Be prepared when you visit the Halifax Farmers' Market in the bustling waterfront area of Nova Scotia's provincial capital. Here are some tips:
Be hungry. The market is open Saturdays year - round from 7 a.m-1 p.m., and whether you get there in time for breakfast or lunch -- or both! -- your choices will seem nearly endless. In this three-level marketplace with a warren of rooms and courtyards, you'll find many varieties of coffee , dozens of pastries, homemade breads, soups, meat pies, pot pies, organic salad mix, blueberries, apples, tofu and soy dishes, Asian noodles and dumplings, sushi, sausages, cold cuts, fish, fiddleheads (a local favorite), honey, maple syrup, and chocolate. Some of the food, along with wines from an extensive cellar, is meant to take with you, but it's hardly unusual to see shoppers dipping into their parcels for a tasty chunk or slice of something.
Be curious. Will that knitted hat look good on you? Just how intricate is that quilt? And what is that modern painting supposed to represent anyway? The market is stuffed with arts and crafts, among them hand-painted glassware, personalized placemats, photographs, canvas goods, elaborate candles, hand made toys, and even hammocks.
Be thirsty . The brick building, which dates to 1820, was once the principal brewery for locally famous Alexander Keith's Ale . Although most of the operations have moved elsewhere in Halifax, plenty remains for a brewery tour that costs about $12 US .
Be patient. You won't lack company as you traipse from level to level, and the buzz of conversations will be your constant companion. But it's part of the fun, and perhaps while you're occasionally waiting in line or jostling for a better vantage point at a crafts table, you might strike up a conversation with a Haligonian , which is what Halifax residents are called.
The Halifax Farmers ' Market, 1496 Lower Water St.; www.nsfarmersmarkets.ca/halifax, 902-492-4043 . The brewery tour is available every day, May 24-Oct. 31, and 11 a.m-9 p.m. on market day.