Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Ottawa Farmers Market

We are blessed with another luminous summer day, and Jill recommends that we get an early start to find the best available produce at the farmers market for our midsummer locally-grown Canadian Feast.

The Ottawa Farmers Market occurs each Sunday, May through October at Landsdowne, just near the site of the 1875 Provincial Exhibition. The centerpiece of the fairgrounds is a shimmering exhibition hall, in the style of the great crystal pavilions, known to residents as “The Cattle Castle.” A flying cow sits atop a weathervane, a testament to the area’s agricultural roots.

It is already sunny and hot, but numerous shoppers are traversing the rows of peaked tents and exploring the wares of local farmers. Jill suggests that we take an initial stroll through the entire market so we can get a sense of what’s available and so we don’t buy the first thing we see. I am clutching a scratch pad with notes on all the ingredients we will need. The menu has been designed to evoke a summer day – crisp and brilliantly-colorful with notes of sunshine, pure rain water, and earthy terrain.

Certain things remain on my “to-do list” for the visit. I have yet to spot a genuine Canadian Mountie and the search for an authentic butter tart continues. There are some pastries available in the market but no butter tarts. We cue up for bread, and Jill selects an enormous rustic loaf that we will use for crostini. Salt scatters as the baker slips the loaf into a white paper bag.

For a fleeting moment I wonder if Jill’s focus on vegetables is some kind of postscript to the menu of the Canadian Feast last March where there were very few home-grown vegetables to be had. Now, there is a bounty of seasonal produce to choose from.

We seek out bulging fava bean pods that we will use for a jade-green crostini spread.

We marvel at the palate of produce available. One vendor offers cauliflower in shades of intense purple and orange.

Crisp green beans will mingle with earthy scarlet beets and goat cheese for a roasted summer salad.

As we are about to depart, a new shipment of raspberries arrive, just picked from the field, glistening and still warm to the touch.

Laden down with summer fruits, vegetables, artisanal breads and even delicate edible flowers, we now have everything we need for preparing our locally grown Canadian feast and head for the kitchen.

©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...

i love to see markets from all over the world :D and wow @ that cauliflower! :D

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Can't wait to see what you and Jill will be cooking with all of this wonderful farmers' market haul!

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful bounty of nature. love those cauliflowers. I'm with Lydia, you are building up to quite the suspense about what you all cooked!