Happy Hearts

It was only two and a half years ago that Eahly and Nan arrived in Calgary, eager to put roots down and make this city “home”.  Coming from Vancouver, they were surrounded by a plethora of dietary options, including amazing variety in vegetarian and vegan fare; but found fewer options in our beef-centric city.  Then, one day in October 2011, while shopping at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, they noticed a vacant booth and a seed was planted.  What if?  Beginning on a hope and whim, Eahly and Nan set out to bring more options to vegans (and non-vegans too) and share their passion for healthy, delicious food.  If you’ve ever been by Hearts’ Choices, you will instantly see (and feel) the love that goes into creating and sharing their vegan Thai food.  Driven by Nan’s philosophy: “no good food = no happiness”, every dish they make, whether it be Thai Vegan Curries, Peanut Satay Sauce, or Bamboo Shoot Stir Fry, is handmade with care and intention.  And their high quality, non-GMO soybean vegan products are mindfully sourced from a renowned Buddhist vegan company in Taiwan.

We know it’s easy to turn your nose up at vegan food if you’re a born and bred meat-lover.  Tofu? Tempeh?! Vegan Scallops?!?!  Get outta Cowtown.  But in all seriousness, Eahly and Nan help many families bridge the gap when there is a division in the kitchen.  For example: wife is a vegetarian, husband wants his steak; now they can make one meal for everyone because the vegan fare at Hearts’ Choices can fool even the most discerning palates and satisfies everyone’s needs.  Eahly and Nan believe that their food “helps make their life a little more harmonious and happy”.  That’s what makes them love coming to work every day. It comes as no surprise then that they love when you drop by their booth or send them a photo of your own creation, sharing a part of your heart with them.

Hearts Choices Collage

And now they’re sharing that love with you!  Join them for an evening of food creation and fun as Nan (originally from Thailand) teaches the basics of Thai vegan cooking in a hands-on interactive cooking class.  We recently crashed one of their classes to get our own hands dirty (and our bellies happy!) and were pleasantly surprised to find people of all ages, all levels of cooking experience, even non-vegans soaking up Nan’s knowledge and cooking up a storm.  We couldn’t help but join in too.  The Thai Vegan Larb Salad, Tom Kha Pak (a sweet and sour coconut vegetable soup), and Pad Se-ew (Thai Street Noodles) that we all whipped up were delicious, healthy, and didn’t last long.

Larb CollageIf you’ve ever wanted to learn more about vegan cooking or you’re just interested in exploring Thai ingredients and dishes, you can join Eahly and Nan in their upcoming class (hosted April 7th).  Classes run approximately 3 hours, and include all the equipment, ingredients, and teaching required for you to create 3-4 delicious dishes while learning the basics of Thai cuisine with lots of cooking and eating along the way.  Do you have to be a Vegan to enjoy this opportunity?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it is perhaps the most reasonably priced Thai cooking classes in the city.  So… can you throw chicken in the Tom Kha Pak?  Yes!  Will Nan and Eahly frown upon it?  Never.

In the upcoming April class, you can look forward to making:

  • Vegan Pad Thai
  • Vegan Pumpkin Stir Fry (Eahly’s favorite!)
  • Vegan Pad Phet No Mai (Spicy Bamboo Shoots)
  • Thai Cucumber Salad

Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Get your tickets before they’re sold out!  And don’t forget to swing by Hearts’ Choices the next time you’re at the Calgary Farmers’ Market; say hi to Nan and Eahly, try one of their many samples, and show them some love.

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Colcannon Soup with Pan Fried Oysters

There are lots of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that doesn’t involve artificially-dyed green beer, pasta, pancakes, jello, truffles… the list goes on and on.  A plethora of traditional Irish recipes await you like Irish Soda Bread (available at Yum Bakery this year!), Beer Battered Cod, Champ, Dublin Coddle, Irish Beef Stew with Guinness…. delicious, traditional, and easy to whip up to share with your family.  We are very lucky here at the market to have Brian Plunkett, owner of Blu Seafood; a born-and-bread Irishman and a chef to boot.  He jumped at the chance to share an Irish recipe with us in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day; a little traditional with a bit of a modern twist.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage.  Brian decided, rather than stir up a typical chowder with clams (boring!), he would take some inspiration from the traditional Colcannon dish and adapt it into a soup.  Perfect for this darn cold weather we’ve been tolerating!  And he took it one step further by frying the freshly-shucked oysters and crisping up some double-smoked bacon as a garnish… why? Well, it adds a texture element that is lost in the mish-mash soup so often becomes, and highlights the seafood ingredient too by making it the star, rather than letting it slip away into the soupy abyss.

Colcannon Collage

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Serves 6

Colcannon Soup

4 oz. Double Smoked Bacon from Spragg’s Meat Shop

4 cups baby kale (chopped) from Blush Lane Organics

2 cups leeks (chopped) from Blush Lane Organics

½ cup onion (diced) from Blush Lane Organics

4 cups potato (diced) from Lund’s Organic Farm

8 cups chicken stock from The Stock & Sauce Co.

1 cup heavy cream from Blush Lane Organics

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt, Pepper,  and Thyme to taste

Start by heating up the olive in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the double smoked bacon and cook until almost crisp.  In the same pan (with all of that excellent bacon fat), add all of the chopped vegetables and season with salt pepper, thyme. Sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Drop in the cut potatoes and return to a boil; simmer for 45 minutes.  Once all elements are soft, remove from the stove and puree with a hand blender.  When velvety in texture, return to a boil on the stove and slowly whisk in the cream.  Taste, correct the seasoning, and simmer 15 minutes more.

Pan Fried Oysters

24 shucked oysters from Blu Seafood

8 drops Worcestershire Sauce

6 drops Tabasco

Drain excess juice from the oysters Marinate the oysters in Worcestershire and Tabasco and leave to 2 minutes.  Dip the oysters in flour and pan fry in olive oil until golden brown. Remove from the pan to a paper towel to sop up any excess oil and season with salt and pepper.  Serve 4 oysters on top off each bowl of soup with a couple of strips of crispy bacon.

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Of course, we recommend you surround yourself with friends and family, fill up ‘yer bowls and enjoy your feast with the ones you love.  And from everyone here at the Market, we wish you a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.

Looking for something to do with the little ones on St. Patrick’s Day?  Bring them to the market to hunt for leprechauns, snag a pot of gold treat, and watch some traditional Irish dancing.  Check out our Events Page.

Things Worth Trying

Our friends over at Avenue Magazine are full of incredible articles that highlight what’s hot in Calgary from food, restaurants, and chefs to homes, entertainment, and lifestyle.  And once a year, they release a super neat article of the 25 Best Things to Eat in Calgary.  We wait with bated breath for this list because we’re eager to see how many yummy things you can find right here at the Calgary Farmers’ Market.  And this year, we hit it big!  We’re so very proud of our vendors that we couldn’t help but share their delicious victories.

Made by Marcus Ice Cream at Blush Lane Organics

Made by Marcus
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

Made by Marcus Ice Cream hit the freezer at Blush Lane Organic Market earlier this year and it takes every ounce of will power to not pick up a pint weekly… especially when Marcus Purtzki brings in new and unique flavors on a regular basis.  Organic cream from Vital Green Farms  forms the foundation for his delicious concoctions, like Lemon Curd + Wild Blueberry or Chai Hot Chocolate (which just hit the shelves this week) to name just two of his incredible flavors.  Watch out Ben & Jerry.

Highwood Crossing Granola at Blush Lane Organics

Highwood Crossing
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

While we’re on the topic of Blush Lane Organics, they carry a wide variety of organic produce, meat, dairy, and grains, including the locally produced cereals and granola from Highwood Crossing.  “A 100% natural, preservative-free cereal made fresh each week with certified organic old fashion rolled oat flakes, whole flax and sunflower seeds, cold-pressed canola oil and amber maple syrup”, it is delicious whatever way you choose to enjoy it.

Lemon Tart at Eclaire de Lune

lemontarts
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

When mid-afternoon approaches and you get that hankering for something sweet to go with your coffee break, it’s hard to choose from the incredible selection we have here at the market.  But Avenue Magazine hit the jackpot with Eclaire de Lune’s Lemon Tart.  The crunchy shortbread base seems standard for this traditional dessert, but the not-too-tart lemon curd centre and pillowy cloud of marshmallow-like meringue on top is nothing short of perfection.  If lemony desserts aren’t your thing, don’t fret, Eclair de Lune has a full offering of traditional (and delicious) French pastries to please even the pickiest of palates.

Hunter’s Pie at Wapiti Ways

Wapiti Ways Hunter's Pie
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

With over 80 vendors supplying you with fresh local produce, art, meat, poultry, international food, organic goods , jewelry and more, we’re proud people are starting to spread their culinary wings to include things like elk in their diet.  Wapiti Ways naturally raises their Elk on pasture grass, hay, and alfalfa without antibiotics, preservatives, or additives.  Their complete line of elk products are healthy and tasty, including their Hunter’s Pie;  with chunks of lean, tender Alberta-ranched elk, simmered in a dark ale gravy, with mushrooms, sweet carrots and pearl onions all in a flaky pie crust.  It’s maybe one of the easiest, most delicious take-and-bake items from the market.

Espresso Balsamic from Soffritto Oil & Vinegar Bar

Soffritto
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

Artisanal oils have become wildly popular with shops dedicated entirely to perfectly pairing oil and vinegar; we are delighted to see our friends from Soffritto being selected as a Top 25.  With 38 olive oils and balsamic vinegars to choose from at their Calgary Farmers’ Market location, you could end up visiting them for a long while as you taste your way through their selections in search of your favorite pairing. The espresso balsamic is popping up as a favorite among many with layers of authentic espresso and dark roasted coffee. It makes a fantastic glaze or barbeque base or can be used sweetly drizzled over ice cream. It’s no surprise that it is part of Avenue Magazine’s Top 25.

Montreal Smoked Bison from Olson’s High Country Free-Range Bison

Olson's Bison
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

Olson’s High Country Free-Range Bison is another market-favorite with their wide array of grass-fed bison products.  They offer all of your typical cuts of meat, but also an impressive frozen selection, including bison pasta, and cured meats to garner your charcuterie board too – we’re partial to the bison bresaola.   The Montreal smoked bison proudly graces Avenue Magazine’s Top 25, which we are sure could rival even the best traditional Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

Porter’s Tonic from Silk Road Spice Merchant

Porter's Tonic
Photography by Jared Sych; originally published Feb 20th, 2014 in Avenue Magazine

We see Nicole Fewell around here a lot as she shops for locally produced items that set the fare of her Cheezy Bizness food truck apart from the rest.  And when she’s not on the roads, spreading Cheezy goodness, “she spends her time making real tonic by steeping distilled water with lemon, lime, lemongrass, cinchona bark and agave nectar to create a tonic concentrate. Mix it 1:1 with your favourite gin, then top with soda water and ice for a sublime G&T.”  And you can pick it up while you’re perusing the impressive spice selection at the Silk Road Spice Merchant.

A BIG congratulations to all of our vendors that were part of Avenue Magazine’s Top 25 Best Things to Eat!  Now, how many have YOU tried?

Love: Scampi Style

We’re very lucky to be featured on CTV Morning Live every month, dishing up some great things from healthy meals to events at the market.  Today, we learned ways to woo your loved one this Valentine’s Day from Chef Brain Plunkett from Blu Seafood.  He shared a dead simple, delicious recipe to impress your sweetheart that can be whipped together in less than 10 minutes.

Scampi

Market Sourced Ingredients

1 lb. (454 g)  Scampi  from Blu Seafood

1 cup tomatoes, diced from Gull Valley Greenhouses

1 tbsp. shallots, finely diced from Cherry Pit

1 clove garlic, crushed from Cherry Pit

½ cup basil, chopped from The Cucumber Man

1 tbsp, olive oil from Soffritto

1 oz. butter

2 oz. white Wine

Start by splitting the scampi tails to de-vein (here’s an easy how-to video) and season with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil to a sauté pan and heat until almost smoking.  Add the butter and the scampi and quickly turning so to prevent overcooking.  Add the shallots, garlic and tomato; cook fro 2 minutes, add the basil and white wine, cook 1 minute more.  Remove the scampi then simmer the sauce for 1 minute and pour over the scampi. Serve and enjoy!

Eat Your Way to Love

Valentine’s Day is a bit of a fluffy holiday, what with its Cupid-drawn arrows flying around swirling pink hearts, lush flowers and rich chocolates being flung at a loved one, and sappy cards that don’t really embody the true beauty of love.  It can all be a little overwhelming to even the most savvy of gentlemen (and lady).  But we here at the market, l-o-v-e the food aspect of Valentine’s Day; it’s a clear opportunity to try your hand at a new recipe to impress, vamp up a tried-and-true favorite, or really spoil your guy or gal with decadent and delicious fare.  Aphrodisiacs are at the top of the food list come lovers day and we’d be remiss if we didn’t share some of the sexy and enticing foods you can find in one stop at the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

Aphrodisiacs go way back and it’s not just about flavor, it involves the shape and texture of certain foods to arouse the mind, making them not just about taste, but also a cerebral experience.  Whether or not these foods actually turn you on is still to be proven, but if it’s tasty, why not give it a try?  Here are our top six.

First up: Oysters

pacific_oysters

Oysters are perhaps the most famous of aphrodisiacs; while they are visually suggestive, oysters are also high in zinc and have a reputation for being great for love and fertility.  Our friends over at Blu Seafood have fresh oysters on hand for you if you want to stick with the notorious aphrodisiac.  Owner, Brian Plunkett, is also a trained chef so if you aren’t a fan of slurping them down raw, he can suggest just the right way to prepare them to suit the mood.

2. Chili Peppers

red_hot_chili_peppers

An exotic reputation and a bright red color, chili peppers kind of just look like love. But scientifically, they stimulate endorphins, speed up heart rate and make you sweat, which all mimic how you feel when you’re say…. hot and bothered.  Gull Valley Greenhouses and The Cucumber Man are prime spots at the market to pick up some peppers to heat things up.

3. Avocados

avocado

We’re not sure exactly how lustful an avocado is; it could be the sensuous shape or the rich, creamy flavor of the fruit that warranted it being dubbed as an aphrodisiac.  But when its reputation goes as far back as the Aztecs, you can’t argue with history, right?  We won’t.  And neither will Cherry Pit or Blush Lane Organics, both brimming with ripe, ready-to-indulge avocados.

4. Chocolate

chocolate

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate?  Do you have to give your love bug a heart-shaped box of mass-produced chocolates?  No!  In fact, we invite you to stop by Papa Chocolat to spoil your taste buds with silky smooth, unique and sensual flavors like dark cayenne or lavender cream, hand-crafted  by Bernard Callebaut himself.

5. Honey

honey

Birds and bees ring a bell?   Sweet and sticky, honey is chalked full of healthy vitamins that are said to increase desire.  In fact, the word ‘honeymoon’ got its name from mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey given to the happy new bride and groom.  We have plenty of honey to be found around the market from the delicious Alpine Wildflower Honey at Beeland, Nixon Honey at Innisfail Growers Co-op, Chinook Honey at LA CUCINA, and Saskatoon Berry Honey from the Saskatoon Berry Farm.

6.  Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Nutmeg

Spice Collage

Nothing like spicing up your love life, literally.  Cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg all have ancient aphrodisiac roots spanning from Arabia to China; their warming properties really seem to heat things up if you know what we mean.  Swing by The Silk Road Spice Merchant for some exotic ways to enhance a meal or that cup of tea you’re enjoying all snuggled up by the fire.

Whatever way you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s a lovely occasion for you and your sweetheart.  And if you need a little more inspiration, check out our Valentine’s Day event and Enter to Win a Romantic Getaway to CRMR‘s Emerald Lake Lodge!

Super Bowl Fare

Whether you  favor the Seahawks or Broncos to win the 48th Super Bowl, one thing is for certain, you’re gonna need some food.  And if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s providing you with delicious (and easy) food options for your big party or small get-together.  We still have some of the incredible Grey Cup Grub, but our fantastic vendors are running some specials specifically for Super Bowl this Sunday.  Check ’em out:

Big D’s Smokehouse is running a killer special: ham coil, beef brisket, chili, coleslaw, potato salad and corn bread for only $50!!! (+tax)

Big D's Super Bowl

Sandwiched

Want some delicious Hot Chicks for the Super Bowl?  Ok so that’s not exactly the kind of hot chick we were thinking of, but Sandwiched can take care of that for you… contact them by 4pm Saturday, February 1st to get your catering order in!  (Email sandwichedyyc@yahoo.ca)

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No party in Alberta is quite complete without jerky, and we now have Longview Jerky at the market!  They carry 19 different varieties of beef jerky, and they also have elk, chicken, and turkey jerky!

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Whipping up a batch of nachos?  You’ll need a wicked tasty bowl of guacamole and Cherry Pit has the easiest whip-it-together-in-less-than-3-minutes guacamole ever.  And it’s damn tasty.

Guacamole

And we can’t forget the mainstay football party grub: chicken wings!  Wild Fire Wings has a whopping deal: buy 3lbs of their killer organic Sunworks Farms wings, and receive the 4th pound FREE!

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For more great one-stop party food ideas, check this out.  We’ve got ya covered.

Warm Winter Salad

Winter Salad 7

With a New Year often comes resolutions, or rather goals… some of them are lofty and some mere lifestyle changes.  Regardless of how wild or realistic your resolutions, we are confident we can help keep you on track.  Healthy eating doesn’t need to be all drab diets and crazy cleanses full of listless salads, murky smoothies, and lack luster mains.  No, it can be invigorating, delicious, and easy!  This warm winter salad is perfectly seasonal with sweet potato, beets, carrots… and local too, even better.  AND, it’s warm so you can still feel cozy on those chilly January eves without breaking the calorie bank.  Eat as a main or as a side to lean protein and you’re set!

Market Sourced Ingredients

1 small sweet potato (about 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces

3 multi-colored carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

3 small red beets & 1 golden beet, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (candy cane beets are a gorgeous variety when in season)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup pistachios

2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (you can add an extra splash if you’d like a bigger kick)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a cookie sheet,  roast the sweet potato and beets for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until tender and lightly browned in spots.  Peel when cooled; slice beets  thinly and cube the sweet potato.

Winter Salad Collage

Meanwhile, slice the carrots thinly using a mandoline or hand held slicer. And prepare the pomegranate seeds.  Set aside.

Mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, parsley, and salt & pepper in a mason jar and give it a good shake.

Winter Salad Collage 2

Drizzle the dressing on the vegetables to coat. Add pistachios. Season with flaked salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately or at room temperature.