A Day at the Market
Behind the scenes at the Bethesda Central Farm Market
Sandra Miller, the owner of Painted Hand Farm, sometimes brings a baby lamb to the market; today it’s Snowball’s turn. Miller, who sells poultry, lamb, goat and veal, and has written for publications such as the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, pens the market’s weekly “Dishing the Dirt” blog. She says she loves the international clientele at the market, and often takes special orders, such as calf udders for an Argentine patron, and sheep, goat and pig heads for a Chinese doctor.
Jonathan Bardzik, a storyteller, author and cook, conducts cooking demonstrations four times a year at the Bethesda market. Working ahead of time with market co-owner Debbie Moser and some of the vendors, Bardzik designed four dishes with ingredients available at the market this day. His strawberry chive ricotta pasta features strawberries from Westmoreland Berry Farm, ricotta from Sterling, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Dairy Co., and fettuccine from Richmond’s Cavanna Pasta; Bardzik brings only pantry staples such as spices, oil and vinegar.
Over the course of his cooking demonstration, he’ll engage in a lengthy conversation with a patron about za’atar, the Middle Eastern spice mixture (in the za’atar crusted lamb chops); talk about how garlic scapes are the flowering stems of the garlic plant (in the stir-fried beef, garlic scapes and zucchini dish he makes); and discuss the importance of sharp knives and cutting skills, all with the goal of getting people excited about making dishes from market ingredients.
Marie-Noelle and Bob Hunt of Chevy Chase (center) have been coming to the market every week since it opened in 2008. “I go religiously. I don’t go to church, but I go to the market,” says Marie-Noelle, who grew up in Paris, where she shopped at open-air markets. At the Bethesda market, she says, “the service is so nice, and yes, it may be a little bit expensive, but the products are tasty, and it’s no comparison to the supermarket.”