Olney Farmers & Artists Market

Opening Day, And Time Begins

You couldn’t ask for better weather last Sunday.  Winter is over at last, and the Market had the strawberries and asparagus to prove it.


Patrons and vendors turned out in force.  So did a couple of our local politicians.

Janet Terry, Market President; Karen Montgomery, State Senator; Ike Leggett, County Executive

There were some new vendors -

Rodney Henry of Dangerously Delicious Pies

- and some old friends.

Paddy, the Orchard Breeze Guys, and Chaan of Angels and Anchors

And our chef showed us how to make ice cream with milk and cream from Orchard Breeze Farm.

Lindsay Clendaniel, Author of Scoop Adventures

Sampling the Ice Cream

Chef’s Audience

Notice the snazzy new sign?  Watch that space each week for a different chef cooking up delicious things!

Judy Newton

Two Market Chefs Will Be Judges at Embassy Chef Challenge

I noticed that two famous local chefs who have been demo chefs at the Olney Farmers Market will be judges for the Embassy Chef Challenge   next week.  Joan Nathan and Amy Riolo, along with other chefs and food writers, are featured at the charity event.

The annual benefit supports the free programs and events provided by Cultural Tourism DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Washington DC’s art, culture and heritage.  This is a unique benefit of living in the Washington DC area - a chance to take advantage of a diverse selection of cuisines as interpreted by Embassy chefs from around the globe.

Fifteen Embassy chefs will take part in vying for People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice Awards. There will also be an auction with items offering diverse culinary and travel adventures.  Here are the details of the event, from  the Embassy Chef Challenge website:


The 6th annual Embassy Chef Challenge will take place on Thursday, May 15 from 6:00-9:30 p.m. Chefs from around the world, who usually serve only to dignitaries and heads of states, will dish up hors d’oeuvres showcasing their countries’ cuisine while trying to win favor for the People’s Choice Award. A panel of celebrity chefs and food critics will select the Judge’s Choice. Proceeds from the evening will benefit Cultural Tourism DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, culture and heritage found in Washington’s diverse neighborhoods.

DATE: Thursday, May 15, 2014
TIME: 6:00 - 9:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
TICKETS: $250 per ticket. Early registration is encouraged— last year’s event sold out.

No Gazing, Plenty of Stars

The dinner billed as “Stargazing Vegetarian” turned out to be neither (but not in a bad way).   There were, however, plenty of cosmic vibes!

It was a warm day in early Spring in Ashton.  Greg and Nadine Mort opened their beautiful, mid-century rambler full of Greg’s artwork and astronomical objects to the last OFAM fundraising dinner of the 2013-14 season.  There was food, drink, and entertainment to be had, in abundance.  Alas, when it came time to do the stargazing, the sky had clouded over!  Never mind, the ever-resourceful Greg substituted an entertaining lecture instead.

The table was beautifully set with Nadine’s crystal and china.


Table Setting With View of the Living Room


Table Setting With View of the Telescope


Table Setting Detail


And a View of the Outside

The volunteers gathered to discuss the service, and the chef, Evelyn Bunoan, and her husband Oscar, set up the buffet.  Chef Evelyn is Master Chef and owner of Philippine Oriental Market and Deli, and has been named one of the most influential Filipina women in the US by the Filipina Women’s Network.

Volunteers Strategizing Before Dinner: Unknown, Dawn, Nancy, Jacob, Bobbi, Janet


Chef Evelyn and Oscar Set Up the Buffet

Elyse Kudo, of Jackson Family Fine Wines, generously donated red and white wine.  Here she is with Nadine and Greg, with the setup for the wine and Nadine’s Cosmic Cocktails.


Elyse, Nadine, Greg

As the guests arrived, the servers passed around hors d’oeuvres with the cocktails.


Mingling Over Drinks

Then we headed across the lawn to the observatory for a look at the big telescope,


On Wheels!

 and the bigger telescope.


It Has Its Own House

Chef Evelyn cooked one of the dinner dishes right in front of everyone, and then the buffet of wonderful Philippine food was spread for the guests to fill their plates.


Chef Evelyn Demonstrates a Noodle Dish


The Buffet

Although the dinner was mainly vegetarian, there were two dishes with fish and crabmeat, so there was something for everyone.


My Plate

At dinner, Elyse described the wines we were drinking, and Janet Terry, OFAM President,  thanked everyone for their wonderful patronage of the Market.


Elyse Talked About the Wine


Janet Waxes Enthusiastic About the Market

For dessert, a grand selection of dishes, some by our Market producers, and others by volunteers, was offered; and a violinist, Jeff Issokson, entertained.


Dessert Buffet


A Selection of Exotic Fruit

Then came the “consolation” lecture, to replace the cloud-occluded stargazing.  No one was disappointed.  Or, as one delighted guest said, “It just keeps coming!  I never expected all these extras!”


Greg Enlightens the Guests

The guests were given copies of a book full of Greg’s wonderful artwork as souvenirs of a most delightful evening!

The money raised by this and other fundraisers will allow the Market to supplement the Farmers Market SNAP and WIC programs.  We thank all the generous patrons who contribute to our efforts to promote good nutrition in our area.   

Judy Newton

Highly Seasoned Market

The dynamic demo duo Salt & Pepper came to the Market last Sunday.  They used the wonderful eggs, sausage and milk from Orchard Breeze to make omelets and scrambled eggs, along with Norland potatoes, spinach and onions from Cat’s Paw Organic Farm, and Hickory Smoked Bacon Gourmet Dip Mix from Magnet Earth.

Brian and Chef Tee


They Cook

Becca decided that cooking was the most fascinating thing ever.  She paid close attention throughout the entire demo.

Becca Watches

Jennifer, whose Cupcake Lounge table was located next to the demo table, graciously shared some space to stage the samples.  Eggs for tasting; cupcakes for dessert!

Elsewhere, the peripatetic Friendship Star Opportunity Quilt was located in the Exhibit Hall.  It has been in a different location each of the three weeks it has graced the Market.  Only one more week to avail yourself of the chance to own this amazing creation!  I wonder where it will be located this Sunday?  Come and see!

Quilt in Background - BEADazzling Designs in Foreground

I caught Jennifer taking a selfie of herself, her daughter Jailynn and Chaan of Angels and Anchors.


Mark Mills of Chocolate and Tomatoes showed off his chocolate bunnies for Easter, and a poster display of the crops he is planting in anticipation of the summer season.  I can’t wait!

Mark, Bunnies, Veggies

And for music, Walls and ‘Vino cast their spell over the Dr. Bird room.

Sitting Room Only

This is the last Sunday of our winter market.  See you there, or see you in May!

Judy Newton

Quilts and Curators on Two Sundays

Yes, this is a catch-up entry - I was delinquent last week and didn’t post about the Market, so here are two weeks in one.

On March 9, the Opportunity Quilt from the Friendship Star Quilt Guild made its first appearance.  This quilt is the major fundraiser for the Guild, and funds their participation in charity projects throughout the year.  If you missed it for the last two weeks, you still have a chance to admire and buy chances to win it through the end of the month!

 Many Blocks Make Up The Whole

Close-Up Detail of Some Blocks

Back View of Wonderfully Elaborate Quilting

It was pieced collectively by many Guild members, and professionally quilted.  In addition to the display of this admirable example of sewing skill, the Guild was represented by Teresa Peterson and Liz Brodsky, who presented a demonstration of wool appliqué technique.

Liz and Teresa Demonstrate

 Music was furnished by one of our favorite musicians, Jeff Burnett.

Jeff Sings

March 16 was a lively day.  In addition to the Market, the Museum hosted the “Extreme Exhibit Makeover” in the Exhibit Hall.  Two teams competed to produce new exhibits  in a limited time.

Exhibit Designers Puzzle Out a Detail

Living Space In Afghanistan Exhibit

Kimball’s Store Exhibit With Tania Katan on the Phone

Curtis Woody was there as well.  He is the Museum Community Artist in Residence, and is creating a collage about historic Sandy Spring.  Part of the piece’s background will refer to the Quaker quilting tradition; the Friendship Star Quilt, on display in the Long Hall, was a nice counterpoint.

 Curtis Woody Works on His Exhibit

Quilt and Vendors in Long Hall

There was also a demonstration of making glass beads by OFAM vendor artist Marti Andress.

Marti Makes Beads

Meanwhile, in the Dr. Bird room, St Patrick’s Day was celebrated with cookies at the Cupcake Lounge, and Chaan of Angels and Anchors showed everyone the sign she had ordered from Pete Carlson, our woodworker, as a gift for her husband.  So much synergy on one day!

Green Cookies


Roger’s Sign, With Chaan and Pete

This Sunday, Salt and Pepper, our favorite demo chef duo, will return.  The demo starts at noon.  See you there!

Judy Newton

A Museum Full of Music

The scheduled chef cancelled at the last minute last Sunday, so I was a little late getting to the Museum.  I was afraid that there would be a big hole in the day because of no chef, but I needn’t have worried -  the Dr. Bird room was full of music!  It was a double surprise, since they weren’t announced in advance (the newsletter just said “TBA”).


 Washington’s Spelmanslag Makes Lively Music

The fiddles, harp, marimba, flute, guitar, and cello players were Washington’s Spelmanslag, according to the flier on the table, “A group of musicians from different music traditions who enjoy playing music together.  We learn our tunes and style from tradition-bearing fiddlers from Sweden.  Today’s music is a fundraising effort to help us pay for the costs of having a fiddler-in-residence come to us from Sweden next October.”

They switched off, from the whole ensemble playing together, to smaller groups.


Eight Out Of Ten

They used their breaks to look around.


Fiddles In The Museum


Fiddle And Flowers

Meanwhile, Jesse showed off some magic tricks he’s learning.  One involves a cell phone.  A whole new generation of tricks!  I remember my uncle making a quarter appear from my ear.  That’s sooo last century!


The Amazing Jesse

I hope we can book the Spelmanslag during the summer.  Then there could be dancing!

 Judy Newton

Succulents at the Market

Oh, look!  A chance to make a pun!  Thank you, Madgie, for giving me this opportunity!

Of course, there is always succulence at the Market, but last week there were succulents as well.  Madgie McGaughan of M&M Plants gave a demo on care and feeding of these dry-adapted plants.  I like to think of them as not-quite-cactuses.  They store water in their leaves, and don’t need a lot of coddling.  Great for those of us with brown thumbs!

Madgie Talks About Succulents

The Audience Listens

We All Got To Take One Home

Succulents Close Up

The music was provided by JB and Deb.  You may recognize Deb Petavino - she’s one-half of Walls and ‘Vino (she’s ‘Vino), who have played at the Market recently.  The other guy is Jerry Burke.

JB and Deb

Several vendors chose to be outside in the sunny but chilly weather.

Outside From The Inside


Outside From The Outside

Jennifer of Cupcakes Lounge has been expanding her stock, branching out into cheesecake, macaroons,  loaf cakes, and other yummy treats.  Don’t panic - she still has cupcakes.

Lots Of New Things At Cupcake Lounge

And M&M Plants expanded their stock as well.  I have distributed some of these little packages around my yard.  All we need now is Spring!

Let The Aphids Beware!

Judy Newton

Wishing For Smell-O-Vision

The inside of the Sandy Spring Museum smelled amazing last Sunday when the mix of spices from our demo chef hit the heat.  There were treats for other senses too:

Chaan from Angels and Anchors sported a pair of boots as shiny as her Swarovski crystal jewelry.

Chaan’s Shiny Boots

Elsewhere in the Exhibit hall, Knitting by Leah had a large selection, guaranteed to keep you warm - even during this winter!

That’s Leah on the Right

 Outside, a snowscape in the courtyard;


 inside, Plantmaster’s flowers were bright and cheery.


The studio of Eun Ju Lee, one of the Museum’s resident artists, was open.  Her shelf held an interesting assemblage.

Still Life with Heart

In the Dr. Bird room, the Pat O’Neill Band provided agreeable sound as well as a video subject.

Strum and Smile!

The chef, Debbie Amster, cooked Kitchari With Greens (recipe on the OFAM recipes page), using spinach from our newest farmer, Cat’s Paw Organic Farm.  If you haven’t had this spinach or their salad mix yet, you’re really missing something!

Spice Box

She provided a lesson in knife skills as well as nutrition.

Debbie Attacks the Fennel


The Rapt Audience


Sniff That Great Aroma!

When it was done, there were samples to try.  They went well with all the other food on offer from the vendors.

Judy Newton

Two Holidays in One

At the Market last Sunday, preparations for Valentine’s Day were underway.  The kid’s cooking lessons in the back room, conducted by Lowry Martin, were all red and pink hearts and (heart-healthy) muffins.

Lowrey’s Helper at the Valentine’s Table

Hien Vu, our Vietnamese food seller, brought in rice cakes for Lunar New Year.  They are steamed for 15 hours in banana leaves, and contain sweet rice, meat and vegetables.

Hien Vu With Rice Cakes

Meanwhile, the Long Hall was a cheery sight, full of flowers from M&M Plants.

Long Hall

The Exhibit Hall, as usual, held artists.

Artists and Exhibits

And in the Dr. Bird room, patrons were enjoying the music and the chef demo.

Indoor Picnic with Pickles and Scrub Pines

Karen and Harry Montgomery, two of our biggest supporters, were there.

Karen and Harry Montgomery

 The demo chef, Dr. Ruby Lathon, made two delicious dishes: Sunflower “Tuna” Salad and Mango Miso Kale Salad.  She showed us how to massage kale to make raw kale palatable!

Dr. Ruby


Watching the Chef Demo

This Sunday, Debbie Amsler will be the demo chef (starting at noon), and we’ll all try to ignore the snow.

Judy Newton

Review: Chef Roberto Donna’s Alba Osteria

Those lucky patrons of the Olney Farmers and Artists Market who attended the Farm to Table Dinner in 2012 will remember the pasta course cooked by Chef Roberto Donna.  He has been busy around the city since then, opening, first, the trattoria Al Dente, and now Alba Osteria.

His latest venue is focused on small plates for sharing and pizza to be accompanied by a glass or two from the large list of Italian and American wines, craft cocktails and draft beer. The cuisine, which may be unfamiliar to many, is from Chef Roberto’s home region of Piemonte.  We went downtown on a Friday night to sample the food and drink.

The osteria’s layout has tables on the perimeter surrounding a central bar, and an open kitchen with a very decorative pizza oven.  This, together with the hard surfaces of the room, makes for a loud and lively scene.

Inside Alba
Inside Alba

Indeed, the open kitchen trope has been taken to an extreme - it can be easily viewed from the street.

And Out: Kitchen From the Street
And Out: Kitchen From the Street

The pizza oven can be seen as a decorative element.  Orange has been used throughout the room - it makes for a visually exciting environment, contributing to the edgy energy of the scene.  The food is equally stimulating, through being unfamiliar and, mostly, delicious.

The Pizza Oven
The Pizza Oven

About a dozen wines are available by the glass.  We had a very good La Rocca Coppo Gavi 2012, well-balanced and excellent with food.  I don’t usually prefer white wine, but this was a good choice.  We got right into the spirit of ordering small plates - we had six of them to share between the two of us, and were too full for dessert!

We started with a seafood special, scallops grilled just to the point of doneness, with little puddles of sauce that gave them a piquant edge.  Then lingua al verde, veal tongue in green sauce.  Again, the sauce was a film on the plate, just enough to add a fillip to the mild meat.

Veal Tongue
Veal Tongue

Then, a pasta course: agnolotti al brasato, little pockets stuffed with braised beef, beef jus, and bone marrow - a triple threat of meaty goodness; and trofie alla finanziera,  with sweetbreads, veal brains, and chicken liver, which I had mostly to myself.  My dining companion shuddered and left the offal to me!  I have to admit that this was the least successful dish we tried.  It was overly salty, and the finely-minced meat had no distinct flavor.  The trofie (small, rolled pasta) were a trifle under-cooked, making them chewy.

Next, we went for a vegetable course: L’Inverno, a grilled melange of eggplant, red onion, endive, and radicchio; and subric (fritters).  There was a surprise lurking under the construction of wintery vegetables; a tomato!  I got to eat the intruder, as my companion dislikes them, but I had the better experience, since the acid of the raw fruit cut through the extreme char of the vegetables.

Trofie, Not Trophy
Trofie, Not Trophy

The standout of the trio of fritters, with their bit of bagnetto rosso sauce,  was the eggplant.  Neither of us was sure which of the other two was the cauliflower and which the potato, as both were rather bland purees, but the sauce redeemed them.

Winter Is Coming!
Winter Is Coming!

At this point we realized that dessert would be overdoing it.  It was just too bad!  We would really have liked to try the several chocolate-involved creations, as well as the polenta bianca, or the gelato and sorbet offered by the scoop - but discretion is the better part of gluttony.

Chef Roberto has left this kitchen in the capable hands of Chef de Cuisine Amy Brandwein.  She is doing well by the regional Piemonte cuisine, and by the region of Mount Vernon Square in Washington, DC.

Note: Thanks go to Lindley Thornburg of the Heather Freeman Agency for her kind invitation to write about Alba Osteria.

Note again: If this article has made you curious about Chef Roberto’s cuisine, the Olney Farmers and Artists Market is sponsoring a forthcoming dinner featuring his artistry.  There are a few seats still available.  Find more information at the website.

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