People bustled, shopped and slurped at Union Market’s grand opening in NE Washington over the weekend, with Edens director of culinary strategy Richard Brandenburg keeping a close eye and breathing a sigh of relief at close of business on Sunday evening.
“I am happy about this weekend and the community support,” he said Monday. “This is a project that is not complete, but still a work in progress. And for those that have enjoyed this so far, there is more to come.”
Brandenburg said he didn’t have an official attendance tally, but that the market’s initial foray “exceeded expectations — and what was most important, all of our vendors were very happy.”
Twenty vendors were on hand (felt like more), plus a few high-profile “pop-ups” of established food purveyors or offshoots of bricks-and-mortar businesses that rounded out the offerings of charcuterie, meats, cheeses, produce and prepared foods. The hall’s got that brand-spanking, newly renovated smell and look, with wide aisles and lots of natural sunlight from a long wall of windows. Think climate-controlled farmers market with minimalist, un-tented stalls, punctuated by the occasional built-in counter for eating oysters or drinking artisanal sodas.
Engaging a range of pop-up artisans seems like an especially good idea, to keep the offerings diverse and to keep customers returning.
About 2,000 people showed up for Sunday afternoon’s second annual ice cream, gelato, custard and frozen yogurt tasting and judging event put on by the DC Scoop. (It was held in a fenced-in space just across from the market, which made a head count possible. Sinplicity’s food truck won the day.)
Among the market highlights:
Vienna’s Aromatic Spice Blends owner Deepa Patke was pleased with the turnout for her pop-up stall. Perched behind a counter of custom-mixed $4 packets, she pronounced the energy during the Saturday market as “especially good.”
At the EcoFriendly Foods pop-up, farmer Bev Eggleston traded his cowboy hat for a faded gray baseball cap. He was beheading Carolina shrimp ($10 per pound) that had been whole and on ice for a few days: “You need to do that, or they’ll start to go bad quickly,” he said.
Customers who stopped at Craig Rogers’s Border Springs Farm pop-up got to sample three kinds of lamb sausage — not to mention the benefit of special prices (beautiful racks at $16 per pound) and the farmer’s recommendations for cooking chops and boneless legs. “We brought up a whole truckload, and there’s not much left,” he said. “People from the neighborhood told us how excited they were to have us here.”
Cranberry smoked salmon ($26 per pound) from chef-general manager Jeni Paik of Neopol Smokery in Baltimore. Their smoked roasted garlic looked tempting.
Rappahannock Oyster Co. was a social hotspot, with chatty folks behind the counter.
Seating inside as well as outside.
Pop-up stand Puree Artisan Juice Bar, which has a bricks-and-mortar home in Bethesda.
Breads by Lyon Bakery.