On a sunny, but chilly December morning Maureen and I headed to the Locavore Artisan Food Market at Memorial Hall in New Edinburgh. Located in a tiny community centre, the room was brimming with local food vendors and patrons, all there to celebrate our local food business and the local food movement.
Cookies, salsas, ice creams, breads, spreads, mustards, sauces, jams, pies, spices, cakes, full meals and many other items were being sold at a brisk pace. By the time you read this, the event will be over, of course. However the vendors make their products available via many outlets in the city and sometimes directly. It really is worth seeking out these artisans and supporting their businesses. It helps to diversify the Ottawa palate, grow the local economy, bring together the Ottawa food community, and it’s damn tasty too. These items make terrific presents and also make form a more interesting table at home.
We picked up more of Pascal’es amazing hot chocolate (and I hope to actually have some this time), some “Hot Toddy” ice cream, some michaelsdolce jams, Mrs. McGarrigle’s mustards, Yummy Cookies chocolate-dipped shortbread cookies and some smoked tomato jam from Just Wing’it. Yum!
Here’s a listing of all the local artisans with links to their websites. Please support them!
We start every Saturday morning’s weekly marketing excursion at Piggy Market. We have been doing this for over a year. When we first started visiting Piggy Market, they were a medium-sized space with little product. The product they did have kept us coming back. Initially, they offered artisanal pork products, Art-Is-In bread and Pascal’s homemade ice creams. Slowly they added local cheeses, milk, butter, organic produce, maple syrup, and homemade pickles. What keeps us coming back is never knowing what we will find in the main showcase and the quality, preservative-free offerings. It seems like the powers that be at Piggy cook whatever pleases them – what they want to eat: duck and lentil soup, Jamaican patties, to-die-for mac and cheese, chorizo, duck rilletes, brined turkeys at Christmas, bbq sauces, spit-roasted whole chickens, roasts of beef and pork sliced on the spot for lunch meat, Berkshire pork ribs, spicy baked beans, homemade hamburger patties.
They have a small freezer section with meat pies, lasagna, sausages and frozen organic vegetables from Bryson Farms. They also carry some fresh organic produce from Bryson. You can usually score some heirloom beets or fingerlings until supplies run out and they always have a good supply of peashoots and microgreens. There is never tons of anything so you better get there early.
I dropped by this this week to talk to Dave Neil, one of Piggy’s owners and a familiar face every time we visit. Dave was kind enough to take some time out of his very hectic schedule to pose for some pics and answer a few questions. His business partner Warren came out to say hi and get in a pic or two as well. Piggy Market came to be in 2008 and has been at its current location since 2009 where they expect to be for at least the next three years. Being tucked away on a quiet side street off of busy Richmond Rd. in Westboro adds to the stumbled upon pleasure that is Piggy. The market started with a love of charcuterie and has developed into quality take home products and meals. Charcuterie is the foundation and mainstay of the business which Dave hopes will come to be known as the premiere artisanal delicatessen in the city.
Piggy Market has a staff of seven and all of its members contribute on a weekly basis with ideas about new offerings. This weekly rotation allows the offerings to be fresh and simplifies ordering. Always on hand are the items that sell well, but if you call ahead with a special order, they are very accommodating. The staff are constantly trying new things and this keeps their long hours fun and interesting.
The deli has a commitment to fresh, local, seasonal product. A common and much welcomed theme in new restaurants and markets. What makes Piggy’s approach different? Piggy is committed to the head to toe, or snout to tail approach when using an animal. No waste if possible. Pork is obviously a first love but they also prepare deer, lamb and wild boar, and apply the head to toe approach. Currently they do bring in beef for burgers, roasting and Jamaican patties but don’t have the space for a whole animal. Another feature Dave feels is unique to Piggy is that he knows where every ingredient they use comes from and who made it or grew it. Today he was showing me some beautiful Jamaican escallions, with their flower buds still intact. Similar to green onions and a basic in Jamaican cooking, they had a local grower, Jambican, procure seed and grow them for Piggy. They will find their way into Jamaican patties and burgers, and a few other things I am sure.
What excites Dave most about Piggy Market? The seasons! Right now asparagus (excellent this year) and rhubarb have his attention. Rhubarb is going into sour cream cakes and bbq sauces and maybe muffins if he can find the time. The market also hopes to start bottling bbq sauce, make their own pickles and sauerkraut, offer more selection on their sandwich board, make their own mustards and mayo, and add to the small but well thought out collection of books for food lovers. Piggy is also taking on a more professional look with a new logo currently in development. Gone will be the realistic pig, but none of the authenticity of the food or the grassroots feel of the place. Dave doesn’t refer to the people who frequent his shop as customers. “I like to think of them as food enthusiasts and friends we haven’t met yet. We are all about community.” Look for Dave and the gang serving up burgers and sausage (they will be any thing but ordinary) at Dragonboatfest, Folkfest and Beau’s Beer Octoberfest this summer.
The ever popular Art-Is-In bread is sold at the counter and used for sandwiches. Art-Is-In does not bake on Mondays. The Piggy staff has added bread baking to their repertoire because they do not sell day old bread. Today’s offerings were cornbread and an amazing looking yogurt sourdough among others. Where do they get the time? They also bake cookies, scones and excellent hamburger buns. Twelve hour days, seven days a week helps. Dave admits to taking Tuesdays off, but then admits that he spends a lot of his day off shopping for the business and working at whatever needs doing.
Recently they have added sandwiches to their offerings. Drop in for lunch and pick up some rare, oven-roasted beef for the week ahead, a bottle of milk from a local dairy, a pint of Pascal’s salted caramel ice cream, some sausages for tonight’s dinner on the BBQ and hope, just maybe, dare to hope they have some mac and cheese left.