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Need new foodie shopping destination in SWO, not STLM

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I drive more than 3 hours in to go to STLM regularly 6 times per year, but I am getting over it. I don't find they have that many different or exotic vegetables, but still love the cheese places. The prices can be somewhat inflated for certain products and I get the whole "experience" cost.
Is there anywhere between London and Toronto, even Niagara area that we can go to for another market experience?
What about somewhere where we could go to an actual organic farm and buy there or another market (European cuts and vegetables are our mainstay). What abour Evergreen Brick Works?

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  1. Not sure exactly what you're after, sorry. The GTA is a big place that offers lots of options, price and selection-wise. I avoid the "destination" markets like Wychwood and the Brickworks--too pricey, too many agendas.

    1. The Kitchener Waterloo area has a strong European heritage, is also a large farming community, and is a very pretty area to drive. They also have a weekend farmers market. Harvest Ontario (www.harvestontario.com/) has a website that you can browse to find something you might be interested in. In particular, Pfennings Organic is a cool place and you can use it as your starting point. Local vegetables will be coming in strong from now until early fall.

      Another option is to pick one area of Toronto as your food destination. Personally, I like Toronto's east side as one of my favorite food excursions. The Lawrence Street strip (East of the DVP) isn't the prettiest area, but there are excellent mid-eastern markets and restaurants (Ramis, Arz, and Shawarma Empire), and one of (if not THE) best seafood shops in Toronto (Diana's). If you then swing south, there is Allen's, Queen Margherita Pizza (best this side of Naples), Burger's Priest (a fantastic take out burger), and Kristapson's smoked fish. Or, if you swing north from Lawrence, you have lots of Asian food options.

      Sorry if it isn't exactly what you are looking for, but there are two trips I'll join you on !

      1. http://www.stjacobs.com/html/shopping...

        St jacobs has a very nice and large farmers market.

        8 Replies
        1. re: justto

          Right, a "year-round farmers' market." Not bloody likely. It's become too circus-like with a shrinking % of unique fruit&veg offerings and too many vendors flogging schlock like Shamwows.The indoor stuff is sad, along with the nearby "outlets."

          What about this?

          http://www.ottawastreetfarmers.com/

          1. re: Kagemusha

            Ottawa St. Market is our go to farmer's market as we live only a couple of blocks away. I can attest to its truly local and seasonal nature. There isn't an overwhelming amount of vendors (it takes up 2 parking lots) but the quality and selection is impressive. There is a butcher selling out of a truck and a great charcuterie place too. Prices are very good, maybe shockingly lower than TO residents are used too!

            1. re: bogie

              TO shoppers think these markets should be open-air Whole Foods rather than just old school farmers' markets. Indeed, the real deal won't necessarily come to you; you have to go and get it sometimes.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                and it's best to "go and get it" when it's grown right in your back yard or balcony pot. That's the real deal too.

                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                  No argument there. Enjoying great back porch lettuces and arugula now.

                2. re: Kagemusha

                  Check out "Help with Arugula" in Home Cooking for some great ideas.

            2. re: justto

              +1 for st. jacobs

              Not sure what Kagemusha's issue with the place is, but if you go in the right season you can buy a ton of fruits and veggies direct from the farmer. There are also a couple of butchers inside where you are buying right from the farm. I was actually surprised on my last visit there last year when I realize that many of the fruit & veggie places were from Niagara and realized that Niagara doesn't have a great farmers market.

              Plus you can drive 5 mins from the place and buy straight from the farm at many of the Mennonite homes that sell as the road side.

              To me SLM sound more like what Kagemusha described then St. Jacobs.

              1. re: camp1980

                It's slipped over the last 5-8yrs, sorry. I see less and less there each year that can't be had at the suburban farmers' markets around the GTA. I'm missing things like old varietal apples and offbeat fruit like damson plums to give just a couple of examples. The stuff inside, especially the butchers, is really nothing out of the ordinary, and the kitsch quotient appears to be risiing. If you like the vibe, cool, but IMHO not worth the drive from the GTA or London. The tour buses are a dead giveaway.

            3. If you will be in the Niagara area anyway, I have been to the St. Catharines market a few times and while it isn't that large they do carry some local produce. I imagine it will be better later in the season. I don't know if it is worth an exclusive drive out that way but you could hit up Niagara on the Lake/etc at the same time.

              The market is at the corner of James/King and it is suppose to be one of the oldest markets in Ontario.

              1. I have been to St. Jacob's many times over the last 10 years and feel it has slipped. Vegetable offerings ae pretty ordinary I find. Maybe another area in the GTA would do it. I am open to suggestions!

                1 Reply
                1. re: itryalot

                  Not a market, but if you're looking for interesting, quality vegetables, you might want to visit Harvest Wagon in Toronto.

                  Also, I find somewhat less common veggies like fava beans at the cash only produce stores on the Danforth.

                  In Stratford, you might want to check out their Slow food market, now taking place in downtown Stratford's Market Square, that runs from 10-2 on Sunday. http://slowfoodperthcounty.com/

                  Just outside St. Mary's, McCully's Farm offers seasonal veggies as well as lamb and other regionally raised meats. Quality of their baked goods isn't quite what it was 5 years ago (a great baker who used to work there, is no longer baking there, as far as I can tell), but it might be worth visiting if you're already nearby. (If you're a gardener, I also recommend stopping at Klomp's on Hwy 7).

                  In London, if you like European cuts, you might want to check out Alicia's, owned by Sikorski's.

                  Eurobest is another option for European deli and products.

                  At the Covent Garden Market, Havaris carries a lot of unusual veggies for SW ON. On Saturdays (8am-1pm), there's also a Farmer's Market outside the Covent Garden Market, including some somewhat unusual local veggies, baked goods, fish & meats.

                  I tend to buy most of my veggies at Doris Family Produce at the Covent Garden, and Remark Fresh Market (Hyde Park & Oxford W, where I also buy my meat and fish). Remark's produce is often more reasonably priced that Metro or Loblaw's, and it's always good quality, in my experience.

                  During the summer, Joyce Farms also sells some ON produce outside the PetroCanada on Hyde Park Rd, just a couple blocks N of Remark, if you happen to be in the area. Not worth a special trip, but if you happen to be shopping at Remark, Joyce is a great place to pick up tomatoes, bell peppers & strawberries, at decent prices.

                  -----
                  Harvest Wagon
                  1103 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

                  Alicia's Fine Foods
                  1290 Trafalgar St, London, ON N5Z1H9, CA