It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Ate by Ate Still Went Farmers Marketing! The Wet & Rainy Trip to Wychwood Barns!

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I have never been to a farmers’ market in the rain.  Ever.  I’ve been at the market after a fresh rain with droplets still clinging to the grass and leaves, and before a rain shower with thunder rumbling in the distance, but never during a wet, rainy mess.  If it was raining, I just wouldn’t bother.  It’s not easy making the trek for an hour and a half  to two hours depending on where the market is!  But I had day-long plans with my best friend yesterday anyway and thought, “why not?”  I hadn’t been back to Wychwood in two months, I was dying for a farmers market trip, and part of me was extremely curious to see what the market was like in the rain!  I suited up in rain boots, jacket, and umbrella and I was on my way!  It was definitely a different experience to say the least!  I was lugging around my tote bag, purse, umbrella, camera, and my bag of market goodies – I was a clunky mess but still had a lot of fun nevertheless! 

The Stop Market at Wychwood Barns has a really big advantage over other summer outdoor markets because if the weather ever gets icky, the vendors can move back indoors if necessary unlike other markets where an indoor venue isn’t even available.  Half the market stuck it out outside in the rain yesterday (the ones with bigger tents most likely) while the other half packed up and moved indoors.  The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though!  There were so many people at the market, wet shopping bags, puddles, and all!  There were crowds by Mad Mexican and Maizal Quesadilla’s table (I know, I was part of that crowd!) for dips, corn chips, and fresh corn tortillas, market goers were snatching up cheese, baked goods, and plenty of late summer, early fall fruits and vegetables.

 

It was such a great time to see the colours and varities of fruits and vegetables transition from summer ones to early fall ones.  I got my first glimpse of the fall season’s offerings: gourds and little squashes, giant purple eggplants, cabbage, swiss chard, arugula, and so much more.  There was an abundance of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes in both regular and baby varieties, fresh garlic and herbs, beets, rainbow carrots, green beans, and even a roasting corn pit by the wood-fired oven outside! 

I picked up 4 baby purple cabbages (which my family and I happily used to make a fresh cabbage slaw salad for lunch today with a mustard vinaigrette) and a new container of kale pesto dip and spread from Earth & City!  It was my first time buying cabbage from the market and even though I’m not the biggest fan of cabbage as a food, I couldn’t pass them up.  They were so cute and beautiful.  And four of them for only $2!  My mum and I cut them all up and it filled an entire big salad bowl!  It’s the edible purple gift that keeps on giving!  It sure as hell beats the $1.29/pound my mum saw at the supermarket the other day for plain green cabbage.  (Cue me scoffing here).  I felt like I had struck gold with such a great deal and it ended up making a great lunch for my whole family.

Little by little, the markets will be cloaked in oranges, reds, yellows, deep purples and greens, and it’s already showing now with all the rich colours.  It’ll be so nice getting photos of Wychwood Barns in the thick of the fall season in late September and October, especially since my first posts were made back in February!  And I know this is months away, but I am so, so excited for the holiday and Christmas season!  I know, I know, it’s too “early” to be thinking of that.  But writing this blog (and working at Kraft!) has definitely speeded up the creative process where you’re brainstorming and working on things months and months in advance.  I am so pumped to start the Fall Harvest Series in a few weeks and I think going to the markets is a great precursor for things to come.

*****

The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

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Home Grown: Baby Heirloom Tomatoes and Baby Eggplants! The Farmers’ Market at East York Civic Centre

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Thus far in my farmers’ market series, all the markets that I’ve visited have been pretty central in the downtown Toronto area: Nathan Phillips Square on Queen St. West, SickKids Hospital on University Ave., and Trinity Bellwoods on Dundas and Shaw.  Nothing that’s considered particularly eastern, western, or northern.  You all know how much I enjoy visiting these markets, but you might be wondering how and why I chose to go to the east end today.  I don’t know if you can guess from the title of the post, but there are some keywords in there that will tip you off as to why East York holds such significance for me.  Home grown…baby…East York.  That’s right, baby Deb was born across the street at East York General over two decades ago and the east end of Toronto was my first home for the first year and a half of my life before my family and I moved to Scarborough.  A true blue Torontonian, through and through.  Even though I obviously have no recollection of my early baby years, it felt oddly comforting taking the bus northbound on Coxwell Ave. knowing this was where my roots were first planted.

The farmers’ market at the East York Civic Centre, located at 850 Coxwell Ave., was absolutely amazing!  It was a gorgeous morning out today, sunny with a comfortable cool breeze, and I had such a great time walking from vendor to vendor taking in the large market and all it had to offer.  There was so much to see and I had to do 2 and half rounds around the market before I could fully make up my mind!  This is definitely one of the larger markets I’ve visited and the area is just beautiful and peaceful with lots of lush green grass, trees, and benches. 

The market was set up in the shape of a square and there was a tiki straw umbrella booth selling smoothies, a hot grill getting fired up in the center of the market with hot dogs and sandwiches, vendors sellings homemade cookies, tarts, and bags of granola, oodles of cured meats and fresh loaves of bread and pastries, and table after table of fantastic fruits and vegetables!  I was so excited to see stuff I hadn’t yet come across on my farmers’ market tour and everything was bursting with freshness and colour. 

There were pints of adorable itty bitty baby potatoes, colourful baby heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, little zucchinis, and quite literally, a mountain (or wall!) of fresh strawberries.  I loved seeing the heirloom tomatoes and baby potatoes, but what got me in a tizzy was the BABY EGGPLANTS!  OH.MY.GOD.  Given how much my mum adores eggplant, there was no way I could pass these up.  They were adorable and gorgeous, with the darkest shade of plum.  I bought one container (3 baby eggplants), looked in my bag, paused, and turned back around to buy one more set.  I squealed and walked away with 6 beautiful baby eggplants and skipped away a very happy girl.  I had such a wonderful, refreshing morning at the market here and I’m really happy I made the trek out.  It was well worth the trip to see the beautiful fruits and veggies, and to revisit the place I once called home.

*****

East York Civic Centre is located at 850 Coxwell Ave. at Mortimer Ave.  The East York farmers’ market takes places on the front terrace of the civic centre every Tuesday from 8am-2pm, May 17th to November 1st (excluding statutory holidays).