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Dec 11, 2008 08:16 PM

St Lawrence Market in the winter

What's the North farmer's market like in the winter months? I rarely get a chance to go on Saturdays but I was wondering what kind of goods do they have at this time of year?

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  1. There is less but what is there is usually pretty good. You will not get the same fresh fruit variety though.

    In terms of my personal faves... The Clarks are always there, St. Clement for Chicken, El Gauchos (Suasages), Ewnity Farms (Lamb). In terms of veg there is a hothouse tomato place, a really good spot for mushrooms, A few apple vendors. There are of course a number of other good spots (including some excellent strudel) but it would take too long to type it all!

    The list is here -

    1. My only advice is to know what's in season before you go. Some of the vendors are not farmers and will sell anything, anytime.

      Ditto on Ewenity Farms. I love everything they sell.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Googs

        I'd only previously bought cheese from Ewenity Dairy, but I purchased a rack of lamb from them (Best Baa Farms; same owners) two weeks ago that was incredibly flavourful and tender.

        And please note that some of the actual farmers who sell only their own local produce during the growing season do supplement their winter storage vegetable offerings with imported produce. This doesn't make them unscrupulous; it's just good economics. You'll find these vendors at the rear (north end) of the building. The never-fresh-from-the-farm produce vendors are at the south end.

        You might also want to give the new Wychwood Green Barn farmers' market a try. It's a year-round market that opened three weeks ago (Saturday mornings), and it's got a great selection of vendors.

        1. re: Tatai

          Thanks for the information! Do you remember how much your rack of lamb was per pound? I've never cooked lamb at home but I had some delicious rib chops at a friend's place that I've been dreaming of trying.

          1. re: mobirose

            I can't recall how much the lamb rack was (it comes vacuum-sealed with a price already affixed). I actually cut the rack into chop portions and marinated them in a very interesting coconut milk/maple syrup marinade prior to grilling. They became slightly caramelized and crisp on the outside, and soft as butter on the inside. For best results, don't cook past medium rare.

            No, I don't think the market is quite as busy during the winter months as during the summer.

            1. re: Tatai

              Tatai, if you feel like posting your marinade recipe in Home Cooking I'd be most grateful. I have a few different marinades I use for them, but yours sounds really interesting. For my next trick with them I'm going to try and recreate the fabulous Daniel et Daniel lamb rib chops.

              1. re: Googs

                Can't really post it as a recipe, Googs, because it's not mine -- I'm testing/re-developing it for a book that's in production. The ingredients are coconut milk, maple syrup, minced garlic, mint-tea leaves, dried rosemary or thyme, salt and pepper.

                1. re: Tatai

                  Ooooohhh must experiment with that. Should I assume that the maple syrup is the bass player and the coconut milk the lead singer?

                  1. re: Googs

                    You can fiddle around with the flavours quite a bit; just don't use more maple syrup than coconut milk. I played around with the mint-tea leaves, using a couple of different varieties (split-apart tea bags). I think a bit of heat from some sort of chilies might be nice here, as well.

            2. re: mobirose

              The last time a purchased a rack, there (Baa Baa) was about a month ago, and it was $30...something.
              They are expensive, but their lamb is superb.
              Recently I have been purchasing the fresh Australian racks from Costco, at half the price, and they are very god as well.
              I have never liked the New Zealand lamb.
              I often cut them in chops as well.
              I go to the market in the winter mainly to the Clarks for eggs, and to Clements for Poultry.

              1. re: erly

                So I ended up getting to the market a bit late and Best Baa was sold out of their rack of lamb. Ended up purchasing Ontario lamb from Upper Cut in the South Market for about $9/lb (sign said it was on special) It had quite a strong smell to it both while preparing - removed most of the excess fat - and broiling the chops. Would that be the same with the Australian lamb from Costco?

                1. re: mobirose

                  mobirose, don't give up on Ontario lamb. I've never experienced the smell you noted with the lamb you bought at Upper Cut. Was it a "rotten" smell or a "muttony" smell? I suspect it was on sale because it was past its prime in either shelf life or animal life. I suspect it didn't taste very good, either.

                  1. re: mobirose

                    The Australian racks are very sweet.
                    This what I purchase most of the time.
                    Baa Baa is double the price, so it is an occasional treat.
                    It is better than the Australian, but marginally so.
                    Reminds me of the time not long ago when I bought some first cut lamb chops from Highland Farms.
                    It was recommended here on the board in a thread that asked us to compare Longos to Highland Farms.
                    I shop Longos, so I thought that I would give Highland farms a try.
                    Same muttony smell and taste.
                    Trashed them after a couple of bites.
                    Just awful.

                    1. re: mobirose

                      Upper Cut does several things well, but their lamb is no match for Best Baa. I hope you have better luck next time. Sometimes a posting here can cause a run on goods at SLM so SSSssshhhh. Just sneak up on that lamb without telling us until it's too late.

                      1. re: Googs

                        I've been going to La Boucherie in SLM south lately for my everyday meats. Has anyone done a rundown lately on the different butchers in SLM lately to see who is best for what meats?

                        Witteveen's i usually hit up for prepared stuff like sausages and premarinated cuts of meat for summer grilling. Haven't gotten anything from Whitehouse in a while because i'm either completely ignored at the counter or treated apathetically there the last few times I've tried to make a purchase.

                        I had a 9lb turkey just a couple of days ago from DiLiso's and thought it was pretty good... my cooking technique excepted! :P

                2. re: Tatai

                  Also, is it just as crowded these days as compared to the summer months?

              2. I also had a question about the market. I only ever go on saturdays (because I know its kind of the best time to go), but now that I'm on holidays I might want to go some times throughout the week.. what , if anything, would I be missing out on during the week that is open on saturdays?

                4 Replies
                1. re: hungryabbey

                  The only difference is the Farmers' Market. The south market is completely open Tues-Sat. I've said this before. I love going to the SLM on a weekday just for the aromas. They're obscured by the hordes of people on the weekend. Go outside of lunch and rush hours and it's very relaxing. You'll discover things you've never had the time to see before. Enjoy!

                  1. re: Googs

                    excellent. Thats kind of what I was thinking.. it is very crowded during the week and it would be nice to go when its not so crazy.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      Mid-morning is a nice time to go. The vendors are more likely to chat with you. You can wander and browse freely, then have an early lunch before the crowds arrive on their lunch breaks.