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To Market, to Market: Ahoy, National Harbor

Saturday’s cloudless blue sky made my first foray to the National Harbor farmers market especially pleasant. (Yep, my first. You’d think curiosity would have drawn me there sometime during the market’s inaugural season in 2008. Shame on me.) It was easy to get there: I took the SW Freeway to 295 south, then followed the signs about five miles down the road. The market's on a street above steps that lead down to the waterfront's main pier. Plenty of parking (not free).

Producewise, the pickin’s were a bit slim; jewelry/crafts vendors outnumber the folks with farm-fresh food to sell. Last fall, The Post wrote this story that summarized disappointments with the market: lots of regulations, few vendors, dreaded “upscale” description. A destination market such as this ought to offer bargains or deals not easily found elsewhere. At least the market’s 10 a.m.-3 p.m. hours are hospitable. I was told that the weekly patron base is slowly growing. Next week’s Food & Wine Festival should bring hungry hordes (more on that in a minute).

Still, there’s hardly a market in the universe at which I can resist spending $$. I got a nice basket of small, deep-red strawberries and a bag of very fresh mixed greens from Malin Farms; some wicked sweet potato brownies (blondies) from Desserts Etc.; a loaf of chocolate banana bread from Havana Banana Breads (profiled by Beth Chang in the "Making It" column in the Post Sunday Magazine in February); some salty beef jerky from Zekiah Farms, and refreshing peach rooibos iced tea from Tea Co Cafe and Lounge.

Perhaps the old-fashioned country fair contest at this year’s Food & Wine Festival will pump up some community flavor. Celeb judges will consider the originality, visual appeal, taste and texture in four baked-goods categories: cookies, fruit desserts, cupcakes and quick breads/rolls. Recipes must be original. You’ve got until June 1 to enter, and here’s the (PDF alert) form you need to fill out and send in.

The competition will happen over both days, and the grand-prize winner get a trip for two to the Cayman Islands, including airfare and hotel.

My advice: Get out yer gingham and start baking.

P.S. The festival will run from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday (June 6) and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (June 7), and its theme this year is "Think Global. Taste Local." I'll be there on Sunday. Stop by and say hi!

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  May 26, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, farmers markets  
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