There’s nothing like the first bite of a homegrown tomato. Sprinkle a little pepper and it’s almost a meal on its own. The farm to table movement has been alive in Hamilton for years; since the late 90’s, LaPiazza Allegra chef Mark Farrugia has been using fresh produce grown in his Father-in-law’s garden. The Bread Bar on Locke Street is built around the use of local ingredients. Other local restauranteurs including The Butcher and Vegan on Barton Street, Aberdeen Tavern in the city’s west end and many others all have constructed menus around seasonal products within a short radius of Hamilton.
With the explosion in popularity of the Food Network, restaurants are even more desired meeting places for experiences with friends and family. The bi-product of this is the rise in “home cooks”, replicating recipes in their own kitchens. The positive news is there is a wealth of sources to purchase ingredients with their origins right here in the city.
At The Hamilton Farmers Market on York Blvd, more than 70 vendors offer a range of produce, meats, breads, and fresh prepared foods. The hours encourage everyone to visit. Lunch breaks, a stop on the way home from work, or part of Saturday morning errands. There’s always a time to plan a trip and stock up the fridge.
In Ancaster, the weekly market open Wednesday’s from 3-7pm draws a mix of regular and rotating vendors and feature live music and activities for kids. At the same time, fresh produce, meat pies and other goodies offer an engaging outing for families. Saturday mornings the landscape on Locke Street is enhanced by local produce vendors setting up where Locke is intersected by Herkimer Street. On Ottawa Street, Saturday mornings include their fresh produce market enhanced by coffee, baked goods, nuts and flowers.
The fusion of locally grown products, restaurants and chefs is making Hamilton a culinary hot spot and spurring some of the most innovative menus and food concepts found anywhere in the province. It’s also fostering a stronger community, one that supports – and even relies on – local small business. The next time you consider shopping for ingredients for your next big meal, consider where they come from. Consider the local impact. You are, after all…what you eat.
– Brent Kinnaird
Business Administration ’94
Follow Brent @brentkinnaird