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Crop Rapport: Smith Meadows Grill

Posted by / Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Ever been roaming the stalls at your local farmers market and wondered, “Why didn’t I bring my oven/grill/any cooking conveyance with me?”

You are not alone.

Medical researcher cum sustainable dining evangelist Abdur Rashid said he and Smith Meadows Farm owner Forrest Pritchard never could understand why folks would be asked to come spend their hard-earned money on locally produced, seasonal foodstuffs only to then be sent out into the commercial wilderness of fast food joints for sustenance.

Enter: Smith Meadows Grill

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The pop-up eatery–which appears Saturdays at Courthouse and Sundays in Takoma Park–unites locavorism and immediate gratification, providing the farmers market faithful with nutritious nibbles sourced from many of the surrounding vendors.

“We saw a niche … and we wanted to eat,” Rashid said of the impetus for co-founding the mobile kitchen this past April.

Their immediate mission is, naturally, to showcase the full range of Smith Meadows burgeoning product line (they serve up everything from pasture-raised meats to free-range eggs to homemade pastas). But in Rashid’s macro view, the Grill helps strengthen the bond between all local producers and patrons by ingeniously weaving agriculture and commerce into one-stop shopping.

“You can literally look across the way and wave to the person who grew the lettuce in your sandwich,” he said of the reach-out-and-touchable supply lines that make the Grill menu possible.

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According to Rashid, all the proteins (beef, pork, lamb, chicken) are sourced from Smith Meadows Farm, as are the signature empanadas (savory and sweet), ham biscuits–Smith Meadows kitchen aide Linda McCarty said she prepares between 75-150 of her “heart healthy” country-style sandwiches (based on a recipe provided by her father’s cardiologist) each week–and rotating soups.

Grilled items (burgers, wraps, sandwiches), however, are often embellished with specialty ingredients plucked from neighboring vendors, including: Fields of Grace Farm (cheeses), Endless Summer Harvest (lettuce), Bon Matin Bakery (croissants), Potomac Vegetable Farms (produce), Toigo Orchards (apple cider).

Based on their preliminary research into competing food trucks, Rashid said everyone just assumed that their grass-fed burger and all-beef half smoke would be the driving forces for repeat business. But whether it be because of the early hours (Rashid et al. are usually on sight each Saturday by 5:30 a.m. to get the Grill primed for business) or perhaps a more health-conscious clientele, the breakfast wraps–wheat or corn tortillas filled with everything from scrambled eggs to pesto–have fast emerged as proven crowd pleasers.

“Folks like being able to grab a nice, hot sandwich,” he said of the simple but satisfying eye-openers.

For Rashid, the Grill remains very much a work in progress. He floated ideas for some new menu items (chilis, heartier soups), but stressed that, in the end, it’s really all about fulfilling both the physical and intellectual curiosity of the customer.

“Maybe they come for lunch … and they kind of get a whole new insight into this ‘new’ food,” he said of his tasting-is-believing proselytizing.

Amen to that, brother.

–Warren

**The Smith Meadows Grill will be absent from the Courthouse farmers market throughout the holidays, but will return on Saturday, January 8.**

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NoVA’s Winter Farmers Markets

Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market • 301 King St., Alexandria – Sat, 5:30-11 a.m.
Arlington Farmers Market • N. 14th St. & N. Courthouse Road, Arlington – Sat, 8-noon
Clarendon Farmers Market • 3100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Del Ray Farmers’ Market • E. Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria – Sat, 8-noon
Falls Church Farmers Market • 300 Park Ave., Falls Church – Sat, 9-noon (Jan-Mar); Sat, 8-noon (Apr-Dec)
Fredericksburg Farmers Market • George and Prince Edward Streets, Fredericksburg – Mon-Sat, 7-6 p.m.; Sun, 12:30-4 p.m.
Leesburg Farmers Market • 20 Catoctin Circle S.E., Leesburg – Sat, 8-noon (May-Oct); Sat, 9-noon (Nov-Apr)
Smart Markets – Oakton • 2854 Hunter Mill Road, Oakton – Sat, 10-2 p.m.

Or click here for our full list of local farmers markets.

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