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Luxury Farmers’ Markets?

June 26, 2012

Shangri-La-Farmer's-Market-Entrance

Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel hosted its first farmers’ market this weekend. If you’re not from around here, allow me to explain why this is significant. The Shangri-La is one of Vancouver’s fanciest hotels, which is home to one of Vancouver’s top restaurants, Market by Jean-Georges. (“Market” hosts a farmers’ market – pretty clever). But really, only in Vancouver is no one surprised when a shmancy hotel decides to put on a farmers’ market. After all, isn’t a farmers’ market the complete opposite of luxury? Well, perhaps judging by the steep prices at some of the farmers’ markets I’ve been to around here, it’s not that much of a leap. But that’s not the point. It’s not exactly a logical fit. But I do think it’s an awesome idea. An idea I liked all the more once being handed one of their delicious complimentary cocktails…

Shangri-La-Farmer's-Market-2

I think Shangri-La’s inaugural farmers’ market was a hit. The outdoor terrace was small, but it felt cozy, and the live music added greatly to the pleasant ambiance. There were several gourmet vendors selling foods ranging from desserts (macarons, baked goods, chocolates), to fruit/vegetables and salmon. Tinhorn Creek was also sampling two of their wines, a Cabernet Franc Rosé and Gewürztraminer (I preferred the latter). And executive Chef Harris was handing out treats made from the vendors’ food (salads, canapés ).

I like the concept. Bringing people together in an urban space, and creating a sense of community with a focus on good quality food. It was appreciated when the vendors provided some samples, and a little disappointing that a few did not – I think they would’ve sold more if they had offered even small morsels to try. But the hotel more than compensated with their lovely treats.

There will be two more such markets, dates to be announced, in August and September. The hotel anticipates inviting more vendors to the market. I look forward to the next one.

The closest thing I’ve seen to this was on my recent trip to Phoenix. I ate at Vincent Market Bistro, and the main upscale restaurant next door, Vincent, hosts a weekly farmers’ market. Not quite as luxurious, but similar idea in terms of a restaurant hosting a farmer’s market:

“The Camelback Market is designed to have a truly “European” flare with customers urged to take their time in wandering the stalls filled with the freshest local produce available, plus imported exotic fruits and vegetables. It also features warm, crusty breads, buttery croissants, homemade jams, exotic mustards.”

Have you heard of or been to an upscale farmers’ market? What are your thoughts?

Shangri-La-Farmers'-Market-Street

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