Farm to Table: Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
The autumn colours of the leaves in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, have faded and fallen away, leaving only pine green needles. Cool fall winds have turned into brisk winter ones. Snow now blanket the roads.
Locals have already turned their attentions to heartier fare, game meat pies with buttery pastry; roasted meats scented with spices and dried herbs; braised dishes heady of onion, carrot, and spice; and velvet smooth soups enriched with cream. Where once we were graced with so much of nature’s bounty, root vegetables are now the norm, parsnips, carrots, beets, and potatoes.
Does absence make the heart grow fonder? A recent cheese tasting at an artisanal delicatessen reminded me of the open air farmer’s markets that opened weekly this past summer to new found and well deserved popularity. The delicatessen is called The Piggy Market (400 Winston Avenue, Ottawa). Located on a side street in Westboro, co-owner/chef Dave Neil recently completed renovations, opening up a wall and laying down wood counters.
The pastoral heritage of his wooden planks, every plank borrowed from a local farm, reflects well the food he sells. Much of Dave’s products are locally produced.
Every farmer or producer is a friend. In fact, the week before the cheese tasting, André Pollender of Cabane du PicBois (producer of the maple vinegar) and Bonnie-Jean Stacey of Take Charge Tea were on-hand at The Piggy Market to promote their products. On this note, The Piggy Market is the only retailer of Cabane du PicBois maple vinegar in Ontario.
The cheese that was showcased at the tasting came from
Also, on hand was Hall’s Apple Orchard and Market, producer of the sparkling cider and apple cider vinegar above.
Alas, the open-air farmer’s markets are now closed. But, those of us who long for the fresh produce and local products, sold with a warm and friendly smile, can seek out many of the same products along with pickles, jams, and preserves that capture the summer sun in shops like The Piggy Market.
Still, some neighbourhood business associations have realized the lingering popularity of farmer’s markets. Ottawa does not have a year-round in-door farmer’s market. In lieu, the Preston Street Business Improvement Association has decided to hold a holiday farmer’s market in Ottawa’s Little Italy on Saturdays for three weeks, starting December 4, 2010. They have organized some regulars of the summer farmer’s markets to attend: Hall’s Apple Market (apples, apple cider, berry and apple pies, Christmas baskets), Upper Canada Cranberries (cranberries, cranberry jams, juice and jellies), Bearbrook Farms (game meats and – elk, bison, duck, alpaca), Queen Beet Farms (squash, carrots, potatoes, maple syrup, pork and goat meat), Knockout Cattle Farm (beef – frozen and fresh cuts) and Hot Potato Co. (potatoes, cooked in all flavours or raw, coffee).
With winter here, what do you miss most from the open-air farmer’s markets?
The Piggy Market
400 Winston Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa Little Italy: Christmas Farmer’s Market
Preston Street La Piaza (Adult High School Parking Lot: 300 Rochester Street, Ottawa, Ontario)
For more information, contact the Preston Street BIA by e-mail at email@example.com