From Jana Petersen and Laura Herman. Laura is also a contributor over at Brightest Young Things; you can find her on Twitter @Lmhhabs.
Crowds flocked to Local 16 on U Street this past Saturday for “Grey DC,” a day-long event featuring the delicious and homemade treats of 25 local vendors. Crunkcakes anyone? How about sweet potato butter or pickled vegetables?
Appropriately characterized as an “underground” market, a grey market can be defined as the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial. What does unofficial mean? For vendors, it means the ability to sell their local goods without wading through much of the unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that often slows or prohibits entry into “official” farmers markets. For patrons, it means a simple signature on a waiver that acknowledges the rules of a grey market.
Well, sign.us.up. (again and again and again). Vendors packed the space across the top floor of Local 16 — some inside, the luckier ones out — selling and sampling products ranging from Cuban Sandwiches and homemade pastries to vegan cupcakes, macarons (cancel your flight to Paris!), cakeballs, barbeque, grilled cheese, seafood gumbo, pickles and yogurt. We spent the afternoon taking in the sights, smells, samples, and crowds.
Here’s what we saw (and sampled!):
- Crunkcakes, alcohol-flavored and infused cupcakes (the booze is added after baking so it doesn’t evaporate), were a big hit. (We picked up a yummy sampler filled with Kahlua, Tequila, and Bailey’s flavored treats to bring to a party that evening!)
- Hand pies from Betsy’s Bites.
- Gorgeous macaroons from DC Patisserie made us drool.
- Vegan cupcakes (Not quite sold on tofu, but sign us up for raspberry frosted chocolate cupcakes!).
- Home cook and aspiring food truck purveyor “Baker Man Dan” showed off delectable sweet and savory scones, cookies, and breakfast breads.
- Smokin’ Somethin’ barbeque was another big hit, with pulled pork sandwiches, chicken, and cole slaw.
- The seafood gumbo also looked (and smelled!) delish. Wish we had saved room for lunch…
- Among our haul from the market, the gorgeous jar of preserved lemons (pictured above) from The Pickle: Cultured Foods, which offered a fun selection of pickled goodies like kimchee, beet pickles, Sauerkraut, Chimichurri, and of course, good ol’ traditional spears.
- Are “cakeballs” really the “new cupcake?” We were convinced after sampling Capital Cake Balls‘ bite-sized treats. The chocolate-dipped cake balls had a unique consistency that reminded us of raw cookie dough — in the best way possible — and tasted like a cake truffle.
Everything was delicious; we happily sampled endless baked goods before we decided what to purchase to bring home. We left full, buzzing with sugar, and laden with treats. Grey Market was a great way to spend Saturday afternoon — the only way, really — people-watching and chatting with the vendors.
So when and where will the next Grey Market be? “Like” them on Facebook and check out their website to keep tabs on what’s coming and how you, Borderstanis, can contribute to the next market! Vendors are picked on a first-come/first-served basis. We’re already pondering the possibilities ….
What would you cook for a farmer’s market? One of mom’s old recipes? Respond and let us know!