Monday, 27 April 2009

A Visit to Byward Market in Ottawa

Would it be possible to visit an Ontario market at a less propituous time of year than mid-week in late April? Probably not, but that was when I found myself in Ottawa, able to visit the Byward Market.

The old market building is a very handsome brick structure, which forms the centre of a large square surrounded by shops.

Our first stop was Sausage Kitchen, just off the square by the parking building. They are a European-style deli with a lot of imported deli items, but their meats are local, with many being prepared in the shop.

Small vendors set up outdoor booths on both sides of the market building. One side is generally flowers, vegetables and fruits. Not much there at the moment, but it should start filling up in the next month.

Many of the stores surrounding the market are devoted to food, such as the Aux Delices Bakery.

Maple products are in season, and there were a couple of maple and honey vendors there, even in mid-week.

Indoors, the market is essentially a food court full of international lunchtime foods.

There were a few vendors with imported produce outside.

And a couple with flowers and plants. Apparently, these are a big portion of the market in season.

One side of the square is generally vendors selling craft items, such as this spot selling jewellry.

There are a few shops in the market itself; one of them is plainly aimed at tourists, but carries an interesting selection of foods from across Canada.

Including quite a large selection of items from Ontario.

We visited both of the cheese shops across the street from the market. It was not surprising to see a very large selection of Quebec cheeses, and a much smaller selection of Ontario cheeses. Given Ottawa's location, cheeses from Quebec will be just as local, if not more so, and Quebec has the advantage that small artisanal cheese makers have not been hampered, as we are in Ontario, by laws that favour large corporations at the expense of small companies.

One of the frustrations of such a short visit, of course, is that you only just begin to pick up the clues to what is available in the local region... here's one now... but we are heading back to the house to visit... well, next time I will be sure to make more time for nosing around.

And finally, The French Baker is near the market but not in it. However, I had to include it because not only is it a very fine bakery, but my cousin used to work there.

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