To weekly Dupont farmers marketeers, Chris Hoge is known as the "crab cake man." His bite-sized samples inspire a steady swarm of pedestrians each Sunday morning. Even Gourmet magazine sweats the filler-free cakes of blue crab (his recipe was the talk of the mag's test kitchen back in October of 2005).
After college, Hoge was the captain of a commercial fishing boat. He spent years globetrotting to catch the finest tuna, swordfish, crabs, and other sea creatures he could find. In the early '90s, he started going door-to-door to Washington embassies, offering samples of his crab cakes. Soon, bigwig diplomats in town for functions were
clamoring for them. Even the Japanese embassy —"the hardest ones to crack," according to Hoge—became regular customers. In 1996, the Glover Park Whole Foods began selling his crawfish, bluefish, smoked salmon, and crab cakes. They've since added more Hoge creations: spicy crab dip and holiday items like shrimp-
Hoge is now on his third year of selling at the FreshFarm Dupont market. Regulars know to hit his table fast, before he sells out of the four-ounce crab cakes. Many are also hoping for a free snack. Every weekend, Hoge bakes about 20 to 30 scones or cookies to hand out gratis. The only condition? Each lucky recipient has to share the treat with a stranger.
So what does he nosh on when he's not setting up shop and feeding others? Read on…
Favorite crab cake condiment: Thinly sliced chilled avocado with lemon.
Best bread for crab cake sandwiches: Bari, a soft centered porous bread with a crusty outside.
Secret weapon when early-rising for Dupont market: Two 12 ounce cups of hot, freshly ground Sumatran coffee from the Daily Roast.
Favorite home-baked cookie: The "everything cookie," made of pecans, dried cherries, coconut, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and espresso coffee.
Cashews or peanuts?: Cashews, unless the peanuts are freshly roasted with habanero pieces,
garlic, sea salt, and grasshopper legs.
Berries or stone fruits?: Neither. Chilled cantaloupe with a little salt.
Medium? Medium rare? Well-done?: Rare to medium rare.
Market vendor whose goods you cannot live without: Cheese is my weakness, and each vendor has their own respective strengths. The in-season fruits are also delicious. But above all, being able to sell my food alongside vendors who take such great pride in what they produce—I can't think of a better way to spend my
Favorite ravioli stuffing: Smoked bluefish or the crab with corn.
Chris Hoge's seafood products are available at the indoor Montgomery Women's Market in Bethesda on Wednesdays and Saturdays; at the Penn Quarter FreshFarm market on Thursdays; at the Falls Church farmers market on Saturdays; and at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm market on Sundays.
They're also available by calling 1-866-785-4100 (that's his home office) or through Chrismarketplace.com.