Living dreams at the Victoria Public Market

The Victoria Public Market, located in the Hudson building on Douglas Street, is Victoria's first major public market to open in over 50 years. 

It takes guts to drop everything, to leave behind what you know for what you don't, to chase a dream because you think it might be exactly what you are meant to do. Taking chances doesn't come easily to all, but the new Victoria Public Market has some stories to tell about living a dream.

It took me a week to finally get to the new year-round indoor market. While bringing the kids along is something I'll do in future, on my first visit I wanted to blissfully linger and savour the experience at each stall. And that's just what I did. In addition to visiting some local favourites like Silk Road Tea and Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, which bring some comforting familiarity to the new market, I was particularly struck by the stories of some vendors I visited who dropped stable, sensible careers to follow their hearts into the food industry.

Silk Road Tea & Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

Since pie people are my people, one of my first stops was Victoria Pie Co. Owner Robyn Larocque used to have a steady government job. But the memories of making handmade Saskatoon berry pies up north as a child meant pie was in her blood, and so she dropped her steady job to make a name for herself in the pie business. She and her friendly crew of pie makers now spend their days busily whipping up fruit pies, cream pies, quiches and everything else that'll fit in a pie shell.

I could have occupied one of the cherry red chairs at the rustic wood counter for hours just watching the place tick, I'm such a pie nerd. Robyn took pity on a chatty food blogger and offered me a slice of vanilla bean cream pie with housemade vanilla ice cream to sample. Yum. As I sat there savouring spoonfuls and contemplating how many pies they must make in a day, they let me in on the secret to speedy pie production: a pie crust PRESS! No rolling pin required. In fact, I didn't notice a rolling pin the whole time I was there. They've figured out how to do butter pastry pies from scratch, by hand, and fast enough to feed the hungry masses. Somehow I don't think Robyn will be going back to that government job.

Pies and poetry at Victoria Pie Co.
(Clockwise from top left) Apple strawberry crumble pies, the pie crust press, the vanilla cream pie after shot, customers making friends with pie. 
Just across from the pie shop is Olive the Senses. If you're one of those people who loves to give food as gifts, this is the place to stock up. Any home cook would love a bottle of something, anything, from this store. Sample as you go and choose favourites from the dozens of extra virgin olive oils, specialty oils, and infused oils or balsamic vinegars. I picked up a peach white balsamic and a chipotle olive oil. Amazing stuff.

Maybe even more amazing is the story I got a glimpse of from Steve Lycopolus who co-owns the business with his wife Emily. These two are heart-followers too, it seems. Emily worked in the medical field, while Steve worked in finance. They left their jobs to follow what was in Steve's blood: olive oil. A large black and white image of his family's olive grove in Italy, shot by his brother, hangs on the back wall as a reminder of family and tradition.

Emily of Olive the Senses helping customers beneath an image of the family's olive grove in Italy.
Sampling is encouraged at Olive the Senses where home cooks are spoiled for inspiration.
Just one week in and the Victoria Public Market is a dream realized for vendors and food lovers alike. Many shops are still in the works and will be opening soon. Check the market's website for daily hours, special events and the full list of vendors.

Have you been to the new Victoria Public Market? Do you have a favourite public market where you live? Do you have a dream you want to chase? Leave a comment!

5 comments:

  1. I HAVE to come back to Victoria really really soon now. Love your article, do you have more stories about the other vendors ? XOXO Morgane

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  2. Great write up, found it through Olive the Senses FB page - the pictures and your descriptions made my mouth water. We'll have to get down there really soon. Thanks!

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  3. Amy, isn't the market awesome? Your post has inspired me! I haven't been back since opening day. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow with the kids and poke around when there are not so many crowds....

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