It is not everyday that "Farmer's Market" and "Shangri-La Hotel" come up in the same sentence. So, despite having worked all night at St. Paul's, I felt compelled to head over to the "Market at MARKET by Jean George".
I read about this unique concept while sitting at the Naam yesterday eating brunch (ode to the Naam, a true Vancouver icon!). The market was running today from 11-2 so I knew that I had to check it out post-call. I intend to make it out to as many "Vancouver Farmer's Market" events that I possibly can- how can I pass up opportunities to meet local farmers and purchase amazingly fresh food, especially with a name like Miss Locavore?The market was located on the 3rd floor patio of the Shangri-La, just outside the restaurant. By the time I arrived at 12:30, the place as packed with vendors and shoppers. At the entrance was a booth giving samples of Tinhorn Creek wine. As soon as I got past the entrance, I was greeted by a sharply dressed waiter who offered me a dainty hors d'oeuvres of miniature vegetables dipped in a sort of olive tamponade. It was served in a bowl and was meant to look like the vegetables were growing out of soil. Very cute. yet refined. I knew right away that this was not your average farmer's market!
There were 9 vendors total, which was about all the space could comfortably hold without shoppers stumbling over each other (although there was some of that anyway, especially when a new hors d'oeuvres made its appearance!). Four of the vendors were selling produce (microgreens, carrots, strawberries, etc.), one was selling BC salmon (canned) and the others were selling baked goods and spreads. Personally, I would have liked to see more fresh produce and local farmers but I suppose that the size of the space did not really allow for this.
My purchases included some beautiful salad greens from Glorious Organics Coop (made a salad for dinner, so delicious!) and a few summer squash (still waiting for inspiration on how I will use them- please reply if you have any ideas!). The vendor was incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable about her products. Did you know that salad greens get sweeter the longer they stay in the ground? Bagged greens in the stores are grown for about 3 weeks while this farmer grows hers for 5-6 weeks, making the flavors really develop. You can learn a lot from your local farmers!
I was also intrigued by Erin Ireland's stand. She was sampling and selling her infamous banana bread that was used by the Juice Truck in their now-retired Banana Bread smoothie. I saw that she was selling banana bread made with bacon and bought a piece to bring home to my bacon-loving husband.All in all, I had a nice time at the market although I don't think I would call it a true "Farmer's Market" since the focus was more on speciatly items than local farmers. Also, I felt that it lacked the sense of community that I feel at the regular markets (Kits, Trout Lake, West End). I do, however, respect the fact that they were trying to appeal to a different audience. I believe that there is an misconception that Farmer's Markets are for "hippies" and perhaps this scares some people off. So if events like this succeed in making the Farmer's Market more palatable to a larger audience, I am all for it.