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The Halifax Farmers' Market


Posted by : Anonymous, Mon, Apr 13 2009

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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 Keith's Brewery

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 Mahone Bay

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 yoghurt. 

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 Granny's Garden? 

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 distillery. Tideview 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 Wines.

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 Flickr group.

Bazaar'sMarketsposts are featured every Monday.

Other things to do in Halifax:

Posted: Mon, Apr 13 2009 by Anonymous

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