Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dutch Country Farmers Market in Burtonsville (Laurel)

For anyone interested in exploring food, the Dutch Country Farmers is worth the drive to Burtonsville.

(Update: The market moved to Laurel and reopened on September 10, 2009. Hours will be Thursday 9-6, Friday 9-8, Saturday 8-3.)

You could go just for the spectacle and the pretzels. Dutch Country is a supermarket-sized area with a dozen vendors selling everything from meat to candy, fresh-squeezed juice to ribs you can carry out. It's chaotic. It's friendly. It's a well-stocked middle ground in a world where so many stores specialize in organic or cheap.

Start your trip with a $2 hot pretzel from Lydianne's Soft Pretzels, which is just past the candy shop when you enter. They're literally right out of the oven, and you can't beat that kind of treat. Personally, I ask for a pretzel that hasn't been dipped in butter. They literally have a few quarts of melted butter, and they dip everything before they go to the counter. That's delicious, but I prefer a little more crisp and little less butter.

Then, take a walk. As far as I can tell, the vendors are all people from Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Obviously, this is a perfect place if
you like Pennsylvania Dutch food. There is an entire display of pasta, potato, tuna and other salads. There are great sweet desserts like fudge, cheesecake and pies. And there is a wall of preserved items like jams, pickled vegetables (brussel sprouts!) and pickled eggs.

But you should sample your way around the Dutch Market to see what catches your eye. I have found great ingredients to cook and many little treats. I actually haven't tried the vegetables stand. Usually, I'm in the midst of errands, and the full selection of vegetables -- clearly not grown in Pennsylvania -- always makes me wonder whether they're really "farmers market" special or just nice-looking stuff from a wholesale market. Stick your head in the candy area and look for the unusual gummies. Check out the spices and jarred items across from the candy for pickles, jams, spices and soup mixes. Spend a long time at the meat counters, especially if you're looking for something unusual. These are my current favorites:
  • The hot pretzels, including the breakfast "bacon, egg, and cheese" pretzel log. (I'm not kidding.)
  • The dairy products -- including Trickling Springs Creamery regular or organic milk in glass bottles -- just inside the entrance.
  • The Beiler's Meats counter with a broad selection of steaks, veal, pork, interesting sausages, organic meats, and butcher-store specialties like ham hocks, cow feet, and goat meat. Beiler's sells three levels of meat -- USDA grain fed, a "natural grain fed" free of steroids, hormones and antibiotics, and a certified organic.
  • The baked goods, including all kinds of dinner rolls, sweet breads, cakes and even loaves from the Breadery in Ellicott City.
  • The fresh-squeeze orange juice and lemonade around the corner from the candy stand. That can run $7.89 and $3.59 for a half-gallon respectively, but you can watch the machine squeeze juice right there in the store. It's delicious, and you can buy smaller bottles as well ($4.29 and $1.99).
(Update: See the detailed recommendations from HowICook in the comments.)

The Dutch Country isn't an organic wonderland. Despite the beards and bonnets, these are modern folks selling manufactured goods. The goods are delicious, and it's cool that they're made in Lancaster County. But the pickles that I bought contain polysorbate 80, and that is going to be similar if you're looking through the candies or at Lydiaanne's zesty horseradish mustard. So keep your eyes open and buy something because you like it -- not for the romance of the "Dutch Country." (And watch the prices too. The $1.39 Claeys candies are 99 cents if you buy them at Laurel Meat Market.)

Overall, this is a fun place to check out. The key fact is that it is only open Thursday to Saturday and only 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday. Check out the Web site below. It gives you a superb feel for all 12 vendors, plus the hours and address. In 2007, there was talk that the Burtonsville market would close and move to Laurel, but the Web site and signs at the store say it will be open until further notice. I don't know exactly what that means because they still list the new location on Rte 198 in Laurel.

If you are checking out Burtonsville, turn west on Rte 198 and check out the restaurants in the next two blocks. There are outlets for Rita's and Mainwand Kabob, plus Cuban at Cuba de Ayer and Ethiopian at the Coffee Oromia.

Dutch Country Farmers Market (to July 4, 2009)
15642 Columbia Pike
Burtonsville, MD

NEAR: The Dutch market is at the intersection of Rte 198 and Columbia Pike. This is a block west of Rte 29. From Howard County, take the first exit in Montgomery County. You'll go around a traffic circle at the top of the exit ramp, and then you'll ride down the old Rte 29 past Meadows Farms nursery. The market is in the shopping center on the right just before the intersection with Rte 198.

Dutch Country Farmers Market (after August or September 2009)
9701 Fort Meade Road (Rte 198)
Laurel, MD 20707

NEAR: The market will be on Rte 198 just east of U.S. 1. It is very convenient from downtown Laurel.


Anonymous said...

it's relocating to laurel
from the web pg

CALL FOR DETAILS: 301.421.1454
Or Subscribe to our Newsletter for Updates
Relocating to:
9701 Fort Mead Rd | Laurel, Maryland 20707
Along Route 198 next to Home Depot

HowICook said...

Here's my favorite items

from the cheese shop:
- Sliced low-fat farmers cheese. Perfect for sandwiches, grilled cheeses and snacking. I haven't seen this product at any other local store.
- Trickling Springs buttermilk and organic cream. These products are not ultra pasteurized, not homogenized and don't have additives (except the required vitamins in the buttermilk). Additionally, they're extra thick with a real non commercial taste and a higher amount of milk fat than normal.

from the vegetable stand:
- White mushrooms from nearby Pennsylvania. They're usually in perfect condition and extra large.
- Cage free brown eggs from Pennsylvania.
- In season, I look for the local label on the signs.

from the roasted meat stand:
- Baby back ribs

from the chicken stand:
- Fresh fried crispy chicken wings and especially the potato wedges
- Fresh chicken (whole and various pieces). It comes loose in big boxes that are dumped into the case on crushed ice. They appear to be very fresh and minimally processed. The staff will even cut the chicken into smaller pieces for you on request.
- turkey tenders

from the butcher stand:
- Bulk sage sausage, thick cut hickory smoked bacon, maple bacon, turkey bacon ends

from the donut stand:
- Freshly made warm apple fritters

from the juice stand:
-Large ice cold lemonade

I like to go Saturday mornings after 9:15 but before 10. You avoid the opening line/rush and the crushing crowds after 11. After 1-2 PM on Saturday, they run out of things.

HowChow said...

Thanks HowICook for specific recommendations. Those are great. I updated the post to tell people to read them.