The Cupcake Connection, Vol. 006 – The Fall Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Edition!

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October is truly the month of the pumpkin!  With pumpkin breads, pies, tarts (Dufflet owns this one with their famous pumpkin cream tarts!), roasted seeds, soups and the traditional Halloween carving of jack-o-lanterns, there’s no shortage of ways to use this friendly orange fall gourd and vegetable.  Cupcake bakeries across the city are very much in the thick of things, whipping up batches of pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin and cream cheese frosted cupcakes to celebrate the pumpkin-loving month.
While I love the texture of pumpkin pie filling and the versatility of pumpkin in both sweet and savoury dishes, I really feel that pumpkin cupcakes are one of those love-it-or-hate-it, hit-or-miss type of confections.  It’s just hard to do well!  It’s not hard to give the impression of warmth and comfort or to mimic the flavour of pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice.  Rather, it’s difficult to get the texture of the cake just right.  Even though I haven’t come across a pumpkin cupcake I disliked or thought was incredibly awful per say, I will point out that some have been more forgettable than others.  The misses always seem to manifest themselves in the cake portion of the cupcake, either being too dry and crumbly or much too dense; I want to eat a yummy cupcake not feel like I’m holding a hockey puck!

Mmmm, yummy cinnamon frosting…

I’ve tried 4 pumpkin cupcakes from 4 different bakeries (Bunner’s Bake Shop, Flour Studio, Short & Sweet Cupcakes, and So Into Cupcakes) and my favourite so far has been the moist pumpkin spice cupcake with the soft cinnamon frosting from So Into Cupcakes.  The cake is the softest here and I love the texture of the frosting.  Anything with cinnamon in it and on it is fine by me!  In a close second would be Flour Studio’s pumpkin spice with cream cheese frosting just because I really felt like the cake captured that mild, earthy pumpkin flavour without being too spiced in flavour (you know, the type of flavour that screams, “I’m from a can!”  Even if it is, it shouldn’t be obvious!) and the cream cheese frosting was truly delicious.  I would definitely recommend taking a few bites of cupcake just on its own though to truly get the full effect as the cream cheese frosting can overwhelm the cake.

Pumpkin Spice from Flour Studio!

Decked out for Halloween: Pumpkin Spice at Short & Sweet Cupcakes!

And here I’m going to get on my soapbox: I’m never going to stop wishing for a cupcake that has pumpkin frosting!  Cake is wonderful, yes, but I also want to see (and taste!) a cupcake topped with pumpkin frosting, just to switch things up and to try something new and different since we’re pretty accustomed to pumpkin cakes with vanilla or cream cheese frosting.  Something like a pumpkin mousse frosting would be fabulous, or a thick, creamy pumpkin frosting swirled with vanilla and sprinkled with graham crumbs!  I can dream.

Regardless, there are just as many pumpkin cupcakes that do taste great and it’ll be my mission to get to as many as possible before the season is over.  There are plenty of options (including vegan ones!) to choose from to figure out which one(s) take home the crown of most delectable pumpkin cupcake.

Bunners Bake Shop’s vegan pumpkin cupcake with their famous vanilla frosting!

Seasonal pumpkin cupcake goodies from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky!

  • Bobbette & Belle, 1121 Queen Street East: Pumpkin  ($2.95) – pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting.  Seasonal flavour, daily rotation; call ahead to ask (416-466-8800).
  • Bunners Bake Shop, 3054 Dundas Street West in the Junction, just west of High Park Ave.: Pumpkin ($3.25) – vegan pumpkin cupcake topped with their premium vegan vanilla frosting and a pumpkin seed.  Seasonal flavour; daily rotation; call ahead and ask (647-352-2975).
  • Desmond & Beatrice, 750 Queen Street East: Pumpkin Spice ($2.75) – pumpkin spice cake swirled with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.  Seasonal flavour, daily rotation; call ahead to ask (647-352-2257).
  • Flour Studio, 883 Eglinton Ave. West: Pumpkin Spice ($3) – pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with nutmeg.  Seasonal flavour, daily rotation; call ahead to ask (416-789-0222).
  • For the Love of Cake, 171 East Liberty St. #117: Pumpkin Pie ($3) – pumpkin spice cupcake topped with fresh whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg.  Seasonal flavour, daily flavour; call ahead to ask (416-306-6446)
  • Short & Sweet Cupcakes,1945 Avenue Road: Pumpkin Spice ($2.90) – pumpkin spice cupcake with cream cheese frosting.  Available during the month of October as their Flavour of the Month.
  • So Into Cupcakes, 2060 Ellesmere Road: Pumpkin Spice ($2.50 for regular size, $1.50 for mini) – pumpkin cupcake topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Seasonal flavour, available during the month of October.
  • The Wedding Cake Shoppe, 859 College Street: Pumpkin Pie ($2.65) – pumpkin pie with buttercream frosting and pumpkin candy garnish.  Seasonal flavour, daily rotation; call ahead to ask (416-916-2253).
  • Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, 287 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market: Pumpkin – pumpkin cake with frosting and a pumpkin-shaped chocolate garnish sweet treat on top.  Seasonal flavour, call ahead to ask: (416-236-7585)
  • Yummy Stuff, 1660 Queen Street West in Parkdale: Pumpkin ($2.75) – pumpkin cupcake with brown butter frosting and candied nut topping.  Seasonal flavour, available during the month of October.

The Fall Harvest Series – It’s Time For Pumpkin Sweets! Delicious Pumpkin Pie Gelato at Boreal Gelato Company

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I’m so excited to finally introduce my very first gelato post to the blog!  And I’m so ecstatic I finally got to do some scrapbooking!  It took me forever and a half to get my photos developed.  I had some layout sketches done, but for weeks I could never find the right time to get them developed (I was either at Le Dolci or out with my boyfriend or family, and no where near a Wal-mart, Loblaws, or any other photo developing spot) and my scrapbooking withdrawal was making me seriously cranky.  Moping-in-front-of-the-tv-and-glaring-at-the-supplies-I-couldn’t use-yet cranky.  I’m fine now.  Peeling and slapping stickers on cardstock alleviated my teeth-grinding and now I get to look forward to replenishing my stash of fall and alphabet stickers!  That, and maybe some Hallowe’en goodies too.  It’s going to be great. 

I have Andrew/TOfoodie on Twitter to thank for this delicious snack and post.  He mentioned PUMPKIN PIE GELATO and holy mother of pearl, I couldn’t scribble the details down fast enough if I tried.  I may love cupcakes and cake, but I also loooove ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato.  I’m the one who eats frozen dessert treats in the dead of winter while everyone else is hugging their coffee cups for dear life.  I promised myself I’d fatten up the ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato categories on here because compared to what I have on cupcakes, it’s paltry.  So here we are with the first gelato post featuring the pumpkin pie gelato from The Boreal Gelato Company in Parkdale!  When I first started doing a little research for the Fall Harvest series, I came across so many sweet pumpkin goodies and options around the city!  Cupcakes, teas, lattes, cookies, tarts, loaves, and yes, GELATO!  I kept them in mind and slowly but surely, I’m going to tick them off one by one.

The Boreal Gelato Company, located on Queen West just west of Dufferin St., is amazing.  Check out the adorable Inuksuk logo!  With an emphasis on homegrown, local Canadian ingredients, Boreal Gelato strives to be ethically sound and as environmentally conscious as possible, using certified fair-trade products and biodegradable packaging, as well as offering patrons a place to dispose their recycables and compostable waste.  Now, obviously, their efforts to use local, Canadian ingredients can only go so far as certain products don’t grow in Canada (cocoa, coconuts, and bananas, for example)*, but their mission is to offer customers the best of the best when it comes to the availability of seasonal, local fare. 

Not only do they have a fab selection of gelato flavours, but they also have a great cafe menu (they serve weekend brunch now too!), and ample seating inside the shop.  I know you can look up their gelato flavours on their website, but not all the flavours are listed and I’m going to throw out a few that I saw that day just to make this post a little more exclusive 😉  Flavours include tiramisu, anise (black licorice), Irish cream, coconut cream, salted caramel, triple chocolate crunch, earl grey, spicy rosemary shortbread, pumpkin pie, and gingerbread.  The sheer volume of flavours is one of the things I love most about gelato shops.  Some of the flavours are just so creaitve and it makes you salivate looking at all the metal bins filled up with colourful, delicious gelato.

I know some people like or find it necessary to take their food to go, but I like having a spot to sit down when I’m in a place and Boreal Gelato has plenty of comfortable seating inside, with tables and chairs and a long seating booth against one wall.  It’s open, it’s airy and spacious, and it’s exactly what I love about shops with seating.  Although their specialty is gelato and sorbet, their menu isn’t exclusive to just those two items.  They have coffee drinks (espressos, cappuccinos, cafe mochas, macchiatos, pumpkin lattes, and hot chocolates), fruit, milk, and soda drinks (think apple cider, smoothies, root beer floats, and milkshakes), cakes, pies, cookies, baked Alaska (I know, oh my gosh), annnd gelato cookie sandwiches!

Their prices are very average and run-of-the-mill in comparision to other gelato places in and around the city (and yes, I’ve eaten at other places but just haven’t blogged about them!  If I don’t like my photos or if I don’t have any, it doesn’t get blogged).  There are 3 tiers: mini scoop ($2.75), regular scoop ($4.00), and double scoop ($5.50), and what’s really fab about their scooping arrangement is that you can choose two flavours to make one scoop!  So if you’re indecisive like me, this is perfect for you!  Oh!  And toppings!  You get free toppings!  Right by the cash, there are canisters of topping goodies and squeeze bottles of sauces to dress up your gelato or sorbet.  That day they had pecan and walnut topping, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa nibs, and chocolate, caramel, and maple syrup. 

I got myself some pumpkin pie and vanilla bean gelato and sprinkled graham cracker crumbs onto it and oh my goodness, this was even BETTER than actual pumpkin pie!  I could have eaten triple scoops of this.  So refreshing, so smooth and creamy, and sweet!  I have friends who always wish pumpkin desserts were just a tad sweeter and this gelato delivers.  The sweet flavour and cool refreshingness does it for me.  I wouldn’t say that pie itself is necessarily drying, but when you eat this, you just feel it melt in your mouth the way pie never could.  The pumpkin pie gelato was amazing, with the perfect balance of sweetness and earthiness with a hint of spice, and combined with the vanilla bean and graham cracker crumbs it was like eating creamy, sweet, scrumptious pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust and vanilla ice cream on top.    

I have something embarrassing to admit right now though.  I was SO excited about stuffing my face into the pumpkin pie gelato that the rest of the menu was completely lost on me.  And I feel so silly because of it.  I went in with the intention of eating the amazing pumpkin pie gelato and although I got what I wanted (which I’m thankful for – they sold out of their first batch and JUST had another one ready for me when I came in!), I would have ordered a gelato cookie sandwich and pumpkin latte had I realized they had something like that!  It was only after I finished my gelato that I realized how much other stuff they had and I almost groaned out loud at my stupidity.  Sigh.  Well, that just means I’m going to have to go back again.  And again.  And again.

*****

The Boreal Gelato Company is located at 1312 Queen Street West in Parkdale, just west of Dufferin St. between Noble St. and Elm Grove Ave.  They serve weekend brunch and are open from Tuesday to Sunday.  Their hours from Tuesday to Thursday are 1pm-10pm, 1pm-midnight on Fridays, 10am-midnight on Saturdays, and 10am-10pm on Sundays.  Click here to visit their website.

Source*= Boreal Gelato website

Scrapbooking materials used: to be added!

The Fall Harvest Series: The “Pumpkin Patch” at the Market – Fall in Love at Evergreen Brick Works, Part I

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I finally made it, everyone!  After months and months of wanting to go, I finally made my way to Evergreen Brick Works for their amazing Saturday farmers’ market and marketplace and it was everything I imagined it would be and more.  And I don’t think I could have planned the trip out more perfectly – during a long weekend with gorgeous weather to boot!  I don’t even remember how or where I first learned about the Evergreen Brick Works site (or Don Valley Brick Works as it is/was otherwise known as); all I know is that once I knew about it, I had to go.  It bummed me out enough over the summer knowing I hadn’t been able to make the trip all those months; there was no way I was going to miss out on one of the city’s largest weekend markets on one of the most beautiful fall weekends. 

The Evergreen Brick Works site is so rich with history and so thoroughly woven into Toronto’s social fabric.  After all, as the city’s chief brickmaking factory in the 1900s, it contributed much to Toronto’s architecture, infrastructure, economy, and community.  Just like The Distillery District though, the industrial shutdown of the factory led to years of quiet site abandonment before its restoration, revitalization, and development in the late 1990s and early 2000.

The development of Evergreen Brick Works has done wonders for the city in so many ways.  Not only does the space serve as one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces for biking, hiking, gardening, and nature conservation, but it has also transformed into a gathering space and cultural heritage site for artists, teachers, farmers, and community groups.  Art studios and children’s programs have been created, workshops, classes, demos, and site tours take place every week, hundreds are drawn to the antiques market, marketplace, and farmers’ market every weekend, and charitable community events such as Picnic at the Brick Works and Toronto Underground Market have found turned the site into their home.

When you learn about Evergreen Brickworks, you learn so much about the local communities and about Toronto as a whole.  For those of you who are 1) history buffs or 2) just interested in knowing more and seeing cool photos, definitely check out the St. Lawrence Market Gallery on the 2nd floor of the St. Lawrence Market.  It’s free, there’s beautiful photos and artwork, and there’s plenty of articles and info to read about the Don River and the heritage site itself.  In my opinion, much nicer than your school days history class 😉 

My visit today was wonderful and coming here just makes me want to explore that much more.  I want to take photos of all the gorgeous colourful trees and gardens in the area.  I want to have a picnic lunch.  I want to buy cookbooks from the marketplace.  And because I enjoy being driven around in a cute, chubby bus, I want to ride the free shuttle bus from Broadview station again.  I took a LOT of photos today, so I’ll be splitting up the posts over the next few days!  Today’s collection of market photos: the pumpkin patch! 😀  Okay, so it’s not exactly a real pumpkin patch, but there were pumpkins everywhere so this is my compilation.  Enjoy!

*****

Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave.  The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm.  If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station.  Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.

The Fall Harvest Series – Pumpkin…in Sushi! Build Your Own Sushi Rolls at Avocado Sushi on Bay Street

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Here’s a little cocktail party trivia you may not know about me: I love reading take-out menus.  If places have them, I grab’ em.  I have so many that I bought a take-out menu organizer to keep them all neat and tidy.  I KNOW.  A take-out menu organizer!  The stationery fanatic in me was over the moon when I stumbled on it at the Sears outlet by the 404 and Don Mills last year (I find the strangest things in the most unlikely of places and it makes me giddy) and actually, now that I think about it, the organizer could use a bit of tidying up because I kind of added another small pile to the mix *whistles*.  It’s so much fun to go through a take-out menu (especially a sushi menu!) and circle all the items I would hypothetically want to stuff my face in.  Sometimes I even daydream about what I would eat during my next visit.  It’s like being an 8-year-old with a toy catalogue and circling everything you want for Christmas in bright red marker.  Only in my case, it’s food 😀

After passing by Avocado Sushi near Bay and Charles St. for the upteenth time, I finally stopped to snatch a take-out menu from the pile attached to the outdoor menu board.  Everything changed after I took that take-out menu.  My sushi world was flipped upside down and inside out as a I discovered what a ninny I was for not having eaten here sooner! 

I unfolded the menu brochure and found out that I COULD BUILD MY OWN SUSHI ROLLS AND CHOOSE ALL MY OWN FILLINGS AND INGREDIENTS!!!  I just had to shout that from the rooftop because my sushi dreams have come true because of this revelation!  Not only does Avocado Sushi boast a number of maki combos, bento boxes, appetizers, and individual sets of rolls, but they also offer something very, VERY special: the chance to build your own “salad sensation” bowl, or your very own custom-made set of of maki rolls!  Each set of build-your-own-maki comes with 10 rolls and sets start at $7.95.

As my eyes were roaming up and down the list of ingredients on the menu, I couldn’t believe how much choice there was!  Now I know what some of you might be thinking.  If the set of rolls start at $7.95 for the 10 pieces, the total price will end up sky-rocketing if you add the littlest thing, right?  Nope.  I was in conniptions when I realized just how much I could stuff in my sushi rolls and still have it for $7.95! 

You can choose up to 7 ingredients in the first list, which includes BOTH veggie and meat options, at no extra charge.  Think yams, shittake mushrooms, avocado, asparagus, crab meat, salmon sashimi, and grilled salmon amongst others, as well as other goodies such as tempura bits and tobiko.  Then, on top of all that, you get to choose a sauce for your sushi rolls from a list of 6 options.  The 2nd and 3rd lists are add-ons for $1, $2, and $3 where you’ll find yummies like smoked salmon, deep-friend shrimp, soft-shell crab, cheese, and others.  Given how much I adore building my own “specially” made meals (hello, Fresh and Freshii!), you can imagine how happy all of this made me!  I started circling menu items and building my own sushi roll set in my head over a week before I actually went to eat there! 

So, what makes this meal worthy of being in the Fall Harvest Series?  Avocado Sushi has Japanese PUMPKIN!  Well, specifically, kampyo which is a type of Japanese dried gourd which comes in strips.  This was the first time I had seen kampyo on a sushi menu, so there was no way I was passing up the chance to try it and subsequently, feature it on the blog in the Fall Harvest Series!  To fill my 10-piece sushi roll set, I chose kampyo, avocado, asparagus, shittake mushrooms, green onions, crunchy tempura bits, cream cheese (add-on for $1), and spicy mayo. 

Oh my gosh everyone, you need to come here and build your own rolls and eat them silly because they are so delicious.  The maki rolls are nice and big and really soft and I was SO happy with the combination that I chose because everything was savoury and fresh.  I had a little bit of everything going on: the crunch from the tempura bits and asparagus, the creaminess from the avocado and cream cheese, and the meshing of sweet and savoury happening with the kampyo and mushrooms.  The kampyo had a very subtle sweetness to it and the texture was exactly what I would expect from a gourd, squash, or pumpkin: very soft and a tiny bit stringy.  I knew you all wouldn’t be able to see the kampyo from the photos of the rolls untouched, go I lifted a piece of it out to show y’all!

The presentation was lovely (hell yes to the drizzling of spicy mayo!) and I would eat here again in a heartbeat.  I feel so lame for having not eaten here earlier (you know me and my sushi), but I was so happy with my food and the service that the wait was worth it.  I had fun taking photos (Ooo, red and green decor with a pair of wooden shutters and blossom branches!), the people who work here are so incredibly nice, and what makes the deal even sweeter is the student discount!  Show them student ID and you’ll receive a 10% discount off your bill.  

Avocado Sushi is located in the heart of downtown Toronto (it’s on Bay Street!  If that’s not downtown central, I don’t know what is!) and is easily accessible by public transit which works perfectly for me because I’m eating here again.  Nothing like build-your-own-sushi to get those creative and hunger juices going 😀

*****

Avocado Sushi is located at 1105 Bay Street just south of Charles Street (which is just south of Bloor St. West).  They are open 7 days a week from 11am-10pm.  Receive a 10% discount when you show your student ID!

The Fall Harvest Series – Pumpkins, Apples, and Maple Cupcakes Everywhere! The Fall Market at David Pecaut Square

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I have a tiny confession to make: the squash and pumpkins I saw at Dufferin Grove farmers’ market two weeks ago were not actually the first ones I saw this season.  I know, how scandalous of me to tell such a fib!  I had seen the ones at David Pecaut Square by Roy Thomson Hall earlier that morning and had taken so many photos that I just had to put them aside for the Fall Harvest series.  With so many photos of apples, squash, pumpkins, and gourds, it was too perfect to pass up for this series because it’s everything anyone could ever want in a fall market.  There were barrels of squash and pumpkins at multiple farmers’ booths and vendors, little buckets of beautiful, gleaming apples in over 10 varieities in a rainbow of colours (green, yellow, gold, blush red, candy apple red, and purplish red!), potatoes, beans, rutabagas, plums, and LOTS of sweet baked goods!

I knew we already had apples, potatoes, and beans in our kitchen at home, so I didn’t pick up any produce; however, I didn’t leave the market empty-handed either!  You know me, it’s hard visiting a market without bringing something back for the fam or for a friend.  One of my favourite booths at the market, More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd., had brand new goodies I hadn’t seen at their booth before because almost everything was fall-themed and inspired!  Vanilla cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting, pumpkin spice loaf cakes, cranberry scones, and plenty of cookies and bars. 

I picked up a pumpkin spice loaf and a maple buttercream frosted cupcake and I looooved both so much!  I scarfed down the cupcake right then and there (no, really, I did.  Owner Louise asked me if I wanted a paper baggy for my cupcake and I told her not to bother, ha!) and saved half the pumpkin spice loaf for my boyfriend and brought the other half home for the fam.  My dad enjoyed it so much he finished off the loaf after we all had a slice! 

I can’t get over how much I love the market here.  I was anxiously anticipating the arrival of the fall bounty in all its glory and seemingly overnight, the market transformed into a harvest market just begging to be brought home and turned into warm comfort food.  Summer was enjoyable, but fall has just inspired me in a completely different way and I feel pumped!  Visiting the markets does wonders for your creativity and imagination.  You look at all the fresh, amazing food and you think, “what can I do with it?  How many different ways can I cook with this?  How can I turn these foods into a great meal?”  All I’ve been thinking about lately is fall baked goods!  I don’t think a day has gone by over the last week and a half that I’ve haven’t been excitedly browsing and paging through apple, cranberry, and pumpkin recipes to try out.  I hope you all liked the apple lemon poppy seed muffins recipe that I posted yesterday and I’m so looking forward to adding to the growing collection of recipes I have here.  It’s the first day of October today and that means there’s at least a whole month of fantastic fall farmers’ marketing and baking.  I can’t wait.

*****

The farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square is located at 55 John St., at the intersection of King St. West and John beside Roy Thomson Hall.  The market operates every Thursday from 8am-2:30pm, and will be open until October 20th, 2011 for this year.            

*Formerly known as Metro Square, David Pecaut Square was renamed in honour of David Pecaut, co-founder of Luminato, who passed away from cancer in 2009.

The First Sightings of Fall Squash and Pumpkins! The Farmers’ Market at Dufferin Grove Park

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Today was the most glorious, beautiful day ever!  Sure, the leaves haven’t changed colours yet and the ground isn’t littered with gorgeous leaves to skip around in, but it was a chilly day today and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.  It was clear, crisp, fresh, and the best day to be outside.  Throughout the entire summer, I donned a hat and cringed whenever the blazing sun hit me at an awkward angle making my skin prickle.  Today, I didn’t take my hat out of my bag even once and the cool breeze felt so good on my chipmunk cheeks.  With the exception of grabbing myself a bite and using the ladies’ room, I was hardly inside at all today. 

I visited two farmers’ markets, had some yummy food, made a wonderful new friend, and went on one VERY long walk across town!  Just think, I started my morning at Roy Thomson Hall, had a great meeting and tea date with said friend, grabbed a bite to eat on King St., and then proceeded to walk from King and Bathurst all the way to Dufferin Mall.  I KNOW.  I am a nut.  Either that or just a glutton for punishment.  Nothing beats the walk I did in April along Dundas West, but I have to tell you, my feet were sore by the time I caught the bus at the end of my day and I was out like a light on the ride home.  Someday I’ll probably pay for this and my feet will rebel against me, but for the time being, it works for me.  Exercise, fresh air, and seeing lovely sights and getting to know the city better.  Works for me!

So, what was I doing at Dufferin Mall today?  I finally got my tooshie to the farmers’ market at Dufferin Grove Park!  The park is beautiful and SO BIG!  I know I sound like a child when I say this, but all I could think about when I left the market was how great the park would be in the winter for sledding and tobagganing because it’s rather hilly, haha!  It’s going to look so gorgeous in another several weeks when the leaves start changing.  It’s a great venue for a market, and for things like picnicking, throwing around a frisbee, and squirrel watching which my friend Wini (aka. squirrel scout) would greatly approve of.  There’s also a wonderful sense of community here.  Not only do children’s playgroups come here, but there’s also a tennis court on the premises and a community garden for gardening classes as well as a vegetable and herb garden!

There’s lots to see at this market and there’s lots to eat!  There were tables of fresh baked bread, veggie pizzas with crushed red pepper dough (I whimpered when I saw these because they looked so delicious), rows and rows of green, red, and black grapes in pints (they reminded me of wine grapes!), salad mixes, greens, and sunflower sprouts from Kind Organics, heirloom tomatoes, pickled vegetables and preserves, and lots of other fruits and vegetables sitting fresh and prettily on adorable printed fall tablecloths.  They have a selection of hot lunch food and snacks right near the rinkhouse (things like crepes, burritos, ice cream, chocolates, salads, baked goods, and more) and come October 1st, the market will be hosting their annual tasting fair from 1pm-4pm, with all food going for $2 a pop. 

What excited me the most today though, was my first squash and pumpkin sightings of the year!  It’s feeling like fall more and more and the sight of pumpkins and squash got me in a tizzy today.  I have more squash photos than I do pumpkin ones in this batch (or maybe patch?), but I have lots of pumpkin photos to show you all from another market, so I’ll have those to show you all real soon.  It was so awesome seeing barrels and barrels of carnival squash, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash alongside bright orange pumpkins, beets, rutabagas, and beautiful crisp apples.  I’ve been reading up on pumpkin recipes like crazy and I’m dying to get myself a cute mini one to tote around!  I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks are going to bring at the markets and I’ll hopefully have some fall baked goodies for you all in the next little while!

*****

Dufferin Grove Park is located at the intersection of Dufferin St. and Bloor St. West.  The Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is held year-round at the northwest corner of the park every Thursday from 3pm-7pm.  Their annual tasting fair is slated to take place on October 1st from 1pm-4pm.  For more info on the farmers’ market and its vendors, click here.