The tiny, exquisite corner store on East Capitol on Capitol Hill probably says something about gentrification. P&C Market arrived on the scene two years ago and, with its stamped tin ceiling and selection of black truffle butter, stands in sharp relief from its corner-store counterparts, whose wares run more toward beer, milk, and Ramen. But the Market Report doesn’t want to talk about gentrification. The Market Report wants to talk about toasted walnut lentil pate.
The cleverly named Faux Gras, made by the Regal Vegan in Brooklyn, can only be found in one store outside of New York City—P&C. Ella Nemcova of Regal Vegan says it was a “pleasant surprise” to get a call from a D.C. merchant looking to sell their vegan pate, the first inquiry the company had had from outside New York. Nemcova says P&C orders a case a week, typical for other small gourmet shops she works with.
Brett H. Freeman, P&C’s food buyer, prides himself on stocking the market with items not available elsewhere (“We do have Diet Coke,” he admits). There’s the elaborate cheeses (cow from Vermont and Switzerland; sheep from Holland and Spain; goat from France), the craft beers, the line of French honeys, the whole-shelled Maine mussels, and the imported Italian pasta. A T-bone steak retails for $47.99. Miso paste can be had for $8.49. The store’s most expensive food item, canned Spanish seafood, sells for $80+.
Freeman, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has a background in high-end restaurants, buys from 75-85 purveyors to keep P&C’s stock unique and fresh. He says he can’t waste precious shelf space in the 600-square-foot shop with toilet paper and the like. “We are not a convenience store,” he says. “There are plenty of places you can get those things.”
P&C’s unusual offerings keep its Capitol Hill neighbors stocked with duck legs confit and good hostess gifts. Hill resident Kelly Caine comes to the market three times a week for farm-fresh eggs, unusual spices (she likes the Ras el Hanout, a Middle Eastern spice retailing for $9.99), and hostess presents. “Those chocolates,” she says, picking up a package of Michel Cluizel confections. “Everyone loves these.”
As for the Faux Gras, it’s creamy, nutty, and savory. (And expensive--$8.99 for an eight-ounce tub.) I dunk slices of sandwich bread in it after I run out of crackers. Next time, I’ll pick up some P&C artisanal baguettes to accompany my walnut lentil pate.