I’d have to say that the mother of all Farmers Markets lies right here, in the Greek Islands. Out of all the ones I’ve been to, at least. And that’s saying quite a bit, because we have some pretty awesome Farmers Markets back in the States.
The greatest thing about these outdoor specialty markets, to me, is the fact that everything you find is (or most likely is) organic, raw, homegrown and, of course, local.
It’s where to go to find flavorful, quality ingredients you’re looking for from the small ‘Mom & Pop Shops’. It’s where you can support your local farms and family businesses. And to me, that’s extremely important.
It’s the perfect FARM to TABLE source for all your cooking needs.
Walking through the Chania outdoor Farmers Market is a lot like many other U.S. Farmers Markets, except this one’s on steroids.
People of all ages are running about from vendor to vendor; purchasing freshly picked herbs from the mountains to taste-testing the perfect batch of Mediterranean olives.
Brown freckled chicken eggs with feathers still attached to them sit in little bowls on the tables. Honey oozes out of barrels for you to fill your own glass jars with. Numerous buckets of different types of fresh goat/cow milk & cheese are sitting on display, waiting for a cheese taster to pass by. There are hundreds of different types of organic mountain herbs and greens, like fennel weed, which lie in a mass heap on a table for you to pick your own personalized bundle.
Mounds of romaine and coral lettuces, wild celery, carrot and asparagus bunches, zucchini with their flowers still attached, juicy pomegranates, sweet-smelling onions, recently rooted potatoes, vibrant heirloom tomatoes, deep purple-red beets, and insanely large leek stalks are scattered along every vendor table.
There are also several vendors who sell live snails and different varieties of fish, depending on their catch of the day; as well as occasional live chickens and rabbits.
This market is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s the real deal. And a truly wonderful experience at that.
When you greet a vendor, they hand you a bag and after you pick what you want, you hand it back to them and they weigh it for price. (Did I mention it’s super affordable?!) We’ve left the Farmers Market several times with loads of fresh, organic veggies and fruits costing us less than 10 euros!
During our last visit to the Chania Farmers Market, I wanted to pick up the ingredients to make homemade, organic Dolmathakias… also known as Stuffed Grape Leaves. They’re so damn delicious that I just had to try making them (because, I kid you not, I order them every time we eat out) and I wanted to get all my ingredients from local farms.
As we strolled along the street, we picked a few ingredients here and there for salads and such. Then, we stumbled upon a lady who had a massive tangled heap of hundreds of different types of organic herbs from the mountains.
She picks fresh herbs weekly and sells them every Saturday at the market. As seen in the video, I told her I wanted to make Dolmadakias (Dol-Ma Tha-key-Ah). She immediately grabbed a bag and started throwing in the specialized herbs for my dish while explaining how to make them!
She informed us that we needed a particular type of rice, so after we received several bags of fresh, organic fennel, green onion, parsley and mint, we headed on over to a rice vendor where we picked up 2 euros worth of rice. (Which ended up weighing a kilo!)
Chania has several street markets open on different days; however this particular market is found on Saturday mornings and is open until around 2pm, located along the end of the inner Venetian Harbor, on Minoos Street. It’s a great way to spend your mid-morning; browsing along the market, all while eating a delicious Kalamaki skewer (Greek pork shish-kebob).
I highly recommend coming here if you’re visiting Chania and would like to see a true European… Greek… Cretan… Farmers Market!