Stratford Winter Farmer’s Market is the oldest running market in Ontario
There is nothing better in this world than walking into a farmer’s market there are so many things to see, smell and and touch. This is the first thought that went through my mind as I entered the Stratford Winter Market. The smell of the freshly made pea meal bacon and onion sandwiches is intoxicating. You can see crafts, jewellery and fresh produce. Walk over to the lamb butcher and you can run your hand through a soft sheep’s skin. The Stratford Farmers Market is located in the Burnside Agriplex. All part of the Optimists Sports complex. There is an arena, a community center and a sport facility that holds three volleyball courts.
The market is located on the first floor and is in a large community room. There are probably 25 vendors ranging from small produce farmers to three butchers. You can find baked goods that are fresh and tempting. I was tempted by the Spent (Beer) bread from the Downie Street Bakehouse. I could not take my eyes off the crusty bread. There was sourdough, twelve grain, French country bread and baguettes and whole wheat.
I was pretty excited to bring home another unique product. The spent Grain bread is made from grain that have been used in the beer making process. The grains are dried and then milled and used in this tasty treat. How can you not try this? It begs to be tasted and added to your list of favourite things to eat when you are at the market. I love the replica wicker basket that you would find in a Paris bakery.
I also went to the Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery and bought some traditional shortbread cookies. He did have an assortment of savoury pies: beef & kidney, scotch and beef and onion pies ($5.30 – $6.35 for each). “Its a full meal, you won’t be having a second, you’ll be so full.” said the baker. Doesn’t that sound appealing? The bakery is located in Grand Bend and is closed for the winter but they can be found at the Stratford Winter Market making about 15 of each pie for the weekend and the popular ones still sell out. Each is made with approximately, 2.5 oz. of beef. The more popular Cornish pies are made with ground beef and are prices a very reasonable $2.35. As much as I love meat pies, it was the traditional Scottish Shortbread cookies that caught my eye. I almost died and went to heaven when I tasted these. They are melt in your mouth buttery goodness. There are not words to describe how good these shortbread cookies were. So very glad I brought some home.
I also gave myself, wife of the year status, for bring home the bacon… Lamb bacon that is. I did that for the love of my husband because if you know me well, you know I loathe (yes, loathe) the smell and taste of lamb but my husband does not. Why did I buy it? Because this particular sheep farmer and his wife won a provincial Innovation award for their efforts. ebercroft farms from Sebringville, ON, developed other samplings from your traditional lamb chops and lamb shank, they have made sweet Italian sausages, lamb bacon and burger patties to compliment their repertoire. Very admiral for these young farmers. I was also taken aback by the super, warm and fluffy sheepskins that they were selling.
They were not the only butchers to be found. There were actually three or four in the market all with their own specialties. I stopped by the one that I thought had the most people in front of it. You know it must be well priced and the quality good if they are two deep to the counter. I picked up some sliced turkey for the team and for home I bought pork patties that were on sale for a dollar each (bargain) and some smoked sausages. Best deal for under $20. I’m looking forward to this weeks menu.
Lastly on my way out, I stopped to chat to the owner (and producer of all soaps, lotions, oils and so much more). She began her small business by herself and has continued to expand the line. If you are no where near the Stratford Winter market, you can find her on etsy just look for The Handsome Goat.
There were two more stands that caught my attention as I was leaving. I wonderful alpaca wool display of warm fuzzy, comfy hats, mitts and scarves. I tell you on that cold blustery day, I would have welcomed a hat over my ears. So very warm.
Lastly, was the cheese monger that made specialty aged cheeses from goat and water buffalo milk. Yes, you read that correctly, water buffalo milk. I have to tell you, the gooey cheesed that she offered me was exceptional. I lamented not bring some home but it was too warm in the arena to keep and too cold in my car trunk to keep from freezing. Alas, I will give this wonderful woman a big shout out because it was so good.