Locavores rejoice — from the Virginia Piedmont’s cheeses and hams to Chesapeake Bay crabs and rockfish, D.C. is one of the country’s best locations for locally sourced food.
With the season’s first asparagus, ramps and morel mushrooms hitting farmers’ markets, Washington is transforming into a months-long sweet spot for regional noshes. Seasonal ingredients are great for entertaining — the morels from the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market (arguably the area’s best) are prime for stuffing with lamb sausage and oven-roasting them for gorgeous appetizers — and even better for dining out with dishes such as the pasta with fresh ramps (wild leeks with a harvest of only a few weeks) found at Komi. It’s no wonder then the James Beard Foundation named chef Johnny Monis the best in the Mid-Atlantic.
From the new breed of urban chic local grocers comes Glen’s Garden Market, the D.C. region’s first all-local grocery store. Opened last month by Danielle Vogel, daughter of the Food Emporium co-founder for which the business is named, the market is ideal for picking up local produce such as fresh asparagus, arugula and strawberries for a picnic. Glen’s also stocks terrific cheeses and charcuterie and has a small café with local-ingredients-only dishes and take-home dinners by chef Sean Sullivan such as roasted chickens with Jerusalem artichokes and stuffed pork loin (from pigs raised by Bev Eggelston, in high demand all along the east coast).
Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the nearly year-old Union Market specializes in local varieties from the Chesapeake Bay, served in one of the city’s best casual date-night venues. Snag a stool at the crowded bar for terrific people watching and to marvel at the shuckers preparing hundreds of oysters every night. Slurp down as many as you can with a local craft beer such as Chocolate City’s Copper Ale, DC Brau’s The Citizen and Rappahannock’s own Oyster Stout (in collaboration with Flying Dog Brewery); this century-old company sources some of the best shellfish in town.
Photos courtesy of FRESH FARM Markets and EDENS