Thursday, 3 November 2011

Report on RIPE!

Meeru Dhalwala of Rangoli with her fantastic tomato paneer appetizers. Credit: Vancouver Foodster

 This year's RIPE Harvest Celebration proved a great success, raising over $16,000 for the Vancouver Farmers Markets! Highlights of the evening included the fantastic market food and drink prepared by some of Vancouver's most exciting chefs and mixologists, a live musical performance by Blackberry Wood, and a visit from our mayor Gregor Robertson!

We'd like to thank all of our generous RIPE sponsors, who helped make our event so successful. Gold sponsors included Golda's Finest Foods, Vancity, Edible Vancouver, Busters Towing, and River District/Parklane Homes. Our silver sponsor was Aquilini Investment Group, and Bronze sponsorship was provided by Fiore Foods, KLS Trademark Services, Peer 1 Hosting, and Renewal.

A further thanks goes out to Image West Graphics and Lonsdale Rentals for their generous in-kind sponsorships, and to our many media sponsors, including CityFood, Westender, Vancouver Foodster and Taste and Sip, Vancouver Is Awesome, Vancouver Observer, and Ariane Design. Special thanks to all of our vendor and community food and silent auction donors - the silent auction raised $3280!

And last but not least, we want to send big shouts out to all of our participating chefs, mixologists, and beer and wine sponsors: Bao Bei, Campagnolo, Meat & Bread, Rangoli, Save On Meats, Swallow Tail Supper Club, Tacofino, Tangled Vines Winery and Good Life Vancouver, and R & B Brewery for their contribution of the Bohemian Lager!

Meat & Bread's delicious braised Moroccan spiced lamb sliders with pickled cabbage, pea sprouts, and labna. Credit: Vancouver Foodster

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Trixie Blümel brings cocktail magic to RIPE dinner

credit: Doug Shanks

Trixie Blümel is a true cocktail wizard. I know this for a fact because I've had the pleasure of trying many of her epic drinks. Whether it's a Ramos gin fizz, and old fashion, or something more exotic she's concocted out her encyclopedic knowledge of boozy ingredients, each of her creations is a careful study in precision and imagination. Trixie is bar manager at the super hip Chinatown brasserie, Bao Bei, and we're excited to add her mixology magic to the RIPE line-up tomorrow night. She's opted for something on the spicy side, one of her newer creations that's become a big hit at the restaurant...

The Jinzi

A ruby-red combo of Gin, Mangalore Indian-Spiced Liqueur, and Fernet Branca, mixed with Fresh Lemon Juice, Rose Ginger Water, and finished with a flourish of Lemon Oils.

For more info on RIPE tickets, visit the website at:

Friday, 14 October 2011

Two days left to get your tickets to RIPE!

With under three days to go until our RIPE dinner fundraiser, the Vancouver Farmers Markets want to send a big thank you out to all of the volunteer chefs, board members, and staff coming together to bring you the food event of the harvest season! In particular, we want to shout out to the folks at Save On Meats and Tacofino who are presenting the main meal Sunday night. The following is a list of what you can expect to feast on at RIPE...

   - Velvet Squash & Apple Soup with Save On's Own Toasty Croutons  
   - Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Gelderman Farms' Pork Crackling
   - Purist Salad - Mixed Greens with Save On's Own Oil & Vinegar Dressing
   - Marinated Local Tuna with Green Beans and Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing
   - Roast Broccoli & Fingerling Potatoes with Toasted Hazelnuts
   - Chevre, Chard & Kale Phyllo 'Lasagna'
   - Slow Roasted R&B Brewery Marinated Gelderman Farms' Pork with Fall
     Apple & Pear Compote

 To order tickets on-line, visit our website at:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Rangoli adds spice to RIPE line-up

Earlier this year, Vancouver Farmers Markets had the pleasure of nominating restaurateur Meeru Dhalwala of Vij's and Rangoli to our board of directors. Meeru's passion for sharing her cooking skills, connection to local food producers, and desire to increase access of farmers markets to lower-income families have made her an asset to the organization. She is also one of the featured chef's at this Sunday's RIPE event, at which she will present a spicy combo of tomato, onion, and homemade paneer on top of a rustic bread from A Bread Affair. Appetizer and cocktail hour will start at 4pm at the Creekside Community Centre, followed up by a buffet-style feast prepared by the folks at Save On Meats and Tacofino. Stayed tuned for more details on the main menu...

For more info and to order RIPE tickets, visit the website at:

Friday, 7 October 2011

Campagnolo at RIPE

For the last three years, Campagnolo has been our casual, yet elegant Italian neighbour-vendor at the Wednesday Main Street Market. They buy at the market, they sell at the market (hand made pasta, in case you didn't know), and prepare a menu exclusive to the Wednesday market throughout the summer months. For this reason alone we would be thrilled to include them in this year's RIPE celebration, but they've also been known to cook up some seriously delicious rustic faire.

For RIPE, Chef Adam plans to present a savory eggplant bruschetta incorporating organic garlic from Klippers Organics, eggplant from Hill Top Farm in Oliver, BC, along with ricotta cheese, chilies, and olive tapenade, all served up on Purebread's hearty baguette. Doesn't that sound delicious? Our mouths our watering already...

For more info on RIPE tickets, please visit our website at:, or pick them up at the market this weekend!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Meat & Bread Bring Tasty Offerings to RIPE Event

If you haven't yet paid a visit to the busy lunchtime sandwich shop nestled into the heritage building at 370 Cambie St, you're in for a treat. Meat & Bread, front runners of a growing trend of local "fast" food delis, cafes, and daytime eateries, prepare a small selection of tasty meat and grilled cheese sandwiches in a warm, communal environment where they invite you to sip local beer, wine, and cider and finish off with bacon maple ice cream.

For this year's RIPE celebration, we're pairing these guys with the folks at Wenger Sheep Farm up in Williams Lake, producers of naturally raised lamb and a variety of other sheep products. Meat & Bread plan to prepare curry braised lamb sliders on mini versions of their trademark ciabatta buns. We're thrilled to have them and our other restaurant participants at RIPE this year and look forward to what will surely be the meal of the autumn season!

For more info on RIPE, or to purchase tickets, please visit the website at:

Grass-fed sheep at Wenger Sheep Farm

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

RIPE has a Play Date with Growing Chefs!

We're excited to announce that Growing Chefs will be hosting kids activities at this year's RIPE event! Helen and crew will help the little ones paint their own garden pot, plant a winter vegetable seedling, and play vegetable exploration games from 4pm - 6pm at RIPE. For more details on RIPE tickets, etc. visit our website at:

Growing Chefs are also hosting an dinner gala of their own: From Farms to Forks, on October 23rd at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Guests can wander from kitchen to kitchen at the Institute and watch the chefs in action as they enjoy tasting plates, canapes, and cocktails from such restaurants as C, La Brasserie, Pear Tree Restaurant, Vij's, and West, to name a few. For more details on the Farms to Forks event, visit the Growing Chefs website at:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Swallow Tail comes to RIPE!

VFM is excited to introduce Chef Robin of Swallow Tail Supper Club as one of the local chefs participating in RIPE this year. A self-confessed wild food and wine obsessive, Robin enjoys nothing more than foraging for edibles like sea lettuce, pine mushrooms, and cleavers (to name just a few) to present at her underground supper club. These popular underground suppers, held at various "pop up" locations around the city, are culinary adventures that explore the finer, more exotic aspects of local and wild food.

At this year's RIPE celebration, Swallow Tail plans to present wild mushroom pate on a bed of micro greens along with deep fried root vegetable chips - yum!

For more info on Swallow Tail Supper Club, Tours, and Events visit Chef Robin's website at:

Stay tuned for more tantalizing sneak peaks of RIPE's dinner menu as we get closer to the time of the event! For info on RIPE tickets, visit the website at

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Save the Date! The 3rd Annual RIPE: A Harvest Dinner Celebration

On October 16th, the Vancouver Farmers Markets will host our annual fundraising event: RIPE: A Harvest Dinner Celebration, at the Creekside Community Centre from 4pm - 8pm. RIPE is a casual, family-style feast that features local chefs preparing seasonal dishes using farm product from market vendors. This year, RIPE will showcase chefs from Campagnolo, Meat & Bread, Rangoli, and Swallow Tail Secret Supper Soiree along with local beer, wine, and cocktails, a fabulous silent auction, and live entertainment. Tickets are available at all of the markets, and on-line at Prices are $50 for VFM members, $65 for non-members, and $25 for children under 12.

Stay tuned to our blog for more sneak peak tidbits on the menu and cocktail offerings leading up to the night of the event!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Spotlight On: Empire Valley Beef

Spring grazing on the open grasslands

 Joyce and John Holmes live a life that most of us only see in the movies, specifically spaghetti westerns from the mid-60's. Stewards of an epic tract of BC Parks land known as the Churn Creek Protected Area, the Holmes raise their cattle on a ranch founded in the 1860's by settler families heading north to the gold rush. Through careful management and close observation of the natural grazing patterns of their animals, the Holmes have worked to rehabilitate the native grasslands of the Empire Valley Ranch and made tremendous improvement to the previously overgrazed areas of the land. In 2008, they received the BC Rangelands Management Award, and their ranch is the only operating ranch owned by the Ministry of Environment. Empire Valley Beef is the result of their conscientious approach to ranching - healthy, delicious and humanely-raised beef, lamb, and chicken available year-round at several Vancouver Farmers Markets locations. We asked Joyce Holmes to tell us more about her super-cool cowgirl life...

How long have you been ranchers?   I grew up on my parents' ranch - born and raised rancher. John grew up working for ranches.

Can you explain land stewardship and how your operation works?   Land stewardship is taking care of and improving land and its' habitat. BC Parks purchased the ranch in 1998 to protect the most prestigious native grass - the blue bunch wheatgrass. This grass is very high in protein, and healthier than any hay grown in the world. It grows very early in the spring, providing excellent nutrients and energy to the livestock. We take pride in rehabilitating the native grasslands here at Empire Valley Ranch. We make sure we don't overgraze any part of the ranch and have a 2 year grazing rotation, allowing units of land a full year to grow naturally and uninhibited. We've discovered the perfect number of animals the ranch can easily maintain without ever running out of grass.

How big is the ranch?   The original ranch before BC Parks purchased it was 28, 000 acres, plus another 300, 000 acres grazing lease on crown range. It's now known as the Churn Creek Protected Area, and John and I leased the land in 1998 and became stewards of the Empire Valley Ranch.

What breeds of cattle do you raise?   We are 95% Angus, and 5% British breed. We don't raise any fancy heritage varieties but are working towards a premium grass finishing line of Angus cattle. 

Why are some of your cattle grass finished, while other finished on grain?   There are still a large number of people that like to have the extra marbling of grain finished beef. In the last four years there has been a tremendous shift towards grass only, and it is our goal to be 100% grass finished in the future.

Are your chickens completely free range and pasture fed, or do they get some grain?   Our chickens are pasture grazed from the time they're old enough to live outside of the warm, protected house. Chickens are a natural grain animal, so they do receive organic grain as baby chicks and then they're weaned off to 75% grass and bugs with a little grain. They roam the ranch and barn yard, but go in at night so the coyotes and foxes don't have a free meal!

How many animals do you raise in a year?   We own 600 mother cows and calves - in the fall about 1200 cattle total. Currently, there are 20 sheep, and 80 chickens.

Are there a lot of beef-raising ranches in the area? Do they take the same care with their livestock?   Our nearest neighbour is 20 km away, and there are a couple of ranches on the east side of the Fraser River that are 40 km away. Most don't practice grazing rotation because they either own or manage the ranch and are trying to pay for land, livestock, and expensive machinery. Most of them are sadly overstocked which in the short and long term kills the grassland.

Empire Valley Beef can be found on select dates at the Trout Lake and Kitsilano markets. For more info, visit their website:

The Holmes family at home on the range