Kingsland Farmer's Market: Highly recommend!
So I know this is old news, but I haven't had a chance to visit the new Kingsland Farmer's Market until today. When I went, it was bustling, but also highly organized and clean with a nice wood-on-white aesthetic. Comfortable, intimate, but busy and diverse. My verdict is:
Location -- very close to downtown, which helps.
Fantastic parking -- I believe the market is set up on the grounds of an old car dealership.
And a few more notable aspects about the market:
-A DELICIOUS Mexican food stand (The tomatillo salsa is wonderful. Absolutely recommend. There are also chorizo tacos, carnitas or chicken enchiladas with a green poblano and cheese sauce, and an interesting chipotle cranberry salsa)
-Superb Indonesian food stand that I also HUGELY, hugely recommend! My chicken satay with saffron rice and fresh veggies was quite yummy, served with an addictive spicy garlicky-chili sauce on the side. They also have juice boxes of jasmine tea and bottles of coconut-passion fruit juice. Yum!
-There are several Mediterranean food stands with hummus, tapenades, marinated olives/veggies, pickles, etc. Two pizza stands with yummy gluten-free pizza, a stand with homemade perogies and ready-made gluten-free salads (tabbouli, quinoa, barley/rice, potato, etc.) There is also an ingenious idea for boxed curry portions in small and large sizes: they hand you the stock (to keep or freeze), bags of rice, a can of regular or light coconut milk, and packets of cane sugar and fish sauce. 3 different curries which were all truly delicious (I sampled them all).
-Cheese stands, local meat and cured meat stands
-At least 4 or 5 organic, local produce companies with colored and sweet carrots, heirloom tomatoes, fruit, milks (cow, sheep, goat) and even homemade butter
-Selection of gluten-free bread loaves, mainly found at the soup stand with a marvelous array of frozen soups (vegan, savory, chowders, etc. I bought the last carrot coconut ginger soup to freeze.)
-Tons of options if you have a sweet tooth. Bakeries with saskatoon berry pies and desserts, baklava, irresistable cookies, cheesecake, key lime pie, an amazing looking bread pudding, macarons (M from the old farmer's market), a stand for yummy Argentinian alfajores (gluten-free ones, too) and a crepe stand with drool-worthy cakes, tarts, French pastries & brulees. Gluten-free desserts and sugar-free desserts for you Calgary celiacs and diabetics.
-Community Natural Foods also has a stand. I know there are a few mixed opinions about this, but I think it's a great idea. Hopefully CNF will help bring more attention, business, and profit to this lovely market. Some of the items stocked include: an assortment of organic spices, seeds and nuts, organic/gluten-free flours and baking supplies, frozen pre-made meals like a pumpkin spinach cheese lasagna, a selection of granolas and snacks... even molasses and what looks to be local honey by the gallon. Not bad!
-A "gourmet salad" stand with delicious fruit dressings and an *amaaazing* pomegranate vinaigrette
-A small chocolate stand, stands for juice & smoothies, a small nursery stand with house plants & fresh flowers, stands for natural body products, clothing & artisan items.
And loads more that I'm sure I haven't listed.
Even though this market was smaller (read: cozy), I found it had much more that I was interested in buying than even the original farmer's market did. I enjoyed this as a fantastic alternative while we are waiting for Calgary Farmer's Market (ABC Farmers) to open in Blackfoot.
For those of us who live nearby, Kingsland is an excellent go-to farmer's market for weekends when you don't have time to travel across the city. If they were open everyday, I would make this market my regular grocery stop. I think it's great! Can't wait to hear your thoughts if you have also been recently.
Kingsland Farmer's Market
7711 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H, CA
thanks for the update. I live walking distance away and tried it several times when it first opened, and again when the indoor area opened, but was disappointed as there really didn't seem to be much going on. for example, I only recall seeing a couple of the places you mention above... sounds like maybe it took some time for all of the vendors to get established. will have to check it out next week. thanks!
hopefully gilchrist doens't start giving tours, though. :P
Yup, I tried almost all of them! Most of the soups were gluten free, and I bought some of those. I bought the gluten-free alfajore, and it was delicious. I bought a great looking, perfectly squishy loaf of gluten free bread that I'm excited to try. I ate some rice pudding (of course, gluten free. Also tasty) and some gluten-free pizza that was awesome. The tacos I bought from the Mexican stand were made of corn, so that is a delicious gluten-free choice.
There was a small stand selling kale chips and all gluten-free snacks and brownies, and Community Natural Foods also had a several small gluten free packages but I didn't try any of those, mainly because those date balls just look so unappetizing. (As an aside, the seasoned kale chips were great, but quite expensive at $8 a bag.)
The salad dressings were gluten free, and I can vouch that they were all WONDERFUL. Almost all the dips were gluten free, so I bought some artichoke hummus and would buy it again. The stand with an array of gluten-free salads (quinoa salad, potato salad, tabbouli, etc) that also sold the home-made perogies was a bit hit-and-miss in terms of flavoring... I would have liked spicier profiles, or a bit more citrus (like lime) for tang instead of a primarily onion-vinegar flavoring. But there were about 12 or so gluten-free salad options, so that is a major plus. The little curry-basmati rice boxes I bought were gluten-free and mouth-wateringly yum.
Basically, if you are hungry and gluten-averse, Kingsland Farmer's Market is a small epicurean paradise. There is a great gluten-free selection and absolutely no reason to feel limited on what to eat. It's the best gluten-free market I've seen near downtown.
Kingsland Farmer's Market
7711 Macleod Trail S, Calgary, AB T2H, CA
Thanks for the review. I can't say that I share quite the same enthusiasm for the place as a whole.
I did enjoy the mexican stand, however, most of the items seem to be a bit over priced for this type of venue. (most items around 10-15 dollars) Delicious salsa verde and good chorizo and carne asada tacos. The tacos el pastor I had were unfortunately made with very tough pork.
I can also say that the samosas and pakoras with tamarind chutney from the Indian vendor are quite tasty but nothing all that special.
I had big expectations for a soup from the Indonesian vendor, but was unfortunately very underwhelmed by it's total lack of flavor and complexity.
The french bakery was very busy today and I will admit that their wares looked very good....it was too busy for me to bother waiting in line for a taste of something savoury.
It does seem as though this market is a great place if you're looking for a lot of gluten free foods.
I can't actually say anything bad about it, but for me it just lacks a bit of character and flow. I was hoping for some real must have/"drive across the city for it" type of attractions. I hate to say it but I was expecting (perhaps unrealistically) some really great small scale specialty shops but what I found was that much of the prepared food that I've tried here seems somewhat amateurish. (just my humble opinion...don't hate me)
Now I don't mean that to sound snobbish. I'll eat a fried bologna sandwich as long as it's the best damn bologna sandwich in town. I certainly can't speak for all of the stands but a few that I've mentioned just don't seem as though they're anywhere near "best in class" if that makes sense.
I'll certainly be back to see how the Kingsland market evolves. That being said, I'm hoping the new Heritage/Blackfoot Market (with some more established vendors as well as some exciting new ones) will be more what I'm looking for. I'd definitely encourage everyone to head down to Kingsland to see for themselves whether or not it's their cup of tea. I'm kind of picky, but then again, that's what chowhound is all about!
I completely understand your criticisms. Though after a couple years of eating in Calgary, I feel the snobbishness has been beaten out of me by an overabundance of stylishly mediocre eateries and steakhouses. While it's true that Kingsland may not carry that must-have, "drive across town" food incentive for many, I found it a lovely and welcome option for those of us who live so close by.
(To be quite honest, there is very little in Calgary I would "drive across town for," the exceptions being: River Cafe, Crave cupcakes, Yann Patisserie almond croissants, and Gratitude Cafe's chickpea curry / Cilantro's salmon brie beet salad for "healthy" days. I also did once for a Five Guys fix after years in DC, but I doubt I'll do it again unless I have Ikea on my agenda.)
Unfortunately, the whole of Calgary IS quite "amateurish," and one can find that periodically charming or frustrating. I would truly question anything offered in this city being "best in class," and yes, I have no problem saying that, even after the Rouge thing of summer 2010.
That said, I found Kingsland to be much better in terms of organization, diversity, and health food options than the original Farmer's Market, though beloved it was. It stocked many more things I was interested in consuming, and I can tell because I spent way more money than usual and brought tons of food home. And if your goal truly is to find "world class" "prepared food," well, I mean... wouldn't you be better off going to a restaurant?
For the size, Kingland did surprisingly have everything I need. And perhaps you don't have as dominating a sweet tooth as I do, but the alfajore stand, crepe stand, and even the macaron stand (M existed before the macaron fad hit Calgary's streets) are all very endearing "small scale specialty shops." I would certainly revisit them again.
Also, it's true Kingsland is too new to be "gritty," if that's what you want for farmer's market character. There are no corn husks on the floor, not a lot of haggling, and the walls are still white and well-partitioned. While your "amateurish" and "character-less" assessment could also apply to any number of Calgary establishments with poorly executed brand identities and marketing, I found Kingsland to be more pragmatically lending a platform to sellers rather than "buying" customers with a specific Kingsland-centric idea. It was unobtrusive, efficient, and served market purpose well. I found it charming and clean. I think Kingsland is great for families, and I would go there on a date.
I guess I also have to recant my previous statement. There are several things I would race across town to Kingsland for:
-addictive pretzel rolls (If any of you have ever visited Jung's Bakery chain in Europe and believed their soft, chewy pretzel roll perfections could not be found elsewhere--fear not! They are right here in Calgary!)
-excellent pomegranate vinaigrette (Not sure where else to find this.)
-freshly made crepes (Are they the only ones in the city? I think so. Cora's pre-frozen gummy ones do not even hold a candle.)
-good Mexican food (where is there cheaper, better Mexican food??? Please tell me. Please.)
So to each his own. I'm with you in the anticipation for Blackfoot Market feeling. I assume it will be better (-funded, -stocked, larger) than Kingsland, but for the number of Farmer's Markets cropping up in Calgary, this one deserves a good word. When you find the consummate, "best-in-class-in-everything" local organic healthful gluten-free charismatic and flowing market, let me know! I will go and live inside of it.
There are many produce vendors (three with a larger (and mostly imported) selection... two of which I can't remember their names and the other one is called Walker's Own), as well as seasonal goods from Lund's and Broxburn (cannot WAIT for their tomatoes to come back!) The Cucumber Man is also there, selling cucumbers, basil, butter lettuce, tomatoes & peppers.
I would add to that list:
Broxburn's tomatoes (when they come back in the spring)
Lund's carrots & spinach
M for Macarons' macarons
Greens Eggs & Ham's produce
And that little vendor in the back (between Greens & Sylvan Star) that sells amazing hummus, baba ghannouj and saffron rice pudding.
All valid points that I mostly agree with. I admittedly had unrealistic expectations for Kingsland and for whatever reason left unexcited after a couple of visits. Probably because gluten free products and sweets (major attractions here) don't really appeal to me.
The produce vendor looked very good and fresh but what concerns me is that there doesn't seem to be much specialization or competition (at least at this time of year). Don't expect any price wars here.
The french creperie/patisserie looked to me like it was probably one of the best vendors in the entire market. For what it's worth there is apparently a new creperie in Brittania Village. Rustic bakery also had some nice offerings.
The organic meat place (i forget name) seemed to be putting forth a very solid effort with the one exception that their high end beef cuts completely lacked the necessary marbling that I expect when paying top dollar for a premium cut.
As for the pizzas and pomegranate vinaigrette, I can and do easily make very good versions of these at home so I simply choose not to pay the premium for pre-made. Both products would be great for a lot of people who don't have the time or know-how to do it themselves.
When it comes to mexican I agree that there are a lot of week efforts in Calgary. As far as tacos go, Las Tortillas is far better and I'm looking forward to trying another place on Macleod in the same strip mall as second to none meats. Although it doesn't really count, Aroma cafe in Canmore is excellent, however, their consistency and quality has slipped a bit in recent months. Hopefully chef Jose can pull the reins in!
I can't knock Kingsland, it just doesn't excite me. I live minutes away and really wanted it to have some "must have" items which are indeed very rare in Calgary. Kingsland is certainly a good alternative while we wait for the new market to get finished.....I'm just hoping they develop some unique specialty offerings that make it a proper destination for me.
How about a Sri Lankan vender? That would be amazing!!
4100 Marlborough Dr NE #2, Calgary, AB T2A 2Z5, CA
(Not a huge fan of Sri Lankan food, but) Yes! That would be amazing! I am surprised when I find a great bowl of pho in Calgary, so a Sri Lankan stand would blow me away.
Actually, that is a great idea -- I would love it if all the talented, homecooking ethnic-kitchen enclaves hiding in Calgary opened up food stands to make Kingsland a farmer's market + centre for multicultural cuisine. Where are my Venezuelen, Cuban, Lebanese, Thai, and Moroccan kitchen jedis?? Maybe a Szechuan stand, Ethiopian with fresh injera, some kind of Hawaiian bbq with a pig spit? I would die. Well... I would visit every weekend.
I applaud your high standards, I just think they must be getting a bit lonely in Calgary. It's curious how we approached Kingsland from opposite ends of a foodie spectrum, though... You with your steak marbling dreams and me with my gluten-free baking wishes. Ha... But thank you for that Brittania Village heads up, and I bet if we combined kitchens we would be an unparalleled, unstoppable force. I say that for you, or anybody, who can make me a batch of last-drop-licking pom vinaigrette. Mmmm.
I love the Kingsland Farmers Market! They have the most AMAZING pulled pork sandwiches - they aren't gluten free, but damn, they were $7 and came with sweet potato fries and I would have paid $20 for something that delicious. I don't remember the name of the stall but I will definitely be going back and I will share the name with you.
I love the gluten-free options there - lots of stalls have desserts, breads, pastas and soups with big signs that say Gluten Free. It's a great space and there is lots of diversity in product (and hardly any crafts, which was one of the main reasons I didn't like the other Farmers Market so much).
I agree - I'm also a big fan. First of all is the proximity - I'm in the deep south and it was always a bit of a trek to drive to Crossroads or CFM, not to mention the parking issues at both, because I'm not an early riser.
At Kingsland it was a bit bare bones when they first opened, but now they're hopping and full of everything I need. Some AB tomatoes are expected this weekend, so the first spring produce should trickle in soonish.
I love some of the breads and desserts at Prairie Mill Bakery - not everything, but their cheesecakes are a great value for 15.00. I LOVE the duck confit legs at Greens, Eggs + Ham - it has been a weeknight supper a few times. (Make sure to get the ones with ginger/soy sauce/garlic, while their duck proscuitto is too salty and spicy with herbs overpowering the duck). Occasionally they also have excellent hard goat cheeses which is a lovely change from the mainly creamy ones.
I always get beef/chicken/pork from Hoven and Spragg's and deli from - whatever that deli place is. I also am partial to strawberry rhubarb jam from the jam lady. I don't have a huge sweet tooth so most of the pie/macaron/cake places hold limited appeal to me.
For food, I'd LOVE to try both the Mexican and Indonesian, but for now I can't seem to wean myself off Urban Bistro's Urban burger and fries. Cannot. They're my favorite fries in the city at the moment.
So overall, while I still go to Crossroads for the grittier side of Calgary and will definitely check out the new CFM, I'm still going to Kingsland as my primary farmers market.