MT. Pleasant, U Street Markets Back, Bigger and Better (By Charles)

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I love markets. I can’t remember my friends’ kids’ names but I can remember that market day is Wednesday in Santa Cruz, Saturday in Portland (Oregon), Saturday in Uzès, France – Wednesday for the local/organic market – Thursday in Penn Quarter and Sunday in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. So Saturday was a red-letter day for me, with two markets selling for the first time this year, both having grown significantly during their fallow season.

The Mt. Pleasant market is right around the corner from my house and its opening was like an old friend coming back from vacation looking better than ever. It’s also the one thing we have that’s better than what Columbia Heights has, so it’s especially nice to see it prosper. The ex-hipster family pack was checking out new addition Atwater Bakery — which sells the best sourdough East of East Bay and the best rye south of the Lower East Side, among many other offerings — while the kids ran rampant around the edge of the park. Other new arrivals attracting attention among the shopping-bag-and-stroller set were Groff’s Content Farm grass-fed lamb and beef, and pastured pork; ethical veal from Painted Hand; and Cherry Glen goat cheese (excellent stuff).

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Just a couple of years ago, Mt. Pleasant was the Little Market that Could, now it’s great to see it hitting stride in a big way. And, don’t forget: strawberry season is coming.

Down at the corner of 14th and U, where strollers are rare and everyone seems a little hung-over, they’re still in the Little Market that Could phase, but they’re growing, too. Big new additions: The Copper Pot, where impressively-résuméd (Maestro is all you need to know) Stefano Frigero is selling prepared pastas and brutally elitist prepared sauces (roasted shallots and Barolo) and jams (concord grape with grappa); and equally impressively-résuméd Loic Feillet (Citronelle, CityZen) is churning out fresh bread for Panorama – his loaves are a little lighter and a bit more nuanced than Atwater, it all depends on your mood. Try the rustique.

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Besides the food – and, in addition to the food tasting great, you start noticing that you’re eating the same stuff swank restaurants are bragging about on their menus — the best thing about the markets is getting to know your farmers. They always actually give a shit about what they do, and they love to talk about it and, before you know it, instead of buying from Truck Patch or Tree and Leaf, you’re buying from Bryan or from Zach and Georgia and they’re telling you what’s good and what’s coming in next week and saving you something special because you have a big dinner coming up. And, if you have any questions, Market Managers Rebbie Higgins at Mt. Pleasant (nine feet tall, fuschia hair) and Robin Schuster (not so tall, floppy hats) are indeed mistresses of their domains and know everything you need to know.

Remember – protest marches are fun, but farmer’s markets are the tastiest way to save the earth.

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