“You gotta make a stop at the Old Country Market in Coombs. They have goats up on the roof!”
People kept telling me this, totally unsolicited. I suppose I looked the part of a lost tourist, driving in circles around central Vancouver Island in my beater Volvo with Washington plates. And of course there was that ever-present camera around my neck. But how in the heck did they know how much I love goats?
Finally, we went. The market is just outside of Parksville, a short jaunt off the main island highway. And there they were – up on the roof.
But it was inside the Old Country Market where things got really, really interesting.
A giant marzipan log, anyone? How about a 5-year supply bottle of pure vanilla extract? Or maybe all you want is a lovely loaf of bread? They have that, too.
I’m telling you, though, there’s no way you’re getting out of here with just a loaf of bread. I came in hungry for a danish and cup of joe, and left with four overstuffed bags.
As soon as we arrived, I guided Brian and Isaac to this wooden toy section they have in the back so that I could shop in peace. I could tell straight away that this is the sort of place I’d want to lose myself in for awhile. Have you been to De Laurenti at Seattle’s Pike Place Market? It’s one of my favorite shops on the planet. The Old Country Market is like that, but bigger, way more funky, and with more variety.
They also have poutine.
I know, I know. In Canada this is comparable to having Red Hook on tap —big deal! But my point is, this market has it’s own restaurant, with burgers and fish and chips and salads. So after you’ve done a little shopping, you can put your feet up and enjoy a plate of poutine. Then, you can do more shopping!
I noticed that some of the diners skipped the restaurant food and ate goodies straight from the bakery cases. Check out their bakery case. You’ll see why.
The Old Country Market in Coombs is open from early March through December. The goats come down in the late fall, so to catch them on the roof aim for warmer months.