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Kitchen Favorites: Farmers Market Guru Ann Yonkers
Ann Yonkers is the lady behind the scenes at all six area FreshFarm markets, from the bustling Dupont Circle scene that takes place on Sundays to the lesser-known Foggy Bottom market held on Wednesdays. Taking a cue from Alice Waters, she's a spirited female crusader for farmers markets, and she lives by the Wendell Barry quote, "Eating is an agricultural act." She also brings her work home with her—the organic farmer grows her own produce on her nine-acre Pot Pie Farm in Whitman, Maryland.
In between presiding over the FreshFarm executive board, educating DC public school students about farming issues, and finding rhubarb for chefs like Restaurant Eve's Cathal Armstrong, Yonkers enjoys being a mother and grandmother. Lucky for her, she works with plenty of friends, including gal pals Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora and Ris Lacoste, formerly of 1789. Every Sunday at the Dupont Market, the trio tracks one another down for a powwow. What are some of her personal favorites? Read on.
Caffeine choice before the morning market rush: Charlie's coffee. Haven't heard of the brand? That would be Charlie, my husband. It's a homemade special. He always makes me a "made with love latte" even when I leave at 5 AM from the farm for Sunday mornings at Dupont.
How do you take your eggs? I have my own hens at Pot Pie Farm. They are the world's happiest hens who graze on grass and can look at the Chesapeake Bay. The eggs are famous and we auction them off every year at our annual fundraiser, the Farmland Feast, for the markets in November. I eat eggs all the time and in all forms—poached, fried, fried with greens and bacon, baked, soft-boiled. The house favorite is the "Nana egg" named for my Mom who used to make them soft-boiled for her grandkids (my children) with generous portions of good butter and fresh grindings of salt and pepper.
Favorite fruit for jam or preserves: Sour cherry preserves made by Eric Rice of Country Pleasures Farm. He comes to Dupont.
Favorite variety of bean: I love all kinds of beans, but fresh shelling beans are the best. Cinda Sebastian of Gardeners' Gourmet—who comes to Dupont and is famous for her greens—grew them, but I'm not sure she will again this year. Cranberry, white and black beans—all they need is ten to 15 minutes with some garlic, onions, and olive oil. Old-fashioned bliss. Start a campaign to get more farmers to grow them and more people to eat them and we could start a bean revolution!
Sourdough or wheat bread?: Really good sourdough, preferably a baguette or ciabatta.
Favorite comfort food: Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and lots of herbs, only when tomatoes are in season. Or from tomato sauce I've put up myself.
What you might bring to a potluck: Pasta al forno—lots of different types. Classic lasagna, roasted or grilled rabbit, big salads with wonderful fresh greens from the market and good olive oil…
Favorite hamburger condiment: Mustard and mayonnaise and dill pickles. I get all my meat at the FreshFarm markets. It's from pasture-raised beef—cattle that graze on grass. So I'm looking for a clean-tasting hamburger, completely different than what's generally available. Once you taste this kind of hamburger, you won't be able to go back to the old standards.