The Old Strathcona Farmers Market sells food and crafts, absolutely. But visitors to this hopping space in the heart of Edmonton’s south side are guaranteed to leave the site inspired by not only the quality of the offerings but the stories of the folks who toil at the booths.
Vendors like Graham Sparrow, who has put years of sweat equity into his organic farm – Sparrow’s Nest – and brings both passion and fresh flavour to the fruits and vegetables he hauls into town weekly. And Laurel Ferster and Zinovia Hardy of Calico Baking Co. – who have perfected a range of artisanal breads, scones, croissants and tarts that sell out most Saturdays at the market. “People don’t have to go to France for world-class bread,” says Ferster with confidence. “They can go and see the two gals at the market.”
Indeed, all 10 of the vendors that make up the Strathcona Feast tour curated by Edmonton Food Tours exemplify “world-class”, including Sylvan Star Gouda – producers of multi-award winning cheeses, and the certified organic Sunworks Farm, which raises 100 per cent grass-fed beef and cage-free chickens on a farm near Armena, Alberta.
Those who sign up for the Strathcona Feast tour start their day with a delicious East-L.A.-meets-Mexican fusion brunch at El Cortez Kitchen and Tequila Bar before heading over to the market. The tour ends with dessert, a craft beer tasting and an inside look at Situation Brewing, located just two blocks from the farmers’ market.
Along the way, guests will learn about the rich history of the market, and the neighbourhood, and all the fun stuff there is to do and eat within a few blocks. Edmonton Food Tours’ expert guides have a deep knowledge of the many independent restaurants, coffee shops and pubs located nearby, such as MEAT, The Next Act, Block 1912, Da Capo, Cally’s Teas and Nanolicious. They know the best spots for a decadent cupcake, a crisp glass of white wine on a patio in the summer, or a wood-fired pizza in the winter. Plus, the guides can supply tips on the entertainment options in the area – from live theatre at The Varscona or The Roxy on Gateway, to Saturday afternoon blues at the nearby Commercial hotel.
by Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Food Tours guide