You may have noticed that I've kind of stopped going out to eat.
You see, I've fallen in love with my little Sunday morning ritual. Wake up at 8:00, make coffee, fry an egg. Check the Post. Grab my canvas tote bag, and then stroll the five blocks down to the north side of Dupont Circle to do my shopping for the week at my lively, friendly and colorful farmers' market.
My grandparents, who live in Oregon and grow nearly all their own produce, were surprised to hear that DC even has a farmers' market. In fact, there are a whole bunch of them to choose from, to suit your schedule and neighborhood. They had an idea that DC was a cruel concrete jungle, when in fact, just a short distance out in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania there are sustainable and organic farms aplenty. They come into the District to sell their bounty and everything looks, smells and tastes so good, I may never go out to eat again.
There is the stand where I buy my basil, which is so fragrant that you can smell it from two feet away. The guys at the stand are used to seeing me there, and we chat about what I made in the last week with their basil (ice cream), their garlic scapes (pesto), their escarole (this salad). When I told them about the incredible basil ice cream I'd churned, they told me that if I bring them some in the future, they will barter with me for more fresh herbs.
There is the stand that sells the freshest, juiciest and brightest red tomatoes, still on the vine, and we chat about pickling techniques.
There is the stand where I buy any kind of salad greens imaginable -- arugula, spinach, a mescalin mix with brightly colored edible flowers sprinkled throughout. They sell dark red beets as big as your fist, and spearmint that makes the most extraordinary mint chip ice cream (buy this book. Do it now). They also sell four colors of radish -- red, purple, pink, and a half red-half white variety --which, along with the fresh local feta from the cheese stand, prompted me to eat this salad for an entire week earlier in the season. (I adore Molly's simple, seasonal recipes over at Orangette, if you couldn't already tell).
The women all speak French at the stand that sells croissants and fresh baguettes, and there is another bread stand that sells a variety of whole grain breads, with flax seeds or sunflower seeds, walnuts or olives, whole wheat country boules. I am partial to the flax seed loaf, which is a little sour and full of flax, sunflower and poppy seeds.
There is fresh dairy and local meats. Your choice of lamb, pork, beef or chickens, all raised organically and sustainably. The Boyfriend and I feasted on sweet Italian sausages one week, with a side of organic broccoli. There is a seafood stand selling live soft shell crabs, and last week there was a live eel for sale, named "Buddy." The sign said he bites. (I passed on the eel.)
The hot item the past couple weeks have been the local cherries, which I buy and then can't help but start eating on my walk home, spitting the pits out in the gutter on Q Street. And then there is the ritual of coming home, putting everything away, perusing cookbooks for recipes to make during the week to use whatever strange or familiar vegetables I've brought back. Preparing an ice cream base if I've bought something sweet. Readying the jars if I plan on doing any canning. And making a big farmers' market salad with whatever I bought that day, eating food that was growing in the ground only a few hours before.
So that's where the restaurant reviews have disappeared to. Can you blame me?