My weekend

Well Saturday was the BACA clean up which Caryn over the BACA blog mentions the turnout was low. Well I didn’t help matters by not posting the announcement earlier, though I got it earlier. Also there were supposed to be fliers about it, but of a neighborhood of our size flier distribution takes a while. Yes, it doesn’t seem like it but you never realize how many friggin’ houses are just on one side of the street until you have to place a flier in every single one of those doors. Personally, I don’t care for the stuff the flier in the fence method, as the wind can take those away. I took on the top triangular part of the TC till my bag got ripped. There wasn’t much to do as we have a few neighbors who regularly clean the sidewalks.
Before I picked up my bag I was walking with Brett to 1st & P, where BACA normally starts these things, trying to explain the “Broken Window” theory and why clean ups are important. I’m hoping B. was playing Devil’s advocate when he questioned the effectiveness of a clean up and the ‘broken windows’ theory. Quick summary, trash adds to the perception of crime and disorder.
After the clean up I ran my usual Saturday errands, one being the warehouse area on Florida Ave NE. At US Beef I ran into Ms. Frozen Tropics, Elise, who had a hunk of meat for carnitas. I had a bag full of drumsticks for curry, two pounds of butter, for making ghee, and a frozen boneless lamb. I mentioned that the frozen whole chicken there was rubbery, but the fresh chicken was quite good. Elise mentioned she was going to hit Mexican Fruit next for limes. But there were limes near the register at US Beef and I had already been to Mexican Fruit, whose limes were lackluster that day, so we both picked up bags of lemons and limes. I was going to make marmalade, Elise margaritas. Somewhere in the middle of that a friend of Elise came up with a small tub of tofu from a nearby store. I expressed my confusion with the warehouse area of knowing which stores will sell to you. Apparently there is a tofu place between US Beef and Sam Wang, you go up to the window, you tell the guy you want the white tub, and for $4 you get a small gallonish tub of tofu. Half shopping experience. Half speakeasy.
Sunday, was chicken Sunday. Chicken stock. Chicken Marsala. Chicken Biryani. Buttery Chicken. And chicken curry. Somewhere in there I decided to clean 1/2 of my alley, with some help from a neighbor. The street was busy with open houses. The house that was under contract, is back on the market. Then a new neighbor has decided to move to the west coast and rent out his house so there were people dropping by to check the place out.

A mix of cheap and pricey

Maybe I would make sense to a marketer, or not. I love the Bloomingdale Farmer’s Market (this week’s info at BACA Blog) and I will buy several items from the vendors there, even though they are more expensive than products I’d get at a regular supermarket. However, the quality most of the time is superior to the Giant or Safeway and neither of those places give me the experience of chatting with the producers.
On the other end, I shop at the messy and chaotic Florida Market where I get items from the Mexican Fruit Stand. I complained to my roommate that the avocado I bought there cost me a whole $1. Last week it was 50 cents. It seems that avocados are supposed to be more than $1. I’ve been spoiled. The fruit stand is where I get my onions, garlic, potatoes, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, lemons and limes. I go through a lot of lemons and limes. Sometimes I do spot organic items at the fruit stand, most of the time, not.
Where quality matters I may go with the local and organic items. When I’m probably going to boil the bejeezus out of them or they will get lost in the background of other flavors, I’ll go with the cheaper items. But the way I see it, the cheaper stuff saves me money so I can buy the higher quality items.

Capital Market: Best Restaurant Supply

Best Kitchen Supply/ Best Equipment Corp
413 Morse St NE
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 544-2525
Cash, credit, debit

Description: This is mainly for restaurants and other small businesses but don’t let that stop you, nor the little sign at the door saying you must have a business license. Once you’re in the door, they don’t kick you out. But you do need to keep in mind who their main clientele is, when you gaze at the big professional pots and pans. There are pots, pans, woks, chinois, tamis, knives, serving things, graters, table clothes, aprons, long white plastic chopping boards, and whatever non-electrical thing you may find in any restaurant around. You will not find a lot of the name brands familiar to home cooks, remember these are for professionals and not meant to be pretty. You will locate items that can find a home in your home kitchen. Smaller mesh sieves, micrograters, pastry bags, the smaller pots and pans can service the home cook. Don’t expect any hand holding from staff and the store is cramped. But the staff is friendly enough and sometimes will help you. Price wise, they are cheaper than Bed, Bath and Beyond and other department stores in varying degrees.

EXTRA- Don’t come in yakking on the cell phone. There is a sign in the shop somewhere about cell phone conversations. And pots will need to be seasoned.

Previous posting about Best
Capital Market: The Series
The Capital City Market Blog
Capital City Market: What’s in the market?
CHOW.COM- Best Kitchen
Don Rockwell.Com- Mentioned in discussion
Washington Post- Very small mention.

Best Kitchen Supply

Best Kitchen Supply
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

I do have a format for talking about things at the Capitol City Market/ Florida Avenue Market, but since I want to mention a couple of places, I’ll do that in another post.
First- Best Kitchen Supply at 413 Morse St NE is my alternative to Bed, Bath and Beyond. For one, it is way cheaper. I picked up a zester for $10 and got a big stock pot and some other kitchen gadget that I saw on the Beddie Bye and Begone website for $60, $15 dollars at Best Kitchen. After taking another cooking class with Mt. Vernon Square’s Jean-Claude LeLan I actually paid attention to the shape of the pots he used. LeLan talks kinda fast but I think he said something about the the importance of the pot, surface area and the such. So basically I was looking for pots like Jean’s. Best Kitchen has the same shaped things. They aren’t as pretty as the pots in BB &B, but they are for professional kitchens.
Second- the Mexican Fruit stand has been having some decent looking veggies and fruit. Sometimes the produce is a few days from being compost, but the last few weekends I’ve been by I’ve seen some beautiful bannanas, lemons, limes, pineapples and more.

East of New Jersey Challenge: Sorbet

I would have here Mango sorbet as the mangoes at the Mexican fruit stand were quite ripe, but the recipe calls for gelatin, and I don’t know where you get that east of New Jersey.

Mojito Sorbet

1 cup Sugar (G & S or any quicki-mart)
2 cups Water (WASA)
5 Sprigs of Mint (my front yard/ Bloomingdale Farmer’s Mkt)
1/4 cup lime juice (Mexican Fruit Stand-Capital City Market)
2 Tlb of Rum (Bloomingale Liquors)
Zest of two limes (Mexican Fruit Stand)
2 Tlb of mint cut into very thin strips (front yard)

Take sugar and water in a small pot, heat and stir till sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Throw in sprigs. Leave for 10-20 minutes.
Filter out mint (maybe use a strainer) and pour into a bowl. Add lime juice, rum and zest. Chill to 40F.

If you have an ice cream maker- follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding sorbets. Add mint strips when you’re done churning.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker- use a stainless steel cake pan. Pour mixture so that it is no more than an inch deep. Place in freezer and agitate/ stir with fork every hour till frozen. Take batches of frozen concoction and place in blender. Get something slushy, add mint strips. Freeze and eat later.

Next time I’ll try something without booze.

East of NJ Ave Challenge: Bananna Liqueur

I had an idea to share some recipes as well as promote some Bloomingdale businesses and the Capital City Market, and that idea is the East of NJ Ave challenge. The challenge is to create a few yummy things from items east of New Jersey Avenue and west of…. oh face it I don’t bike past the Capital City/Florida Market. The borders are fuzzy. I don’t know how much of a challenge it would be when there is a great farmers market in Bloomingdale, Timor, a big honking chaotic warehouse district, and whatever I or my neighbors grow in their gardens. Yes, a big cheat is the stuff I grow in my yard. Not much of a challenge and it’s an excuse to talk about food.

So Banana Liqueur
Recipe from Homemade Liqueurs by Dona Z. Meilach & Mel Meilach (1979).

2 Ripe Bananas (Mexican Fruit -Capital City Market)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (Don Pepe’s – Capital City Market) or 2″ vanilla bean
1 cup of sugar syrup (see below)
3 cups of vodka (Bloomingdale Liquor)

Take the bananas, peel them, squish them and place in jar. Add the rest of the ingredients to jar. Tightly screw on jar top, and leave in the back of a cool/dark closet for 1 week. After a week strain and filter to capture liquid. You can drink it but let it mature if you can, for 2-3 months.

Simple Syrup
1 cup of water (WASA)
1 cup of sugar (G&S Grocery on 1500 blk of NJ Ave)

Combine the two in a saucepan. Heat and stir contents until mixture is somewhat clear. Cool and refrigerate. Add a smidge of vodka as preservative.

Capital Market: Mexican Fruit/ Deli Spanish Market

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Mexican Fruit
1309 5th Street NE
Washington, DC
Mon-Sat 6AM-5PM
Cash Only

Description: The fruit stand tends to be hit or miss in finding something suitable, but they have some of the cheapest produce and are always worth a visit when you’re in the market area. On visits where it is a sure hit, items are only slightly bruised or just has one spoiled item and you walk away with bags of fruits and veggies for less than $5. Misses are days when it seems that 1/2 of everything is doomed for the compost.

What is carried wildly varies and depends on when you show up. Usually there is garlic, tomatoes, onions, some sort of citrus, and potatoes. What’s not usually there is the surprise that makes it worth the visit, such as miniature pineapples, strawberries, just ripe avocados, celery, asparagus, bananas, plantains, melons, mushrooms, corn, blueberries, blackberries, apples, and the like. This stop is best for the creative cook who doesn’t need pretty fruits and veggies, and who can tolerate to chop off the bruises.

Extra: Present your bags to Marta or Marta’s sister (they are the young women with short aprons) who will look in the bag and come to a price. You can try to haggle or work out a deal to get more for your buck.

Capital City Market: The Series

Capital City Market Blog

Capitol Market: US Beef

US Beef
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

U.S. Beef, Inc.
300 Morse St, NE
Washington, DC
Takes: Cash

Description: Serving wholesale and retail customers this is a place for decent low priced meats. Notable items are beef tenderloin (6/7/08 @ $4.09/lb), leg of lamb, ribeye, slabs of pork, large globes of uncut luncheon meats, butter, ribs, goat, duck, frozen red snapper, and cornish game hens. Sometimes items like chicken feet have been spotted. Those items are in their large walk in cold room. There are glass doored freezers on the side where you may find rabbit, bacon, beef tounge, frozen seafood, and other frozen meats. If one is planning a big cookout, or stocking up on meat this is a good place to go.

Extra: There are two lines, one for business, one for retail. Do not join the shorter business line, unless expressly called over to come over. Upon exiting you will need to have your receipt checked by one of the attendants near the door.

So how was your weekend?

Great. Friday I appeared in the Washington Post’s Express newspaper, but didn’t know it until I got an email about it. Tis the problem with having a subscription to the main paper, not having a need to pick up the free one. It’s a decent article and maybe later this week I might explore the whole researching where to buy process.
Saturday, you &%#!! took all the croissants. Ok, not all, you left two. I swear it was barely 9:30 when I got to Catania’s and she was out of a lot of my favorites. In that week’s Food section Catania was mentioned so I expected there’d be fewer choices, but by golly people. Since I had a lot of trouble fitting into my ball gown that night I guess it was for the best. So that I can lay off the buttery goodness that are the $1.25 croissants, let me share a trick with you. I tend to buy a whole bunch and bag/wrap and freeze them immediately. When I want a hot croissant for later I take it out and microwave it in a ziplock bag for 1 minute and 20 to 35 seconds at 30% power.
Later that day I went out to Glen Echo Park for the Strauss Waltz. About 20 minutes before my ride was suppose to arrive I discovered my dress no longer fit. I’m sure it was a comical scene as I got my roommate to try to zip me up, while I’m sucking in and the fabric just refused to come together. After a couple of tries we gave up. So I went to Plan B dress, a longer, even more formal looking gown. That didn’t fit either. I did find a dress but I’m going to have to lay off the croissants.
Maybe it would help to lay off the butter and the cream too. As Sunday I made Lapin a la Moutard, Rabbit with Mustard Sauce. I found fresh rabbit at the Florida Market/Capital City Market on Saturday in that big building with all the vendors and stalls inside. The mustard cream sauce was delicious, problem is that it is mustard and a boat load of heavy whipping cream, with a pinch of tarragon.
In the garden the tarragon has sprout back up. Through the winter it lay dormant, now it’s already to be used. It’s been in its pot for about two years and comes back in the spring. Also I was able to take some seedling cuttings and make them into salad. I threw the seeds in the pot a few weeks ago and now I’m able to reap some reward. Well with the Black Seeded Simpson and the arugula, the mache is too small to bother with still. I swear last week I threw some radish seeds in the pot and there are little seedling up already.
Anyway, hope you had a good weekend.

Capital Market: Sam Wang Produce Inc.

Sam Wang Produce
Originally uploaded by rllayman

Sam Wang Inc.
300-A Morse St., NE
202 544 5162
No Retail Sales After 3pm
Takes: Cash Only

Description: Sam Wang has a selection of fruits and vegetables. Usual products include lemongrass, garlic, coconuts, avocados, apples, oranges, lemons, limes, onions, potatoes, apples, tomatoes, and ginger. Regularly, but not always, you may find bananas, mushrooms, curry leaves, mint, snow peas, green beans, pears, grapes, mangos, shallots, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, thai basil, thai eggplant, squash, bok choy, and cucumbers. Outside of its produce room there are pallets of corn and olive oil. The 3 liter tin of olive oil runs about $11-$12. There are rarely any signs denoting price or item description. Prices are significantly cheaper than that of a regular supermarket. Some items have a short shelf life (lemons, asparagus, etc), so limit yourself to things that last fairly long (coconut, garlic, onions, etc) or things you will use that week.

Extra:When leaving present your receipt to one of the gentlemen at the entrance. If you are not sure who to present it to, walk slowly holding out the receipt.

Capital City Market: The Series
Capital City Market Blog
Frozen Tropic’s posting where Sam Wangs is mentioned, with photos.
Richard Layman’s Mention of Sam Wang with Pictures.