Every year, Mary and I make a pilgrimage to Comus Market, a small farmstand at a crossroads of Comus Road and Old Hundred Road in northern Montgomery County that specializes in unusual pumpkins and squash. It’s a beautiful drive in the countryside through rolling hills with stunning views. David Heisler has operated this store for years and provides an amazing selection of pumpkins and squash which are both decorative and edible (if you spot a middle-aged man hauling pumpkins as well as working the sales counter, that’s David). You’ll find a few that are common to grocery stores, such as sugar pumpkins and butternut squash, but he also has princess pumpkins, blue hubbards, carnival acorns, and delicata squash that you’ll rarely find even in a Whole Foods Market. But he has so many of them stacked in bins that you can’t help but admire their bold colors and shapes. I always bring my camera and take lots of pictures–everyone can find something interesting to capture. His market is only open in the fall and business is at it’s peak in mid-October, so you’ll want to visit soon.
We usually leave with a dozen assorted pumpkins and decorate our house for the fall, from which I slowly cull for meals over the next few months. They survive amazingly well and we even have a couple left over from last year (I keep checking them, but they’re okay). If you’re wondering how to eat these strange pumpkins and squash, just follow the traditional recipes for butternut or acorn squash but if you want to be a bit more adventerous, try a recipe from Fine Cooking or Lidia Bastianich. However, David just likes to roast them on a grill–halve them, scoop out the seeds, wrap them in foil, and set on the grill.
The Comus Market is located about 30 minutes north of Rockville. Take I-270 north towards Frederick and exit at #22 Hyattstown/Route 109. At the end of the exit, turn right (under the freeway) to follow Route 109 south just over three miles. Turn right at Comus Road (the Comus Inn will be on your right) and the Comus Market is immediately on your left.
Other fun things to do for foodies, nature lovers, and gardeners:
- Across the street is the Comus Inn, the only restaurant in the nearby. Serves lunch and dinner in a lovely country setting, but I’ve always found the service and meals to be disappointing (although it seems that the new owners are trying very hard to make a success of it). Lunch $10-18; dinner $18-30. Popular for weddings.
- Further on down the road is the Sugarloaf Mountain Winery. This winery is the closest to Rockville. Wines are good, not great, but it’s still fun to go out and taste something locally produced (and the wines should become better in time). Hours vary by season but always open weekends from noon to 5 pm.
- Even further down the road is Sugarloaf Mountain, the tallest peak in Montgomery County. It will only take you 30 minutes to climb but you’ll feel like you accomplished something! Owned and operated by Stronghold, Inc., a private non-profit organization. Check to be sure it is open–they may be closed due to road construction.
- On the road to and from the Comus Market, visit AW Landscapes. It’s primarily a landscape business but it has a small nursery that offers more decorative items (pots, fountains, sculpture) and unusual varieties of plants than other nurseries. And they also sell cold drinks out of a refrigerator on the porch.
View Comus Attractions on a Google map.