Sunday, May 29, 2011

DC Grey Market Redefines Traditional Market

Food markets rarely excite me. As a child, I was sort of brainwashed into thinking food markets were boring events that just sold different types of tomatoes and squash. I always went to the local farmer’s market with my parents to look for fresh produce for the week, and if I didn’t complain too much about being there, I was able to have a black-and-white cookie. Yet as I’ve matured to the ripe age of 21, I’ve found food markets to be quite different. The market I visited on May 21 at Local 16 was extremely different than the ones I frequented as a child: instead of squashes and tomatoes for sale, decadent and delicious custom foods were for sale and on display.

Of the 25 vendors from the greater DC-area who came and participated in the DC Grey Market, it’s difficult for me to narrow the one that impressed me the most. On that note, I tried so many different kinds of food that it would be impossible for me to review each item. So while the homemade graham crackers were delicious, the peppermint macaroons savory, the Kombucha interesting, to say the least, and the authentic Cuban sandwich rich with flavor, they unfortunately did not make the cut.

What separated this food market from others that I’ve attended is its location: indoors, as opposed to the traditional outdoor, tent-wielding events that food markets are associated. While there was an outdoor deck on the second floor, which was a good place to sit and relax, many of the vendors sold their items in a tight hallway. In this hallway though, amongst the hoards of people, I tasted a most delicious chocolate banana graham cracker: chocolate graham crackers topped with homemade fudge and slices of chilled bananas. I sincerely believe this is Harold Camping’s idea of heaven.

The initial taste into the graham cracker concoction was very cool and crisp. The vendor did an effective job of cooling the fudge so it wasn’t too runny; the chilled banana worked well with the fudge. The tropical banana and chocolate pairing work well, and the homemade graham cracker provided a necessary crunch that made the treat much more enticing. Surprisingly, the dessert did not leave you with an overdose of chocolate in your mouth (as if that would be a bad thing!). The banana counterbalanced the sweet, and left you feeling your sweet-tooth had been satisfied.

I continued eating dessert before my main course with lemon and rosemary ice cream on a cone. The first lick of the ice cream leaves you feeling like you’ve been hit by a brick of solid lemon flavor. The sour taste of the lemon was refreshing, though. Paired with the cream, it was also surprisingly light. I expected the ice cream to be creamy, and it tasted more like a sherbet than anything. Yet following the lemon extravaganza was the pleasant flare of rosemary. The rosemary contrasts the lemon incredibly well; the sour worked well with the bitter, as the aromatic experience of the ice cream was delicious. The ice cream very much tasted and smelled like a garden because of the earthy and pleasant flavors it produced.

The final sampling had so much flavor, expression and zest that it was difficult for me to not to take another. The hors’devour had a small, cracker shell, and it was filled with smoked salmon, wasabi cream cheese, capers, red onions, and basil. Each of the listed flavors is distinct and strong in its own way, which made combining them very interesting. The initial tasting left me unsure about what flavor was predominant in the food. Yes, I detected smoked salmon, yet the wasabi cream cheese enhanced that flavor. Capers, one of my favorite ingredients, worked with the red onions and basil to create a garden-tasting sensation in my mouth. The natural and earthy-smelling and tasting hors’devour incorporated the crispy shell into the flavor, too, to ensure that the entire tasting experience was appreciated. Without the shell, the hors’devour would have been delicious, but certainly lacking a crunch to incorporate all of the flavors. As it turns out, the shell was the bond between the varying wasabi and salmon, and the garden flavors that really made the entire sample work.

The DC Grey Market is unorthodox: it’s neither held outdoors, nor does it scream for visitors with flashy ads. Instead, the cozy nook is a subtle yet lively event that attracts food lovers from around the area. The food I sampled was delicious; it’s impossible to narrow down what I enjoyed the most. Regardless of the packed crowd, I had an incredible time tasting food from the area, and I’m most certainly looking forward to attending the event again sometime soon.

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