Monday, October 12, 2009

Farmers Market and Dinner Party

Following the opening ceremony on Thursday, I headed to the farmers market several Metro stops away from The Mall and came out of the ground into this surreal and beautiful area of DC that I, being a tourist, never knew existed.  Across from the Reagan building, surrounded by cement parks and fountains and those short plump dense buildings DC is known for, I spilled into the streets headed toward the White House where I knew stood an organic market that Michelle Obama recently helped to create.  I felt giddy.



The very first stand at the market was a bison farmer.  I purchased some sticks and compared them to ours in MN.  I can assure you that our bison quality remains superior to that of eastern buffalo.  Prices at the market were on the crazy side of outrageous.

Friday morning I prepped my mise en place at the home where I am staying.  Decided on the pizza menu as it features salsa and a cold red pepper soup, much more appealing on an 89 degree day than baked chicken and wild rice soup (featured on the second menu).  Arrived at the ICON house and learned the chicken menu had been submitted to the judges for that evening's meal plan so the adventure continued... If we served the pizza menu as I planned for, we would lose serious points in the competition so I headed back out to grab my lucky thermometer and the MN ingredients stored in my friend's refridgerator, and to purchase the rest of the menu ingredients.  Made it to the ICON house with minutes to spare and I had two hours to prep and prepare the entire meal.



Audrey, another decathlete, helped in the kitchen and prepared apple crisp while I served our appetizers on the beautiful back deck table.  Dinner went off without too many hitches, although the kitchen looked like a murder had occured there as we are not allowed to use the sink or dish washer while competing (produces too much gray water).  Shengyin (student team leader that you have seen on much of the TV and news coverage) and I hosted 6 guests from our neighboring quad (including California, Illinois, and Puerto Rico).   The decathletes from Puerto Rico charmed me to no end.

Following the dinner party our students who had dined at other houses started wandering into the ICON house with tales of their dinners.  Puerto Rico were hands down the party central house!  They had all of their lights on (we are constantly doing what we can to conserve energy in the homes), fried whole fish, played wildly fun games, and hosted a grand party that went half and hour too late.  PR is Team Congeniality!  Fabulous!

After cleanup, I walked out toward the Metro.  The 20 little houses were quiet and mostly dark, but on either end of the Mall lights from the monument and the capital lit up like halos against the navy sky.  It was quiet and beautiful and for just a moment it belonged completely to me.

Appetizer recipe from the Minnesota Harvest Menu follows.

Tomato Marmalade (served on toast points with "Buffalo Bites")
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoon basil, chopped
1 large scallion, chopped
1 Tablespoon capers, drained
Chopped hot chilis to taste

Heat quartered tomatoes and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients, stirring frequently, 20 minutes or until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cool slightly.

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