124 Street Grand Market 2013 Kick-Off

While the City Market is my go-to destination for seasonal produce and other groceries, the 124 Street Grand Market is a great mid-week destination for a fun evening out. In its first year, it did a great job highlighting the fact that a market isn’t just a shopping hub, but also a place for people to meet, eat, and linger. Their “food truck alley” encouraged patrons to expect great dinner options, and an expanse of tables to enjoy supper al fresco. The musical buskers were a bonus, and created a lovely atmosphere in which to drink in long summer nights.

124 Street Grand Market

Welcome!

The 2013 season for the 124 Street Grand Market kicked off this evening. The skies threatened rain, but this didn’t deter the modest crowds from celebrating the market’s return.

124 Street Grand Market

124 Street Grand Market

124 Street Grand Market

The Misery Mountain Boys

Four trucks offered plenty of options, and included Drift, Nomad, Little Village and Sailin’ On. My sister and I took this opportunity to give Sailin On’s vegan dishes a spin, and ordered the BLT ($8), containing coconut bacon, lettuce, tomato, carrot, and a homemade garlic vegan mayo.

124 Street Grand Market

Sailin’ On

We weren’t sure what to expect from the coconut bacon, but after trying it, were shocked at how the texture and taste so closely mimicked meat bacon. We learned that the coconut bacon was comprised of roasted coconut flavoured with spices, but besides a hint of coconut, it was a pretty impressive stand-in!

124 Street Grand Market

Felicia was almost fooled!

We also indulged in an ice cream sandwich from Cookie Love. Over the weekend, they picked up their bicycle-powered cart from Portland, and though it isn’t quite finished (awaiting decals and an umbrella), it was ready for its first trial run at the market.

124 Street Grand Market

Mike from Cookie Love

I bought an ice cream sandwich ($5), made up of a double chocolate chip cookie, regular chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream. The cookies were thin enough to make it easy to eat, and were as soft as they could be having come out of a freezer. It was a nice treat on a warm night.

124 Street Grand Market

Ice cream sandwich

It was great to see some new vendors out as well, including Duchess. Giselle explained that although the shop was quite busy on market nights, it made sense to have an actual presence at the market. To sweeten the deal for shoppers, Duchess developed specific products that are exclusive to the market, such as marshmallow macarons and a line of bottled drinks. As you can expect from Duchess, everything was beautifully-packaged and gift ready!

124 Street Grand Market

Duchess iced teas and lemonades

This market is also a great place to find funky treasures and gifts. Tonight, we stumbled upon Kristine MacDonald’s “yeglaces”, silver/copper charms in the shape of our fair city, with a river etched through it.

124 Street Grand Market

Yeglaces

Although I don’t (yet) own a bike, it was such a novel idea to have a bike repair specialist on-site. Instead of park and ride, how about a tune-up and dinner?

124 Street Grand Market

Dusty Pedals

Congrats to Krista and her team on a great first day!

124 Street Grand Market
108 Avenue & 124 Street
Every Thursday evening from 4-8pm until October 3, 2013

Date Night: 124 Grand Market and Cococo Chocolatiers

Mack still hadn’t been to the 124 Grand Market, the current darling of the local food scene, so we decided to make it a date – why do dinner and a movie when you can do dinner at a market?

124 Grand Market

124 Grand Market

We hopped on a bus after work and joined the hoards gleefully enjoying another perfectly clear night out at the market (we joked with 124 organizer Kirsta Franke that this number of rain-free market days must be some sort of record).

124 Grand Market

Kirsta and roommate!

As expected, the seating area was jam packed for the dinner hour – Nomad and Drift had been mobbed early, and they were each already sold out of a few items (Mack and I kicked ourselves a little for missing Drift’s buttermilk fried chicken sandwich). Still, we were more than satisfied with a farm egg and pork belly sandwiches and a shared poutine.

124 Grand Market

Dinner time!

124 Grand Market

Mack loves egg sandwiches

124 Grand Market

Drift’s poutine with red wine beef gravy

One of the great things about farmers’ markets in Edmonton is the inevitability of running into someone you know! Among them tonight was the Walters family, who enjoyed the poutine as much as we did.

124 Grand Market

Michael, Kara and their sons

We didn’t buy much (not having our reusable bag really hindered my shopping impulse), but enjoyed perusing the vendors, especially those who don’t vend at the City Market. The first week out, there weren’t too many grocery vendors (meat, produce), but it would now be possible to fill one’s fridge quite nicely with their current mix.

124 Grand Market

Steve & Dan’s

124 Grand Market

Victoria Farm (they had some gorgeous kale)

124 Grand Market

Mojojojo Pickles (Jo’s turnip pickles are to die for!)

We did pick up a box of greens from Lactuca (grown in a yard just two blocks away from the market), and some doughnuts from Heritage Baked Goods – when else have you encountered a pink lemonade doughnut?

124 Grand Market

Heritage Baked Goods

As we watched the crowds go by, Mack and I tried to find out the reasons why this market has taken on such a life of its own so early on (especially given there are a number of long-standing Thursday evening markets, as well as newer ones). Is it 124th’s proximity to downtown or to Oliver, Edmonton’s most populous neighbourhood? The eclectic mix of farmers, handmade goods and prepared foods? The food trucks? The thoughtful marketing and publicity? Or its location on Edmonton’s up-and-coming street, anchored by hip tenants Duchess and Cafe Tiramisu? Regardless of the reason, Kirsta has definitely made the 124 Grand Market the place to be! Between the food and good selection of vendors, it’ll be worth your while to check it out yourself.

After the market, we walked over to Cococo Chocolatiers (the rebranded company that purchased Bernard Callebeaut out of receivership). They relocated a block south into the old McElheran’s discounted furniture storeroom at 10103 124 Street, and have transformed the unremarkable space into a bright and appealing retreat.

Cococo

Cococo Chocolatiers

We weren’t too interested in chocolate today, but there’s no doubt on another occasion we would take the time to look through the vast display cases. Instead, we made a beeline for the gelato, which in my opinion is among the best in the city.

Cococo

Refreshing raspberry gelato

We opted to cool off in the air-conditioned space, but some patrons enjoyed their treats outdoors on Cococo’s limited patio. With such a vast (and unnecessarily large) parking lot, I hope Cococo considers expanding their outdoor seating with a proper, attractive patio. It definitely would help grab the attention of passersby – at the moment, the signage is small and it isn’t clear a chocolate oasis awaits within.

Comfortably cooler, Mack and I decided to walk home, enjoying the evening breeze. All in all, a great date night – thanks, Mack!

Opening Day: 124 Street Grand Market

Given the 124 Street Grand Market is just a ten minute bus ride from my office, I had no excuses not to check it out on its opening day this evening!

124 Street Grand Market

124 Street Grand Market

The weather was the nicest its been since Sunday, perfect conditions for a stroll at an outdoor farmers’ market. It was still very early when I arrived, but shoppers were already out in full force. I have to say I applaud the market for not being afraid to choose a location without a dedicated parking lot nearby, and encouraging folks to use transit and other means of transportation.

124 Street Grand Market

Loved Rota’s “built in” tent seating

I had initially thought the Grand Market would be set up in the old bus loop, but it turns out the organizers partially shut down the street. Tents lined both sides, with a narrow thoroughfare in between.

124 Street Grand Market

Shoppers

The bus loop, with its picnic tables, formed the perfect outdoor cafe for those looking for a bite to eat from Drift and Nomad who were both on hand.

124 Street Grand Market

Food trucks!

124 Street Grand Market

Dine al fresco

There were about two dozen vendors total, with a majority of them selling non-food items. I realize it’s still early in the season, but I hope as the months progress, the Grand Market adds many more fresh produce and protein vendors.

124 Street Grand Market

Garden Squirrel Soaps

124 Street Grand Market

Studio Bloom

Lactuca piqued my interest, an “urban salad green producer” that farms on a city lot in Westmount. They reminded me of Little Shoots Neighbourhood Farm who sold at the City Market last year, a producer who grew everything in an apartment in Edmonton.

124 Street Grand Market

Lactuca salad greens

The 124 Grand Market is joining two other Thursday evening markets in the Edmonton area – Salisbury (year-round) and Alberta Avenue (which opens June 7). It’ll be interesting to see how this new addition affects foot traffic at the other two markets, and which market producers will choose. I look forward to returning in the coming weeks to see what other vendors turn up!

The 124 Street Grand Market runs Thursday evenings from 5-9pm at 124 Street and 108 Avenue. Keep up to date on vendor lists at the 124 Grand Market website.