A Canadian Foodies Favourites at Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market

Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market Open December 23rd: Last Day Before Christmas!

City Market, I have not forsaken thee. I do miss some of my favourite producers that cannot be found at OSFM in the winter from City Market. One cannot beat buy groceries from the hand of a farmer or his help in the fresh outdoors. Sigh! But, how fortunate are we in this winter climate of ours to have this fantastic indoor market all year round! It is even open at 8 am in the summer and I can often be found there getting some of that wonderful Edgar asparagus (sans line up) at 8 am, then heading down to the City Market in the summer. Not only for the asparagus, though. There are other very important products offered here that are not offered at the City Market. Farmer’s Markets are exclusive. I don’t like that, as a consumer. I want it to be how it used to be. All farmers in the area just pull up and sell what they have to sell. More about that later.

One of my newest and most exciting finds was veal bones at Four Whistle Farms. I almost feel I should keep this a secret as they are not always available. I searched everywhere for so many years, I gave up. Then. there they were. So many gorgeous veal bones. The young man behind the counter thought I was a bit nuts for sure. I was so excited to find them. He was very polite, though. But, I saw the twinkle in his eye and his wary raised brow! These are fantastic. I was so proud of my fist veal jus and cannot wait to make more! I like to cook them fresh, not frozen.

Sunworks Farms Chicken and eggs are always in my fridge and freezer. In the summer, I did discover a very good egg from another vendor, but can’t recall their name (which I feel badly about!!); however, I was most often getting my eggs here, anyway. Their roasting chickens are superb! Second to none. Expensive, but I find that the meat is “meatier” and more substantial. Certainly, there is NO comparison in flavour to one of these birds and one from Lilydale. When I was ranting on about this in my post about Chicken Paprikash, Kevin Kossowan had a very interesting comment that he added which is definitely worth repeating here: I’m becoming a huge believer in eating less meat quantity with higher quality. Good chicken is SO good. Bad chicken is SO bad. I had a couple Sunworks chickens this fall, and they were both excellent. I have a spreadsheet of this season’s meat cost by animal, and poultry comes in at the top with beef. Chicken being the most expensive protein per lb was counter intuitive as I don’t think we perceive it as the most valuable when we use it. The winner for domesticated meats: pork, by nearly half the price/lb of other meats. I was so surprised by his finding!

Sorry the price isn’t on here. It is about three dollars. One really great buy at the Sunworks Farm booth is their carcasses. I had searched high and low for bones and carcasses that would make a tasty chicken soup like I had when I visited Vanja’s parents. This is definitely it. I make a batch almost every Sunday. I also buy their legs and thighs for Chicken Paprikash which apparently I never make often enough!

Now, let’s take a look at the introductory photograph, again.

Sylvan Star Cheese is at OSFM every other week this year, and for the Christmas season produce small Edam’s (the red ball, above) and Baby Gouda’s (the yellow discs, above). I cannot imagine my cheese platter without this Christmas specials! Last year was the first time I discovered them, and they are here to stay! Sylvan Star also makes their own butter: cultured butter! So delicious! There are four pounds of it in the above photo, too, to let you know about it, but it is not sold at the market. I got mine at the Dairy Farm Fieldtrip. You can ask the gentleman at their booth where you can get it in the city.

First Nature Farms cannot be overlooked if you like bison or good beef! Jerry Kitt is an incredibly interesting farmer who will guide you through his products and always has something interesting to show you! This trip I bought Bison Flank Steak (or skirt steak) to compare the cooking of it to the cooking of its beef counter part.

And while we are talking meat, let me not forget Irvine’s Farm Fresh Berkshire Boar!!! Oh, Mama! Is that good meat!!! I just did a pork belly (yet to post) that was TO-DIE-FOR and am buying an entire pig to roast for the Edmonton Slow Food Winter Solstice Vanja and I are hosting January 8th. If you want to come, sign up for your membership!

Gull Valley Tomatoes are second to none! Unless I grow my own, this is all we eat. When they close for the winter, we go without until they return. Why? They are the only tomatoes I have found that taste like tomatoes. Do a taste test! Compare them to any other tomato. You will see!

Vanja is crazy over Pink Lady apples. They come out in October every year, and are well worth the wait. I love them, too. I am in big trouble if I don’t come home with a large bag of them from Steve and Dan’s BC Fresh Fruit. They also have the best dried apples I have ever come across and I have a bag on hand at all times as they are excellent with the Sylvan Star Medium Gouda. What a pairing!

The last bag on the bench above is a treat, really, as I always make everything we eat from scratch. I tested one of these little Siberian Pelmeni and knew I had to learn how to make them myself. Until then, at twelve dollars a bag, I buy them as they are definitely a taste of Easter Europe and the meat filled bites are too yummy to pass up. Also, all ingredients are real food! I cannot read the name of the booth, but it is the Russian Booth that sells the sour cabbage and the wonderful multi-layered cakes. I tried to blow up the image to read her business name, but cannot. Maybe you can!

Morinville Greenhouses is another favourite. This time, I bought no fresh herbs from his booth, but I usually do. He is the best place for spring herbs, large rosemary shrubs, and anything of this nature. The bagged basil is gorgeous and he has a fridge filled with tender greens similar to what I saw at the Ferry Market in San Francisco!

The only item that I haven’t raved about, yet, that is in the above photo, are the red banana potatoes at Riverbend Gardens. They are second to none. The only other potato I buy that I love just as much is Greens Eggs & Ham’s almond potatoes. I have to get over to Avenue Market on Thursday nights yet, as I am short of their lovely produce, and miss it, dearly! There are other City Market vendors there as well as some new ones I have been eager to meet!

I have paid my ten dollars deposit to Sunworks for my Christmas Turkey and will be there standing in the long line on Thursday morning with everyone else. Then I will buy everything I can that you have read about here today, plus my favourite Nantes Carrots! They have a juicer in their booth now, and I cannot wait to try to make some carrot sorbet with my Thermomix! I know, it sounds crazy, but I read it in NoMa’s new cook book at NoMa was just voted the best new restaurant for 2010, so it is probably worth a go!

There are so many other wonderful vendors at the market, too!

Merry Christmas to everyone! When you are out doing your last minute shopping for the weekend, remember your farmers, and get out to the markets.

Love, Valerie


  1. says

    Sorry you’ve had the flu, Valerie…it hit me a couple weeks ago. And I’d had a flu shot too. Mine was gone in 4 days, so trust you are on the mend.

    I love idea of indoor farmer’s markets for you northerners. I’ll be anxious to hear of any others around. A super idea. We are fortunate to have them year round in Florida AND we have access to out of season fruits and veggies that a lot of bloggers can’t find, or they are prohibitive in price.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Valerie! You’re such a faithful friend and supporter!

  2. Bert says

    Hey Valerie,
    The Russian dumplings are also available from the Russian/Eastern European store in Callingwood, next to the Fountain Tire store. You can also buy really good perogies from them.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thanks for the awesome local food blog.

    • Valerie says

      I live so close to Callingwood – and didn’t even know! Wonderful! That is what I love about food blogging. Thank you so much!

  3. Jane says

    Love your blog … I always learn so much! Re: The Russian Pelmeni (YUM) – Marina’s Cuisine. If you can’t make it to the market you can get it from her shop (780-478-6915). Sorry, I don’t know the address.

    Do you know a source for good apple cider? Not all of us are as talented as you and Vanja!

    Merry Christmas

  4. says

    Sorry you’ve not been well lovely. Love a good Farmers Market myself & with just a few days now till Xmas well.., lets just say the Markets & I are on pretty good terms… we seem to be spending quite a bit of time together :)

  5. says

    The inexpensive Sunworks chicken carcass may become a thing of the past once they get their ‘value add’ facility together and will start to sell more products like stock and patéto make use of their byproducts. In the meantime, I will make good use of them, as that’s a bargain for top quality chicken stock – so thanks for the intel.

  6. Tara says

    Does anyone know where to find blueberry perogies these days? They used to have them at the downtown market, but I didn’t see them this year.

  7. says

    Hey Valerie,

    You’re definitely no stranger to the farmer’s markets and city center. Looks like you’ve got a routine down packed. I’m sure you’ve created many close friendships with everyone at the markets as well, which wouldn’t surprise me one bit. You’re definitely one of those people who everyone falls in love with after spending a little time together. The biggest problem I have with the markets (which totally is my fault) is that by the time the kiddies wake up and we’re ready to head out the door, its already 11:00 and most of the good stuff has already been sold. I know it’s early bird gets the worm here, isnt it? Thank you for sharing your favorite finds with us. I’m always learning new things when I visit your blog. In case I don’t talk to you before Christmas, I hope you, Vanja, and your lovely family have a happy holiday and a very Merry Christmas! Big hugs!!!

  8. says

    Ah, I only wish I could sneak in a visit to the market tomorrow..I was thinking of trying, but I don’t think I have the time. It would be a dash in and dash out with the kids kinda deal. It was wonderful seeing you this weekend, have a Merry Christmas Valerie!

  9. says

    Dear Val – This is why I love you – only you (and I) would get all gooey over veal bones (for you) and duck fat for me. People think I’m nuts when I call my friends up over the holidays asking if any of them need duck fat…..I can almost hear them go…mental, that one! :)

    I am just a teensy weensy bit jealous that you are surrounded by all these marvelous farms and all this wonderful produce. Its great that you can find such perfect ingredients with your talent.

    Merry Christmas Dahling :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    • Valerie says

      Duck fat for me, TOO!
      I ALWAYS have a few litres of it in my fridge and freezer. I have a friend who melts it over popcorn. We would not think you are crazy here!!!! I am still looking for that post you were telling me about. It if doesn’t show up today, I will call or write you a personal note!
      Talk to you soon!

  10. says

    This is such a nice, and, I must say, very thoughtful update for folks living in Alberta! If I lived nearby, I’m sure I’d be rushing over to the Old Strathcoma market for some ‘real food’ for the holiday weekend. I’m such a procastinator though. Yeah, I’d be that person there on the 23rd right before closing time;-)
    Oh, and I hope you, Vanja, and the family have a very relaxing holiday weekend, Valerie.
    p.s. Hope you try the vegan chocolate cake. I’d love to know what you think of it, but I know us bloggers have long lists of ‘things to try’. I won’t expect anything (smile).
    p.s.s. That new photo at the top of your blog looks so beautiful-the lighting and composition is wonderful. It’s like it is supposed to be there!

    • Valerie says

      You are SO right – the list is long – and just because of that, I have made it a new year’s resolution to make one of these recipes a week next year, so I actually get it done!!! That delectable moist gorgeous looking vegan chocolate cake is ON the list!

  11. says

    Oh wow, I wish there was an indoor market like this where I live! This is absolutely fantastic, Valerie. The veal bones are a particularly great find…I would love to make my own veal stock! The cheese of course stole my heart and I’d love to try that cultured butter too!

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for the sweet comment you left on my blog, it really meant a lot to me. You’re such a thoughtful person and I’m incredibly glad to have “met” you! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  12. says

    Veal bone! I hope I can find some at the farmer market tomorrow! The farmer market nearby is pretty small and it has been snowing…gotta try my luck tomorrow.
    Valerie, merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  13. says

    Wow these all look great! You’re so lucky to have such a market nearby. We have a few farmer markets here, but they mostly sell fruit and vegetables, no chicken or meat. I can understand how you feel when you found veal bones there. Merry Christmas!

  14. says

    Don’t you just love visiting markets like this? One of my favorite things to do in my own hometown (and in cities that I visit) is to explore these markets and take home some unique and local ingredients. Thank you for sharing your own experience. Veal bone is something I don’t normally find! I hope you are having a wonderful and healthy week, my friend!

    • Valerie says

      Monet! You, too? Whenever we travel, and where ever we travel, the local market is on the itinerary. I have been to some very interesting ones… and more before I started my site!!! I want to get into those photos and put some of them up, too. Visiting a local outdoor market is SUCH a fascinating way to get a view into the culture visited and to find amazing treasures for home. It doesn’t cost a thing to browse, and the experience is priceless!

  15. says

    Hi Valerie, I wanted to leave a comment on the beautiful Pavlova you shared with Le Quan’s family, what a gorgeous cake, beautiful job and how nice you all shared such a wonderful meal. I love checking out local markets and your post just confirms that! Looks like you made a pretty good haul, enjoy! Have a nice holiday, Patty

  16. says

    What great finds at your local market, ours is slowly staring to take shape and I am afraid by the time it is up and really going we will be moving, again…I love that you found veal bones, how exciting to have such great products avaiable..

    happy holidays!!

  17. says

    I do hope you are feeling better. It’s a terrible time of year to be ill. We, unfortunately, do not have winter extensions of our local summer markets. Pity that! You’ve made some great finds at yours. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  18. says

    Like yourself, here in Montreal, we are blessed with foodie indoor market heaven. I may not always find what I want, however, I always find what I need ;o) I’m a great supporter of local goods whenever possible.

    Valerie, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a memorable Christmas, good health and everything you desire going into the new year ;o)

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

  19. says

    Carrot sorbet – that sounds divine. I just got an ice cream attachment for my mixer, so I have to track this recipe down

    Thanks for the hot tip about the special Christmas cheeses.

    It was a great read about the Strathcona Market – I must confess that I rarely go – I find it sooo busy that it takes the pleasure out of it. I think I may have to revise that and make a visit next December for the CHEESE!

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