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Best of Del Ray: Arts & Events
Take a pottery class, listen to live music, or shop for fruits and vegetables at a farmers market. By Gwendolyn Purdom
Comments () | Published January 27, 2011
The Del Ray Farmers Market offers a bounty of fresh produce— such as local tomatoes. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Eat Fresh

The Del Ray Farmers’ Market (East Oxford and Mount Vernon aves.) overflows with fresh fruit, vegetables, pasta, cheese, and baked goods from local farms and producers. You’ll also find less common offerings such as flavored nuts from the Dressed Up Nut in Arlington and heirloom-tomato salsa and Bloody Mary mix from Toigo Orchards in Pennsylvania. The year-round market takes place Saturdays from 8 to noon.

Turn Up the Music

Artists who play the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave.; 703-549-7500; birchmere.com) come from many genres. The intimate space has a supper-club atmosphere, with two performance areas and a full dinner menu. This year, acts such as Los Lobos and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds take the stage that has hosted artists from Dave Matthews to Linda Ronstadt. Tickets range from about $20 to $80. Try to get there early: Seating, at communal tables, is first come, first served. If you’re looking for lesser-known acts, try Fireflies restaurant (1501 Mount Vernon Ave.; 703-548-7200; firefliesdelray.com), which boasts more than 50 bottled beers and free weekly performances by local musicians.

 

Learn to Knit

Knitting’s not just for little old ladies at Fibre Space (102 N. Fayette St.; 703-664-0344; fibrespace.com). The funky shop carries needles, patterns, and a rainbow of yarns for knitters and crocheters. Classes and workshops range from getting started to cable-knitting. One Friday a month, you can bring a project and knit while enjoying a free movie, soda, and popcorn in the studio.

Catch a Flick

One Saturday a month during summer, the grounds of the Mount Vernon Recreation Center (2701 Commonwealth Ave.; 703-746-5556) become Cinema Del Ray, an outdoor movie theater presenting free family-friendly movies with popcorn. Monsters vs. Aliens is on the marquee August 21.

Say Cheese

Monthly cheese-and-wine classes fill up quickly at Cheesetique (2411 Mount Vernon Ave.; 703-706-5300; cheesetique.com). For $35 to $55 a person, owner Jill Erber leads patrons through a tasting of ten cheeses and two wines. Wine courses feature up to ten wines and six cheeses. Offered Sunday or Monday night, the workshops can accommodate up to 40 students. Topics have included holiday cheeses, Virginia wines and cheeses, American blue cheeses, and Wisconsin beer and cheeses.

Fire Up the Kiln

Artist Renee Altman, who sold her creations at DC’s Eastern Market for years, doesn’t just sell jewelry and handmade ceramic goods in her Del Ray studio, the Clay Queen Pottery (2303 Mount Vernon Ave.; 703-549-7775); she also gives students of all levels a chance to try their hand at the wheel with weekly classes. During ten-week sessions, students learn to make bowls, pitchers, vases, and more. For $340, you get one three-hour class per week, materials, a firing, and time to work in the studio on Saturday afternoons.

Meet the Neighbors

The Del Ray Business Association and other local groups host lots of community events, usually on the neighborhood’s Mount Vernon Avenue strip. During monthly themed First Thursdays,local businesses stay open late and offer refreshments and live entertainment. This year’s lineup includes Dog Days of Summer on August 5, with a doggie fashion show and free treats for four-legged friends; on September 2, A Taste of Del Ray serves up samples from local restaurants. And mark your calendar for Art on the Avenue on October 2. At the annual arts festival, which draws more than 40,000 visitors, hundreds of vendors sell handcrafted wares—from handbags and jewelry to furniture and photography.

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