Going to the farmer's market at Nathan Phillips square over my lunch hour was one of the best parts of last summer. The temperature has finally been starting to rise in Toronto and earlier in the week, feeling a bit itchy for the market I started Googling to find out when it starts up again (June 3). That's how I found out that there is a year-round Saturday farmer's market less than a 15 minute walk from my home! In the colder months the market is held inside the Wychwood Barns, which is an old Toronto Transit Commission repair barn that has been converted into cooperative artist residences and studios and community space. Projects like the Barns make me really proud of Toronto, which is a city that does not really have the greatest record with respect to thinking creatively to save old buildings. In the warmer months, the market moves outdoors which is where I found it on Saturday.
The market website told me that it is focused on local, organic, sustainable and artisanal products and I was happy to see that they weren't exaggerating the seasonal aspect. This meant there wasn't much there, to be honest, in terms of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not much is growing in Ontario right now aside from radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, fiddleheads and potatoes. I got some rhubarb (which I love more than cherries), fiddleheads (which I'd never eaten) and a wicked black olive and onion artisan bread. The other main feature of the market seemed to be the variety of cool dogs to be seen.
Unpacking my treasures, I realized there was no way I could deal with all the fiddleheads and bread on my own before they'd spoil or go stale. I decided to invite my parents over for dinner, which was a bit risky since I was about to go get a mouth full of freezing at the dentist. But I wasn't too crabby by the time they got here.
I made a crisp with the rhubarb:
Then I made banana bread:
Hours later it occurred to me that I'd forgotten to put the oil into the banana bread batter. Oops. The bread actually tastes fine, just more dense than it normally would have been. And, I guess, more healthy since there is no fat in it save one egg.
The fiddleheads, well. I had high expectations. I really wanted them to be either so disgusting I'd never want to eat them again, or mind-blowingly amazing. Sadly, fiddleheads are neither - they just taste like something green. That is really the best description I can give. They do not taste like asparagus, or brussel sprouts, or broccoli. They just taste green. They look cool though. I sauteed the first pint with garlic and onions. Today I baked the second pint into a quiche:
I liked them better in the quiche. And that's the end of fiddleheads until next year. The girl I bought them from said this is the last week for them. I think it will be an interesting experience to see how a truly seasonal market evolves over the rest of the year. I'm really glad I found this right in my backyard.