As you might already know, we usually spend every other Saturday wandering the Downtown Winter Market in Victoria so naturally I was totally on board with my sister’s suggestion that we visit the Kelowna Farmers’ Market at Parkinson Recreation Centre during my Okanagan getaway.
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by all the open air shopping in Spain and France – and now the Downtown Winter Market in Victoria – but a little variety and a few eccentric or passionate vendors go a long way to keeping me shopping. I could not be happier to report that the Kelowna Farmers’ Market had all of the above.
Fresh baked breads and meat pies greeted in the parking lot. And inside there were just as many original, clever, and inviting arts and crafts as there were delectable local food businesses.
Check out this variety of flavoured honey from Brainy Bee Honey!
You know how little kids stop in front of the glass at aquariums, entranced by the swirling sea life? Yeah, that was me standing in front of this massive case of flavoured honeys trying to pick one. I already regret not buying more. When exactly am I going to find strawberry flavoured honey? Or chocolate orange!
I was trying to be practical since we don’t eat a lot of honey in general, but naturally I can think of a million different uses now that I’ve left: with brie on crackers, warmed and drizzled over oatmeal, stirred into my tea or coffee, in a pan sauce for chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. Sigh. Learn from my mistake, people. I finally settled on a mini jar of chilli and jalapeno honey – I plan to toss it with some steamed green beans and toasted cashews for dinner this week!
Lake Country Harvest is an example of the best in small business ingenuity.
Like the Fruit Tree Project here in Victoria, Lake Country Harvest’s owner is taking advantage of the short but abundant and varied fruit season of the Okanagan, combating food waste and creating dried fruit products, preserves and jams, muesli, and nutrition-packed energy snacks like these pear ginger chocolate hemp bites.
Mixing their muesli with greek yogurt and some sliced banana is my current favourite breakfast – if only I didn’t polish the last of the bag off this week!
I also took home some cherry wine vinegar, which has now become the base for one of my current favourite homemade dressing as an alternative to balsamic.
If you are looking for a snack at the market, you might consider a made-this-morning Jamaican patty from Mark’s Carribbean Foods.
In addition to all these hot sauces, Mark also sells a savoury, mild jerk type marinade called Calyso sauce (the dark sauce with the orange label). It has heavy notes of clove and ginger and I am still taking little tastes all the time trying to figure out all the different flavours in it.
So far I’ve used it for dinner twice: in the dressing and as a marinade for a BBQ chicken salad and brushed on some salmon served with mango salsa and edamame. I do believe it is destined to meet the Pioneer Woman’s pulled meat technique at some point in the future. Mark tells me it’s available in Victoria at Niagara Grocery.
Beyond the food, the craft product vendors at this market exceeded my expectations too, which is saying a lot for someone who lives in a city like Victoria that thrives on the arts.
Where do you stand on the feathered accessories trend?
I’ve never wanted to pay upwards of $30 for them, but this woman decided to cut out the Michael’s mark up and supplies feathers locally from her farm to a number of local crafters, and makes her own as well. All the earrings on this board were just $12!
Being the good auntie and uncle that we are, we couldn’t help ourselves and picked up a few things for Nephew ST. Since he’s at the baby stage of being mesmerized by fingers and hands, we had to snag a few of the mini alpaca finger puppets from this vendors.
We also picked up some adorable monkey face mittens — the kind strung together with a long piece of yarn. I can still remember the feel and fit of some of the hand-knit sweaters, toques and other lasting hand-me-down fashions from our childhood. Buying these made me smile, thinking Nephew ST bopping around in the snow for winters to come.
Everyone at the Kelowna Farmers’ Market that I spoke to was proud of their business, engaging with their customers, offering samples, making cooking or preparation suggestions, and just generally at ease and having fun. The best part of a market like this is that you get a clear snapshot of the region’s small business community, its natural gifts, and the awesome niche food businesses that keep it exciting.
What is your favourite part of public markets?