COOK } The Stars of Spring

DC is finally showing off her full spring glory, and the farmers markets are gearing up with appearances from the season's superstar vegetables and fruits.

This video from an appearance on News Channel 8's Let's Talk Live is a few years old, but I refer to it as "That time I chewed a pickled ramp through an entire live TV segment." So I figured it's worth recycling.

Give it a watch and read on for tasty ideas for how to best use spring's produce:

The freshly picked tender spears of spring are a far cry from the woody stalks you find in the off season. Look for them to make their first appearance in the next few weeks at the markets.
Make: Asparagus Benedict on quinoa nettle cakesPenne with asparagus, sage and peas; or simply grill it

Stinky, musky goodness is how I think of these wild onions.
Make: Ramp pickles, Buttermilk ramp biscuits

Endless Summer Harvest specializes in these adorable baby greens with a spicy kick.
Make: Pile them on a BLT in place of lettuce, or toss into a salad for extra flavor.

Don't touch them raw or you'll understand where the name comes from, but dunk them in boiling water and they turn into perfectly edible, nutritious greens.
Make: Spring lasagna with asparagus, peas and stinging nettles, Nettle soup

Every spring I look forward to making tangy jam and a simple rhubarb crostata.
Make: Rhubarb quick jam, Strawberry and rhubarb crostata

One of spring's more elusive finds, these mushrooms with a super short season demand high prices but can be worth the splurge.
Make: Quiche with morels and scallions


DRINK } Snow Day Hurricane

The cold shows no sign of surrender here in DC, and my kitchen pipes just burst. While we wait for water to return and snow to melt, I'm taking a cue from the folks celebrating Mardi Gras today and mixing an updated version of a New Orleans classic — the Hurricane.

Drawing from Salt & Sundry's bar section, I've subbed P&H Soda Co.'s delicious hibiscus syrup for the traditional passion fruit. Match that with Jack Rudy's grenadine and fresh citrus, and you have a little tropical escape in a glass.

For another accessible tropical escape, head to the wonderfully humid US Botanic Garden jungle (pictured below). It may be the best place to ride out the cold snap in DC. If only they had a tiki bar ...

Snow Day Hurricane
2 oz dark rum
1/2 oz fresh orange juice
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz P&H Soda Co. Hibiscus Syrup
1/4 oz Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Grenadine

Shake and strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with fruit and a paper umbrella.

Adapted from Imbibe.


GIVE } Valentine's Gifts for Food Lovers

You've probably heard me say it before, but you can never go wrong gifting really good food. With that in mind, we've created three Valentine's gift boxes — the LOVE, LOCAL and LUSH — filled with fabulous cocktail/food items, available for preorder and pick up at Salt & Sundry.

Pictured above, the LOCAL box rounds up some of my favorite DC-made goodies, including Langdon Wood Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread, Mango 'Chups and Capital Honey Co.'s raw urban honey.

For details on the LOVE and LUSH box, and how to place an order, head to Salt & Sundry's Instagram.


DRINK } Bittermilk's Oaxacan Old Fashioned

After stocking their excellent cocktail mixers at Salt & Sundry for some time, I finally had the chance to meet the delightful creators of Bittermilk when they made the trip from SC to DC for Emporiyum.

They're one of those impressive pairs who make you wonder if they have more than 24 hours in the day. Between running a popular Charleston bar, raising kids and selling their growing Bittermilk line, husband-and-wife team Joe and MariElena Raya are still cooking up new flavors.

The latest is the Bittermilk No. 6 Oaxacan Old Fashioned. In the dead of winter, it delivers a welcome dose of spicy warmth.

Inspired by the flavors of Mexico and mezcal, this craft mixer blends dried Mexican chilies, cocoa nibs and spices. It's sweetened with raisins and — you know I love an NC connection — aged with cocoa husks from French Broad Chocolates in Asheville.

Mixing one up couldn't be easier, as Joe demonstrates below: Stir 1 part mixer with 4 parts mezcal and ice. Garnish with a lime twist. And warm up.


STYLE } Purple Haze

After the riotous bold colors of the holidays, I'm feeling drawn to a palette of pinks and purples — which sounds like a 6-year-old girl's favorite colors, but in dusty muted tones, the pair can be quite sophisticated. Here's a little winter eye candy to cut through the cold.

Silk tie dyed tablecloth from Shabd, available at Salt & Sundry.

Sibella Court's fabulous new book Gypsy, full of warm bohemian interiors.

A recent harvest from the gorgeous bed of greens Love & Carrots planted in my backyard this fall.


Happy New Year!

Not one for punitive New Year's resolutions, I finally got to snag one of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.'s breakfast biscuits before opening Salt & Sundry this weekend at Union Market. The fluffy, crumbly biscuit topped with Benton's bacon, a runny egg and melted cheese is a breakfast I hope to repeat often in 2015.

I also hope to be writing a bit more here, as the dust settles from opening two shops in two years.

Wishing you a very happy new year!


SHOP } Small Business Saturday at Salt & Sundry

Back when I opened Salt & Sundry two years ago, I was extremely fortunate to find an incredible and talented team of women (and the occasional man!) to work with. One of those women is Mallory Shelter. While holding down a full-time job in PR, she works at the shop on weekends and last year, she launched her own jewelry company. She likes to stay busy.

On Nov. 29, we're throwing a trunk show and soirée featuring Mallory's gorgeous handmade pieces as part of American Express and Etsy's nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign. Working with local makers and designers is one of my favorite parts about owning a shop, and I'm excited to showcase Mallory's one-of-a-kind work.

The trunk show runs from 1-7 p.m. at Salt & Sundry Union Market, and from 4-7 p.m., we'll serve up snacks from Bayou Bakery, seasonal sips and tunes by DJ Shanti Shree.

Hope to see you there!

Photos by Jeff Martin