Tag Archives: market

Salt Spring Island weekend mini-vacation

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of getting older, or the fact that I moved from a house into a high-rise apartment building, or the fact that there are two construction sites across the street from me, but I’ve been finding the city tiresome. Don’t get me wrong. I love Vancouver, I love my neighbourhood (and its impressive 95% score on a walkability index) and I love not having a car.

View from Salt Spring Island getaway house

This is an arbutus tree. I never knew they were red. Or so pretty.

But still, it’s nice to have friends who invite you to islands for long weekend mini-vacations. Friends with parents with houses on Salt Spring Island. You know, friends with parents with houses on Salt Spring Island with views like this from the back porch.

And speaking of said porch, candelit dinners with friends are also wonderful. One night it was barbecued ribs, another night handmade pizza.

And piiiiiie. One strawberry-rhubarb, one blueberry. I did not, however, bake them in this darling little wood stove—I used a convection oven. But they sure look pretty on top of it, so let’s just pretend. Let’s also pretend that this picture isn’t blurry. And I’ll pretend that I hadn’t been drinking wine in the sun all afternoon.

Pie!

Pie! One strawberry-rhubarb, one blueberry. Both delicious.

Salt Spring Island, for the uninitiated, is a mecca of educated hippie artistic fantasticness. Where nary a multi-national chain can be found, and where there are no fewer than three soap companies. (These are clean hippies, understand.) And at last weekend’s Saturday market, it seemed that the entire island could be found at the city square.

And what a market it was. Gorgeous pottery, hand-knit hats, sock monkeys, carnival masks, tie-dyed yoga pants, hula hoops: it was all there. And, of course, lots of artisan food vendors and stunningly fresh produce. The farmers market aisle was fragrant with the scent of basil, and everywhere you looked there was an heirloom tomato more perfect than the last. And stripey Portuguese garlic, all coy in its basket.

Portuguese garlic at Salt Spring Island market

Stripey!

I discovered that Foxglove Farm, with its farm dinners, accommodation and education programs, has the best raspberries that I’ve tasted in years. I ogled the selection of fresh goat cheeses from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company (almost too pretty too eat).

And yes, I found chocolate.

Salted caramels from Chocolate Beach

Caramels with Himalayan sea salt. Tasty.

Chocolate Beach is a teeny tiny chocolate company run by Joanne and Rob Burns. She’s the chocolatier, formerly goat cheese maker, formerly something else. She’s now retired and making chocolates with certified fair trade chocolate from Cocoa Camino. Her sea salt caramel, a pleasantly chewy caramel dipped in chocolate and topped with pink Himalayan sea salt, was lovely. Rob manned the other side of the booth with an impressive display of fudge.

While I didn’t try this tarte au chocolat, it’s awfully pretty. And I’m a sucker for a cursive chalk on a chalkboard. It helps that this table was run by a very friendly French couple who spoke like zees.

Tarte au chocolat

Cue accordion music and Audrey Tautou cameo appearance.

My sweet tooth also spied other treats: stacks of buttery shortbread from Bite Me! Gourmet Treats and honest-to-goodness cannoli from an Italian food stand.

And, because I clearly hadn’t had a decadent enough day, I had a pineapple-coconut popsicle from the Salt Spring Island Fruitsicle stand. Self-proclaimed “creators and purveyors of delicious, fruit based iced lollies,” these were the hit of the market. Popsicles that taste like real fruit. How novel.

All in all, a great weekend away.

Stacks of shortbread

Stacks of shortbread from Bite Me! Gourmet Treats

Cannoli

I love cannoli, but I can't get a good cannoli in Vancouver. These were good (but not like the stuff you can get in Montreal).

Chocolates from Chocolate Beach at Salt Spring Island market

An assortment of chocolates from Chocolate Beach

Candlelit dinner on Salt Spring Island

Life was made for candlelit dinners with good food, good wine and great company.

Sunset, glorious sunset from the porch.

And now I'm just being mean by posting this. But look! Stunning!

Getting FRESH

I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of FRESH, a new-ish documentary about sustainable food systems, farming, and industrial farming. If you can get your hands on it, please – for all that is sacred – watch it.

It’s highly entertaining and thought-provoking, with engaging interviews, gratuitous shots of cute animals (and, of course, shocking shots of factory animals), and great stories. It leads you in, very slowly, to the craziness that is industrial food production, and just how far removed it is from actual food.

A few things stick out in my mind, but one in particular: overhearing a sustainable farmer’s phone interview, in which he makes abundantly clear that he’s an economist, a scientist, an agricultural expert, and a businessman. For whoever thinks that farmers are just yokels in overalls, you need to watch this movie for that scene alone.

It’s not a one-sided, preaching-to-the-choir movie, either. There’s an interview with a couple who are industrial chicken producers. They sign contracts with big business, who then provide feed, chickens, and deadlines for slaughter. And they say, wide-eyed, that they don’t give hormones or antibiotics to their chickens – but no, ma’am, they don’t really know what’s in the chicken feed.

It talks about monocultures and treatment of animals, and links a number of human health issues – notably, avian flu and swine flu – to the horrific conditions in factory farms.

Ack.

On the whole, it’s a hopeful movie. It makes you want to be a farmer, and to support local business. Even better, it brings economic arguments into the picture: not only is industrial food production bad for your health and your community, it’s actually bad for the economy. It’s so wholly unsustainable and disrespectful – to this planet, to food systems, to all components of food systems – that you wonder how we ever thought it would be a good idea.

And after the movie, the panel discussion really drove that point home. It’s not about food. It’s about food systems. And until our production methods acknowledge and work within those systems, we will have problems.

So, what’s the take-home message? Vote with your dollars and your fork. Cook, or learn to cook. Hug a farmer.

Main Street Station farmer’s market

Apparently, it’s local food week on this here blog. That was unintentional, but maybe a reflection of the plethora of the events and whatnot that are going on this time of year, and in Vancouver.

Yesterday was the opening of the Main Street Station farmer’s market. Had I been more on the ball, I would have told you yesterday so you could go, but I’m telling you now so that you can go next week. There are early strawberries (a bit tart, but still infinitely better than the stuff carted in from California), beautiful rhubarb, garlic scapes, kale, arugula, radishes, eggs…the list goes on. And, yesterday, opening day cake!

I have visions of rhubarb pie, swiss chart tart, radishes with salt, and roasted scapes. It’s going to be lovely.

And just when you thought I had chocolate off the brain: when you go, say hi to Kelly at Bad Girl Chocolates, and tell her I sent you. She has two new things in her arsenal: a beautiful molded chocolate spattered with green, containing a rosemary caramel; and a fresh mint truffle. Oh, to die for.

The Main Street Station farmer’s market is on until October 21, every Wednesday from 3-7pm. It’s in Thornton Park at Main and Terminal, across the street from the train station. Look for the tents, local produce and happy people: you can’t miss it.

Farmers on 57th

Heads up, Vancouverites. My good friend Karen is part of a team that is converting urban lawn space into a productive market garden. The space is beside the George Pearson Centre at 57th and Cambie, and the goal is to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers for the Main Street Farmer’s Market

Drop by on Fridays between 11am-3pm to say hi, help, or learn about their project. You can also sign up to get market newsletter updates. Email jkrashleigh (at) gmail (dot) com to get on their mailing list.

EDIT: I am so smrt, s-m-r-t. Here’s the latest newsletter from Farmers on 57th, just for you. It’s a sizeable file, so be patient.
pdf_icon_smallFarmers on 57th newsletter – 16April2009 (1.6MB)

The Boulder farmer’s market

By the time you read this post, I’ll have been out to see the Boulder Farmer’s Market. Provided that it’s market season, I will make a point of going to a farmer’s market in each new city I visit. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it’s fascinating to see what’s available in different climates at different times of the year.

There’s a pretty comprehensive list of vendors on the website, though I’m sure that I won’t have time to meet them all. I’m on the hunt for Boulder Popcorn, though – I’ve seen it in a couple of gourmet food shops here and want to take some back to Vancouver.

Comfort food for rainy days

This weekend was the winter farmer’s market and I picked up some gorgeous buttery baby potatoes, baby sunchokes, walnuts, and fuji apples. As soon as I got home, I sliced up the sunchokes and pan-fried them with garlic and rosemary. There’s a distinctive sweetness to sunchokes that gets me every time. I’m going to boil the potatoes, smoosh them with the palm of my hand into little medallions, and then roast them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary. The fuji apples are ridiculously crisp and sweet, and I have yet to smash open the walnuts – but I can’t wait!

A friend gave me some organic carrots and vanilla (talk about extravagance), so I did what any normal person would do and made a four-layer carrot cake with cream cheese-vanilla icing. The icing tasted so vanilla-y and creamy – remarkably like vanilla ice cream – that I ate more than a quality-control portion while waiting for the cake to cool.

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Birthday pizza

To celebrate my 27th year of existence, I hosted a movie marathon with a “make yer own pizza, bitch” component. The latter featured homemade pizza dough and tomato sauce and whatever toppings I purchased at the market the day before: mushrooms, arugula, asparagus, spicy olives, and three kinds of cheese (brie, bocconcini, and regular mozzarella). It was deliciousness, although there was an almost-incident when an over-greased pan started smoking in the oven for a few minutes, and for a few minutes the kitchen looked like a bad 80’s nightclub with the smoke machine cranked up.

I did end up making my own birthday cake, but since it was a caramel-pear mousse cake I didn’t mind. It was a chance to practice all those techniques I worked so hard to learn in culinary school.