I worked the farmer's market in Dupont Circle this past Sunday. Within seconds of stepping off the metro escalator, I was sticky and sweaty, but nonetheless excited to meet up with my friends from Atwater's (my old employer) to work our stand at the market. Lord knows how I made it through the almost 6 hours of working in the heat! (One of the girls working in the stand next to us actually fainted from heat stroke.)
Well, bread is one of those foods that holds up pretty well in hot, sticky weather (it did just come out of a 500 degree oven hours earlier); but chocolate chip pastries were a whole different story... Atwater's is the only vendor at Dupont that sells handmade artisanal breads, cookies, cakes, and our famous scones and granola. And so, no surprise that the lines to buy one of our breakfast pastries or a loaf of rustic sourdough were tortuously long.
Atwater's breads have really made a name for itself, dense and chewy with a crisp crumb and well-developed gluten. We sold hundreds of loaves, maybe even a thousand or more. People, in general, just LOVE BREAD. Especially when they are beckoning golden loaves like these, whispering promises of wheaty, starchy innards, the perfect remedy to that Sunday morning hangover.
One of our bestsellers- sunflower flax seed bread
raisin walnut sourdough, another goodie
One of my all-time go-to's: the San Francisco sourdough, literally the best I've tasted anywhere in the country, as of yet.
We also sold a few types of our pastries and sweets. I set up this table; kind of looks like the display just threw up a ton of sweets, doesn't it... (I was going for the whole cornucopia look)
cookies, granola, scones, pound cake, tea cakes, brownies and streusel bars
These little loaves are Atwater's famous scones- filled with golden raisins, dried cherries, and sometimes currants. They flew out of the case; we were sold out by 10:30am. Proof that people love buttery things.
Of course then, there's the produce at a farmer's market. Summer's colors were just screaming to be taken home, in all sorts of incarnations- succulent peaches, brightly hued berries, firm summer squashes, deep leafy greens still with a hint of frost...
There were vendors who also sold prepared foods, like made to order crabcakes and chilled gazpacho. Also quite a few dairies whose poor cheeses and yogurts were sweating and melting under the heat. But that didn't stop me from sampling... I discovered a delicious handmade sheep's milk cheese called Stony Man from Everona Dairy (Rapidan, VA). It was similar to a Manchego, very dense, buttery and salty, with a surprisingly sweet aftertaste.
the Piedmont cheese with add-ins: cracked black pepper, sun-dried tomato, and a beautifully-layered vegetable ash
Also found these gorgeous, sweet, red onions. The woman who these belonged to (who was quite protective of her purchase, naturally) told me how wonderfully sweet and mild these are. She went on to extol their many virtues; and I seem to have forgotten their name... If anyone knows, please help me out!
Working a farmer's market is completely different from shopping at one. You really get a sense of the commaraderie that connects the vendors and producers, the sense of a shared purpose, and a sweet justification that all your labors and love of the land have really paid off. I went home with an eco-friendly (anything less would have gotten me deathly stares here) sack of goods, some purchased, some traded for loaves of bread: homemade cherry pie, peaches and pluots, a bunch of lemon basil, a jar of local honey, maple yogurt, a loaf of cranberry-pecan sourdough, a quart of chunky gazpacho, fruit and nut granola, and some baby watercress and arugula.
Next stop: the farmer's market at the Ferry Building in SF!