When you think of farm-to-table eating, a shopping centre isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind. But Square One is changing that with The Food District, which is bringing a little bit of country to the city this summer. Every Saturday, a corner of The Food District is transformed into a bustling market complete with fresh produce, cheese, and flowers. Plus, two very important words: free samples, and plenty of them! Here’s the lowdown on the local vendors you can expect to find on your next visit.
This Waterdown farm has been in the same family for five generations, so you know they know their stuff. At Drummond Farms, they’re all about growing the best apples (20 different varieties to be exact), and they don’t use wax to preserve the crunch. One bite and you’ll be able to taste the difference. Fun fact: Their Sweet Apple Cider sells out every weekend, so get there early to avoid disappointment.
As you can tell from the name, this farm specializes in all things ostrich-related, from meat (unlike other poultry, ostrich meat is classified as red meat) and eggs to oil, leather and feathers. Fun fact: Cleopatra allegedly used ostrich oil as part of her beauty regimen, and she was obviously on to something. The oil is known for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties.
Sabana Fresh Latin Cheese
Sabana’s cheeses are inspired by Venezuelan tradition, but made here in Ontario in small batches with fresh, pasteurized cow’s milk. They sell several different varieties from soft (Queso Blanco, a creamy white cheese) to firm (Queso Picante, a spicy white cheese). Fun fact: Their grilled cheese on a stick (it’s exactly what it sounds like, but better than you can imagine) is a crowd favourite.
Secret Lands Farm
This family-run sheep farm combines European tradition with new technology in order to produce the highest quality sheep dairy products (as well as hormone-free lamb). Popular offerings include yogurt parfaits, kefir smoothies and halloumi cheese (ask for a taste test!). Fun fact: Sheep’s milk is actually higher in vitamins and minerals than both cow’s and goat’s milk. It is also much easier to digest; making it an ideal choice if you have a lactose sensitivity.
You’re probably familiar with the Italian dessert panettone, but we’re willing to bet you haven’t heard of panforte—until now that is. The dense cake is available here in two varieties: Panforte Margherita, made with walnuts and figs; and Panforte Nero, made with cranberries and hazelnuts. Fun fact: Victoria’s panfortes are vegetarian (no dairy, no eggs), as well as free from artificial ingredients and preservatives.