Valentine’s Day Inspirations From the Farmers Market

Right around the corner is one of those holidays that strikes fear into the heart of many – Valentine’s Day. This day focused on romance and love reminds us that we have to come up with something creative to show that special someone in our life that we care. There is no better medium than food.

A great source of inspiration for a Valentine’s Day feast is the Falls Church Farmers Market or any Farmers Market – Falls Church just happens to be mine. You can go all-out and gather ingredients to prepare a delicious brunch or you can simply buy some of the high quality pre-made treats that vendors offer. The winter hours for the Falls Church Farmers Market are 9 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Saturdays, so it sets up beautifully for
Valentine’s Day, which falls on a Sunday this year.

Sunday Brunch Ideas

After a recent trip to the Farmers Market I put together a meal of French toast, bacon, and spiced apple cider, which you could easily translate into a Valentine’s Day brunch spread.

You will first want to stop by Atwater’s for the bread. Now there are many different types of bread you can pick up for French toast. For me, the ideal French toast bread has a crunchy crust and a soft inside. I first tried the Cranberry Pecan bread thinking that the cranberries and pecans would add a nice texture to the French toast, but I was very wrong because it was too dense, soaked up too much of the batter, and became very soggy. You will want bread that is soft on the inside and will only lightly absorb the batter. My pick is Atwater’s Rosemary Italian bread, which despite its savory-sounding name actually works perfectly.

Good French toast isn’t possible without good eggs. You can pick some of those up at Smith Meadows. Apple cider can be had at either Toigo Orchards or Black Rock Orchards, both of which put out a fine product. Finish
out the tour by swinging by Cibola Farms for some bacon and Blue Ridge Creamery for fresh butter.

There are many recipes online or in cookbooks for French toast. I use a few eggs, vanilla, cream and maple syrup. When you mix up the batter, you will want to make sure you whisk it thoroughly. I haven’t gone to the gym much lately, so I end up whisking at least three separate times to get the right consistency. I
also put all of my bread slices in a shallow pan and pour the batter over the slices, turning them a few times to make sure the batter is fully absorbed. Finally you will want your cooking oil and pan medium hot for thorough crispy cooking.

It’s a good idea to set your oven to 200 degrees when making a big batch of French toast. When you’re done with a batch slide it into the oven and it will stay warm and fresh while you continue to cook the rest. A warm oven is a good resting place for bacon as well, which you should cook at a lowtemperature on the stove to render out all the fat and crisp it up nicely. When you’re putting together a meal like this it’s also nice to
have the table set before you start cooking—you’ll want to eat rightaway. Another nice touch is to gently warm the maple syrup for the French toast. Trust me; your fellow diners will appreciate it.

To make the spiced apple cider, put three cups of apple cider in a sauce pan and add in ginger, cinnamon or cloves depending on your taste. Bring the mixture to a slight boil and then put a lid on the pot and
reduce it to a simmer while you cook the rest of the breakfast (you can cook it for just a few minutes or let it bubble away for a half hour or so for a stronger spice flavor—the choice is yours). Spiced cider is a nice warm up
during the winter months and a great way to get your fruit during these times
when fresh local fruit is sparse.

Don’t Want to Cook?

If cooking a full meal is not for you, there are some other options at the Falls Church Farmers Market. Stop by Sinplicity for the ingredients to put together a romantic dessert. Leland Atkinson will be offering all the
ingredients for a Passion fruit Sundae. You can pair Passion Sorbet (Passion fruit, Coconut Milk, Ginger and Rum) with a bag of Biscotti Rustica and a bottle of Port and Vanilla Glaze. If chocolate is your thing,
Sinplicity can still deliver with ancho chile fudge, hot chocolate mix or a pair of Sinplicity coffee mugs filled with biscotti. And don’t forget your frequent Sinner card!

Want to go out?

And if none of these ideas work for you, many of the Falls Church Farmers Market Chef restaurant partners will be offering special meals to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Liberty Tavern will be open for brunch; Willow has several Valentine’s Day dinner specials February 12th-14th along with a wine dinner on
February 11th; and Argia’s will be open, featuring many special dishes including a lump crab, avocado and white truffle appetizer.

For photos of the French toast breakfast and more pictures of the winter scene at the Farmers Market click

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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