Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Counterfeit Bust: $3 Million In Goods Seized At D.C. Farmers Market In Coordinated Effort

Friday, August 12, 2011

Capital City/Florida Market is now being actively marketed ... as Union Market

As mentioned in a previous post, the lead developer of the Market area, a company that owns a number of shopping centers, hired a person who had worked for Jose Andres to execute a promotion strategy. Obviously, Edens & Avant was already on the case.

This flyer was on the case at Litteris, and it promotes an ice cream related street event at the Market. You can see from the flyer that there is both a logo for the Market, and a tagline, "foodie paradise."

This likely means that the market will be "saved" given that E&A (and their partner, J Street Development, which brought E&A into the deal) is better financed than the Sang Choi interests that were favored in master development agreement that was awarded to them by the DC City Council (through Vincent Orange et al.), even though at one time, Apollo Development was involved with them and they are a company owned by Carl Icahn so they should have had lots of dough. I guess they weren't really committed, after all the company isn't involved in other DC projects.

Maybe this means that those of us who fought the City Council legislation and the Sang Oh Choi interests focused on complete redevelopment have won?

(And the name of this blog will have to change too?)

Union Market is being marketed and promoted


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Another reason for creating a commercial kitchen at Florida Market (or Eastern Market for that matter)

In the "Retail planning and Florida Market" paper, I suggested food-related business development operations beyond straight up restaurants and retail be incorporated into the planning mix for the retail-wholesale food district. From the document:

Depending on the scope of work for the Small Area Plan, other opportunities could be identified as well, spanning retail, entrepreneurship development, and civic use. These include:

• home meal preparation and assembly (franchise programs such as Let’s Dish or Thyme Out);
• commercial kitchen rentable to caterers and food processors (examples include La Cocina in San Francisco and the Artisan Baking Center in New York City);
• demonstration and training kitchen for commercial and public use, i.e., programs by the Office of Aging, Department of Health, Cooperative Extension Service of UDC/USDA, schools (examples include La Boqueria in Barcelona, and two separate facilities at the River Market in Little Rock);
• hospitality-culinary education.

So today's article in the Washington Post food section about an underground market "DC Grey Market: An underground opportunity for vendors"), which is "underground" because vendors sell food items not prepared in a commercial kitchen, is a confirmation of the need to provide low cost commercial kitchen options as a form of entrepreneurship and business development programming on the part of the city--it demonstrates demand, and it's a lot better to provide such facilities rather than discourage people from doing it properly (in supervised, clean facilities).

From the Post article:

Like many of the vendors at the market, not to mention at similar underground markets popping up around the country, none of the three men had acquired business licenses or submitted to food-safety inspections.

Shapiro said the market’s lack of a licensing requirement was a big draw for him. “Everything I have here is totally safe,” he said. “My kitchen is invariably cleaner than most restaurant kitchens.”

That the sales technically are not regulated seems only to heighten the allure. New vendors have enlisted for each of the three DC Grey markets held to date. Attendance has ranged from 355 to 1,100.

Still, someone can say his home kitchen is cleaner than restaurant kitchens and that may be, but it's unlikely a home kitchen is kept to food processing and manufacturing cleanliness standards.

It happens that I liked a Mexican restaurant in Pontiac Michigan called Trini & Carmen's. Back in the late 1970s, in a place like Oakland County there weren't many such options. That being said, in 1977, botulism in home-canned peppers that were used in some of the dishes sickened 59 people. (How else would I have heard of the restaurant, they didn't advertise...) Fortunately, no one died.

There's no way that the city's regulatory authorities won't shut this down, after being prominently pictured on the front page of the Food Section. But the real point, that we need an entrepreneurship support network generally, and for food preparation specifically, will likely get missed. The San Francisco Weekly stepped up with a 6-part article series after the shutdown of the underground market called "Going legit."

While this report, Local Food Systems Assessment for Northern Virginia, from August 2010 is about "food hubs," which are aggregation operations for local farmers seeking to sell food in quantity to restaurants, food service operations (like schools), supermarkets, and other institutional clients, the basic concept is comparable to a commercial kitchen operation.

WRT the job generating possibilities of such operations, this article from the New York Daily News, "Cooking up job training in Long Island City" discusses the Artisan Baking Center in New York City, and "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar" in the San Francisco Chronicle and these blog entries from Cool Hunting and Munchie Musings discuss La Cocina, how the organization grew out of a need by food vendors for better support facilities, and how the organization has a selling space in the Ferry Building, among other venues.

The Munchie Musing post makes a good point, that helping businesses develop isn't just about the kitchen, it's also about managing the licensing and vending process. From the post:

La Cocina provides this type of support for people who are looking to start some sort of food business. Their building contains a commercial kitchen which is a requirement for making and selling foods. Besides the physical space, they also provide support in the form of assistance with permits, funding, source vendors, etc. With this support, people, mostly women, are able to start legitimate businesses, create jobs, and support themselves, their families and communities.

Other resources include the National Street Food Conference 2011 later this month in San Francisco and the Culinary Incubator website.

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Edens & Avant hires development coordinator, outlines approach to Florida Market

According to the article, "Capital City Market to Get Pop-Up Restaurants?" from DCMUD, and after an announcement that the lead property owner at the Florida Market, hired Richard Bradenburg from Jose Andres' operation ThinkFoodGroup to coordinate the development of food-related businesses at the market as "director of culinary strategy" (see "Richard Brandenburg leaves ThinkFoodGroup" from the Washington Post), it's good to know that development of new food-related business is now the focus there.

Especially as lately I have been concerned as the inexpensive Korean restaurant ("Florida Deli") has been shuttered for the past few weeks--apparently because it has changed hands, as La Villa Distributors closed, even after a recent expansion, and the supermarket-wholesale operation MS3000 appears (I haven't confirmed it) to have changed hands as it is now called David's Farms (or David Farms, depending on which sign you see).

Even if Edens & Avant ends up using the "old" ideas are expressed both in the 2003 "Economic revitalization" plan for Cluster 23, which suggested that the food-related character of the Florida Market be extended, and in the document I prepared outlining a broadened "retail mix" for the Market ("Retail planning and the Florida Market") in 2008, it's good to know that these concepts have staying power.

This is also a good sign considering that in January the Washington Post reported that one of the key property owners suggested the site would be good for a soccer stadium ("D.C. United keeps hunting for a stadium").
Explore Florida Market directory and history signage, side 2

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Workshops on urban homesteading this Saturday in Mount Rainier

From email:

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? As part of the Mt Rainier Better Block Project, we're hosting a series of free urban homesteading classes.
The event is scheduled to run from noon-6pm on Saturday, April 9th with a raindate of Sunday.

Find more info on the rest of the festival online here, and let us know you're coming on Facebook!

Free Urban Homesteading Classes - held in a vacant lot at approximately 3841 34th Street, 20712

Learn how to save money and eat well by growing, preparing, and preserving food at home! Eating locally is good for you and the environment, and it doesn't get any more local than your own backyard. This free workshop series is presented by Mt Rainier/Brentwood neighbors and by the Neighborhood Farm Initiative. Each class will last about 45 minutes.

12:30: Preserving herbs through drying, vinegar, and alcohol
1:30 Intro to Backyard Composting
2:30 Natural Pickling: How to make delicious live-culture pickles, kimchi, and sauerkraut
3:30 Bread & butter: How to make butter and no-knead artisan bread at home - it's simple!
4:30 Intro to Canning: The basics of canning jams/fruit, pickles, and tomatoes

Popup Urban Farm Store: Ready to get started? Finished compost, row cover, and other gardening/homesteading supplies will be available for sale by the Neighborhood Farm Initiative, and we'll have some free seeds on hand for giveaway! NFI is a non-profit educational urban farm operating in NE and SE Washington, DC - check it out! Also, available for sale will be Leafyhead Lotions and Potions.

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Rising food prices and shopping smart (at Florida Market)

The media, in the US and globally, is full of stories about fast rising prices for food. See "What do rising food prices mean" from the USAID blog. This is attributed to a number of things including weather-related losses, rising oil prices (which also affect the cost of fertilizers), and competition between crops grown for ethanol production rather than food.

One way to save money is buy products in larger sizes and from less costly providers.

That's as good a reason to buy at Florida Market as any I can think of...

But it's also about thinking about how you cook. For example, I have a bad habit of buying vegetables with my eyes--I buy something I see because it looks good--and then I don't get around to cooking it.

So having some regular recipes where you can cook in part to "use up" items before they go bad (or after they already are going bad) is a great strategy. Plus, it allows you to buy what we might call "seconds" in terms of quality (e.g., some of the items at Mexican Fruit) and make something really good.

- pasta sauce/ragout/primavera -- I just dice a bunch of vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, various kinds of peppers, tomatoes, etc.), throw in some garlic and spices (oregano, thyme, coriander, etc.) and cook it down. I can add sauce if I want, it's great on pasta.

- crock pot vegetable chili recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, I think the December issue, again, I add vegetables to this based on what is lying around in my fridge. It's a great recipe in that it uses winter squash. It's on the sweet side.

- smoothies are a great way to use fruit

- sweet breads for bananas, etc.


Florida Market mini-directory printout

I just realized that I never put a link in this blog to the 8.5x11 printable handout version of the Florida Market directory created by Christopher Taylor Edwards and myself.

I'll also add a link in the right sidebar.

And yes, it's time to update it.

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Goat in the city

Today's Post food section article on goat, "Goat meat, the final frontier," neglected to list many sources of goat within DC ("Where to get fresh goat in the D.C. area"), with the exception of the Bloomingdale Farmers Market.

While the farmers markets and the listed farms feature locally-sourced goat, other sources listed aren't necessarily directly sourced from local farms. Many of the markets carry the same kind of goat available at vendors in the Florida Market, including:

- All-African Food Store (on 6th Street behind the Farmers Market building)
- Caribbean Crescent (Halal meats) (on 5th Street)
- Obeng International Market (300 block of Morse Street

The proprietor of All-African mentioned to me in a conversation a few years ago that he sells about 15 goats every weekend.

Although, the article points out, indirectly, that we need to update the directory information to list goat as well as "beef, pork, and poultry."

We'll change that in future versions.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cooking the Florida Market: Banh Mi Edition

I made two types of banh mi entirely with ingredients available at the Florida Market. For the uninitiated a banh mi is a delicious Vietnamese sandwich served on a French style baguette. Here are the two types that I made:

Chicken Banh Mi:
-boneless skinless chicken breast brined, rubbed with five spice powder, and sautéed in sesame oil
-daikon radish and carrot marinated in white vinegar, sugar and water solution
-green onions
-red onion
-fish sauce
-baguette (I bought the "French Baguette" from MS3000, but it was a tad too bready, so I fixed this by scooping out some of the bread.)
You can also add chicken liver pate if you wish. Livers are available at the DC farmers market, and various other butchers in the area. Just add some fresh herbs, butter, pepper, and garlic, and you're basically there.

Tofu Banh Mi
-tofu marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, lime juice, fresh lemon grass, ground black pepper. (I pressed and frozen the tofu before hand to change the texture and make it absorb the marinade better).
-Thai basil
-marinated carrots and daikon radish
-fish sauce
-jalapeno peppers
-green onions
-red onions
You can make this sandwich vegan by using Veganaise (not available in the Florida Market), and making your own vegan fish sauce substitute (dark soy sauce, water, garlic, black pepper, dried roasted seaweed).

Where to get it:
Baguette: MS3000 or Litteri's.
Carrots: Sam Wang, Mexican Fruit.
Chicken: US Beef, DC Farmers Market, numerous butchers in the area, including Caribbean Crescent.
Cilantro: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Cucumber: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Dark soy sauce: MS3000.
Daikon Radish: Sam Wang or MS3000.
Fish Sauce: V-9 or MS3000.
Five spice powder: MS3000.
Garlic: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Green onions: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Jalapeno peppers: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Lemon grass: Sam Wang.
Limes: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Mayo: MS3000.
Pepper (whole, black): Mexican Fruit, or Don Pepe's.
Red onion: Sam Wang or Mexican Fruit.
Seaweed: Northeastern Seafood, V-9, MS3000.
Sesame oil: MS3000.
Sugar: MS3000.
Thai Basil: Sam Wang.
Tofu: Sam Wang Tofu (down the street from the main Sam Wang).
White Vinegar: MS3000.

Need guidance on putting it all together? Check out Battle of the Banh Mi.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cooking the Florida Market: Rice Noodle Rolls Edition

Yesterday I recreated a truly great version of some shrimp rice noodle rolls that I had at dim sum seven years. While that in itself was exciting enough for me, the cool thing is that I did it entirely with ingredients that you can buy at the Florida Market. Actually, I was inspired jointly by a recent dim sum craving, and a trip to the Market that unexpectedly included a stop by the storefront (by which I mean that there literally is no store, just a front) where they make and sell fresh rice noodles by the sheet. 70 cents a sheet, which weighs slightly under a pound. I went with a friend and we each bought two sheets. Steam them, fry them, cut them up into any shape you like.  You get the picture. And seriously...70 cents. Other stuff I put in my shrimp rice roll:
1. shrimp;
2. scallions;
3. ginger;
4. flat leaf parsley;
5. soy sauce;
6. oyster sauce;
7. sweet chili sauce (I was hungry, and thus too lazy to make sweet soy sauce).

Not the most authentic version, but tasty none the less. I also noticed that MS3000 (which is owned by the same parent company as H Mart) sells packs of spring roll/egg roll wraps (300 block of Morse). I'm thinking you could also use them for wontons, or perhaps even some lovely kim chee dumplings. Hmm...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Easy print (8.5x14) retail directory of the Florida Market

In preparation for the Florida Market retail tour tomorrow, as part of WalkingTown DC, designer Christopher Taylor Edwards has prepared an 8.5x14 (print on both sides) map and directory of the market.

In the past we have given out an 11x17 version of the prototype sign that we have, which is 32x48 inches, the same size as the wayfinding-cultural interpretation signs that have been erected around the city. But the text is too small and it doesn't really work in a black and white print.

This version is still designed in color but prints fairly well in black and white.

Florida Market Directory Handout

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