Autumn is the time of year that I
really fall in love with my local farmers'
markets! Here in Calgary, we have
been really lucky, receiving some amazingly warm
and sunny weather this October (think 20 degrees and sunny). I
think it could be Mother Nature's way of making up for our August
(which was the worst weather in a summer month I can remember).
Regardless of the reason, there is nothing better to do on a
weekend afternoon than head down to a farmers' market to stock up
on local ingredients!
At this time of year, the markets are boasting piles of
pumpkins, mountains of potatoes, and squash as far as the eye can
see. It's a beautiful thing! Farmers' harvests are in full bounty,
and just by walking around, looking at all the gorgeous produce,
how could you not be inspired to make a home-cooked meal? Calgary
has around 10 markets in total, including the nearby out-of-town
markets. Here are the 3 that I find myself drawn to the most...
Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers' Market
To me, the Hillhurst-Sunnyside
Farmers' Market is kind of like
the 'little engine that could'. It doesn't come close in size to
either of the other markets below, but what this market lacks in
quantity, it makes up for with quality. Quality
example: Route 40 Soup
Company specializes in (you
guessed it) soups. Driven by an emphasis on local ingredients, the
entire menu is also gluten-, dairy-, and preservative-free. With
delicious options like Organic French Lentil &
Lemon or Seared Carrot w/
Ginger & Chili, how can you go wrong?
The real gem of this market is Jenn Chic Cooks.
She is a passionate and talented cook who loves to have fun with
her food. A woman after my own heart! Her main staple is the
(extremely tasty) organic Little Chocolate
Chippers, but in addition, she offers culinary
options like complete picnic basket meals, ginger-snap animal
cookies, gluten-free salads, sandwiches, you name it... her options
change weekly (although the Chippers are a steadfast) so make sure
you find out what she has coming up by checking out her website!
The market closed in mid-October, but it will be back
This is a market where produce is
king. Almost all of the fruits and vegetables that you will find at
Market are from neighbouring Albertan farms or
from British Columbia. On warmer days you can visit vendors inside
and outside this market, but come winter time, you've only got the
inside option. Not to worry, there's still lots to choose from.
Walking up and down the aisles of Crossroads you will see piles of
sweet corn, beets, coronation grapes (anyone a home-made wine
enthusiast?), bell peppers, the list goes on... and I'm already
getting hungry! Needless to say, this is where I pick up the bulk
of my fruits and veggies when I'm shopping on the weekends.
In particular, I
find TJ's Fresh Produce Market has an
awesome array of farmers' bounty. On this particular visit I
purchased some locally grown red onions. There's just something
about cooking with red onions grown in my vicinity that makes me
smile. Ok, I've officially earned my 'food nerd' badge
Calgary Farmers' Market
Don't like a cool autumn breeze? Don't
worry, this market is almost completely indoors, aside from a
kettle corn truck outside (might as well grab a bag to munch on
while walking around). Arguably the most 'mainstream' of all of the
city's markets, the Calgary
has a lot to browse through. If I may borrow a line
from Frank Sinatra: 'If I can make it here, I can make
it anywhere'. Many of the businesses that started out as
booths in this market now boast successful
storefronts: The Silk Road Spice
Merchant (with so many spice offerings you'll
never want to leave), Maggie's
Shortbread (butter + cookies = my
heart), Buttercream Bake
Shoppe (once again... butter + cupcakes = my
heart), and Phil
& Sebastian's (some of the best coffee in
the city) are just a few that come to mind. This market is
often a springboard to success in Calgary's culinary sector.
One of my favourite stops, without a
doubt, is Sunworks Farm. I
love the fact that they take a holistic and organic approach to
farming. All of their offerings--which include eggs, sausages, and
whole chickens--in addition to being organic, are produced
ethically, and, perhaps, most importantly humanely. And if I'm
shopping for some produce at this market, I tend to stop
by The Cherry Pit for their wide
selection of fruits and vegetables (funnily enough, not just
cherries, as their name would insinuate).
Going Nuts? I am, but
that's a unrelated topic. This nut-centric business has as many
seasoned nuts as there are days of the year. OK, maybe just half a
year or so, but still, that's a lot of flavours to try! I recognize
the fact that a person does not go to a farmers' market with
purchasing nuts in mind, but they are all about the sampling, so
chances are, if you stop by their booth, I guarantee you'll be
leaving with a bag of something!
Feeling inspired to go out and find
some local ingredients? I hope so!
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