I received an email a couple of weeks ago inviting me to attend the inaugural Hawkers Market in Edmonton. Hawkers Market, which has been running their markets in Vancouver over the last year, is “a food market that pops up to support local food entrepreneurs.” The event was to be held in the Mercer Warehouse and it seemed like a really cool idea, so I happily sent in my RSVP.
Despite the snowy weather and icy roads that Saturday night, when my friend, Jenn, and I arrived at Hawkers Market at about 6:45 it was already pretty busy. Mercer Warehouse provided a stark backdrop for local food entrepreneurs to showcase their creations and pounding music, provided by a local DJ, completed the underground, trendy vibe. Tickets, which only gained you admission to the market, were sold in advance for $10 and $15 at the door. Full disclosure, my tickets were complimentary.
Once we arrived at Hawkers Market we took some time to do a lap of the room, seeing what delicious morsels were available. There were maybe 8 or 9 different vendors, many familiar, such as Drift, Bully and XIX, and some were names I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t surprised to see so many of the local food trucks represented as it seemed like a natural fit for them during Edmonton’s cold winter.
I decided on trying a Burmese noodle dish, called khao swe, from Drift. The serving was small, but filling for the $5 price tag.
Jenn tried the gnocchi from XIX, for $7 I believe,and although everything was executed well, it unfortunately ended up being a little bland and really wasn’t much to look at… brown on brown on brown.
We were both craving dessert when we spied PBD, selling freshly made donuts. We placed our order, $5 for an assortment of 3 medium sized donuts. As we waited for our dessert, I asked the lady taking orders what their story was. She said that PBD stands for Paper Bag Donuts and that the chef making the donuts was actually one of the chefs at the Red Ox Inn. (Cue me going “ohhhhhhhhhhh” and looking really excited). For those who don’t know, the Red Ox Inn is probably one of the very best restaurants in the city.
We anxiously awaited our donuts, our expectations high and, let me tell you, the wait was worth it. I think any donut tastes better when it is fresh, but these were exceptionally good. There was a plain glazed donut, an apple fritter and the star of the show, a donut filled with lemon curd and rolled in sugar. The idea of a donut filled with goo usually grosses me out, but the lemon curd was luxurious and so delightfully, pucker your mouth, lemony. The donuts definitely stole the show for Jenn and I, so I asked PBD what their plans were. Unfortunately they were just doing it for fun, really, and might show up at more events such as Hawkers, but weren’t planning on opening up shop. Darn.
Jenn and I had a nice time at Hawkers Market although we did think it would have been nice to see some smaller portion sizes for a little less money. Also, although the South Island Pie Company was selling meat pies, it would be great to see some more local vendors selling take home food items to add to the market feel of the event.
After hanging out at Hawkers Market for a while, Jenn and I made our way upstairs to Roast, where I indulged in a Salted Caramel Latte and Jenn had a Soy Chai Latte. Not only were our drinks delicious, but I was reminded of what a wonderful spot Roast is. There is something special about the ambiance there and it was the perfect way to cap off our evening.
Now, for Christmas, I think it can be a great idea to spend time doing something fun with friends, family and loved ones rather than giving a physical item. Maybe gift a coffee date to Roast and some time exploring 124th street? Or give tickets to the next Hawkers Market on February 22? And if you do go, make sure to try the donuts if they are available!
I hope everyone is surviving this frigid Edmonton weather and not letting it get in the way of enjoying in the holidays!