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To Market, to Market: Sundays in Fairfax City

Orange zucchini from Jose's Produce; alfajores and empanadas from Gloria Mabel Rilloz and Laura Dalmasso, partners of Mabelle Dalmasso Catering; cheeses from Spring Gap Mountain Creamery. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Just when I thought I'd seen about all of the produce vendors in rotation at Washington area farmers markets, I stepped onto the hot gravel of the Community Farmers Market in Fairfax City and found surprises.

Brenda Snyder runs the city's Saturday and Sunday markets, located near each other and both sponsored by the Downtown Fairfax Coalition. Sunday's later hours give customers a chance to get things done or sleep in. About 18 vendors are signed up.

This is the Sunday market's second year. It almost has the feel of a modern country bazaar, with accompaniment from young blues/country/rock guitarist Ryan Jacobson; warm empanadas and grilled Argentine sausage; freshly made cheeses; handmade soaps, linens and jewelry; baked goods; a mini gallery of oil paintings; imported products from a local Greek family's olive groves near Sparta; and even a massage chair with an expert from Fairfax Massage Associates ready to get the knots out for $1 per minute.

Highlights in the food finds dept.: A deal on peaches from Tysons Farm in Martinsburg that would make any Washington canner's heart skip a beat: 25 pounds for $9. Redhaven yellow peaches were sweet as can be, at $1.99 per pound.

Miltomatoes or mini tomatillos. (Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

The Valdez Brothers of Westmoreland County sell pints of tiny tomatillos for $2 a pint. Friend of Food Pati Jinich tells me they're just called miltomates and used in salsas with various chili peppers. I husked them to reveal their pale green and purple skins, gave 'em the olive oil drizzle-sea salt sprinkle routine and treated them to a 400-degree oven. A few minutes later, what I thought were the muffled pops of the pilot light going on and off were the tomatillos bursting and splattering against the oven walls. The little ones seem to contain more seeds/soft interiors than their big cousins. (And that oven needed cleaning, anyway.)

Jose's Produce of Warsaw County has five or six kinds of heirloom tomatoes displayed shoulders down for $2 per pound; bicolor corn, three for $1; dreamy French cantaloupes for $2 each; and smooth-skinned, bright-orange zucchini for $1.50 per pound. As advertised, it tastes sweeter than green zucchini.

Jurgen Shelzig and Penny Sagawa, partners of Spring Gap Mountain Creamery began selling their cheeses in April. The former trade association office workers have about 300 pounds of cheese ripening each week in Paw Paw, W.Va. They have beef cattle grazing on their land and buy their milk from Hedgebrook Farm in Winchester, which operates the last glass-tube milking machine in Virginia. SGMC's blue cheese ($19.99 per pound) is beautiful, boldly flavored and quite popular.

Their market neighbor Mabelle Dalmasso Catering of Reston is a mere 4 months old. Partners Gloria Mabel Rilloz and Laura Dalmasso grind beef and pork for their own Argentine sausage ($7.99), which is sold grilled at the market; their baked empanadas come in five flavors, including corn and onions in a bechamel sauce and spinach and tuna ($1.99 to $2.49 each; two with a soda, $4.99); and pastries, including alfajores (cookies) with dulce de leche filling ($1.49 each).

Omiros Giannakos is on duty at the Greek Super Foods stand, selling his family's Dmitri Olive Farms oil (liter, $20; 250 ml, $7) and jars of olives flavored with orange zest ($8). From what I can tell, prices are a bit better than what's listed on the company Web site. The goods come from a 100-year-old farm near Sparta in Greece (obviously, looser local-producer rules apply here). The extra-virgin oil is cold-pressed and tastes green and luscious.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

Community Farmers Market, Fairfax City, Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Oct. 31, in the George Mason Square parking lot across from the City of Fairfax Public Library.

By The Food Section  |  July 22, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie S. Benwick, To Market  
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Very timely! My wife and I drove by there last weekend and it looked like someone just setup an impromptu market. Good to know that it is regular and organized. I love the Burke Center farmer's market on Saturday, but really look forward to this type of novel fare.

Posted by: TheOneWhoHurtsMost | July 22, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Have you been to the West End farmer's market in Alexandria on Sundays? Lots of great stuff. We get fruit and vegetables every weekend, and a few weeks ago got some bison from a farm in Culpeper that was lovely.

from City website:

West End Farmers' Market
Ben Brenman Park
4800 Brenman Park Dr.
Sundays, May 2 – November 21, 2010
(Market closed August 21)
9 am – 1 pm

Sunday mornings, from May to November, the West End Farmers Market vendors set up their colorful displays in the south parking lot of Ben Brenman Park. This outdoor market is one of a kind in the city’s west end. Multiple vendors lay out colorful displays of fresh, locally grown, in-season vegetables as well as sweet juicy berries, apples, pears, and seasonal peaches. A visitor can indulge in gourmet coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, fresh-baked pastries, and sample one of Tommy T’s delicious gourmet cheeses and yoghurts, while picking up a variety of fresh breads for the week. The first Sunday of each month features local artists and crafters. The Market is located at the end of Somervelle St. For additional information, call 703.746.4343.

Posted by: egengle | July 23, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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