Dish

The day is reborn at the City Market on 104th

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I have recently stumbled upon a relevant truth. It may not be my grandest
discovery. However, it can help me in ways that transitory enlightenment
cannot: the presence in my life of those I love can transform my sour mood
into a point of departure.

It is wonderful when, in the space of a day, you can evolve out of a negative
mind state and return to a place where you love life and embrace it eagerly.
When I met my friends at the downtown farmers’ market, my
expectations—along with my energy—were low. Little did I know
what the day would hold.

The City Market on 104th has a prestigious heritage dating back 105 years,
before Edmonton was a city or Alberta a province. It has had several central
locations over the years, and for the last half decade it has graced 104
Street every Saturday between the months of May and October.

The market itself stretches north of Jasper Avenue for two blocks. With
dozens of booths, there was enough diversity to keep anyone interested.
Ranging from fresh produce to organic meats, baking, jewelry, garden plants,
aromatherapy, one of a kind artisan works, stylish fashion creations, sauces,
spreads and much more, I gradually felt myself open up to the company of my
friends and the eclectic surroundings.

The vendors were more than willing to share their stories: it turned out
that, while I was still sleeping off the effects of a late night, they had
begun their day early to set up their wares.

The City Market is overseen by a nonprofit society that is made up of market
vendors and community stakeholders. The goal is to create a dynamic and
engaging experience for Edmontonians. Everyone is welcome to shop and stroll
through this “can’t miss” collection of local, independent
entrepreneurs. Priority is given to Alberta vendors, agricultural producers
and individuals who “make, bake or grow” their products.

Naturally, visiting a farmer’s market means directly supporting our
local community. The money that farmers and other vendors make goes directly
to them and has no middleman. Food grown locally does not travel huge
distances. In a world far removed from our sources, fulfilling some of your
needs at a farmer’s market is a decision rooted in conscience. You
become part of a full circle. What better way to vote with your dollar than
by purchasing fresh produce from the farmer who grew it?

There was plenty of produce available, of course, as well as booths
overflowing with green islands of garden plants. Each stall is different, so
in the space of a few steps, you could be looking at a cache of organic
vegetables one moment and hand-crafted, hipster bags the next. We
brainstormed a few ideas and chose to pick up the ingredients for a dinner at
home.

Our first purchase was a bag of fresh basil ($3.50) for pesto and some
spinach for a salad ($3.50). Minutes later, we found some homemade spinach
pasta ($3.50) and followed this with four resplendent tomatoes on the vine
($4) and a pair of red peppers ($2.75).

Across the way, we were drawn in by the Dip-Sea Chicks’ stall that
specialized in hummus. With nearly a dozen types to sample, we narrowed it
down to the feta & dill hummus or my favourite, the black olive and
sun-dried tomato. Either choice was good so I conceded to my friends and we
purchased the former ($6).

For a side dish we grabbed a considerable bundle of asparagus ($5) and
returned to one of the greenhouse stalls to get a bunch of rosemary ($3.50)
as a complement. On our way, we noticed a unique booth filled with handmade
vinyl clothing and accessories: I bought a very trendy passport cover ($14).
Sadly, we did not have the pleasure of meeting the vegan baker who came
highly recommended so something had to be done for dessert.

The City Market’s innovative location means that it is surrounded by a
few permanent businesses. Besides a trio of choice restaurants to relax at
for breakfast or lunch, we had access to deVine Wines & Spirits,
literally 30 steps from the market’s southern tip. Inside were every
wine we could desire and an impressive wall of local and import beers.

We decided on a bottle of Brancott New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ($14.49),
which later proved to be a diamond decision and an excellent substitute for
dessert. We also purchased a six pack of Cooper’s pale ale ($15.99), an
Australian standard. Confident that we had done well with our afternoon, we
set out for home base to complete the second half of our experience.

During the dinner preparation, I felt the healing process continue and
started to feel genuinely better. Every inch of the kitchen counter was
bustling with activity. We all contributed to create a wonderful, homegrown
meal. While drinking beer, we sliced bread and snacked on the excellent
hummus, gradually bringing our efforts to fruition.
Cooking with local and organic foods can be quite fulfilling. By the time
dinner was ready, I felt like I had involved myself in something innately
positive.

The wine was awesome, with a perfect balance of sweet and dry, and our meal
looked great. We had pesto-spinach pasta with red pepper and tomato, a
spinach salad with strawberries and a lemon-walnut dressing, plus a delicious
side of rosemary asparagus with a hint of lemon. Not all of our ingredients
came from the Market, but we discovered well over half there. The difference
in quality and taste was easy to decipher.

The 104 Street Farmers’ Market has a lot to offer Edmonton in its
bountiful and diverse selection of goods. We did notice some gaps: for
example, we could not find any garlic. It seems logical that the market
cannot fulfill all of your needs, but you can use it to satisfy many of
them.

In doing so, you will discover a selection of the best, freshest and most
unique products available. If feeling good feels great, the City Market was
an accomplice in making one local freedom fighter’s day much better
than it began. V

 

 

Saturdays, 9 am – 3 pm, to Oct 6
City Market on 104th
North of Jasper Avenue on 104 Street
429.5713

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