La Boheme Creperie: Crepes at Trout Lake Farmers Market
La Boheme Creperie
East 15th Avenue and Victoria Drive, Vancouver
I love farmers markets for the same reason that I love food carts: the food stories! Direct contact with the food vendors is a great way to learn more about food and the cultural stories behind the stuff we eat. Grocery shopping at big box stores has become such a dull and mechanical activity nowadays, just another task to tick off the to do list, especially with the new self check-out cash registers (even London Drugs has them!) at many grocery stores. You can go through a whole grocery shopping trip at Safeway and not talk to a single soul, let alone learn the history behind heirloom tomatoes from the produce section. All the big box stores have countless varieties of ready-made frozen entrees, stocked deli counters and aisles and aisles of already prepared sauces, dressings and canned goods, cooking isn’t even an adventure any more. Gone are the days of visiting the grocery store for cooking inspirations. Well it’s totally different at farmers markets such as Trout Lake Farmers Market.
At Trout Lake Farmers Market, you not only get to buy rare and unique food items like the Japanese Turnips (Hakurei) in the photo below, but you can also buy fresh flowers, get your face painted and even dine at a few food carts. As I was taking the below picture, at least five different people walked up to the table, wondering out loud what those little white balls with stems were. The food vendor was quick to address the questions and talk about the production of Japanese Turnips. This is the type of dialogue that would rarely happen in the produce section of Safeway or Save on Foods.
There is also no arguing the freshness of the fruit and vegetables at Trout Lake Farmers Market. The tips and bottoms of the carrots and beets were still speckled with dirt, as if they were freshly picked that morning. And the variety of rare fruits and vegetables is incredible. At the Organic Farm Connection tent, you can buy a great sampling of all different types of greens from their Mix and Match salad bar. It’s a great showcase of local farming and what BC has to offer.
There were also fish and beef vendors at the market, with the backs of their trucks open revealing freezers chock full of fresh meat. The blue Empire Valley Premium Beef tent displayed a handy chart of a cow and all the cuts of meat available. Just in time for barbecue season.
The was also lots of fresh fruit at the market. I decided on the biodynamic cherries from Harvey’s Orchards. Biodynamic refers to the method of farming practiced by Harvey’s Orchards, in which the entire farmland is treated as one isolated ecosystem with each plant feeding off the other to create a healthy, continuous cycle. The cherries were smaller than what I was used to seeing from the grocery store. A few of the cherries were tart but the very ripe ones had a deep sweetness to them. They went great with my waffles the next morning with some chocolate sprinkles and a dollop of whipped cream.
The best part about Trout Lake Farmers Market are the food carts! Forming a semi-circle at the end of the market, these fancy carts can rival the ones on Portland’s famed food cart street. Bonchaz also has a tent at the Trout Lake Farmers Market but they were right in the middle of the action, mid-way through the market a few stalls away from the food cart corner. I can vouch for Bonchaz’s incredibly delicious baked buns, check out my review from last summer.
The other food carts include Whistler Wood Fired Pizza Co., there was literally a wood fired oven set up under their tent; a chili tent, the chili was cooked inside a tank, a real, camouflage green tank and of course, Vancouver’s famous Roaming Dragon Truck was set up and the entire time that I was at the market, there was a steady long queue of hungry customers in front of the truck. Thank goodness I have already visited them countless times in downtown Vancouver for my pork belly sliders fix.
Since I had a craving for fruit and crepes, I decided to line up at La Boheme Creperie, the pink food cart with two chalk board menus propped up beside it: one for savoury crepes and the other for sweet crepes. I narrowed in on the sweet crepes, I was determined to have something with fruit in it so I decided on the local strawberries with lemon honey ricotta. Strawberries, cheese and honey, how could I go wrong with that winning combo?
There was only one problem: this had to be the messiest crepe to eat with the dripping strawberry juice and the liquid concoction of honey and moisture from the ricotta cheese. But boy, was it worth it! I got the red strawberry juice all over my fingers and lips like a little kid by the end, but I’d happily eat ten more of these crepes. At first, I was apprehensive about the buckwheat crepe since in Paris, buckwheat is only used for savoury crepes, the sweet ones were usually wrapped in a more fluffy, cake flour, yellow crepe. But it was great that La Boheme Creperie used buckwheat because the stiff texture of the crepe really held its structure, pocketing all the ingredients in a neat package. The neutral taste of the crepe also let the naturally sweet strawberries shine through, and the refreshing zing from the lemon honey ricotta added the perfect punch of summery flavour. I also loved the creaminess of the ricotta binding the rest of the ingredients together. Not to mention that with its two fresh basil leaves sticking out the sides, this crepe was almost too pretty to eat!
For those of you who like swag, Trout Lake Farmers Market is part of a larger organization: Vancouver Farmers Markets, and yes, they sell t-shirts along with lots of other branding goodies: coffee mugs, buttons and bags. These can be found in a red tent at the end of the market.
Trout Lake Market opens early at 9 am every Saturday and closes after lunch at 2 pm so if you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, wake up early and check out the market. Rumor has it Meat and Bread will be setting up shop at the market tomorrow.