I live so close to
Chinatown that I can see the shops from my living room window,
but technically, I live in, and my heart belongs to, Strathcona, Vancouver's oldest residential
neighbourhood. The neighbourhood is filled with colourful homes,
artists and small businesses and one of my favourite places to shop
is at Benny's Market. It's been around since 1917 in
the same location and run by the same Benedetti family. It's not
just a shop, it's part of a community.
Located along the
Union Street bike route, it's a busy stop for locals and passers by
alike. Like most small bodegas, you can pick up a soda or a lottery
ticket but Benny's Market is stacked to the gills with everything
you could want in a local grocer. There's a small produce section
out front that carries the usual lettuces, carrots and broccoli,
but there's also seasonal fruit and fresh herbs as well.
In the back is the famous deli filled with imported cheeses and
meats. You can buy anything by weight and they'll slice it up as
you see fit. But the longest lines at the deli are not usually for
a few rashes of European bacon or for a bag of Parmesan cheese.
Benny's has become quite the sandwich hot-spot and lunchtime waits
are common. But the lines move quickly and the sandwiches are
delicious. Made with a fresh swiss roll (or bread if you'd rather),
the sandwiches come topped with vegetables, cheese, mustard and a
garlicy bistro sauce (mmmm!) and your choice of meat. I always pick
the prosciutto salami for a very reasonable $3.75 -- a perfect
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The imported pasta section is wonderful and you can pick between
several varieties of Italian pasta in any shape, size or colour
that you need. Look in the frozen food case for delicious Italian
sausages in sweet or hot, however, I recently tried a very good
Cajun sausage and the fennel sausages are pretty fantastic, too.
However, what brings me to Benny's - besides the Benedetti family
friendliness - is their fresh sourdough bread. Made by a local
bakery, this bread is seriously to die for. If you can stop by in
the morning when the bread is still warm to the touch, it's like
you've touched gold. In the evenings before they close, you may
have to fight your neighbour for the last loaf and if you arrive
late on a Saturday, well, you're probably out of luck. At $2.19
it's worth every penny.
598 Union St.
Jeannette Ordas is a Vancouver-based Web Designer and Food Blogger who is probably right now thinking
about what she'll make for dinner.
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Market posts are featured every Monday.
Posted: Mon, Jan 05 2009