A good market will always get my attention. I think it goes back to my childhood when my parents and grandparents would take us to flea markets and we would walk all over, seeing the wares for sale. When we were young we would get tired and cranky, but as I grew older I started to appreciate the market and the bargain hunting, and I learned the fun of the negotiation by watching my dad. Then later when I was off on my own, some of my favorite and most vivid memories of my travels would include visiting indoor and outdoor markets and bazaars, such as the Qingping Market in Guangzhou; the Ladies Market and Stanley Market in Hong Kong; the outdoor markets in Bali; the little market that would set up on Sunday mornings just outside my apartment in Bogotá, where I could get great fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, and flowers, as well as the mercado de las pulgas (flea market), where I could stroll around and find all sorts of neat things; the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul; and the flower market in Amsterdam.
Here in the U.S. there are many markets I would like to visit, and since I have a couple trips planned this summer, I want to do some market hunting. When Michael and I lived in Southern Maryland we frequented the market in Charlotte Hall, which had become quite vibrant, and I loved getting the fresh Amish eggs and butter. I’ve enjoyed the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse, the Market Hall and Sheds in Charleston, and Eastern Market in DC, and I hope to take in some market action in Hawaii and San Francisco this summer! (Please leave me some good market tips for HI and SF in the comments! Perhaps I should bring along an empty suitcase on those trips…)
In Northern Virginia I’ve been scoping out the market scene since moving to the area last year, hoping to find some markets that represented the best of the area: great local produce, cheeses, breads, meats, dairy products, and maybe even a fun flea market to go along with it. I visited the Leesburg Year Round Market a few weekends ago and had a chance to meet some of the vendors and sample some of the goods. Up to eighteen vendors gather in a strip mall parking lot throughout the year and have a great variety of products. I tasted some really delicious award-winning cheeses (photo below) from Oak Spring Dairy, savored a hearty whole grain cookie from Quail Creek Farm while drooling over the beautiful breads, and sampled some tasty pizzas provided by American Flatbread in Ashburn. They were visiting the market that day to do some cooking demonstrations and talk about the relationships they have with the market vendors. The restaurant purchases meats, cheeses, and produce from local vendors and showcases those ingredients in their seasonal pizzas, and it all tasted great.
The market had several family operations participating, including the couple running Conicville Ostrich (eggs and meat seasonally), Chicama Run (eggs, grass-fed lamb, beef, pork, chickens), and Chef Eloy’s Kickin’ Salsa (some seriously hot salsa, Michael loves it). And since it was Easter weekend, the Easter Bunny paid a visit, there was a craft that the kids could do, and there was even a sheep for the children to pet and turkeys on display.
The market is currently limited to 18 vendors per day due to location in a parking lot, but who knows how it could grow? I would love to see the markets in this area continue to grow and flourish and become a regular stop for local residents and visitors. I was having a fantastic time until the freezing rain started and the temperature took a nosedive. I had to put the camera away and put my frozen body back into the car, but I will definitely be a regular for this market. Thanks very much to Sandra Stickovitch, the Winter Market Manager, for greeting me and talking with me about the market. For more information about markets in Northern Virginia, check out the links below.
Market Information for Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland