Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Victoria Public Market

Address: 1701 Douglas St. (in The Hudson)
Notes: Hyper-local food market! Downtown! Finally!!


September 15, 2013
The public market opened this September to great fan fare and huge crowds! After years of hard work, fundraising and community building Victoria is now home to an indoor, year-round source of local ingredients. The space is still a work in progress with lots of teaser booths of things to come, but has a solid start with a strong collection of vendors and food booths out of the gate.

There are many vendors open already including...

The French Oven Victoria Pie Co Island Spice Trade
The French Oven bakery,  Victoria Pie Co & Island Spice Trade
Two bakeries are already up and running, the French Oven with bread and pastries and the Victoria Pie Co serving up a multitude of pie selections. Island Spice Trade is also off to a good start, featuring Vancouver Island salt and imported spices. 

Saltspring Island Cheese Silk Road TeaRoast
Saltspring Island Cheese, Silk Road Tea & Roast
Several more established business owners are putting their stake into the public market, including a full selection of Saltspring Island cheeses and a collection of Silk Road teas. George Szaz (formerly of Paprika and Stage) has opened a meat-centric eatery called "Roast." The Vancouver restaurant Vijs is opening a little sister restaurant as well, called Sutra, with fresh curries and a selection of Vij's packaged products. 

La Cocina de Mama Oli
La Cocina de Mama Oli
One of the many vendors teasing their wares at the launch event included La Cocina de Mama Oli, who will be serving up "very mexican" food soon. Other vendors that are coming soon include Cowican Bay Seafood, the Damn Fine Cake Co. 

Farmers Market
As well as the indoor market, there will be  a Wednesday farmers market where tables of smaller vendors spill out into the causeway behind the Hudson and bring in smaller vendors and more farmers.

Vegetable Vendors Galore Canned goods Luv Bites 
Vegetable vendors and canned goods galore, plus a little something for our 4 legged friends
Vendors in the farmers market have smaller tables and will switch up occasionally. Follow your favourite vendors and the Public Market on social media to keep up with the ever-changing selection of delicious farmers and food producers. 

Community Kitchen
Community Kitchen
Thanks to a grant from Vancity there is a community kitchen in the market available for use and rental by private or nonprofit groups. Peter Zambri kicked off a series of chef demonstrations at the opening celebrations — just one of the many uses of the kitchen space. 

Event Space
Event Space
The market can be rented out for other events after hours! Plenty of options and opportunities are available. Proceeds from rentals go towards supporting the Public Market operations.

Buy a deck of Taste Locally deals & receive 20% off frozen items with the purchase of any fresh item excluding frozen bison products) at Ravenstone Farm Artisan Meats in the public market! 

Find out more about supporting local restaurants, wineries & cafes in Victoria and becoming a local hero at

* Expires October 1st 2015

January 31, 2013
When I first saw that there was a group organizing for a market downtown I was quite excited! When I found out it was going to be holding a temporary market in Market Square I was thrilled. It always baffled me that there wasn't a market there given the name and the history, and the fact that it would be blocked by the weather. Over the past two years the Downtown Public Market Society has worked hard to bring their vision of a permanent public market downtown to reality, and their hard work is about to pay off...

Starting in May 2013, the market will move into its permanent home in the Hudson building, providing a one-stop hub for shopping locally. The space will feature permanent vendors, including Farmer in the Del, a green grocer; Wildfire bakery; Silk Road tea; Rogers Chocolates; Saltspring Island Cheese, Hot & Cold Cafe as well as a butcher, a spice shop, a restaurant and other less permanent kiosks with flexible vendor spaces. They are still looking for a seafood provider and an importer, as well as researching the possibility of including a small liquor store to make it truly one-stop shopping.

Future spot of the community kitchen
Future spot of the Community Kitchen

The space will also provide a community kitchen, for teaching and food preparation, as well as a stage area for presentations and educational events related to local food. Twice a week, the market will spill out into the causeway and fill up the flexible indoor spaces to make space for even more small local vendors.

The space is still rough right now, and the smell of wet plaster and drywall mud lingers in the air, but the feeling of excitement and movement towards having a permanent public market become the place to shop for the best bounty our Islands have to offer is undeniable!

Check out the slideshow for a sneak peek of the new space!

Winter 2013
I've made a few stops at the market over the winter, picking up various delicious items each time. Some of our favourite salsa and brandied cherries from the Preservation Foods/Camille's table, some Port Alberni-roasted coffee, assorted vegetables, eggs and pastries...

A few unique items stick out in my mind as particularly interesting and delicious...

Ginger Chai Granola
Ginger Chai Granola
I have been trying to get better at eating breakfast in the mornings, and picked up some Peace Lovin' Granola to help me with this project. I had purchased some store-bought granola before the holidays, and had been consuming it. I was incredibly impressed with the difference in quality in the Peace, Lovin' Granola, and I can honestly say I would never go back to store bought! The flavour was so much more intense and rich, with huge chunks of ginger and warm chai spices. The biggest difference, however, was the freshness of the grains. The store-bought crap was hard and flavourless in contrast. There is a price difference, absolutely, but not as much as you'd expect if purchasing a large bag, and completely worth it! 

photo via Tree Island Yogurt on Facebook
I also had a chance to try some of the Tree Island gourmet yogurt via the market, now also widely available in specialty shops like AubergineNiagara and the Root Cellar. They are a truly local, small-scale producer in the Courtney/Comox region. They use whole milk to make the product, so it has not been homogenized, and there is a natural cream that forms on top.

I bought the honey yogurt at the market, and fellow food-lover Aaron Hall (of Delicious) generously shared some of his case with me so I could try the vanilla as well. I enjoyed them both, although I think the vanilla is my preference. I have long been sourcing out the simpler yogurt made by Liberte, and this is similar, but even less processed. The texture is free of any artificial thickeners or preservatives, and combined with the inherent richness of the whole milk it means a little goes a long way!

January 15, 2012
Maple pecan pie

A hot tip from some fellow food geeks lead me to the Sweet Flour booth at the Market to sample a gorgeous maple-pecan pie. It is a curse of food blogging that I am being turned on to so many incredible delicious things - I am so much more of a savoury person in taste, but treats like this pie or Cold Comfort's Ice Cream (also available at the markets) are slowly but surely changing the shape of my tastebuds and probably my waist line, too! That being said, it is worth it when you can say things like "This is THE BEST pecan pie I have ever tasted!" and know exactly where to get it again.

If I hadn't had the recommendation, I would have been nervous about the maple flavouring but it was far more complementary than over-powering.  The pecans were nice and fresh and certainly plentiful - no skimping on their layering. The crust was super flaky and moist. The flavour was so intense that I was satisfied with a small wedge, rather than a huge slice, so even our small pie ($7) lasted several days of snacking. For a dinner party or long-term investment I believe they do sell larger pies, however they were sold out by the time we arrived near to the end of the market this time.

December 3, 2011

So excited to see that the markets are now running twice a month this winter! Lots of new faces and familiar ones among the vendors. The social media for the market has been updating frequently with vendor lists so follow @vicpubmark on twitter or Victoria Downtown Public Market Society on Facebook.

I was low on cash and inspiration while visiting the market this week. I loved the table from the FoodRoots co-op! They had some of their bulk grains and legumes from a co-op in Vancouver that looked like a really good deal. Luckily for my pocket book the tortillas at Tortilleria Monterrey were only $5 (I think there's about 12 in a packet) and I managed to snag one of the last packages! Score!

This was the result - really tasty breakfast tacos featuring lots of other delicious local ingredients. I was very impressed with these tortillas! They were thin without breaking up under the weight and liquid of toppings and the perfect texture - not at all chewy or dense. 

January 2011
Unfortunately it has been a busy winter for me, and I've only made it to two of the markets but every time there has been a fantastic array of vendors! The first week we got two pounds of Chanterelle mushrooms for $10. It made an amazing Risotto.

Today, for $6 I bought some of the Saltspring Island plain chevre that caused so much drooling when we went to Sips. I'm looking forward to making a salad! I have an amazing recipe for fried cheese balls but it somehow seem a sin to sully such an amazing product. I'm salivating just thinking about the possibilities.