I believe I am pretty good at recognizing superior baked goods when I taste them. Like the divine lavender cupcakes we transported to my friend Meredyth's wedding the six and a half hours from Columbia Heights to Charleston, WV (by car, yes, I'm a slacker, but we carpooled, at least) earlier this month. Or my friend Alessandra's focaccia, which I used to feast on regularly back when we both lived in Mexico. Or the outstanding sweet and savory goodness on hand as I pinch hit on some sales for the good folks at Whisked! earlier today.
I'd been clued into the two-woman baking operation during a few of my farmers' market cooking demos over the summer and was pretty impressed, but as I do a fair bit of baking myself and tend to have more of a salt-tooth than a sweet-tooth I don't generally splurge on those sorts of things. When my friend Heather told me she braved yesterday's wind and sleet and 30 degree weather to pick up a 6-inch savory apple tart (with caramelized onions and bleu cheese, ohhhhh) from the ladies at the 14th & U St farmers' market, I made a mental note to check out their wares more closely at my next opportunity. And wouldn't you know it, later that very afternoon I got a call from Robin (who runs both the 14th & U St market and the Bloomingdale market) asking if I might be able to help out selling a variety of Whisked goodies at her other market, to test out whether it might be a good fit for the bakers to join the Sunday market next season.
Yes, of course.
So this morning Ollie and I made our way to 1st & R St, NW at the crack of 9am. (Yes, that's early for this nightowl, and had it not been so beautifully sunny there would have been a lot more grumbling about the frost-covered ground we biked over to get there. I was glad to have my new faux-fur-lined boots to keep me warm. Thanks, mom!) The market managers helped me set up a display table and Jenna came by with a number of crates of... beautiful... flaky... buttery treats, and talked me through the names, ingredients, and pricing of each. Then the baker zipped off to a catering gig and I was left to my own devices, arranging the pear tarts and pumpkin coffeecake and cheddar-jalapeño loaves, suggesting folks try bits of the beef pot pie or sweet potato pie made with local sweet potatoes from Garner's Produce, cutting up bits of molasses-spice cookies and turtle bars and boozy blackberry handpie. "Boy oh boy, just look at those granola bar samples. They're spectacular. Go on, try one...."
Just two hours after the market opened, I had nearly sold out! Dozens of market shoppers strolled over because they'd heard about the pumpkin swirl bars or the salty oat cookies or the brownie whoopie pies, but alas, I told them, I'd already sold out of the large box of 'em. I really hope the artisanal baking duo decides to frequent the Bloomingdale market -- I'm certainly not their only fan. I wasn't the only one whisked away by my tastebuds this morning. Not by a long shot. Jenna and Stephanie, should you ever need an assistant -- especially a taste-tester -- call me. Any time.