Winter Vegetables, Kale, & Garlic Focaccia Buns – The Indoor Rinkhouse Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove

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Aside from the beautiful, vibrant farmers’ market sign, soil, patches of grass, and some tree trunks, what do you see up top?  If you said ice rink, you are right and you get a big fat cookie! 😀  I went to my first official winter indoor farmers’ market yesterday at Dufferin Grove!  Now I know I’ve been to the indoor lunchtime markets at the Centre for Social Innovation a number of times since they started in September, but the CSI markets have always been indoors so technically, my visit to Dufferin Grove yesterday was my first in what I call “the indoor market circuit”.  Markets such as Dufferin Grove, Eglinton Park, Sorauren Park, and Wychwood Barns have all moved indoors for the winter season and the new kid on the block, 99MRKT, is taking the city by storm with its indoor fall and winter market emporium.  I’m so excited to see what the winter will bring and I’m already looking forward to my holiday visit to Evergreen Brick Works later on this month!

I had such a fabulous day out yesterday, but unfortunately nature took its course and I came down with a nasty migraine in the early part of the evening that left me incredibly nauseous and sick, hence why I couldn’t write and share these photos with you all yesterday.  I feel awful that I had to skip a day like that (especially after all the gushing I did for the blog’s 1st birthday!), but I feel much better now and I’m excited to fill you all in on my first indoor winter market visit of the season.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the market at Dufferin Grove exudes such a sense of belonging and community.  There’s a board right outside the rinkhouse with a weekly newsletter posted on it with great bits and bites about some of the goodies at the market, recipe ideas, and much more.  I arrived at the market only a half hour after it started and the market grounds were already packed with eager shoppers, ice skaters, and hockey players coming in and out and milling around.  Yes, ice skaters and hockey players!  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market takes place in the indoor rinkhouse during the winter season, right beside the outdoor ice rink located at the northwest corner of the park. 

It was such a strange feeling seeing people holding loaves of bread and bunches of kale on one end and groups of younger kids lacing up their hockey skates on the other!  It just goes to show the interconnectedness and importance of this shared space and what the market brings to the surrounding community.  It was the first day of December yesterday and there were already throngs of people ice skating on one rink and playing hockey in the other.  Parents can pick up up some food and groceries while they wait for their kids.  Ravenous skaters and hockey players can grab a bite after an afternoon of exercise.  And market goers, farmers, and vendors can mix and mingle amidst the hustle and bustle.  There was so much going on I had to constantly whip my head around to make sure I wasn’t in anyone’s way!

Fall and winter fruits and vegetables, hearty homemade soup, bread, baked goods, food samples, mustards, maple fudge and syrup, wild foraged mushrooms, chocolate, jams and preserves, everything was here and everyone was having a field day, including me!  I noshed on some tofu samples grilling outside, cheese samples in the shed area, oohed and ahhed over the beautiful, gorgeous kale in the rinkhouse (there was green kale and black kale – I had no idea there was more than one type!), and picked up two sourdough focaccia buns stuffed with roasted garlic, cheese, onions, parsley, and cornmeal which my mum, brother, and I enjoyed for lunch today.  OH.MY.GOD.  I knew they would be amazing because they smelled absolutely divine (the smell of roasted garlic was literally wafting out of my paper bag!), but they were more than amazing.  They were deliciously heavenly, they were 2 for $5, and by far some of the best tasting bread I’ve ever had.

What really warmed my heart yesterday was how the vendors themselves worked together as a team and helped one another out.  This isn’t exclusive to Dufferin Grove (a number of bakers who vendor at the markets use ChocoSol chocolate, for example), but I was reminded of this yesterday as I was perusing the wonderful fall and winter bounty of food.  I saw sandwich cookies sitting on the table near the sourdough focaccia buns I bought and asked the lady what kind they were.  She told me they were maple fudge sandwich cookies (and by golly I would have bought some if I hadn’t already stuffed myself silly with gelato earlier that afternoon) and she went on and told me she had used the maple fudge from Forbes Wild Food and pointed to their table to my left.

I thought that was one of nicest things ever and was so happy knowing there was a sense of comraderie among market vendors.  It’s one thing to believe in the locavore movement, it’s another to actually walk the walk.  We know many of our diets can’t be locavore in nature (guilty as charged, I love coconut way too much and eat bananas much too often to ever be a locavore), but it’s so nice seeing people using the ingredients that truly are right at their fingertips when it’s possible.  It’ll be especially interesting to see what the winter season brings and I can’t wait to see the markets kick it in high gear as the holidays get closer.  It’s been a few months since my last visit to the Dufferin Grove market and it was wonderful yesterday being back.  I’m already planning on bringing my mum and brother here sometime.  They really loved those buns.

*****

Dufferin Grove Park is located at the intersection of Dufferin St. and Bloor St. West.  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is held year-round at the northwest corner of the park every Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  For more info on the farmers’ market and its vendors, click here.

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