Sunday, May 6, 2012

on the market

When I woke up just before 5 a.m. on Saturday morning I could hear the rain on my tin roof.   But neither rain nor the early hour did anything to dampen my enthusiasm.  I was going to have the chance to share with visiting travel media one of my very favourite Fredericton experiences: the Boyce Farmer’s Market.

Part of the charm of this Saturday morning tradition is that it's not just a quaint touristy spot but it’s genuinely part of the life of the city cutting across all sections of the community each with their own routine and rhythm.  You can practically set your watch by which group is populating the market at any given time.   

Arriving at the Brunswick St. entrance many of us made a bee line through the food alley (we lost a few to the tempting aroma’s of Magzy’s kettle corn, the new artisan pizzas and, unsurprisingly, the lobster rolls) and headed straight for Whitney Coffee.  A cup of their fresh-roasted, fresh-brewed coffee or cappuccino is my first stop at my normal market hour of 9 a.m.  Before 7 a.m. it’s an absolute necessity!

Donna from Philadelphia was interested in maple syrup  so coffees in hand we headed off to the old part of the market where Leah Anstis was manning a stall of maple products.  Leah is the founder of Local Foodies of Fredericton  a group that holds workshops about skills like canning, drying, freezing, preparing and growing your own food.  During the week you can find Leah at RealFood Connections  one of the leading players in Fredericton’s growing local food movement.   Donna happily left with two bottles of local maple syrup to take back to the States.

Our next stop was in search of chocolate.  I’ve written before about my love for  Choco Cocagne and Donna was charmed by their sweet samplers.  Chocolate in hand, Donna struck out on her own to explore the market and I met up with Karan Smith.  Karan and I had exchanged emails before the conference so we were looking forward to meeting in person.  I took her around my normal market routine.  First stop:  au fond des bois fromagerie.  Marina, William and Patrick are originally from Belgium and came to Canada in 2005.  Now based in Rexton, they produce more than 20 different kinds of goat cheese which they sell along with other products weekly at the Boyce Farmer’s Market.   On Saturday I treated myself to two rounds:  their popular slightly sweet and smooth le Barbizon and le Forban, a black pepper and garlic powerhous.  Either one was going to be delicious tossed with my next purchase…

Second generation market vendor Alison Toron (her parents run Northern Lights Leather) and her partner Josh Dickison started NashwaakNoodles in July 2010 and haven’t missed a market Saturday since.   Their fresh pasta is one of my market faves. This week I went with their classic lemon-pepper linguine.  Check out Nashwaak Noodles on Facebook for their flavor of the week.  My personal favourite is Picaroons Best Bitter and red pepper.  They source local ingredients as much as possible and good news:  if you can’t make the market, Nashwaak Noodles are now available through Real Food Connections.

Next stop the Gagetown Fruit Farm   stall for some eggs.  Matt Estabrooks and Heather Rhymes took over Matt’s family farm a few years ago and their current products include produce, baked goods, eggs and soups among other things.   They are chefs by trade and during the summer months you can sample their cooking at their small restaurant in a converted barn on their farm in Gagetown.  In the fall be sure to stop by the farm for U-pick apples and pumpkins.  

Goat cheese and eggs don’t exactly travel well so Karan was on the lookout for something non-perishable that she could take back to Ontario with her.  Carloe Liu’s sweet hand-carvedstamps and prints  offered the perfect solution to the packing dilemma.  While Karan deliberated over prints and cards.  I picked up a pack of York County Granola New Brunswick mix (with cranberries and pumpkin seeds) from Jessica Breau at the next stall over. 

The weather was still inclement but we decided to skip the bus back to the hotel in favour of a little more market exploring and a walk through downtown.    Karan sampled some of Van Dyck’s wild blueberry juice and some freshly-squeezed o.j. from Sam the Juice man.   We both happily accepted a couple of steaming mugs of hot Coburn’s Cider  to ward off the damp weather.  Dave Coburn’s family has been a Fredericton market presence since long before the current  location opened 60 years ago.  I picked up a jar of Family Favourite spiced apple jelly from Sarah Ingersoll, Karan grabbed  a soft pretzel from Rudolph’s Farm, Butchershop, and German Baking and we each bought a bouquet of mayflowers from an older lady who told us she’s been picking and selling mayflowers at the market since she was eight years old.  Not to disclose a lady’s age but my guess is that means she’s been selling mayflowers for as long as the Boyce has been open.  Now that’s a tradition!

Leaving the market through the food court – and a couple of photo ops of Bardsley’s lobster rolls – we headed down Regent for Queen Street.  We talked about the summer concert series at Officer’s Square and the classic movies on Sunday night at Barracks Square.   I told her in the 15 years since I moved to the city I’d seen a real rejuvenation of downtown  with new shops and restaurants.  Leaving the downtown core I pointed out the Small Craft Aquatic centre where in the summer months you can rent kayaks and canoes and see Fredericton from a different vantage point.

She was headed to the Delta and I live on the far west end of Brunswick so we parted ways at Wilmot Park.  When I arrived back home it wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet but it had already been a great Fredericton day.

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