Spring Has Sprung! Baby Potatoes, Empanadas, and Food, Food, Food at the Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns

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In just a few more weeks, the amazing market at Wychwood Barns will be heading outdoors during the May long weekend into what we all hope will be a happy summer market season for 2012.  I wanted to make one more indoor market visit though, so I took advantage of the pretty weather and made a day out of it, complete with brunch, window shopping, and LOTS of walking!  I walked from the Wychwood Barns neighbourhood on St. Clair West down to the Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods area, then proceeded to stroll along Ossington back up to Bloor and then to Dufferin.  It felt invigorating while I was doing it but I realized just how tired I was from all the fancy footwork when I nearly fell asleep on my laptop after I came home. 

It was so worth it though!  It never ceases to amaze me how I can make these trips to the farmers’ markets and come away just wanting everything.  I was waffling on whether or not it was smarter to go this week or to wait for the first outdoor market later on this month, but my craving for Earth & City’s raw, vegan nut burgers with pesto pushed me out the door at the crack of dawn.  So there you have it.

$8 for a dozen beautiful gerbera daisies!

My beloved baby potatoes, especially the blue ones!

You might be inclined to think that going to these farmers’ markets means seeing and eating the same things over and over again (especially when you make multiple visits during the same season), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was actually surprised at all the new things I saw at this week’s market.  Sure, I saw ChocoSol, Earth & City, and Yorktown Pie Company there among other familiar vendors, but everything felt new and vibrant, like everyone was itching for the new season to take hold and couldn’t wait to dish out new and delicious items to try.  The place was absolutely buzzing (it was actually very difficult to take photos this time because of the sheer volume of people grabbing things in front of me and don’t even get me started on the line-ups and crowding!) and people were picking up goodies and beautiful spring daisies and flowers left and right.  It’s a buzz that you’d only get at an early morning farmers’ market.

Earth & City had containers of some brand new savoury dips and spreads (sweet walnut sauce and preserved basil pesto, $5 each), the Yorktown Pie Company had brand apple cheddar mini pies that looked amazing, Allis Fresh Baked busted out a basket of mac n’ cheese corn muffins (seriously, they need to stop tempting me with all these cheesy, savoury muffins!), and Primeridge Pure Dairy had some of the most delicious soft cheese I have ever had melt in my mouth! 

Peanut butter chocolate thumbprints!

Earth & City's dips and vegan burgers

If it wasn’t for the brand new package of cheese I had sitting in the fridge at home I would have been all around their cheese like mud on a pig.  They had a BLACK PEPPERCORN SOFT CHEESE.  I LOVE freshly cracked black pepper and peppercorns like nobody’s business.  Ask anybody who has eaten in my company, I put the stuff on almost everything.  The fresh cheese was creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, and hella peppery and spicy.  And SO GOOD.  I imagined this on a crusty wedge of French bread and baguette.  I imagined this on a bit of pasta.  Hell, I even imagined it on my raw, vegan nut burger but then I felt bad because that would have made it unvegan.  But you get the idea.

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Hot Off the Grill: Fresh Corn on the Cob and Baby Yukon Potatoes at the Queens Quay Farmers’ Market

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I may not be an avid beach bunny, but I love being by the water and I feel super lucky that Lake Ontario is so close by.  I get excited taking the ferry to and from the island, I love being around Harbourfront, and there’s no other feeling like sitting on some rocks when it’s gorgeous and sunny out and watching the tide and waves crash in and out.  I recently went to Ontario Place to snap a bunch of photos, knowing that most of it would get eventually get torn down to make way for a newly renovated park, and my favourite part of the day was plopping myself down by the rocks, looking out at the water, feeling the wind whip through my hair, and not having a damn care in the world. 

The Queens Quay Terminal outdoor farmers’ market is quite possibly the closest waterfront market in the city and spending time here really allows you to soak up summer in all its glory.  It’s literally steps away from the harbour and its the perfect way to spend a breezy afternoon.  Peruse the farmers’ market, pick up some fresh food, grab some ice cream, and sit by the water.  It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.  And speaking of sweet, the freshly shucked grilled corn was definitely the highlight of yesterday’s Queens Quay market!  Even though I didn’t have any (I had already eaten ice cream beforehand, oopsie), it was mouthwatering just to watch the corn get fired up with its awesome grill marks and then wrapped in foil for others to eat.  At $1 apiece, this is definitely going to be on my “must-eat” list the next time I go!

Even though the Queens Quay farmers’ market is on the smaller side, there’s still great stuff to check out: a giant pie and pastry table with plenty of samples (and a very adorable apple print tablecloth!), maple syrup goodies with chocolate maple cookie samples (cue drooling), a fascinating grain cake popping machine that pops out giant discs that look like rice cakes (if you’ve seen these at T&T supermarkets, you know what I’m referring to!), fresh baked bread, mounds of strawberries, giant bell peppers, buckets of zucchini and potatoes, and oodles of other fresh vegetables!  I do wish though that there was less wasteful plastic product packaging and all; it’d be great if the pies were packaged in cardboard boxes and if less plastic was used for the samples.  I really need to bring produce bags in addition to my canvas totes because I cringe whenever I’m given a plastic bag for my veggies.  Face palm moment. 

I was very happy yesterday to pick up a giant pint of beautiful and adorable Yukon Gold baby potatoes though!  I have never met a potato I didn’t like.  These were small and cute as a button and my mum squealed when I came home with my prized spuds.  When I phoned her asking her if she wanted me to pick up a few pints of raspberries, she protested when I told her I had already bought potatoes because we apparently we had some regular-sized ones waiting for us at home.  She changed her tune when she saw how cute they were though 😀 

I’m really looking forward to seeing how many different things I can bring home by the end of the summer.  Then the fall stuff will come along and that’s a whole ‘nother project!  On all of my market treks I’ve picked up different goodies each time and it’s so much fun seeing what each market has to offer!  I’ve picked up vegan coconut oatmeal cookies at Trinity Bellwoods, French bread and bell peppers at Nathan Phillips Square’s Fresh Wednesdays, apple buttermilk muffins at Sick Kids Hospital, vegan brownies and magic squares by Jen’s APieCalypse Now at U of T’s market (blog post forthcoming!), and baby eggplants at East York Civic Centre.  And that’s me putting myself in an invisible strait jacket!  There have been sooo many delicious baked goods and beautiful fruits and vegetable that I’ve had to pass up, just because I really need to limit myself on purchases if I’m visiting markets every week!  I’m totally smitten with my baby potatoes though and we’ll see what we end up making with them over the Canada Day weekend.  Potato salad?  Roasted spuds?  Plain boiled potatoes with a little butter?  Oh, potatoes, how I love you 😀  Have an amazing start to the long weekend, everyone!

*****

The Queens Quay Terminal Farmers’ Market is located at 207 Queens Quay West, right outside the Queen Quay Terminal shopping and dining centre.  They will be there every Wednesday from 3pm-7pm until October 26th.