I've written before about how Nova Scotia farmers' markets are unique, but
it's worth repeating. In addition to all that lovely locally-grown,
raised and made foodstuff, there's a social element I've never seen
at any other market, and I've been to many in North America and
Europe. Here, local musicians share their talent and set the mood.
Artisans showcase their knitting, weaving, painting,
jewellery-making and more. People come not just to shop for the
week's groceries, but to meet up with friends, chat over
freshly-baked goodies and sip some excellent Fair Trade coffee or
tea. It truly is a fantastic experience.
You'll find these charming markets throughout the province, but
the reigning star is the Halifax
Farmers' Market currently housed in the historic Alexander
The building itself lends to the experience.
This stone building is a rabbit warren of nooks and crannies on
different levels and around every corner you'll find musicians and
other surprises to tempt all your senses. The market is scheduled
to move to its
new state-of-the-art, eco-friendly home next year. And, it will
be open seven days a week. In the meantime, I'm going to savour as
many Saturday mornings as I can, just the way it is.
I thought I'd share some of my favourite places to stop, shop
and chat. And this is just a taste - no pun intended - of what
you'll find there. You'll have to visit yourself and make your own
list of "Musts."
Julien's Bakery is usually the first place I visit so that I
can munch on something tasty immediately. That said, Mary's Bread
Basket and Boulangerie La Vendeene have their own fans lining up
for their favorite breads and pastries and every week there's
someone new with gorgeous pastries and homemade pies.
This time of year there aren't so many traditional "farmer"
stalls. Those will "spring up" whenever the vegetables do. But, the
Hutten Family Farms still has awesome squashes and other root
vegetables and last week I did see the first of their early greens…
a sure sign that spring is almost here.
What would a Nova Scotian market be without
the freshest fish and seafood? First stop - Mike's Fish Shop with
beautiful fresh tuna, salmon, swordfish, haddock, sweet scallops
(my favourite)… whatever is fresh. And, don't forget to pick up
some fantastic smoked fishes. The salmon is particularly tasty all
by itself, on crackers or instead of tuna in a
Salade Nicoise. Indian Point Mussels has bags of mussels and
the cutest live scallops in their shells (every time I see them I
think of the Walrus in Alice in Wonderland) harvested near
Fresh lamb from Wood 'n Hart Farms means making choices. Do I
buy their freshly-made sausages, ground lamb, leg of lamb, or lamb
chops - decisions, decisions, decisions. There are at least five
other producers of grass-fed, free-range beef, chicken, rabbits,
eggs - all wonderful options.
And on to the cheeses. I can't imagine not stopping by Ran-Cher Acres that make the
most fantastic goat cheese; soft and creamy in a tub for spreading
on bagels or making decadent grilled cheese sandwiches. You can get
it plain, or seasoned. I always take home the cheeses
that include chives, Italian blend of herbs, and Garlic &
Cayenne, as well as some delicious goat feta, gouda, and
Speaking of cheese, The
Dutchman's Farm is the only Nova Scotian cheese producer who
made it to the Dairy Farmers of Canada finalists
in the sixth Canadian Cheese Grand Prix for their awesome
Dragon's Breath Blue Cheese, as well as two kinds of gouda.
And what would a local market be without jars and jars or
homemade preserves and chutneys? And lucky me, my favourite, Tangled
Garden from Grand Pre, brings their fantastic herb jellies,
vinegars and liqueurs practically to my door.
In between the food purveyors, you'll find
artisans of everything from jewellery, to paintings, and knitted
goods. How can you resist these adorable baby hats and booties from
And, for those of you who think that Canadian wines and
spirits can only be found in Ontario or British Columbia,
news flash, Nova Scotia has award-winning producers. Glenora Inn &
Distillery is the only North American single malt whiskey
Vintage Cider is hand-crafted at Noggins Corner farm in the
Annapolis Valley and one of only two producers in the world of Ice
Cider, which goes perfectly with blue cheese. Blomidon Estate Winery is
Nova Scotia's only Chardonnay producer and won the Canadian Wine
Silver Medal for their L'Acadie 2007. Jost Vineyards has a long
heritage of fine wines and awards of their own, as does Ste Famille
I could go on forever, but you'll have to come to the market and
see for yourself. A visit to the Halifax Farmers Market is worth
the trip even if it's just for a visit.
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The Halifax Farmers' Market
1496 Lower Water St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ruth Daniels is afood
bloggerand cookbook author based in Atlantic Canada.
To see more photos from Ruth's visit, check out the Food Network Canada
Bazaar'sMarketsposts are featured every Monday.
Other things to do in Halifax:
Posted: Mon, Apr 13 2009