Chef Haley Parrent of Vega is passionate about fresh, local food, which inspired her to initiate a bi-weekly delivery of the VFM Direct Fresh Box for Vega employees.
Health-conscious Vega staff look forward to their box of fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables assembled for them every other week from local producers like Taves Family Farms, Tsawwassen Farm School, and Earth Apple Organic Farm.
All of the fresh, seasonal produce helps keep healthy workplace eating habits on track, and creates opportunities for sharing great recipes like this one below for Chef Haley’s Wild Mushroom Miso Noodle Bowl.
Looking for a convenient way to bring healthy, local food to your workplace? The Fresh Box is available direct to your office for group delivery on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, and contains 5-7 fresh, seasonal items sourced from multiple VFM farmers. Check out the Fresh Box page for more details on how to order!
Wild Mushroom Miso Noodle Bowl
by Haley Parrent, CNP
½ large celeriac bulb
½ head cauliflower
2 cups assorted mushrooms
1 head kale
4 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp (or sub 1 tsp for grass-fed butter if not vegan)
2 portions ramen-style noodles (I love Lotus Foods rice varieties)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp white miso paste (to taste)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp black sesame seeds (garnish)
2 sheets toasted nori, cut into strips (garnish)
Hot sauce, chilli oil or chilli flakes (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
2. Chop the celeriac into small cubes, and cauliflower into small bite sized pieces and toss with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until browned around the edges.
3. Cook your noodles according to instructions.
4. Bring 4 cups water to a boil and add in miso paste. Stir with a fork or a whisk to dissolve the paste. Add in sesame oil, and hot sauce, chilli oil or chilli flakes if using them.
5. Heat 1 tsp olive oil or butter in a frying pan, add in minced garlic until it is fragrant. Add in loosely chopped mushrooms and sautee, stirring well until they are soft. Add your chopped kale and the tamari and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and set aside.
6. Time to build your bowl. Divide your noodles into two large bowls, then top with your celeriac cubes, sautéed mushrooms and kale, nori strips, sesame seeds and any other desired toppings, such as sweet corn, kimchi, or scallions.
Each December, VFM staff round up our top picks from the Winter Markets to help make your local holiday gift giving and entertaining a breeze.
Craft spirits, artisanal cheeses, deluxe baked goods, seasonal wreaths and bouquets, specialty food items, and fine craft are just a few of the hundreds of festive ideas on hand at Nat Bailey & Hastings Park Winter Markets this month. So break out those December to do lists and start thinking local for the holidays…
Shiny & New
Bean-to-bar Kasama Chocolate produces a range of artisanal bars and truffles that boast some of the nicest packaging around. Their Spirits of BC truffle collection is top gift pick for Anna Bock, our Assistant Operations Manager. “They’re made with BC craft spirits,” explains Anna Bock, our Assistant Operations Manager. “a great gift for someone you don’t know well, but want to show your appreciation for.”
Kasama Chocolate will be at Nat Bailey on December 16.
Also look for: buttery English Toffee from Blackberry Hill.
Sons of Vancouver Distillery make small batch, barrel aged amarettos that carry notes of apricot, juniper, orange peel, and creamed honey. “They’re so unique,” says Christa Wood, VFM’s office coordinator. “We’ll be using them in my husband’s signature Dark n’ Stormies this Christmas.”
Sons of Vancouver will be at Hastings Park on December 10.
Also look for: a bottle of the newly released Salal Gin from Odd Society Spirits.
The holiday season is a time to relax and let inhibitions go out the window. Ice cream in our morning coffee? Yes, please! Why not try some of the yummy seasonal offerings from Elephant Garden Creamery, like White Choco Christmas and Mont Blanc (it’s made with chestnuts, people!)
Find Elephant Garden at Hastings Park on December 10 & 17
Also look for: handmade ice cream in flavours like Caramel Ribbons and Costa Rican Vanilla from Take a Fancy Sweets & Chocolate.
BCB Honey keep close to 60 million bees in production in British Columbia each year. Their pink ginger honey is the gift of choice this season for our Hastings Park Manager Gabrielle Vacheresse. “I recently bought a jar as a gift to myself,” says Vacheresse. “It’s really yummy on a crusty piece of sourdough toast or in lemon tea.”
BCB Honey will be at Hastings Park on December 10.
Also look for: A jar of the Vancouver Special Honey from Six Legs Good Apiary, produced from their urban hives.
The folks from Rocky Creek Winery in Cowichan Valley, BC produce a great line of red and white wines along with special selections like sparkling, and rosé. Their Wild Blackberry has become their signature, great on it’s own as a rich, port-style wine or mixed into your holiday cocktails.
Find Rocky Creek at Nat Bailey on December 9.
Also look for: the Sparking Finch, a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from Robin Ridge Winery.
“I don’t like to play favourites, but they make one of the best blondies around,” says Trout Lake Manager Jordan Mehl of Le Bouledogue, one of VFM’s newest bakeries. “I’d definitely lay a plate of them out at your next holiday party.” Along with amazing sweet baked goods, Le Bouledogue also makes a line of specialty jams in flavours like Blueberry Basil.
Find Le Bouledogue at Hastings Park on December 10.
Also look for: sourdough breads, pastries, and crackers from lakehouse foods.
Drunken Chocolatier, who debuted December 3rd at Hastings Park Winter Market, is a top pick this season for Jess Landing, VFM community engagement coordinator. “Their chocolates are incredibly beautiful – they look like paintings, ” says Landing. “Their going to make really great stocking stuffers”.
Catch Drunken Chocolatier at Hastings Park on December 10.
Also look for: limited edition Mulled Wine Chocolates from Coconama.
Doan’s Craft Brewing Co. is one of VFM’s newest breweries, and we think you should check out their BC grown rye based brews like the Rye Porter and house series Little R & R (with rice and rye). With its distinctive illustrated branding, any of their bottles of cans would look great under your tree with a little red bow.
Doan’s will be at Nat Bailey on December 9 and Hastings Park on December 17.
Also look for: the Holiday Gift Set from Persephone Brewing Co., containing a beer glass, toque, and two bottles of beer.
Spruce Goose Chop n’ Block is a brand new vendor at the Winter Markets this season that is bringing some truly exceptional salami to the people of Vancouver. “Any combination of their charcuterie would be a great addition to a holiday platter,” says VFM Operations Manager, Laura Smit. “Especially the porcini salami.”
Find Spruce Goose at Hastings Park on December 10.
Also look for: some grass-fed beef pepperoni from Greendale Meats.
Got a cocktail lover on your list? Put a bottle of Barrelhouse’s Sourback Cocktail Brine in their stocking – perfect for sour caesars and pickletinis.
Barrelhouse Brine will be at Nat Bailey on December 16.
Also look for: Boozewitch Chili Lime Shrub from Gillespie’s Fine Spirits.
Tried & True
“Nancy’s designs are classic – her jewellery is the kind of gift you buy for someone else, but end up keeping for yourself.” says Jen Candela, VFM’s Communication Manager, of Nancy Esworthy Designs. Incorporating unusual materials like deer antler and mammoth ivory mixed with precious metals, wood, and leather, Nancy pieces have a tribal elegance that will please even the most discerning jewellery lover.
Find Nancy Esworthy at Nat Bailey on December 9.
Also look for: hand forged sterling silver jewellery featuring luminous stones and freshwater pearls from Ildiko Jewelry.
“I love the beeswax pyramid candle from von Hardenberg,” says Nat Bailey Manager Randy Elliott. “All of their candles are quality, but that one is such a unique shape for gifting.” Von Hardenberg makes a wide selection of 100% Canadian-sourced beeswax candles, including specialty 5″ tapers that can be used on Christmas trees or for Hanukkah menorahs.
Find von Hardenberg Candles at Nat Bailey on December 16.
Also look for: Valley Gold Bee Co.‘s selection of candles and tealights made of beeswax from their own hives.
The Hive Printing is a Vancouver-based print shop that produces a range of dry goods like t-shirts, tote bags, and tea towels. “My husband loves a unique t-shirt so I always pick up one of the new designs from The Hive,” says Roberta LaQuaglia, VFM Direct Manager. “I particularly like the ones based on local streets and maps.”
The Hive Printing will be at Hasting Park on December 17 and Nat Bailey on December 23.
Also look for: Vancouver Farmers Market branded tees, printed on Bella + Canvas unisex jersey t-shirts and available at the Market Info Tent.
The dried fruits mixes and fruit leathers from Ambercott Acres are a stocking stuffer must. Made from organic fruit grown on their orchards in Cawston, BC, these sugar free fruit leathers come in 10 different flavours like nectarine-apple and pear-apricot.
Find Ambercott Acres at Nat Bailey on December 16 & 23.
Also look for: Klippers Organics Crispy Apple Chips.
Don Asperin creates wood objects that are as beautiful as they are useful. His maple cutting boards, wooden boxes, and small home accents make lasting and practical gifts.
Don Asperin Woodworks will be at Nat Bailey on December 9 & 23.
Also look for: screen-printed wood coasters and wall hangings from The Hive Printing.
The most versatile gift you could buy for a market lover, VFM Market Money never expires and is accepted at all of our locations. Market Money gift certificates in $20 amounts can be purchased at our weekly Nat Bailey and Hastings Park Winter Markets – bundle one with an annual Market Membership for $40, and we’ll throw in a gift Market Tote Bag.
The candied and smoked salmon sticks from Blue Comet Seafoods are a big favourite of VFM Executive Director, Tara McDonald. “They look beautiful on a platter, and nothing says “West Coast Christmas” like smoked salmon,” she says. Along with plenty of smoked options, Blue Comet’s canned salmon makes for pretty great stocking stuffers.
Find Blue Comet Seafoods at Nat Bailey on December 9, 16, & 23 and Hastings Park on December 10 & 17.
Also look for: delicious canned smoked tuna from Estevan Tuna.
Pâté Pastiche creates vegan and gluten-free pâtés in knock out combinations like golden squash and sage, market herb, and forest mushroom. A great alternative to traditional meat-based spreads, these wholesome pâtés are sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike.
Pâté Pastiche will be at Nat Bailey on December 23.
Also look for: Savoury Duck Pâté from Chef Enrick
If you’re looking for traditional holiday baking to impress your guests, make sure to check out Blackberry Hill Bakery at Nat Bailey Winter Market this month. They make everything from mince pies to shortbread, Christmas cakes to rum balls – all you have to do is plate it up for your holiday table.
Blackberry Hill will be at Nat Bailey on December 9, 16 & 23.
Also look for: traditional German stollen from Sweet Thea Cakes.
Dundarave Olive Co. brines, marinates, and stuffs their olives by hand. Incorporating ingredients like manchego cheese, dried apricots, and anchovies, their olive mixes are unique and delicious – a must for your holiday party platter.
Find Dundarave Olive Co. at Nat Bailey on December 16 & 23.
Also look for: classic pickled beets from Anne’s Preserves.
BobAli’s hummus, tapenades, and dips make for a colourful and tasty addition to festive celebrations. Standouts for VFM staff include the Sweet Potato & Chipotle Hummus, and their Beet & Horseradish Tapenade.
Find BobAli at Nat Bailey on December 16 and Hastings Park on December 17.
Also look for: Tempea vegan tempeh pâté.
Lighten up on all those rich, holiday foods with a selection of seasonal fruits and veggies from the Winter Markets. Kiwis are in season, there are still some grapes available, and of course, all of those great storage apples will be around throughout the winter. Check out our In Season page and start planning your holiday grocery lists!
Looking for a particular product or vendor? Find them with our Product Search Tool.
The Winter Markets are open for the holidays on the following dates:
Join us December 23 for a special holiday addition of Nat Bailey Winter Market, featuring visits with Santa, live carolling, kids crafts, and more!
Peppers are stealing the show these days at the markets, appearing at farmers’ stalls in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, flavours and spiciness. As versatile as they are nutritious (they contain more than 200% of your daily vitamin C intake), peppers can be stewed, stuffed, sauteed, dried, or – our favourite – eaten raw like an apple.
Char them outside on your barbeque for maximum flavour explosion served with a side of garlic yogurt sauce.
String them up for use later in the season – chili ristras make a colourful display in your kitchen and can be added to recipes all winter long.
Freeze them (no blanching required) after cutting them into desired portions. Best used in cooking, not eaten raw.
While peppers are found in many recipes, anyone who’s ever tucked into a bowl of Hungarian lesco or eaten chili rellanos knows that peppers can make for an amazing, stand alone dish.
This week’s In Season recipe, which comes from our friends at Vancouver-based design firm Danica Studio, incorporates both peppers and cherry tomatoes in a panzanella-style dish that serves up all the amazing flavours of late summer.
Sweet Pepper + Cherry Tomato Panzanella
By: Danica Studio
3 sweet peppers
Red wine vinegar
2 –4 slices bread (depending on size)
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup small mozzarella balls (or quartered medium mozzarella balls)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Handful torn basil
Salt & pepper
- To toast the bread, drizzle olive oil onto the bread slices and place in the oven to toast.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and drizzle with some olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
- Slice the peppers into 1-inch pieces and sauté in a pan with olive oil until softened. Drizzle with red wine vinegar when done.
- Toss all of the salad components together and let sit for 10 minutes before serving so the bread can absorbed some of the juices. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
It’s high season for berries at the markets right now, and we know you’re all hard at work jamming, baking, and preserving them at their peak.
Our vendors are busy too – not only the farmers, but our artisanal food producers who are using seasonal berries in a number of amazing food items in celebration of our 7th Annual Berry Festival this week.
Look out for micro batched Verrry Berrry Shrub from Mixers & Elixirs, limited edition Blueberry & Lavender Corn Bread Cakes from Nidhi’s Cuisine, traditional Blueberry Pieorgies from Old Country Pierogi, and Blueberry Pakoras from Mandair Farms.
Our friends at Odd Society Spirits are also joining in the berry game with a number of seasonally inspired cocktails like their gin-based BC Bramble and High Stakes Lemonade, featuring BC blueberries.
Our Berry Festival kicks off Wednesday, July 12 at Main St. Station Market and culminates with our annual Berry Pie Bake Off on July 16 at Mount Pleasant Market. Don’t miss farm-fresh berry tastings, kids activities, pie sampling, and special edition recipes like the yummy Blueberry Lemon Pudding Pie below from the BC Blueberry Council.
Blueberry Lemon Pudding Pie
- 2 large (100 g) eggs
- ¼ cup (35 g) cornstarch
- ½ cup (80 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ cup (175 ml) 35% whipping cream
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (115 g) salted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
- 4 cups (600 g) B.C. blueberries, fresh or frozen – divided
- 1¾ cups (240 g) graham cookies crumbs
- ¼ tsp (pinch) cinnamon
- ⅔ cup (150 g) salted butter, melted
- For the filling, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, whipping cream and milk. Cook mixture on medium heat, whisking constantly until heated and thickened for 6-7 minutes. Do not boil.
- Whisk half the hot mixture into the eggs. Return to the sauce pan with the remaining mixture, then whisk in the butter and lemon juice.
- Reheat mixture on low heat for another 3 minutes, again whisking constantly, do not boil.
- Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour until cooled.
- For the crust, mix the cookie crumbs and cinnamon in a bowl; add the melted butter and mix. Transfer to a 9” pie dish, and press mixture evenly to the bottom and sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Fold 2 cups of the blueberries into the chilled pudding, then pour into the pie shell and top with remaining blueberries.
- Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream.
Jasbir Mandair has been coming to VFM markets since early 2016, and currently sells her berries, mixed vegetables, and hot pakoras at Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and Main St. Station Markets.
She has been growing commercially in British Columbia since 1983, but her farming roots go much deeper to a childhood spent on her family’s farm in the Punjab. VFM staffers recently had the opportunity to talk with her and tour the farm she runs with her son Sajan in Abbotsford.
Q: Both you and your husband Surinder were born into farming in India. Can you tell us what part of India you’re from, and what kinds of crops your families grew?
A: We farmed in the Punjab. My village was a place called Akara in district Jhalandar, and my husband was from Ghari Baksha. We grew corn, wheat, rice, and sugar cane.
Q: How does farming in India differ from farming in BC?
A: Farming in India was different for two reasons. First, the technology of the time period back in the 60s meant everything was still done by hand and animals such as oxen. Even the watering was done manually – we used to have big wells and the water was drawn by a chain attached to a bucket.
The second difference was the crops themselves – they are completely different from growing and harvesting berries. You cut the wheat at the base and put into bundles; the grain was used for food and the straw remaining was used for feed for the animals. With berries, you pick it and pack it into boxes, but you leave the plant untouched.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about farming in BC?
A: BC is the best place for farming, there is no real difficulty… the weather is good, land is good, water is absolutely the best.
The difficulty is in the work of the farm and finding labor, since the new generation isn’t interested to work on the farm. The other difficulty is selling the product to actually make a living. We can have a really good crop but the price that is paid from the cannery is sometimes not even enough to make ends meet. The profit margin isn’t there – the blueberry can be absolutely amazing but the processor barely pays anything for them.
Q: How many family members are involved in the Mandair operation?
A: There are about 5-30, very dependent on the crop and how much it is producing, and the time of the year. We currently have 5 core “staff members” – my son Sajan, his fiancé Veerpal Kingra and her sister Ramneek, Dildar Virdi, and myself. Now that we have raspberry, we have about 20-25 pickers that come to pick by hand.
Q: What’s your favourite crop to grow?
A: I love all three berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) that we grow but if I had to pick a favourite, I would say strawberries!
Mandair Farms are also known for their great selection of market vegetables, including the popular Punjabi ingredient called Tinde, or apple gourd. Here’s how Jasbir prepares them at home…
Mandair Farms-style Tinde
6 apple gourds, cut into 4-6 pieces
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, cut fine or minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. tumeric
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and cumin on medium heat for one minute in a teaspoon of cooking oil.
- Add the tomato, tumeric, salt and pepper into the sauté mix and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium low heat.
- Add in the apple gourd and cook until they are soft. For a more pasty sauce, add 1/4-1/2 cup of water.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or roti. Also try stuffing it into a tortilla with some sour cream for a delicious, plant-based lunch.