This time of year always brings me to one of my favourite places in Winnipeg: The St. Norbert Farmers' Market. It's a foodie's candy store. Though I have dubbed myself a foodie, I think I spend enough time in my kitchen (another one of my favourite places in Winnipeg) to wear the title with confidence. I have always loved to cook; discovering new ingredients and recipes is always a thrill. Though I don't make it to the farmers market every week, especially when Friday night concerts start up for the season, I enjoy not only the fresh products and produce but also the experience of being there.
My favourite market Saturdays are those crisp, bright fall mornings, the kind of mornings that call for sunglasses and a warm scarf. I enjoy waking up a little too early and getting into the car when there is still a dewy layer on the grass; when the city, still asleep, seems tranquil and calm. There is something uniquely Manitoban about the quality of the light on those numbered mornings before the dew turns to frost. I like to just get up and go -- no breakfast required.
Part of my ritual is hurrying to find my cup of coffee and warming my hands around the steaming cup. Every Saturday there are amazing constants like the giant succulent chickens from Silver Bridge Farm, the amazingly flavourful and full-bodied coffee from Green Bean, the dark, anti-oxidant rich buckwheat honey from Phil's, and who can resist a sandwich with cracklings from Danny's Whole Hog?
What brings me back is the abundance of fresh, seasonal, and inspiring ingredients that warm my kitchen through the week. Each week is a different version of the same market. My love of cooking is totally stimulated by the rotating harvest each year. Fall is my favourite time of the harvest. Some constants in my shopping bag are peppers, swiss chard, melons, plums, kale, garlic, eggplant, artichoke and cucumbers. These ingredients have inspired many recipes in my kitchen and many that appear year after year.
Being able to pick a vendor's brain is another reason I love the market. When I moved to Manitoba four years ago I was keen to get my hands dirty and paint my thumb green. My only other experience with a garden was with the arid summers in Calgary -- lovely, but not great for my tomatoes!
My friend who often joins me at the market is always shaking her head at my many attempts to grow my own garlic; I'm starting to lose hope!
Winnipeg has become my home over the past four years, and I have come to love living here. The St. Norbert Farmer's Market epitomizes what it is that I love about our fine city: Here is a place where people come to revel in the offerings of our incredibly beautiful Manitoba summers, to support and foster our community, and celebrate the unique qualities of being a Winnipegger.
Emma has been a cellist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra since 2010. She started playing the cello at the age of three and, after many years of schooling and practising, is thrilled that she gets to play her cello for a living. Outside of the orchestra, Emma enjoys spending time with her friends, family, running, and reading. Emma is looking forward to an exciting new season with the WSO!
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