My Montreal Road (part two): Quartier Vanier Outdoor Market

Photo credit: Vanier BIA

Kelly-Anne Maddox relocated to Ottawa from BC in 2010 and is busy being a mom to her one-year old daughter.

I readily admit that I’m a farmer’s market junkie.

Whether at home or travelling, I make it a point to seek out markets and delight in the plethora of smells, colours, and tastes, jostling people, the cacaphony around me. I was thrilled when, having just moved into our new house in Ottawa last year, I discovered a flyer for the Quartier Vanier Market in our mailbox. We arrived in time for the summer’s last two markets and I even won the celebratory gift basket on the closing weekend, a bittersweet token, for it simultaneously marked a delightful welcome to the neighbourhood and the seasonal end of my cherished locavore emporium.

Photo credit: Vanier BIA

When I heard that the Quartier Vanier Market was set to reopen on July 2nd, this year with an extended season running until October 8th, I knew that the past ten months of bated anticipation were finally over. On the inaugural Saturday, I traipsed, nay, practically skipped, the few blocks to the Scotiabank parking lot at the corner of Montreal and Hannah. At the Bearbrook game meats stand, I sampled their pepperettes, and made the difficult decision of figuring out what to pick up for the barbecue that night… would it be wild boar? or bison? or elk? In the end I settled for a less exotic choice and and bought some turkey-cranberry sausages, all natural and made without added chemicals and fillers. The Maison Baugette stall was the perfect stop to grab a fresh whole wheat baguette to accompany the sausages.

Photo Credit: Vanier BIA

Alive with character and a certain joie de vivre, the Quartier Vanier Market fosters a strong sense of community not just because of the quality and variety of foods, but through activities which entice people to stay and mingle. The jovial MC, mic in hand, wandered the square belting out his own take on Sinatra tunes… “I want to be a part of it, Quartier Vanier…”, the MP for Rideau-Vanier, Mauril Bélanger, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and at the opposite end of the market, the good folks from Maison Baguettes were demonstrating how to make barbecued pizza. We noshed on the wild boar, red onion and parsley pizza, and then the tomato, olive, roasted red pepper and basil variation, agreeing with our fellow diners, mouths stuffed, that they were quite simply divine, and took home complimentary copies of the recipes.

During the two hours we lingered at the market, we sipped on refreshing lemonade, bought, and ate, a basket of just-picked strawberries from Foster Family Farms, tasted barbecue sauce from Island Spiced, munched on spring rolls at Try My Thai, and chatted with the vendor at Knock Out Cattle Co., who remembered my husband and me from last fall when we purchased a box of his grass-fed, hormone-free beef. We made our way home, slowly, resplendent with full bellies, planning our dinner menu and plotting what to buy next week.

My winter of waiting had not been in vain. 

Wow – you really know how to paint a picture! Thanks for the wonderful post, Kelly-Anne!