Sadly, the Knox outdoor market is no longer a thing. The community kitchen itself has also closed which is a loss for the Winnipeg food community and especially for the many small entrepreneurs who made use of it. Hopefully, more such spaces will pop up in the future.
Last April I was wandering down Edmonton and noticed the Knox Community Kitchen was open. This was just a couple of months after it started up. As the months have progressed the reach of this kitchen has continued to increase. Earlier this year I was there as part of a soup making contest in support of SoupBee. Then yesterday, I was invited to visit the market for the launch of the Knox Outdoor Community Cafe.
Right from the start, the Knox market has been about building community as well as giving entrepreneurs a place to build their skills and perfect their products. The Knox Outdoor Cafe takes this idea and brings it to the street. The market will be running every second Friday, from 11-1:30, during the summer months. While the food is great, it can be easy to overlook the other aspects that put the community into Community Cafe. As the sign below shows, there are other ways to enjoy the market than simply eating.
Among the things the cafe offers is a variety of table games provided by Knox United Church. Opposite the vendors there are also several tables under canopies where people can play games or sit down and join their food purchases. They also provide shade which is a benefit when the days are as hot as yesterday.
Lunch at the Outdoor Community Cafe
I arrived just a little after 11, and things were slowly getting into swing so I decided to take a little walk. By the time I got back I was ready to eat and decided to check out the tacos from Home Grown Catering. This was a phenomenal taco. It was a fish taco featuring lightly breaded pickerel, with lime coleslaw and chipotle mayo. He’s selling them for $3.00 and they are large. Not only large, but delicious, the pickerel was good and flaky and the chipotle mayo added just a hint of heat. This taco alone would be reason to visit the market.
Given that it was hot, I was looking for something cool to drink. I decided to head over to the Strong Badger booth to try one of their iced coffees. I sometimes like my iced coffee black, but I went with the milk and sugar. The sugar he was using was liquid, and it made the coffee sweet but not overly so. Talking with the owner, he said he was hoping to open a cart over the summer, and eventually a shop in the West End. This would be good for the area, as most of the specialty coffee shops are south of Portage Avenue or in the Exchange.
A nice little touch of the Knox Outdoor Community Cafe is that all the vendors create their own signs on little chalk boards. It adds to the personal touch that you get from dealing directly from the makers.
Of course, being a market, not all the food available is sold to eat on the spot. I picked up a few things to take home with me as well. I picked up some beet sauce from Nutririch Beets, as well as a very large loaf of Cinnamon-Raisin bread from Gozie’s Bread. My favourite take-away item was the Biltong from A Taste of Africa. A Taste of Africa is run by the father-daughter team of Stuart and Amy Webb, and they are working to bring traditional South African food to Winnipeg. Biltong is the South African version of beef jerky. I found it to be a little more tender and less salty than jerky, and once I opened the bag I scarfed it down in short order.
The last thing I picked up was a bacon buttertart pie from Shut Ur Pie Hole. Heather Daymond, owner of Shut Ur Pie Hole has been working out of the Knox kitchen almost from the beginning.
In addition to enjoying the market itself I had the pleasure in running into Katie Nicholson of Pepper & Vine. Ms. Nicholson was out enjoying the market with her mom. It was a pleasure getting the opportunity to talk to the vendors. Lastly it was good seeing Shel Zolkewich who put the opportunity to visit the Knox Outdoor Community Cafe together. Thanks Shel