Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hamilton Farmer's Market: Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton Farmer's Market

With the summer quickly approaching and an abundance of local produce hitting the shelves, I thought it would be the perfect time for a post about the Hamilton Farmer’s Market. While the market is busy all year round, I know that many people find the whole thing a bit daunting. Which bakery should I choose for my bread? While veggie and fruit stands are locally sourced? Who has the best price on cheese, meat and spreads? Where can I get more of those amazing butter tarts my co-worker brought to work from the market?

When I was a student attending McMaster University, one of my fellow poli-sci students introduced me to the market. He said that he went there religiously and after one visit I was hooked! I enjoyed making my way downtown from campus and continue to go at least once a week on my lunch now that I am working nearby. The market in downtown Hamilton is a bright, bustling and welcoming space and today I will be giving you the inside scoop!

Hamilton Farmer's Market
First thing you should know is that the market is located in Jackson Square, next to the Hamilton Library. It is open on Tuesday 7-6, Thursday 7-6, Friday 8-6 and Saturday 6-6 every week. It has been around since 1837 and was recently renovated with lots of windows and community spaces. It is divided into an upper and lower floor, with small to large stalls as well as space for people to sit, eat and relax. Here are some of my favorite stops:

Baked Goods
Genuine's Bread House Bake
Located on the main floor, Baltic Bakery is one of the many bakeries you will find in the Hamilton Farmer's Market. I like to go to this place if I need a lot of buns for either a BBQ or party. Very fresh, always friendly and very reasonably priced. Another favorite that I often go to for fresh bread is Genuine’s Bread House Bakery located on the lower level. They have farmer’s sour dough, caraway rye and a lot of other options. Plus, they will slice it for you on the spot! Last but not least is Lina’s European Bakery. I dream about this place. When I first took my friend Diane for butter tarts, we ended up going back three times to get more! Needless to say, she makes amazing baked goods and I would highly recommend checking her stall out on the lower level (especially the butter tarts!) 

Fruits and VeggiesThis one is tough because there are SO many fruit and vegetable booths (not complaining!) Here I would really recommend just taking your time, walking around and scoping out your options. In the summer you can find a lot of great Ontario produce and taking the time to look around means you will also find the best deal. For apples I pretty much always go to Bentford Orchards because they are local and always crisp and delicious. Fleetwood Farms is another great option – they are based out of London and always have a lot of great veggie options to keep all of your meals local and full of variety.

Huong Tang
FishAgain, you have many options but I have been going to the Huong Tang Fish Market located in the lower level since undergrad. I have tried a lot of their seafood and it has always been exceptionally fresh and very reasonably priced. 

Romano Cheese Deli & Olives
Meat & CheeseThe whole point of going to the market is to take your time and try new things. Through the course of many years and many meals, I have found several great booths for meat and cheese (and olives, obviously). For my cheese and olives I love going to Romano Cheese Deli and Olives. The service is always friendly (and comes with samples!) and they have a wonderful cheese selection. They also offer a variety of olives and oils and I usually get a mixed container since they are all so tasty (one of my faves is olives with oregano and celery in oil!) For my cured meat, I usually go to Sam’s Cheese, especially when I am craving spicy pepperettes! 

JamHere I am very specific because I love this jam (though I should mention that I am biased since I really have not explored the other jam options in the market). At Sam the Produce Man’s vegetable stall in the lower level is a shelving unit full of wonderful homemade jams. My favorites are peach and apricot and I have been going to this place for my jam needs for a long time!

Specialty: Finally, a wonderful booth that I discovered this year is Ercillia’s Fine Foods in the lower level. Specializing in Portuguese food, Ercillia’s has a little bit of everything – fresh chorizo, savoury spreads, sweet custards and much more. My two favorite items here are the milk bread, a traditional sweet bread from the Azores region as well as their lemon salsa. The owners are both extremely friendly and helpful (but you should note that you will be hooked on the milk bread once you start going!)

I hope my market highlights will encourage you to check out the Hamilton Farmer's Market soon!

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