by Michelle Sproule | Vancouverites are very familiar with the delicate transition that they’re in the midst of right now. Truly, it’s not until we get hit with the first week of hardcore rain that we really accept that summer is actually over. Don’t let it weigh you down. There are so many good things about our city in the colder months. Our favourites include the gentle sound of raindrops falling on a calm ocean, the dreamy-steamy windows of cafes as people congregate and connect over coffee, the warming effects of hot ramen and – perhaps most welcome – fewer tourists.
Don’t get me wrong, we love our summer visitors. Their curiosity and enthusiasm reminds us not to take the amazing city we live in for granted. But they do make it harder to roll into Granville Island to pick up groceries for day-to-day living. So while the rain might bring puddles, it also makes the 3pm urge to whip down to The Market for provisions and a honey-dip donut a possibility again. Here are a dozen reasons – listed in no particular order – for welcoming the annual reclamation of Granville Island Public Market:
1. THE GRAINRY | From oats and chickpeas to natural liquorice and pistachios, the Grainry has saved us on more than one occasion when we’ve realized at the last minute that we need one specific ingredient to complete a recipe. The small corner stall is lined with bulk dispensers and imbued with a subtle hippy vibe. Bonus: they have nicely proportioned bags of natural gummy bears conveniently located right next to the cashiers desk.
2. BENTON BROTHERS | Not only do these guys have a thoughtful and extensive selection of cheese, but they’re also great at pairing cheeses with one another for the full cheese board experience. It’s fun to choose one anchor profile and have them send you home with a few complementary pieces to take you in directions you didn’t know you wanted to go on. Also, we’re suckers for imported French butter. Damn that stuff is good!
3. KNOWLEDGE | One of the most underrated things about shopping at The Market is the depth of knowledge that comes with your experience. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to staff in these slightly slower traffic times. There is so much honest interest and passion from the people behind the food. Jump in and have a good time with it. Talk regions and varieties of oils at the immensely knowledgable Vancouver Olive Oil Company or take a few minutes with Loris at Zara’s Deli and get schooled on olives. Get schooled on mushrooms. Move slowly and connect.
4. SEAFOOD CITY | It’s pretty rad to be able to score fresh-from-the-boat seafood. The variety is amazing. With oyster season approaching, we’re looking forward to regularly loading up on the full spectrum of tasty bivalves. If you aren’t sure which variety is the one for you, the staff at Seafood City are great at explaining the subtle differences in taste profiles and textures. Also, the crabs are still cool to watch (even if you’re not a kid anymore).
5. SIEGEL’S BAGELS | It’s usually our first stop — a toasted sesame seed bagel with a little butter is great grocery shopping fuel (plus 1/2 dozen of the Rosemary Rock Salt to take home).
6. GRANVILLE ISLAND TEA CO. | From green, white and herbal to black, rooibos and oolong, there are over 150 types of tea here. Staff are super accommodating and will bring any tin you want to the counter so that you can see and smell what you’re getting yourself into. Try the Russian Earl Grey or Jasmine Dragon Tears to take home and the blended Chai latte topped with ginger and cayenne pepper for your market wander.
7. OYAMA SAUSAGE CO. | Toulouse-Style sausage paired with beans and veggies makes great cold-weather comfort food for a weeknight dinner. We definitely make a point of stocking up on those, but our favourite Oyama activity is to line up a charcuterie platter for the weekend. Fennel salami, Okanagan red wine prosciutto (the delicate sake prosciutto when it’s available), some soppressata and a little truffle salami always does nicely.
8. SOUTH CHINA SEAS TRADING CO. | It’s smart to go into any grocery shopping situation with a plan, but sometimes when we aren’t sure what we are going to make for dinner, we stop here for inspiration. The wall of cookbooks is a good starting place, but all the super cool ingredients immediately at hand will make you want to try all kinds of new things. From tortillas, Queso Fresco and cilantro to sesame oil, wasabi root and “the best garlic in town”, we not only rely on SCS for household staples but also uncommon joys, like pre-squeezed key lime juice for perfect margaritas.
9. TERRA BREADS | With numerous locations around the city, we are more than well acquainted with the goods at Terra Breads. When we pick up cheese, meats and oils at The Market, it’s nice to know we can also pick up the perfect bread to accompany it all. We usually grab the walnut bread or a baguette and we ALWAYS tack on one of those crazy good Belgian brownies.
10. ZARA’S | Olives, salads and pasta – we go through a lot of all of those things at home and The Market has some great options for replenishing reserves. We like to stop at Zara’s. Loris is so happy to make recommendations and explain flavour profiles, plus, he’s always sending his customers to other vendors who can help to make the overall experience even better. He’ll point you in the direction of a great bread to go with his dip or the best tomatoes to work with the pasta he’s just selected for you. Loris is all about community and that’s always nice to see.
11. LEE’S DONUTS | I can never leave without a box of these. Right now they’re rocking the Pumpkin Spice doughnut (people go insane for them), but we’ve been hitting Lee’s for our doughnut fix since childhood and the old school honey-dip always figures high in our precious 1/2 dozen, as well as a chocolate mint buddy and a jelly or two for good measure.
12. PARKING | It seems petty to focus on it, but finding somewhere to park on Granville Island in the summer months can be a monumental pain. This is the season to take advantage of all the free spaces adjacent to The Market and do a serious shop.