Winter Farmers Market: The best way to spend a gloomy Vancouver Saturday
You know those Twitter contests where you have to retweet to win? You might retweet or you might not, but you don’t exactly expect to win. Well, two weeks ago I entered one of those contests run by Vancouver Farmers Market on a Friday evening. Apparently, I won $20 to spend the next day at the Winter Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday through April 30th, from 10 am to 2 pm, at Nat Bailey Stadium.
But I didn’t realize I won until I got a nice message from @VanMarkets asking me if I’d received their tweet. By this time the Saturday Market was over. I was very bummed out. I asked if I could still have the $20 if I used it at the next market and they agreed. Of course, the next Saturday fell on my birthday weekend and, specifically, on the day we were to celebrate.
When I told Big Man that I wanted to spend several hours of my Birthday Saturday at the Farmers Market, he could not understand. “Why?” He asked. “BECAUSE I actually won something. It’s amazing. I’m a LOSER, not a winner, so this is a big deal for me and I’m not going to pass it up.” He shook his head and I left for the market.
So, did I make a big mistake using my Birthday Saturday to walk around in the drizzle of a gray Saturday in Vancouver? Nope, it was awesome!
I had a blast at the Winter Farmers Market! First thing I did was pick up my $20 in tokens. The tokens can also be purchased with your debit card if you forget to bring cash and they are accepted by ALL of the vendors. They never expire and they carry over to the summer market. There is a small transaction fee, $2 or $3 if I remember correctly, but that beats having to leave and find a bank.
The first vendor I visited was Jane’s Honey Bees. These lovely little jars are filled with Fraser Valley honey and are $5 a jar. I handed over 2 of my $5 tokens to Jane for Wildflower Honey and Blueberry Honey. Mmm mmm.
Next I visited La Bohême Creperie, which specializes in buckwheat crepes. The menu has many sweet and savory options. I finally decided on one of the featured crepes, the apple compôte, ricotta, and maple syrup crepe, $6. This crepe was, huge, packed with apples, and very delicious!
As much as I wanted to, I did not finish the crepe because I had to save room for all the other goodies I wanted to try.
I stopped by JJ’s Country Cookin’ and used a token to get a jar of sugar-free raspberry jam with an ingredients list that is short and sweet and completely comprehensible. Next I went by the Capella Farms stand and bought some fresh, free range eggs. I grabbed some hot Italian sausages at Gelderman Farms, which sells quality pork products that are free from animal meat by-products, antibiotics, growth hormones, and other nasty stuff. Then I used my last token to purchase a bag of Ambrosia apples from Golden West Farms. I have since tried these BC apples and they were some of the sweetest, crispest apples I’ve had. Gala, move over!
At this point, I couldn’t help but notice the Sweet Naturally stand. Mmm, cookies! I walked over and to my surprise I saw something I have been seeking, unsuccessfully, for over 8 months: the coveted whoopie pie. Now whoopie pies are the comeback kid in the U.S.A. these days and everyone is (re)discovering this lovely little treat. I have been dreaming about two cookies, filled with a stiff cream filling, since they got featured in The Oregonian this summer. I looked everywhere for whoopie pies in Vancouver, but could not find them. Suddenly, there I stood before Sweet Naturally, and all my dreams were coming true. I bought two Sweet Potato Whoopie Pies for $2 each and large Chocolate Vanilla Cookie Sandwich for $2.50.
The whoopie pies were soooo good and totally worth the $2 price tag. The sweet potato and cinnamon makes this a perfect Autumn treat. Despite the rain, I felt transported to an October day, surrounded by reds and golds, trees glowing in the setting sun.
The cookie sandwich was also very good, but very sweet (too sweet for me, but just right for Big Man and Little Man). This is a treat sized to share.
Sweet Naturally lists the ingredients to its treats and they are mostly organic and completely recognizable.
Not too far from Sweet Naturally was Off the Wagon taco truck. Mmm, tacos! You know how I’m crazy for Mexican Food! I was pretty full at this point, so I just bought one taco. I chose the one that looked the most authentic: the Fresh Homemade Chorizo taco with fresh onion and cilantro, roasted tomato salsa, and avacado sauce. I chose well. The chorizo was authentic and delicious. I was impressed—you might even say I was wowed—and I will be doing a full review of Off the Wagon very soon.
Holy crap, I ate a lot of food. But I wasn’t done yet, oh no. I headed over to the Chili Tank. I got a bowl of Smokey Beef Chili, with sour cream, shredded cheese, and chives, for $5. It usually comes with a slice of fresh bread, but I passed on the bread this time. This was good chili and I’d get it again (actually I’m thinking about it now); however, I like my own special recipe better. This isn’t a diss to Chili Tank, it is just that I make really good chili!
If you are wondering what to do on a gloomy Saturday in Vancouver, go to the Winter Farmers Market. You can try all kinds of tasty treats and stock up on local produce and products!
Vancouver Winter Farmers Market
at the Nat Bailey Stadium
4601 Ontario Street
Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm
Through April 30th