Two dozen things we love about this place: Moss Street Market eats (3)

The Moss Street Market built its 22-year following with the best of the region’s local produce, preserves and crafts, and a festive, neighbourly vibe. It has also become a hub for local foodies drawn by an exceptional sampling of international food and locally sourced fare.

“The produce side is our foundation,” said market manager Kyle Goulet. “But the food has really kicked up a notch. It’s very diverse.”

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Goulet said the market’s motto is “Make it, bake it, grow it” and producers must be onsite to sell their products and answer queries — which makes a farmers’ market different from a public market. Most vendors display an ingredient list with too many Island and organic-sourced products to mention.

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Eating your way through the market won’t break the bank either; most items are under $10.

On a recent Saturday morning, wafts of barbecuing Galloping Goose sausages had already lured a crowd. The Metchosin-made sausages, served on a bun with sautéed onions, are a long-standing hit.

Same for the Wild West Salmon Grill BBQ burgers and the International Women’s Catering Co-op stand. The latter has a changing roster of dishes from around the world, including empanadas from Equador; a feta, mint and spinach-filled pastry called buraq from Iraq; samosas from India; and a selection of curries on Oromian rice.

Kendal Allnut went for a bag of pakoras after spotting another market-goer with some. She’s a semi-regular visitor and brought her daughter and dad, visiting from Vancouver, to explore.

“I love the fresh vegetables and the food, the sausage guy … and I’m curious about the tamales. I hear they’re amazing,” she said.

The market’s baking and sweets are an impressive mix of traditional and trendy — from the classic mini-doughnuts, pies and breads to Doughboys Donuts’ rhubarb ginger fritters, Phillips root beer and Denman Island chocolate-glazed and square-salted caramel doughnuts.

Some food vendors are downright artistic.

Byron Fry, of Fry’s Bakery, uses local heritage grains in his organic breads and pastries. Heavy sourdoughs and ryes are started up to a week before they’re baked, some so dense they weigh two kilograms and need to rest for 48 hours while the “fermenting enzymes settle,” he said. Fry’s mantra is, “Thank you for caring about real bread — not made by machines — made by real hands.”

Discovering Autumn Maxwell’s latest Cold Comfort ice cream creations is as fun as eating them. Check out her archive of nearly 200 flavours of ice cream pints, sandwiches and sorbets (coldcomfort.ca). Some highlights: buttermilk-bacon-prailine-maple ice cream, gin-and-tonic ice cream sandwiches and raspberry rose sorbet.

A crowd eating in voracious silence surrounded the Daidoco Japanese food truck, a market newcomer.

“It’s so amazing, right?” said one fellow, interrupting a couple hovered over a tray of daikon and kabu in soymilk cream sauce, komatsu-na with ginger buckwheat, green-bean noodle salad, beet, soybean, rice and slices of seared tuna tataki. “I’m a huge follower of his work.”

He was referring to Nao Ito, a local chef who sold his popular downtown restaurant — also called Daidoco — to try the food-truck business.

Ito said he’s following his dream of making fresh, simple, local food as close to the producers and customers as possible. Each week, he picks up his vegetables from Umi Nami farm in Metchosin and designs his weekend menu from there.

Fellow newbie Amir Jozi’s friends urged him to open the Shiraz Persian food stall this year. Wearing a white cowboy hat, he placed a skewer of tomatoes on the grill and dished a plate of locally raised beef kebab, rice and salad. His vegetarian specialty, ghaimeh, is an aromatic split-bean stew simmered with dried whole lemons.

The Moss Street Market operates May to October, every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Fairfield Road and Moss Street. Read all the Two Dozen Things We Love About This Place at timescolonist.com/twodozen

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