The title says it all. These are two of my favorite pastimes, tossed in of course with a healthy dose of people watching. And let me tell you, Farmer’s Markets are prime locations for witnessing some of the most interesting people and behavior around. What I love about these bustling pop-ups is their ability to forge together some of the most unlikely combinations of folks for a singular purpose; fresh, homegrown, healthy food. From yuppies, to hippies, and everything in between, the Farmer’s Market has it cornered. These elusive, temporary marketplaces sweep in at the crack of dawn and are gone without a trace by nightfall, moving through as quickly as a delightful summer thunderstorm, leaving us refreshed in their wake. To me they are one of the true delights in life.
Now, living in DC is a special treat for me, as the District is renowned for some of the most elaborate and most recognized Farmer’s Markets in the nation. Perhaps folks are taking Michelle Obama’s lead in her healthy eating initiatives, or perhaps folks are starting to become aware of the amount of pesticides, antibiotics and chemicals that are becoming more prevalent in our food, to name a few. Whatever the case may be, DC has a passion for fresh local food. I have to say, I like that about us! (pats self on back.)
In the first neighborhood I inhabited when I moved to DC, Glover Park (a small community directly bordering the more well known area of Georgetown) I used to frequently walk past the most peaceful, quaint gardening commune. I remember being pleasantly surprised to see this sprawl of shared patches of land, flourishing with fresh fruits and vegetables…dedicated souls constantly tending to the bounty of their gardens. This space always struck me as such a dichotomy. To the left of the street, a lush wooded area framed by delicately managed garden plots, deer running wild and free. To the left, a busy thoroughfare surrounded by high rise buildings, condos, and the towering Russian Embassy holding court over it all. It brought a smile to my face to know that some cities do still hold the environment, and the importance of it’s existence, dear.
On this particular day, Superbowl Sunday, I woke up with a little extra pep in my step. I love Superbowl, and I am usually the one that shops the entire week before, perfecting my menu, slaving in the kitchen. I think I have spent more time on the appetizers and treats for this event than I ever have on any major holiday. It’s just such a happy and informal day with friends! This Superbowl Sunday, I am laying low and have decided to have a party for one…yep…that would be me.
First on the agenda, I wake up super early to get my day started. I love the early morning, particularly in this city. It is a veritable ghost town and it is almost like a mini vacation. So quiet and serene, if only for the smallest window. It is hands down the best time to be awake and outside in the city, no matter the season.
My first stop is Dupont Circle for breakfast at my favorite bagel spot in the city, Bethesda Bagels. As the name suggests, the original store is located on Bethesda Ave in…you guessed it…the heart of Bethesda, MD. I lived in Bethesda right after graduating from college and became addicted to these bagels back then in (eek) 2000. As a transplanted New Yorker, these beauties really do the trick for me. The place is always packed, and although this sleepy town has become a thriving metropolis over the years, the bagels are just as good as they always were. My standbys are everything bagels slathered with either their home-spun cream cheese (YUM) , or a bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted everything flagel (unleavened/flat bagel), depending on how daring I am feeling. It is like heaven wrapped in parchment paper. Unreal. The best part of popping in here early on a cold winter Sunday is that you miss the crowds and can find a seat perched in the foggy windows, warm with condensation from the ovens as the bagels are cooked fresh each morning. The smell is divine and the heat warms your bones, while the bagel sandwich warms your tastebuds.
So, I hop on the D2 bus that picks up right next to my home, and within minutes, I am at the center of the Circle. (I always walk home, but I can’t bear the wait of walking on the way there while I have those tasty bagels in mind.) The best part of the Dupont location is that it is a stone’s throw from the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market.
I can’t stress enough how much I love wandering the wares of any sort of street market. Eastern Market is another fave, but across town, so this one is my go-to. I just love speaking to the farmers and bakers, asking about their products and how they were produced, fed, raised…pretty much any information they are willing to talk about. It is so nice to see the pride that goes into their work…it just sort of makes you feel better about eating it…though, offerings such as this delicious, crusty bread would be easy to eat at any rate.
After plenty of strolling from booth to booth with my friend Tim, the chilly weather began to creep into my bones. As I neared the end of the street, I decided to part ways with my buddy, loop back, and head home…snuggled firmly in my knock-off UGG boots…to my abode in the heart of Georgetown. The streets were still peaceful and the ground was covered in the lightest dusting of snow that was just enough to adorn the bushes and the crown molding atop the majestic mansions and palatial estates lining the back roads leading me home. I like to daydream about what it must be like to have the means to live in one of them.
It truly refreshes your soul to take in the beauty of this city without the distraction of noisy car horns and bustling folks. It makes me remember how lucky I am to live here. I stop in my tracks just before reaching my destination. I let out a reminiscent giggle at the empty bottles of booze lining the steps to my building, which are no doubt remnants of college-aged pregame parties from the night before. I take a deep breath, inhaling the crisp, cold air into my lungs…holding it for a moment. My deep exhale creates a puff of warm air…the kind you used to make as kids to fool your friends into thinking you were smoking a cigarette. This makes me smile.
Back inside the house, my roommate is busy creating her pastry masterpiece for her party later that day. She explains to me that it has become a tradition from her law school days for her former classmates to participate in a healthy competition and arrive with an outrageously cool culinary presentation. If hers isn’t the winner, I will be thoroughly surprised. She spent the best part of her day on a cake resembling the playing field accompanied by tiny football cookies, to which I stared at the final product in awe for at least 15 minutes, scratching my head, asking…”How in the heck did you DO that?!” She wins the prize in my book.
Me…I have no such plans for toil and trouble in the kitchen this year. I put an order in to my favorite local “wingery” Wingos for a buttload (yes, that is a technical measuring term, thank you very much) of crispy, spicy, saucy wings with extra celery, and extra wet naps before settling into a comfy spot on the couch with an icy cold beer. With the game won, a full stomach, and a rested body, I crawl into my warm cozy bed and drift off to sleep. Now that is the perfect Sunday.