Monday, August 2, 2010

Nanaimo Farmers Market

While away last week, I took a day trip to Nanaimo to visit the Downtown Farmer's Market.

The market is held every Friday from 10am to 2pm at the Pioneer Waterfront Plaza. This is the view from the market location. The island on the right is Protection Island and that is where I spent my week of resting and relaxing. Just a ten minute boat ride from the Nanaimo harbour, Protection Island is the perfect mix of isolation and convenience. The only commercial entity on Protection is a floating pub!

Back to the market...

It's large - in area as well as vendors. I didn't count all the vendor stands but I would estimate there was 30-40 booths. As you can tell from the photos, there is space for many, many more.

I was quite disappointed with the variety and selection of the booths at the market. There was very little fresh fruit and produce available. I counted only 3 or 4 stands selling fresh produce and even then, the selection of produce was limited. I saw garlic, lettuce, raspberries and little else. One stand sold fresh flowers, which was nice to see. There were two fresh artisan bread vendors and two meat vendors, one of which also sold farm fresh eggs. There was also several stands selling baked goods, james and jellies. There were no cheese vendors, which is odd since Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is only 50km up island from Nanaimo. I thought maybe I justed missed them on this particular day but they aren't even listed as a regular vendor on the website. There was an abundance of crafts and artisan booths - vendors selling jewellery, rock candles/vases, quilts, tie died clothing, ceramics, homemade soaps, glass, knick knacks, woodwork, photography, paintings... it was more like a craft fair than a farmers market and none of the arts and crafts booths appealed to me since I was looking for local edible products.

I didn't go home empty handed though.

I bought cookies from The Cookie Lady, fresh artisan bread from Slow Rise Bakery, cognac sausage from Ravenstone Farm, super spicy Dad's Westcoast Wildfire Awesome Sauce, a chocolate fudge cake from the British bakery vendor (whose name I can't recall or find online), and three jars of jelly from Golden Maples Farm.

The jelly from Golden Maples Farm was the best catch of the day. Created and sold by a very interesting lady named Eileen, Golden Maples Gourmet Jams and Jellies were very creative, unique and tasty. I took advantage of the "Christmas in July" sale and got three jars for the price of two.

Photo from Golden Maple Farms

- Cranberry JalapeƱo Jelly: Sweet and slightly spicy. I used this one on a turkey sandwich! The label says it can be thinned with water for use as a marinade on ribs or wings. Great over Brie cheese too!

- Smoky Maple Jelly: Sweet red peppers slowly smoked over hickory and alder woods are the basis of this one. Serve with meats, cheese, on crackers or use as a sandwich spread.

- Christmas Marmalade Jelly: Nothing Christmas-y about this delicious blend. Made with oranges, kiwis, cranberries, raspberries and lemons. Use as a dessert topping. Mix with coconut rum and pour over ice cream or cheesecake. Add a spoonful to tea. I'm still working on a Christmas Marmalade Martini!

All three jellies can also be used as a base for salad dressing. Just mix with oil, vinegar and a bit of Dijon.

Elieen told us there are over 400 varieties of jellies, including wine jellies, spicy jellies, maple jellies, wild berry jellies, domestic berry jellies and ice wine jellies. Check out the list here, although I don't think it's a comprehensive list. The three I bought were delicious but it was very difficult to decide. I could have easily bought a dozen more. I'm thinking I may contact Elieen again to order a case in time for Christmas.

Overall, I was pleased with my purchases at the Downtown Nanaimo Farmer's Market. It's worth a visit if you're in the area!


  1. I'd have probably hung out at the Dingy Dock all day instead ;)

  2. Na, the food isn't that great and it's always packed with tourists. I spent most of my time on the deck or walking around the island.


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