September 13, 2008

The Farmers' Market

The Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is one of my favourite places in the city. It’s airy and beautiful on a warm summer’s day, and cozy and homey in the middle of winter. Whenever I go there on Saturday morning, I usually end up bumping into at least a few people I know. It’s a great place to buy fresh produce or delicious baked goods, or get a coffee or breakfast and sit and chat with friends and strangers alike at the picnic-style tables.

But this post isn’t about the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. I’m saving that for later. No, this post is about the new market that I’ve discovered right here in Edmonton: the Downtown Edmonton Farmers’ Market.

I am already in love with this market, and I’ve only been there once. But it’s been on my mind all week, and every day that goes by I think, “Yes! One day closer to Saturday when we can go back to the market!”

This market is four blocks from our apartment, on 104th Street. Two blocks of the street are closed to traffic and open for vendors to set up their tents and stalls. People stroll along the street with cloth shopping bags, babies and dogs. Just like at every market I’ve been to, this market has a very community feel.

The amount and variety of produce are intense. J and I couldn’t believe it, having come from the tiny (but wonderful!) market back home. I’ve also been to the Halifax market, which is big and bountiful, but I think this one has even more produce.

Lots of farmers with greenhouses come to the market, so even this time of year we saw tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and eggplant, which in an outdoor garden would be harvested earlier in the summer. There is also corn, carrots, potatoes, beets, zucchini, squash, chard, onions, garlic, herbs, peaches, nectarines, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, plums, apples and pears.

All of the fruit we saw was from B.C. – hence the summer variety. We talked to one woman who has a farm there. She and her husband spend part of every week going to several farmers’ markets in Alberta. They don’t sell fruit in B.C. at all.

There are also a lot of artisans at the market, and a lot of prepared food. J and I started off our trip with a stop at a stand selling Mexican food. He got a breakfast burrito and I got a quesadilla. They made their own salsa and guacamole and both were delicious. But this week I might have to sample from somewhere else, since there is so much on offer.

One of Jacques’ go-to stands at the Charlottetown market is the perogy stand. He loves them, and they are everywhere here in Alberta where there is a lot of Ukrainian heritage. We bought a bag of frozen perogies to enjoy later in the week.

Bison is everywhere.

We also discovered a stand selling the most succulent lime tarts in the world. We had to try one. This couple makes several kinds of tarts – lemon, lime, chocolate hazelnut, and some others I can’t remember. They also make quiches. The man was very nice and gave us samples of the lemon and lime curd that he makes himself. They were both heaven on a spoon – he doesn’t add too much sugar so they have a lot of tartness that makes the fruit sing, and the custard is velvety smooth. The shortbread crust was also perfect. This is an indulgence, and after about three bites I had had enough, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to resist temptation when we go back.

The Queen of Tarts stand.

Lime curd...yum...

We came back from the market laden with peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, adorable “Thumbelina” carrots, potatoes, an onion, garlic, herbs and a cucumber. We turned all that beautiful produce into some beautiful meals that I will share with you soon.

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