You will hear me write this over and over but it truly is one of my most favorite aspects of getting out to the markets and that is meeting the folks behind the stalls and hearing their stories on how they got their start and why they enjoy what they do best. I recently toured the new farmers’ market at the Distillery District…the Sunday Market and what a nice addition to the Distillery District!
Make it a to do on your list this summer from now until September 28th. A special thanks to a few folks…firstly, our lovely tour guide Audrey Ooi from Tasty Tours who hosted my very first sweet tasting tour this past Father’s Day weekend. You have got to do this at least one if not all of their delectable tours;) We were also greeted by the Distillery’s very own Candace Shaw who gave us a bit of background on the start of the market and what criteria they work with when making their vendor selections. Our first stop was with Adam and Blythe from Spade and Spoon who allowed us to sample their fine maple syrups, and jarred preserves. I now know feel a bit more enlightened about the different shades of syrup and their best attributes and have a new appreciation for ketchup, tried their Hot’n Spicy version and what better timing to discover than during bbq season. Next stop in was with Shane from Haute Goat who shared his story on how he and his wife combined their two passions to become what was meant to be. Find out why you will be glad that they did! I’ll give you a clue, think goat’s milk. Lastly but not least, we were introduced to Karen McKenna from Hi Honey whose passion for bees and their honey of a cause is not afraid to take a stand when it matters most. Did not realize how much variety honey had to offer. Karen also showed us how versatile honey is for cooking by allowing us to sample her delicious Rhubarb Compote. Read this interesting article which Karen penned for edible Toronto.
Toronto has many fantastic tour companies that will help you get up close and personal and show you the hidden gems behind some of our cities amazing markets. (yes and still made it to my dad’s on time–thanks Audrey;). I was 20 minutes late for my father’s big day but the saving grace was the Whiskey Chocolate Cake exclusively made by Jill Lawrence at the Canadian Whiskey Cake Company (also known for her Apple Crumble Company)that I brought back with me–I owe you one Jill!
If you live or visit New York often, the chances are that you have visited one of UrbanSpace‘s markets; Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites, Columbus Circle Holiday Market and Union Square Holiday Market. Here to tell us a bit about her experience with markets and UrbanSpace itself is Julie Feltman, the Market Director at UrbanSpace.
1. How did you get involved with markets and UrbanSpace?
I feel super fortunate that the universe just pushed me towards this job – it’s my dream job. I grew up in the market circuit working with my Mother, jewelry designer Angela Feltman of Heart Of Stone, who would do pop-up markets and street fairs all over New England. Some of my earliest memories are running around those fairs, learning how to make change and putting beads on string. As an adult, I’ve done a lot of production management for theater and events, as well as going to school for Economics. A few years ago, I worked with UrbanSpace as an assistant and slowly moved up the ranks to become the Market Director.
2. What do you want visitors to your markets to walk away with?
The neat thing about our markets is that it’s an immersive, unique experience every single time you step through it, and appeals to every sense you have. I think the most satisfied customer doesn’t walk away with food selfies or instagrammed crowd shots, but with distinct tactile memories of the sound of rice noodles sizzling on a hot grill, how the spices smelt both foreign and familiar, how the salt rub felt against your hands. I want people to put down their phones and ear buds and take in the experience!
3. What is the oddest or funniest or most interesting market story you can remember?
So many! Sometimes vendors send the office samples of their products, and someone last year sent me a fig tree. He wasn’t intending on selling trees, he just though I’d like it. It was pretty cool. Right now there is a gelato vendor at Broadway Bites by UrbanSpace, and his Italian mother works the booth. She doesn’t speak any English, and customers actually enjoy struggling with correspondence, it’s like for that one moment you’re in Italy. Every time I go over she hugs and kisses me and speaks to me in Italian as if I get every word. She then gives me an affagato (a scoop of gelato with espresso poured on top) even when I say no. It’s a work hazard :).
4. If you could visit any market in the world, which one would it be?
Ooooh! I’ve been lucky to travel, and I’ve loved the markets in India and Morocco. In India, there are such an assault of sights smells and sounds, especially as a foreigner, it’s pretty great, and each region specializes in something different. In Morocco, they have snake charmers and fiddle players as entertainment, and all types of animals for sale. It’s pretty great. I think my next stop for markets is the Parisian Bird Market, or some of the market places in the Andulusia region of Spain.
5. Who would you take with you?
Someone with a big pocketbook and a strong back for hauling my knickknacks 🙂
Started my Mother’s Day weekend off on a beautiful note by swinging by the opening day of the 2014 Toronto Flower Market. The weather could not have been more beautiful. Torontonians were out and about finding the right bouquet for their mothers and treating themselves too. Speaking of which, my son loved the rock garden/open air planters from Patchouli while I snagged myself one of the official market totes which displays the featured water colour florals designed by the ever-talented artist Courtney Wotherspoon. And to complete the visit, a visit to Kari Marshall’s gourmet popsicle stand (The Pop Stand) helped us end the outing on a sweet note. To see what other vendors were present, go to The Flower Market’s site. Also just a quick note on the location which was hosted by Great Gulf homes-definitely a nice touch to building community! Make this one of you markets to visit this summer at least once if not more.
Talk about convenience. One New York developer is making it easier for us to enjoy eating out while staying close to home. Gotham Organization, a family-run real estate business recently introduced a luxury-rental apartment complex furnished with it’s own in-house market, Gotham West Market, with offerings which include on-trend artisanal food vendors, gourmet coffee and a bicycle concierge service located on the ground level. This is no small endeavour either–the market itself is about 10,000 square feet. Did I mention that parking is also available? What more could we want? Okay maybe throw in a florist? Let’s give Gotham Organization two thumbs up for keeping the scene fresh and innovative.
New York has Whole Foods in the Time Warner building and now Loblaws has the Maple Leaf Gardens. Loblaws brings the market feel to their latest supermarket offering in the downtown core near College and Yonge Street. The choices were endless and bountiful. They were also able to keep the spirit of the Maple Leaf history alive with nostalgic reminders of the good ol’ days by incorporating them into the overall store design. Definitely worth a visit even if you don’t live in the area!
Meet TAS, a local Toronto property development firm that is working with various local community partners to better our fine city one market at a time. First run in with TAS was at the popular Junction Flea Market and most recently while visiting MEC for some camping gear, an unexpected “Farm The City” farm lot diretly located across the street. Next time you are in the neighbourhood, be sure to check it out. We need more thoughtful collaborations like these along with amazing individuals like Emma Point, Community Partnership Co-ordinator at TAS who was responsible for bringing it all together. Great job Emma and TAS! Can’t wait to see what’s next.