserved reputation for its international vendors, producers and clientele.

Reasons for the happy:

• The word’s getting out. Within the first hour, the market had served more customers than it did the entire first day of its second season in 2008. And more folks kept coming. A big thumbs up for the guy twirling a big “Crossroads Market” sign on the main road.

• Shoppers have flexible buying power. They can use food stamps, WIC and Seniors farmers markets coupons – plus they can receive $10 in matching food assistance on their initial visit and up to $5 on subsequent visits.

• Conga drumming and Bolivian music fill the air. It gives the market a street-festival quality; organizers have acts lined up for just about every market day.

• Free buses serve the market with several pickup/dropoff points, intended to help senior citizens, along Maple and Carroll avenues. It is generously underwritten by the City of Takoma Park and the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority.

• Vendors sell an interesting mix of produce and prepared food: European and Latino baked goods from Stone Hearth Bakery in Frederick and Panaderia Chapina in Hyattsville, respectively; pupusas softly singing on a flattop grill, made expertly by La Jireh, a restaurant in Silver Spring; lean beef bulgogi from Koh’s Korean cart; green tomatoes and lots of serrano and jalapeño peppers from J&W Valley View Farm in Montross, Va., and tender French breakfast radishes from Sligo Creek Farm, a new small CSA (community-supported agriculture) grower with plots near Bowie and Olney (certified organic at the Olney location).

Lean beef bulgogi ($7), from Koh's cart.

Don’t expect all the vendors to have business cards or Web sites, but do come for good deals and a good time. Faced with a rush-hour slog back toward town, I just had to try the bulgogi ($7), buy orange-pecan scones ($1.50 each) and sample a well-made cheese-and-bean pupusa ($1.50). For me, the cultural find of the day was elote loco, or crazy corn, made at the pupusa stand. It’s carnival food, one Salvadoran woman told me: An ear of cooked corn is slathered with mayonnaise, coated in grated white cheese and decorated with squiggles of ketchup ($2).

Neither market manager Michelle Dudley nor assistant Michele Levy, who were sporting some of the day’s biggest grins, had seen crazy corn before. But I bet they’ll try it before the season ends.

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  June 18, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick  
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