Farmers’ Market Troubadour #5 — Lansdowne Market!

Hi folks!

Last Sunday was a milestone event for sure, playing at one of the largest, busiest producer markets in the region — Ottawa’s Lansdowne Market.

Tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) I will be at the Memorial Centre Farmers Market in Kingston from 10am to about 1pm.

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Playing the Lansdowne Market is significant to me as I was an active, early participant as a chef on the advisory committee of Savour Ottawa, the joint effort between the City of Ottawa and Just Food that helped bring this very market to life (among other accomplishments…)

We at the Branch Restaurant were also in the first crop of vendors selling our concession to those early crowds of city folks… Coming back after all this time with just a guitar instead a van full of tents, tables, the smoker, firewood, and enough brisket, sausage and breakfast wraps to feed the entire CFL football audience at the stadium next door, felt like the very welcome last curve of a full circle…

The Market:

Lansdowne Market is on from 9am to 3pm, year round, it is a 100% ‘producer’s’ market (all product made or grown within 100km of Ottawa) located within the Aberdeen Pavilion footprint in the mildly posh Glebe neighbourhood in Ottawa. It sits in the shadow of the ‘Cow Palace’, a relic of the age of agricultural fairs in the city centre… And it is a few steps from Lansdowne Park, home of the RedBlacks, Ottawa’s very own professional CFL football team.

In the early days of this market, the pavilion grounds were a pretty spare and uninviting space, but it has undergone a massive face-lift since then and now boasts acres of manicured if somewhat manufactured spaces, including shops, cinemas, stores, restaurants — all set in a faux ‘downtown/village square’ arrangement that will likely feel natural once it’s been broken in by a few poverty cycles… For now it is a bit sanitized, not unpleasant, just not quite ‘home-y’ either. As a child of the 80s, I call these types of spaces ‘malls without roofs’ as that is my analog for such a vast & sterile community space. Weirdly, the malls from my teen years now feel the same way that the downtown areas did in that same time period… empty, worn, shabby, bygone… I guess this return to a village square/downtown, however inorganic, is probably just an expression of a natural cycle.

Parking, as I guess is to be expected in a proper urban area, is both mildly annoying to access and somewhat pricey to a yokel like me… Not to say it is a long haul with your haul if you do drive — in fact, once you’ve mastered the process of navigating the underground garage, it is very easy to shop here — the garage was half empty last Saturday (with no game or concert to compete), and two of the stairwells surface inside of the market footprint! I’m just saying to be aware that there is, what I would call, an ‘urban tax’ if you should happen to linger too long at the stalls…

The Music:

Holy Macaroni did I have a blast! I noted that this was a busy market — maybe bustling is a better word… or com-bustling maybe… it was certainly lit (hee-hee) Somewhere between the bright sunshiney weather, the crowds, the smiles and the familiar faces in the vendor stalls, I felt right at home strumming my tunes to the world… I kept spying wide grins, tapping toes, a stray pirouette, twirl, a jig… Highlights:

  • A shy kiddo wanted to watch and dad accommodated for about three songs– asked him for his favourite and we settled on Twinkle Twinkle, but I think he just wanted me to quit asking and get back to playing…
  • An older woman in a wheelchair brought her whole family over for ‘Imagine’ — tipped me once the middle and another $5 at the end! I know the song is kind of anti-capitalist, but I still felt pretty ok about the whole thing…
  • Her unabashedly femme son (he told me his drag name but I forgot…) asked for Grace Jones (sorry…) Stevie Wonder (uh… I will work on that?) I pulled out Marvin Gaye (mom liked it…) and Bowie (almost there…) before we hit on Jimmy Cliff’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ which turned into a full throat-ed, full family sing-along… I’m pretty sure he was a little skeptical of the market ‘folkie’ at first, but we were all smiling by the time they finally moved along
  • The highlight of the day (and my life?) was when I was 1 bar into Todd Snider’s version of ‘Enjoy Yourself’ and a couple that looked like they may very well have danced to Guy Lombardo’s original version back in the day hobbled up, he literally threw down his cane, and the two them cut a rug that made me feel like the oldest person in the crowd… The crowd and I all applauded them after the show and I am probably going to ride that smile through the next few gigs… It was more than the dance, it was the song they walked up on it that made it sooo perfect… “Enjoy Yourself — it’s later than you think!” and they did
  • I played a new John Denver song because, uh, it seems to work? I don’t think I realized what a all encompassing warm fuzzy glow that guy actually created until I started performing more and more of his stuff… Hmmmm…

The Vendors:

There are dozens of vendors so I won’t even try to be complete — but here are *my* highlights:

  • Acorn Creek — Andy got a mention in the Carp Market write up — he was on that first advisory committee I mentioned earlier and I wanted to let you know that I checked and he won’t have hot peppers until August…
  • Milkhouse — I stocked up on Tomme! I’ve been shaving it on omelettes this week and all I can say is wowowowowow
  • Frugal Farm — they were a client at the food hub and they use their own recipes for sausage… we had the lamb version on Wednesday and it was SOOO good…
  • Jargon Preserves – he told me it was the best preserved lemon I would ever try… He’s not 100% wrong…
  • Kamuso Miso — I’ve been reading up on Noma lately so this ferment company was particularly interesting to me… I picked up a Navy Bean miso on Saturday and it it 2/3 gone on the following Saturday, so…
  • All About The Soup, Waratah, Roots and Shoots, Trillium, Beaverbrook, Hill Top, Rochon, and Earth’s Harvest that have all gotten mentions in previous FMTs were all there (I said a couple of hellos from all of you…)
  • Avonmore Berry Farm had some gorgeous cherries… (check it out in the picture gallery…)
  • Popsicles from Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream seemed to be the hit of the day in at least one age group…
  • I wrapped up too late for lunch but there were grass fed burgers, Syrian, Thai, Empanadas, Falafels, and the famous Hot Potato Co. among others…
  • I know I’m missing some… I had to wait to write this and my notes were, um, in my head? And, like I said, there are dozens of vendors. Just go ahead and go, you will find something you like 🙂

The Coffee Sitch:

I had a full cup with me when I got there so it was not as ‘situation critical’ as it can sometimes be for me — which I guess is a good thing… Poppa Bean was selling beans but not cups of the hot brown… (that I could see…) I did not check all the concessions but I bet one of them would have had an option… Only takeout cups I saw with logos were from the Whole Foods (walking distance) which I bet was pretty good if you don’t mind forking your hard earneds over to the Bezos factory…

The Conclusion:

In all, the day was lovely, the music fun, the crowds uplifting, the experience gratifying, the food tasty… I always recommend every market, but this one has a deep well of product to explore, so I can not only recommend it, I can recommend multiple visits… maybe just set aside a few extra shekels for the parking…

Thanks–

No Story Time but I’ll wrap with a note… Regular readers know I started my new job this week… I want to let you all know how happy I am with this new situation. I am just getting to learn the ropes at Gusto TV, but I can gladly report that it is a positive, creative, welcoming space with a ton of amazing people… I have not laughed as hard ‘on the clock’ in a very long time; what a pleasure to be surrounded by such smart folks!

The work is as challenging as I had hoped; and it makes me feel important to be an integral part of such a strong team — I am going to make every effort to make it last as long as possible. On a side note, don’t get too antsy to see my ‘work’ any time soon… The cycles and marketing realities of TV are something I am just getting to know but I can pretty confidently confirm that it will be months if not years before my part of any of the projects I am working on will be visible to the world… Writing in this medium, I am learning, is the first part of a loooong process, and more than slightly different than the ‘a la minute’ world I am used to in kitchens. But, in a way, that also makes me feel safe. I know I am surrounded by a big team who will, (their words, not mine), “…make me look really good no matter how bad I fuck it up…” (winking…) and honestly, that’s a safety net that few if any restaurants/kitchens could ever really promise or provide.

Last– I’d like to thank the world at large for the birthday wishes last week. I love you all, dearly, (except you… you know who I mean…) (winking again…) and I am grateful beyond words for the numerous well wishes I got for that, for the new job, and everything; this job, the market last week, quality time with Nicole and Abigail… it’s all been about as perfect a birthday as I could ever want. I even went an entire week without taking painkillers for my knees! It’s been a darn long time since that’s happened… so, happy birthday to me 🙂 Now speaking of being ‘beyond words…’

See you at the Market!

–The Farmers’ Market Troubadour

April 6: Bruce at Moose

McGuire’s…

Hi Folks!

Next Saturday (April 6) I am playing with Greg Kelly for the first time in way too long at his super fun Saturday songwriter’s showcase, Tunes after Noon, presented at Moose McGuire’s pub… If you are in Ottawa and want to hear some live stuff in a listening room, this could be the moment! I will have copies of the latest cd, A Perfect Cliché, on hand for those who are interested.

April 6 – 1-3pm, Tunes after Noon, Moose McGuire’s pub:
3320 McCarthy Rd, Ottawa, ON K1V 0X3

photo credit Brian Cote — This is me and Greg a few years back… After seeing this photo, we briefly considered starting a band called ‘Objects in Mirrors’ 😉

Also coming up– April 20 is a show in Wakefield at Kaffe 1870– Doug Hendry and his pal Libby Hortop are joining me for that one — here is a graphic for that that I spent way too much time on:

There are a number of Farmers’ Markets dates starting to roll in… just check out the calendar on the website if you are curious about those; I am starting to settle on some ideas for a blog series doing ‘reviews’ of each of the market gigs with a story, a song and a recipe for each date… it will be an email based blog so if you would like to join up, send me your email address here to subscribe: bruceenloemusic@gmail.com