Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig...

Right off the bat, no.  I did not purchase any pork products, fat or otherwise, during my trip on Saturday to the St. Norbert farmer's market.  The title's from a little nursery rhyme that springs to mind, always sung in my mother's enthusiastic and emphatic alto, anytime I think of going to a market.  Ah, sweet childhood memories...

Let's get to what I DID buy at the market.  This was only my second time going; I went with Snickers and her owners two weeks prior.  I fell in love immediately.  It's not the biggest outdoor market I've seen, but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality.  It's all here: raw veggies, meats and fish, prepared snacks and baked goods, freshly-squeezed lemonade, fresh-cut and potted flowers, and arts and crafts: all local, and all tried, tested and true.

It may not look like much (blame the weather), but from what I've learned this market is serious business.  New vendors have to successfully debut at the Wednesday market to be considered for a coveted Saturday booth.  Nice to know that you're getting the best of the best when you go!

This is Charles, owner of Scott's Hill Apiary.  We met him during our last visit, when we stopped to listen to the protein-packed benefits of adding bee pollen to yogurt or oatmeal for a boost after a long workout.  Charles is full of great info (a quick Google search tells me he's a retired teacher; makes sense!), and I love that he has a flipbook of pictures to help explain the honey- and pollen-making processes to anyone who asks.  Flipbook users unite!!  He also has this spiffy little honey tasting bar, where he'll let you sample the different honey flavours (made by bees who pollinate different flowers/plants, not by adding artificial flavours afterwards) and compare them.  I bought the nice, dark-coloured buckwheat honey last time.  It was fantastic; not too sweet, sort of a cross between honey and molasses.  I used to make peanut butter and molasses sandwiches as a kid, so this definitely appealed.  This time around, I went for the basswood... though admittedly, I have the same issues as with wine when it comes to describing the flavour of that honey.  Charles kindly suggested that the difference I might be tasting could be due to lemon-lime notes; I had to agree.  Sold!

On to meats.  I was on the hunt for bison, which, I've been told, is the proper term for buffalo.  I'm not to say buffalo.  Ever.  This is a pretty big deal in Manitoba, it would seem... heck, the provincial symbol features one of these furry ruminants.  That fact, though, makes it seem a bit weird to be eating them... I mean, I never chowed down on any trilliums while back home.  My illustrious little brother, who is off to culinary school in a couple of weeks (I'm not jealous, really...), informed me that bison has much less fat than beef, and is considered superior in several ways.  I have to admit, it's pretty darn tasty.  While I wasn't up for the prehistoric, Fred Flintstone-esque roast that the kind shopkeeper displayed, I did manage to bargain my way into buying six bison burgers.  Maybe I'll grill one up tonight... mmm.

I think the sign says it all.  Beautiful vegetables, naturally grown, local, and fresh.  Done and done.  I've never seen such gorgeous onions in all my born days.  I actually caught myself daydreaming about them after the first visit to the market... definitely a sign that I needed to invest in some.  I'm so used to those plastic mesh bags at the grocery store, holding dry, dull-looking bulbs with crackling papery skins... this is so much better.

Stand in awe.
The ladies at the Wiens Farm booth were super-nice.  They also had some fantastic-looking yellow and green zucchini; sold.  I asked their permission to take photos, and that led to a little rundown of who I was, why the heck I moved to MB, and of course the blog.  One of the gals there, Terrilynn (sorry if I butchered the spelling!), was even thoughtful enough to chase me down after I'd left the booth to let me know about a bus/bike tour of the urban gardens in the city.  Oh, and she welcomed me to Manitoba.  Everyone does that, it totally gives me warm fuzzies!

My invite, courtesy of Terrilynn, to this awesome-sounding garden community tour.  I wish I could go... a combination of packing for the weekend and lacking a bike/bus pass prevents me.  Maybe next time; I love the idea of urban gardens.
I'm getting hungry at this point in the afternoon.  Not to worry; I'll go hit up the perogie booth.  Last time, I feasted on three generous-sized perogies; two were cheddar, onion and bacon-filled, while the third was sweeter and full of Saskatoon berries (go to Wikipedia if you've never heard of 'em, they're delish.  Kind of like a blueberry). This time around, I was a little bummed to find out that the ladies were only offering cottage cheese perogies.  I only VERY recently found out that I don't completely hate cottage cheese, so I was a little apprehensive.  I needed a fix, though... they were just so fabulous last time.  Soft, pillowy, tender dough, steamed lightly, not too mushy, with flavour-packed filling and some sort of dairy-based "gravy" that I shall herein refer to as "creamy crack".  Totally addictive.

The cottage cheese perogies didn't disappoint.  And just look at how they're swimming in the "creamy crack" gravy... I'm going to have to find out what that's made of.  I've never had any sort of gravy on perogies before, but this opened my eyes.
I actually ran into Snickers and co. as I was stuffing my face with the above while sitting in my car (it had gotten cool and windy, and it's not exactly finger food).  They suggested that I continue my weekend food odyssey at the Folklorama festival Israel pavillion (more on that to come).  Fantastic idea.  I love when one meal leads seamlessly into an idea for the next!

To the victor go the spoils.  A successful day at the market!!
Those garlic bulbs are fantastic.  Look at 'em.  I used a clove the other day... I've seen smaller shallots, let me tell you.  And so fresh and fragrant... perfection.

Off to ogle my onions and research perogie gravy,

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