Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Billy Goat Food Trail (3)

Dish to die for: Liege-style waffles

We enjoyed hiking – and eating -- on the Billy Goat Trail so much, that the next day we went back for more. This time we started off at the Palisades Farmers’ Market, which sets up in the parking lot next to Black Salt Restaurant on MacArthur Boulevard. Here we found a Belgian couple making Liege-style waffles before our very eyes. The smell was warm and sweet, drawing us closer. I looked around for syrup, sugar, or other toppings, but found none. “Non”, said Madame, “everything is already inside.” Honey had been folded into the batter, and the aroma we smelled was pearl sugar caramelizing on the outside of the waffle as it baked. An aroma that held us firmly in its grip until we handed over our $4 per waffle (you can also get 3 for $10). It was money well spent: eating these waffles felt like ingesting warm little packets of gladness.

Bellies aglow, we continued to work our way around the farmers’ market , picking up some fruit for the trail and also some veggies to take home. I stopped by a pile of baby pumpkins.

"These would be great with dinner!" I announced. Chris looked uncomfortable, shifting from leg to leg. “Do you think we had better ask if they are meant for cooking?“ “What do you mean? It’s just a squash.” I remembered my mother marveling that Americans do not think of pumpkin as a food, but rather as a Halloween accessory.

Dutifully, I asked at the farm stand if these pumpkins could be cooked. The woman looked a bit doubtful herself, but gamely proferred that “some people” did cook them. With this inconclusive information, it would be up to me to demonstrate that pumpkin was indeed just another squash that could be cooked like any other: baked, put in stews, used to sweeten chicken soup ever so slightly -- this latter being my mother’s favorite use. But that would come later.

Right now, we had the Billy Goat Trail Section B to conquer. Just as for Section A, access to the trail is from the parking lot across from the Old Angler’s Inn on MacArthur Boulevard, about a 10 minute drive from Black Salt. Head down the hill, cross the bridge, but instead of turning right on the towpath as you would for Section A, turn left to reach Section B. Section B of the Billy Goat Trail is a kinder, gentler walk along the Potomac River. Being less strenuous, you can take the time to notice the smaller wonders along the way. Chris is good at that:

Another advantage to choosing this milder terrain is that you are left with sufficient time and energy to contemplate other activities in the area. On the way back from our “hike” (more like a rolling stroll, really), we made a stop at the open artists’ studios at Glen Echo Park that we had had to skip the day before: we admired the oil paintings of J. Jordan Bruns, the artist-in-residence in his round studio in the Chautauqua Tower, and poked in and out of the yurts that serve as studios and galleries.

Glen Echo itself is like a palimpsest with traces of its past identities still visible through the successive layers that have followed. Buildings remaining from its days as an amusement park are still in evidence, with names like Crystal Pool, the Dentzel Carousel and the Hall of Mirrors. The Tower is the only vestige of its Chautauqua period in the late nineteenth century,while the yurts arrived as fallout from a 1971 crafts event on the Mall in Washington that never happened. Perhaps it is this refusal to adhere to any one period of time which makes Glen Echo one of the most magical places in the DC area.

....continued in The Billy Goat Food Trail (4)

But meanwhile: Happy Halloween!!

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