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M is for Millarville

 

One of the reasons I adore summer so much, is the brief but heady availability of small farmers markets that pop up around town. Yes, we have the big one at Currie Barracks, and I love the fact that it’s year round, but just like all variety loving people it’s nice to have options. And there is no shortage of options in the summer months. My absolute favorite place to go happens to be the closest to my house too, but believe me when I say I made the pilgrimage occasionally even when I lived across the entire city. My favorite farmers market is the one at Millarville.  It combines a mini road trip with food, an unbeatable combination. Held outdoors off the large racetrack, it’s a great mix of vendors, entertainment, and mini-donuts. And I go nuts for mini-donuts.

 

The layout is a rough almost – circle, with the crafts all along the far side of the market, with the entertainment area and picnic tables in the middle. I’ll be honest – I never go look at crafts. First off, many are cheesy or just not my style, but most importantly, every dollar I have is usually earmarked for food. Why shop for a permanent work of art when you can buy something to eat? And buy I do. Oh boy do I buy.

 

Approaching the entrance

Approaching the entrance

 

 

 

 

Decorative grass

Decorative grass

Over time I’ve worked out a strategy for shopping at the market. Since I often go alone, I have to work out a plan to carry the six hundred pounds of food I buy, so careful shopping strategy must be implemented in order to be able to reach the car at all. The strategy begins with a coffee and mini-donuts. For fortification of course.  The donuts are oh so smartly located on the right, right near the entrance. Piping hot, straight out of the fryer, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar they are my first taste of summer heaven. They are worth getting up early for, and I don’t say that lightly. At the picnic table sipping a coffee, people watching and enjoying the music is about the perfect way to start a weekend.

 

 

Many folk also go for the kettle corn. They’re always busy.

 

Kettle Korn Truck

Kettle Korn Truck

 

 

Shopping always begins at the very back of the food section. That’s where all the produce is located, and there’s always the temptation to buy way too much. I try to resist, working hard to plan the meals in my head as I shop, lest I end up with way too much produce. It’s very hard though – there are always several greenhouses with jewel like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. They are warm from the sun, perfectly ripe and smell like the sun warmed fruit that they are. There are always the colonists (Amish? Mennonites? Hutterites? Anyone?) with amazingly inexpensive roots – beets, potatoes, radishes, carrots, onions, garlic, chard and eggs.  There are the fruit trucks from BC which can be hit and miss – always try the beautiful looking peaches, apricots and cherries before you buy.  I don’t have photos of this section because due to the late season there were hardly any vendors there. I expect many more over the next two weeks.

 

After the staples of a healthy diet are taken care of, I walk leisurely along the awning covered section full of vendors of generally prepared foods. Here is a vast panorama of choices – everything from fresh baked bread, honey, ostrich soap, salsa and dips, jerky, cheese, teas, wines, olive oils and much much more. Most vendors let you try before you buy, and that’s a good thing because not everything is that great. I typically end up with a dip or two, an ethnic food (varies depending on who’s there – sometimes there’s Mexican, other times amazing Indian), smoked char, and a wine or something else I can’t resist.  

 

Candy bouquets

Candy bouquets

Organic coffee

Organic coffee

So many dips

So many dips

Organic wine

Organic wine

Tea

Tea

Locally made mustard

Locally made mustard

 

 

Towards the end of the market I have to point out one of my favorite vendors – More than Mangoes. I first went to visit them shortly after they opened, in a small space at some school or something. I fell in love with fresh, real, tropical fruit even though I really do try to eat local most of the time. I just miss the amazing fruitses of Cuba so much. RIGHT NOW as we speak they have amazing, juicy, fragrant organic mangoes and papayas. They are to die for.  They’re worth every penny. The owner is quite passionate and knowledgeable about his fruit, and the passion shows in every individually cradled offering.

 

 

 

More Than Mangoes stall

More Than Mangoes stall

 

 

 

 

Then we come to the meat vendors at the very entrance to the market, which is very convenient as they’re the heaviest purchases for me, and the car is usually not far away. I load up on bacon, hot dogs, buffalo salami, and loads and loads of chicken from Bowden. I literally load up on chicken breasts, thighs, eggs, whole chickens and they are so much better than the supermarket as well as being reasonably priced. I usually get some frozen pies from Kaman which I generally prefer to Simple Simon or others. I would not recommend the shepherd’s pie as the meat is waaay too ground and adds odd texture to the already soft pie, but would definitely recommend their chicken and steak and mushroom pies. For an easy weeknight supper they’re great.

 

Millarville Market

Open Saturday mornings 8:30 – noon.

June 13 to Oct 3, 2009

Parking $2.00

 

See you there, I’ll be the one with the donuts.

 

Gorgeous planters

Gorgeous planters

7 comments to M is for Millarville

  • Oh my goodness, my mouth is watering! I live in the NW, something tells me Millarville is at the opposite end of the city (plus a drive) for me? We’re off to Bearspaw market this Sunday, I hope it’s as great a trip as you just shared!

  • It sounds as if you have a method to your madness that works well! Wow! What a tremendous market!

  • admin

    It sure is – way down south towards Bragg Creek. However, just once this summer you should try to make the pilgrimage, it’s such a fun market it feels more like a fair. I’d love to check out some other area markets too, and perhaps Bearspaw should be on the list too. Will you do a post on it so I can vicariously check it out beforehand?

  • admin

    Thanks IG – yeah it took many near failures to work out the routine. I’m jealous of your tomatoes though – those all sound amazing. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Great photo journalism. How much of the stuff is local grown? I see the mustard , followed by boxes of mangoes… are they growing mangoes in Alberta now?

  • admin

    Hey Rob – the reply to your comment degenerated out of control, and is now a post of its own. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  • […] all her own photos, and counts photography among her many interests.  Some great posts include her review of Millarville, which is typical straightforward account of her journey to Southern Alberta’s largest outdoor […]

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