Monday, August 10, 2009

Williamsburg Farmer's Market - Going to the Dogs

One of the best things to hit Williamsburg in recent years, is the Saturday Farmer's Market held in Merchants Square from 8 a.m. til noon. While not strictly a dining experience, the weekly event (from Spring to Fall) provides a wonderful variety of fresh produce along with gourmet items like goat cheese, organic buffalo meat, baked goods, and herb plants. This upscale market usually has live music and cooking demonstrations but the real show is the people (and their pets) that religiously turn out for the one-block stroll.

Besides the fresh produce, the market has become the social nexus for much of the community. It is refreshing to see college professors, lawyers, dentists, and curators, turn up for the 8 a.m. opening bell in their ratty weekend duds, limited make-up, and still sleepy countenances. In fact, if you step back and watch the early shoppers, many of who have hip and knee replacements installed, the street resembles a zombie parade from a scene in Dawn of the Living Dead. By 8:30 the crowd is dominated by leashed dogs of every size and shape--many dressed for the occasion. This weekly canine Easter parade is a sight to see especially if you are animal lover.

Traditional farmer's markets are a way for local farmers to directly supply their communities with the freshest produce available. Many of the vendors at the Williamsburg market cater to and are themselves a more polished cliental. This is not to diminished this fantastic event but don't expect to see any crusty, tobacco chewing, overall wearing, country boys hawking collards and hogs feet.

1 comment:

  1. 1st Annual Urbanna Fire Department Crab Feast

    Imagine the cacophony of 200 wooden mallets hammering against table-tops like an enormous flock of woodpeckers on acid, an 80s-rock mix-tape blasting through the PA speakers, the grunts and mumbles of 350 frenzied crab-addicts as they rip and smash their way through mounds of steamed hard-shell crabs. If you have the mental flexibility to do so, you’d begin to understand the sounds of the Urbanna Fire Department Crab Feast.

    It was billed as “All U Can Eat for $20” on the signs around the middle peninsula and the advertising didn’t promise much else. What we actually got was a sampling of the richness of small -town life in Urbanna. We arrived promptly at 5pm on Saturday 29 August, paid our $20 and each received a yellow wrist tag. We ambled over to one of about 40 long folding tables, set up in rows like a lumberjack camp under a huge tent. We sat down and looked around at the 30 or so other patrons and within a minute had two-dozen crabs, two orders of crinkle-cut fries, two sodas, cups of vinegar and old-bay seasoning, one roll of paper towels, two wooden mallets, and one GIANT hot dog laid out before us. The crabs were well seasoned and prepared in advance (so they were slightly chilled). I usually don’t eat chilled crabs that I haven’t prepared myself but in this case, they were fresh and full of meat. There was also a range of sizes from very large to somewhat small. The ticket said, “Golden Beverages sold separately” so I think there was Miller beer to be had for those that wanted it. Adding to the charm was the fact that this was a fundraiser for the Urbanna Fire Department and well supported by the volunteers and their families. A bonus at these types of volunteer food-fests is the presences of lots of children and family members were helping out. Free child labor in this case meant that every 10 minutes or so, an elfin future-firefighter would pop by and take away our crab waste. In addition there was plenty of free parking, law enforcement presence, and the promise of entertainment later in the evening. The porta-potties were clean and hand-wash stations were provided.

    Overall, I’d give this outing a five out of five stars. The crabs were plentiful and delicious, the hot dogs were the largest franks I’ve ever seen, the fries were hot and tasted great with vinegar, and the atmosphere was festive and friendly. I can’t wait for the 2nd Annual Urbanna Fire Department Crab Feast!