Extras at the Local Farmers Markets
Many farmers markets offer lots more than fruits and veggies. Here are our favorites for:Chef spottings: Arlington Farmers Market (N. Courthouse Rd. and N. 14th St.) every Saturday, when Eric Ziebold (CityZen), RJ Cooper (Vidalia), and Ris Lacoste (formerly of 1789) are usually shopping in T-shirts and sweats, or Penn Quarter FreshFarm market (north end of Eighth St., near E St., NW), which hosts a Chef at Market series featuring recipe demos by such local chefs as José Andrés of Jaleo, Café Atlántico, and Oyamel.
Community spirit: A trio of markets (14th and U; Mount Pleasant at 17th and Lamont sts., NW; and Bloomingdale at First and R sts., NW), all run by Robin Shuster. She saw a need for locally grown produce in these expanding DC neighborhoods and brought together a group of farmers selling free-range eggs, lamb, apples, potted herbs, and seasonal produce.
Cheese: The Dupont Circle FreshFarm (1500 block of 20th St., NW) and Arlington markets for fresh mozzarella (regular or applewood-smoked), ricotta (99 percent fat-free), mascarpone, and Yo-Fresh (a tangy yogurtlike product) from the Blue Ridge Dairy of Leesburg.
Breads: Atwater breads, from a Baltimore bakery selling hearth-baked breads with crispy crusts and soft insides, available at Arlington, Silver Spring (Ellsworth Dr. between Fenton and Cedar sts.), and H Street (624 H St., NE) markets on Saturday; Dupont Circle and Takoma Park (Laurel Ave. between Eastern and Carroll aves.) on Sundays. Try the sunflower-flaxseed, raisin-walnut, or Parisian baguette.
Crab cakes: Chris Hoge's four-ounce cakes--which also come in crawfish, bluefish, and smoked salmon--at the indoor Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative Market (7155 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda) on Wednesday and Saturday; Penn Quarter FreshFarm on Thursday, crab only; Falls Church (300 Park Ave.) on Saturday; and Dupont Circle FreshFarm on Sunday, crab only.
Frozen Lasagna Can Be Very Good
The holiday turkey carcass has been picked clean, and you still have houseguests. Think lasagna--the kind you buy and stick in the oven. With a romaine salad and loaf of garlic bread, you've got dinner for a crowd. We tasted more than 20 frozen and store-made lasagnas from area markets in search of the best.
Excellent: Superior Pasta frozen ground-beef and spinach lasagnas from Philadelphia, available at Cornucopia (8102 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-1625). The pasta was delicate and pleasantly al dente, the ricotta flecked with parsley, and the meat and spinach fillings perfectly seasoned. $12.99; about two servings.
Very good: Meat and vegetable lasagnas from the Italian Store (3123 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-528-6266). These hearty family-style lasagnas with homespun sauce are generous with the meat and, in the case of the vegetable lasagna, full of spinach and mushrooms. Order 24 hours ahead; $50 for about ten servings.
Store-made meat and eggplant lasagnas from the catering department at Wegmans (11620 Monument Dr., Fairfax, 703-653-1609; 45131 Columbia Pl., Sterling, 703-421-2409). Meat lasagna was not as meaty as the Italian Store lasagna but still flavorful. Breaded rounds of eggplant make for an interesting variation on the veggie-lasagna theme. Order by noon the day before pickup; meat $59.99, cheese-and-eggplant $49.99, 9 to 12 servings.
Spinach lasagna from Vace (3315 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-363-1999; 4705 Miller Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-6367). A nice, earthy spinach flavor and the perfect spinach-to-cheese ratio. $12, about four servings.
Acceptable: Whole Foods in-house meat and vegetable lasagnas; Balducci's (Northwest, 202-363-5800; Bethesda, 301-564-3100; Alexandria, 703-549-6611; McLean, 703-448-3828) in-house meat and spinach lasagnas; Wegmans packaged frozen meat lasagna; Vace frozen meat lasagna; Manoli Canoli (8540 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-951-1818) meat lasagnas; the commercial frozen brand Marie Callender meat lasagna (at local supermarkets).