Last week our East Side Contributor Heather introduced us to the Vancouver Farmers Market. Today our Vancouver Downtown Contributor Alexis shares five of her favourite local food vendors from the market’s West End location. Are you hungry yet?
Tomatoes from Celyddon Farm
The stall for this small Surrey farm has a line-up of customers eagerly anticipating their delicious tomatoes before the market even opens at 9:00am, and for good reason. They sell other produce too, but it’s their selection of heritage tomatoes that makes them one of my “don’t miss” local food stops every Saturday. But get there early – after 10:00am they can sell out of their most popular varieties. I load up a bag of the different varieties, mix and match style, and plan a tomato salad for our next family meal. A few chunks of red, green, yellow, and purple tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and we’ve got a delicious, and very pretty, lunch!
Smoked Tuna from Estevan Tuna Co
The first time I saw Bruce selling his cans of tuna a few years ago, I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. “It’s just a can of tuna,” I thought. “Why are people lining up and buying it by the case?”
And then I tasted some. Oh my.
The smoked albacore tuna is so good I’ve been known to stand in my kitchen and eat it straight out of the can when no one is looking. They also sell regular, olive oil, and no salt added varieties, and you can mix and match to get a case at a discounted price. We buy at least one case every summer to dole out as treasured gifts to our foodie family and friends.
Bruce isn’t at the market every week, since he’s often out fishing, so check the market schedule or follow Bruce on twitter to know when he’ll be downtown.
Editor’s Note: Smoked albacore tuna is the only kind my daughter will eat, and I pack it in her school lunch. Spoiled? Maybe – but I have to agree that it’s pretty tasty. Also, unlike other tuna, BC albacore tuna is low in mercury, so it’s safe for children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Estevan Tuna Co
Cheese – The Pinnacle of Local Food
Little Qualicum is another “don’t miss” stop on my rounds of the market. I cannot resist good cheese. This artisan cheese maker produces cheese from their own herd of cows on Vancouver Island. They offer tasting samples of all their wares, and like Celyddon Farm and their tomatoes, sometimes their most popular ones sell out well before closing time. The cheese sells for $7 each, or 3 for $20. My favourites? I always choose their Bleu Claire and their Island Brie. Then I buy one more, which I change up every week. I’m not capable of buying only two!
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks
Ciabatta from A Bread Affair
What’s cheese without a chunk of hearty bread to go with it? Made in their Langley headquarters with organic ingredients, A Bread Affair’s ciabatta has just the right balance of chewy crust and light airy insides. They also have a great 100 Mile Loaf – talk about local food! I’m also particularly fond of their baguette and their apricot walnut bread. When I can’t decide, I taste-test the samples they offer to help with those tough “which to buy” decisions.
A Bread Affair
Local Fruit Treats from Icy Fresh Pops
Our last – and my son’s favourite – stop on any given Saturday is Icy Fresh Pops. It’s last because frozen treat + three year old + sunshine = messy. Made with fresh local fruit, these refreshing all-natural popsicles really hit the spot on a sunny day. Flavours vary based on what’s in season, which is part of the local food fun, but I’ve become a fan of the Peach Ginger. My son, a blueberry fiend, goes straight for the Blueberry Honey Lavender.
Icy Fresh Pops
Once we’re done at the market, we head off to check out the community garden and playground at adjacent Nelson Park. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning!
The West End Farmers Market runs on Saturdays from 9:00am – 2:00pm until October 22, 2011.