Monday, 28 June 2010

A Visit to the Ottawa Farmers Market

Last time I was in Ottawa I went to the well-known Byward Market. Even though I visited it at a very bad time of year last time, this time I wanted to go somewhere else. Conveniently, there is now an Ottawa Farmers Market open on Thursday afternoons from1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, next to the Lansdowne stadium, near the Bank Street bridge. Parking is free.

At first glance, it looked very small. This is a fairly new market, and the day had been miserable right up to the point we arrived. Fortunately, the rain stopped just as we got there.

However, as soon as we started looking around we realized that they have a wide range of products, all of them local in one way or another. In addition to game meats, this vendor had some very nice looking sausages, including poultry sausages, which can be hard to find.

Because we were heading home the next day, we couldn't buy much. But we did get a couple of samosas for lunch the next day. At $2 each, they were a good price. I didn't even ask what was in them, because I expected the usual potato and pea mixture but they turned out to be meat (beef, I think). Very good, too.

There were a couple of booths with baked goods, both sweet and... savoury.

As good a selection of local vegetables as could be found this early in the summer, at a number of different booths. The Ottawa Farmers Market only permits local producers and their selectivity means that every booth is worth checking out.

Upper Canada Cranberries is the only cranberry producer in eastern Ontario that I know of, and one of only three in Ontario (again, that I know of). At this time of year they are in the form of dried, juice or jelly. Nothing wrong with that! Ottawaians, you lucky dogs.

More produce. My one disappointment with the market is that everyone in the area seems to be growing the huge, tasteless "shipper" type berries now. Only one vendor had the smaller Veestars, which aren't even the best of the small berries to my mind. At least they were all fresh and ripe, but it was a real disappointment.

More produce... for a small market it had a lot.

Peas! We didn't buy any; we were heading home to bushels of our own, we hoped.

I had quite a long talk with this vendor, who makes St. Lucia style hot sauces. I bought one of his "medium" sauces (first ingredients, habanero and cayenne peppers, yikes). I'll let you know once I try it. He makes about a dozen kinds, mostly named for Canadian places and people.

One of the points he made is that Canadians don't eat enough local produce... it may be more expensive but it's better. He particularly mentioned the Ottawa valley garlic as being "frighten(ing)... You know why I was frightened? Because it has so much more flavour! I thought I used too much..." What can I say? He took the words right out of my mouth.

This is definitely a market worth visiting. If I lived in Ottawa, I'd be regular, for sure.


Green Grrl said...

You were in my town! :)

The Lansdowne market is ok but quite expensive as they have to pay to use that land.

I prefer the organic market (it's behind the Canadian Tire at Bank and Heron). Fewer stalls but it's all organic, almost all local (clearly marked), and much more affordable. Saturdays from 10-2.

Agree re: the berries. Is such a bummer. :-( If I had room, I'd grow my own.

Ferdzy said...

Yes I was! Thought about trying to get in touch but as I expected the trip was pretty much wall-to-wall relatives.

I wasn't there (or on the road) on Saturday so my opportunity to visit markets was limited. I thought this was quite nice though, and not *that* expensive.