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To Market, to Market: Olney and Garrett Park

Have you tried Hot Pepper Butter? (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

Guess what happens when you venture to farmers markets a little beyond the ones in your comfort zone? Good Things, as Martha would say.

At least that’s my experience. On Saturday I visited the market in Garrett Park; hadn’t been there in a few years. It’s not so big, but it is nestled in a neighborhood of Victorian real estate with stunning gardens. The produce, baked goods and jams are all Pennsylvanian, tallied by smiling Amish maidens.

I found lovely pea shoots that will top a Dinner in Minutes recipe for June 10, my first locally grown asparagus of the season and jars of hot pepper butter (also a first; I’ll report back about best uses for it. Or if you have suggestions, please pass them along).

Good price, right? (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

The strawberries were small and smelled sweet, but not quite there yet in terms of summer glory. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, they earned a 7 on scale of 10. And if I had a place to hang it, I’d have snagged a showy hanging flower basket, priced cheaper than any I’ve seen at other area markets so far this season.

On Sunday, I made it out to the Olney Farmers and Artists Market, which is a low-key version of what goes on at Baltimore’s market under the JFK Expressway. Olney’s only in its second year, yet it has established an easy-going mix of produce, prepared foods, flowers, crafts, family-friendly activities (make a mosaic; very arty) and entertainment.

Debbie Amster demos Asian Spring Rolls. (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

I made a first pass to see what looked good, listened to live music, watched a cooking demo by Olney’s own Debbie Amster, a health counselor. She made fresh Asian Spring Rolls with a dipping sauce; the recipe is on the market’s Web site.

It was too hard to pass up the small bulbs of kohlrabi, in pale green and bright purple (don’t know what to do with it? Try this recipe from caterer Vered Guttman). I followed my nose to the Eat a Little Something caterers’ tent, where omelets and lemonade were being made to order. I slurped down a $3 fajita omelet (chunks of skirt steak, sautéed peppers and onions, cheddar cheese), then bought some snow peas and fennel from Pleitez Produce in Montross, Va., cherry wood smoked tea salt from In a Pinch Fine Spices (Bethesda) and a huge molasses cookie from Cazuela Bakery (Gaithersburg).

Good ingredients made a good Sunday night meal.

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  June 1, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, farmers markets  
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