The One That (Almost) Got Away – St. John’s Bakery, ChocoSol, & Baked Goods at the Last CBC Indoor Market

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Pretty sugar cookies & chocolate chip shortbread!

Have you ever found out about an event when it was too late or almost too late and it upset you so much because you knew it was an event you would have loved going to?  Hello, my name is Deb and I nearly missed out on an entire series of farmers’ markets this past winter and early spring!  (Cue chorus of voices: “Hi, Deb”).  That’s right.  Yours truly, the self-proclaimed event guru of TO, has let one slip by.  (Cue chours of audible gasps). 

There have been a handful of food events that have happened in the city that I missed out on because I had no idea they were happening, but basically missing out on an ENTIRE series of markets that was happening every month since November in the downtown core right under my nose?!  That is unacceptable!  And even though I made it to the very last market of the indoor season at the CBC broadcasting building  on Wellington this past week, I am fuming because I missed out on everything that happened prior to it!  And to add insult to injury, I found out that this was the indoor version of my beloved farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square outside Roy Thomson Hall.

My favourite part of the CBC building - green tiles!

When it dawned on me that the market had actually been indoors all this time since November, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to run into a secluded corner and scream at myself or stand there and cry.  I did neither.  I bought cacao cookies and scones to soothe my wounded ego instead.  I am so, so sorry for not finding out about this market sooner.  I feel like such a doofus, especially since it was located in such an accessible location – right in the downtown core, accessible by the underground PATH, and just a few blocks away from Union station.   

Simcoe Place Park, just outside

I actually found out about the CBC indoor market by accident.  I was exploring the underground PATH one day in March and as I was passing through the CBC building at surface level, I noticed a poster of calendar events taped to one of the poles.  I saw the words, “farmers’ market” for one of the dates in March and was thoroughly confused.  A market?  In the CBC building?!  SINCE WHEN?!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the market in March, so I told myself I would make it to the one in April and that is how I ended up here.  Sigh.  If it’s any consolation, now that we know the market is in operation year-round we can go on a regular basis now!  And it also makes me feel slightly better knowing that I had only missed one market each month since November as opposed to a market each week.

Beautiful portobello mushrooms!

Just so everyone is on the same page, let me sum up: the farmers’ market that took/takes place at David Pecaut Square during the late spring, summer, and fall months moved/moves indoors into the CBC broadcasting building at Wellington and John Street from November to April.  The indoor markets, however, only take place ONCE A MONTH in November, December, January, Febraury, March, and April.  The market then moves back outdoors in May.  Because the Luminato arts festival takes place around David Pecaut Square and the theatre district though, the farmers’ market actually stays close to the CBC building – just outside at the Simcoe Place park and courtyard until Luminato finishes up.  I don’t have exact market dates for the month of May on me right now, but I’ll find out as soon as I can and report back!  All markets run from 8am-2pm though, so definitely accessible to the morning rush hour crowd and the lunch hour crowd!

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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.

This Is How Summer Should Always Be – Green Beans, Yellow Zucchini, and Bags of Market Groceries!

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I’m not going to lie.  I have every intention of visiting as many different farmers’ markets as possible, but there are some markets that I can’t resist going back to again and again.  I went back to North York to grab some more potato and cheese dumplings from the market at Mel Lastman Square last week and just today I went back to the market at David Pecaut Square.  You know, the market I went to last week for the first time.  Yes, the one I was raving about yesterday.  I know, I know, this is completely unorthodox of me to make two related posts in a row without clearly stating Part I and Part II in the post titles.  But in my defence, I had no idea today’s market visit was going to be as amazing as last week’s and thus, I didn’t know I would essentially be writing up a Part II follow-up to yesterday’s post.  Considering how much I enjoyed my first visit, it really shouldn’t have come as any surprise, but you never know what the pickings are going to be like the second time around. 

Anyway, I actually wasn’t even planning on going back so soon after, but my family enjoyed the blue potatoes I bought last week and my mum really wanted me to take her today so she could go market grocery shopping crazy.  And did she (and, well, we, as my brother and I had our fair share of food grabbing too) EVER go crazy!  My mum loved the market here and she said so herself that if she could take the whole market home with her she would.  We had such a great time talking to the people there and picking up amazing vegetables and baked goods left and right at the same time.  By the time we were finished perusing the market, we were totally loaded down with market groceries!

We picked up a large pint ($3) of gorgeous wax green beans (check out those yellow and PURPLE ones in the photo up top!), a large pint of adorable red skin fingerling potatoes ($3), four bright yellow zucchinis ($2 for four big ones!), a loaf of caraway seed rye bread, a plum sauce filled donut sprinkled with powdered sugar, a giant ginger molasses cookie and peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd (remember those lemon pecan crisps I mentioned yesterday?), and a dozen oatmeal cranberry pomegranate cookies.  I am so excited to put those yummy vegetables to use for tomorrow’s dinner and those cookies won’t stand a chance of lasting very long in my house.  The ginger cookie was so delicious I scarfed half of it down after lunch and the other half on the bus ride home.  I have never had a ginger cookie that tasted this good and you can bet this won’t be last one I eat!

Today, in my opinion, has been the nicest, most beautiful day of the summer so far and it felt so exhilarating being out in the park in the city picking up groceries at the market.  It was as sweet as the little orange heirloom tomato I was given to try this morning (no really, this tiny orange tomato tasted like a peach!) and I’m really happy I went back.  I’ve become quite the farmers’ market monster over the past several months and after today, I think I might have created one more 😉

*****

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.

Colour, Colour Everywhere! Beautiful Fruit and Green Space at the Farmers’ Market at David Pecaut Square

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August has been in full swing for just over a week and we are now in a place where we’re lapping up as much patio weather as we can, watching the sun set just a little bit earlier each passing day.  We are fully into August and after months of visiting farmers’ markets all across the city, I can proudly say that I’ve been to 12 markets since the last week of May and 8 of them have been blogged so far, 9 if you include this one!  And if you can believe it, I’m not even close to exhausting all my options!  I don’t mind at all though because taking on the challenge of visiting as many markets as possible is a challenge that I’m happy to take my time with. 

These farmers’ market trips have been so rewarding because they’ve opened up a whole new world for me, in more ways than one.  Farmers’ markets don’t exist in a social vacuum, separate and unaffected by what’s around them.  They’ve shown me their connections to the different neighbourhoods in the city, the relationships built through community, and the beautiful and important green spaces they operate on.  Even though I’m a foodie through and through, I think many of the precious gems in a city are its green spaces.  The parks, the gardens – nature’s aesthetics, you could say.  These markets bring new life to these spaces, attracting people who may not otherwise frequent the area.  They function as social gathering spaces, where ideas are exchanged, knowledge is passed on, and relationships are built.

In the heart of the financial and theatre districts lies the farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square*, just steps away from Roy Thomson Hall on King St. West.  This is a wonderful market.  You know, the kind of market that has so much in it that you have to do a once-over before you can fully make up you mind on what you want to purchase.  The kind of market that has a little bit (or maybe a lot) of everything – fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and vendors selling hot food off the grill for lunch.  It’s the kind of market that makes you want to plop down in the middle of it all with a picnic blanket, taking a morning or afternoon to enjoy the atmosphere, sights, and sounds. 

There was so much delicious food and so much beautiful colour.  There were baskets upon baskets of gorgeous red, yellow, and purple plums, tomatoes and peppers of green, yellow, and red, soft white, beige, and dusty brown mushrooms, and baby red, Yukon gold, and BLUE potatoes!  Oh yes, this is the market that made me squeal with glee over my highly coveted blue potatoes, the ones that I used to make my beloved blue potato salad over the weekend, the one inspired by a recipe in my August issue of Food & Wine.  And I do mean highly coveted.  After I did my once-over and ambled back to the potato table, I snatched up the last pint of blue ones.  Twas my lucky day!

But once again, I had to mentally smack my own hand away and exert control over my purchasing power.  I was a good girl and I walked away with only two things when I really wanted four.  Okay, five.  I came away with my potatoes as well as a little package of lemon pecan cookies, courtesy of More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd.  You all know I can’t resist a lemon dessert in any shape or form.  These cookies are absolutely divine and if there was some way of bringing home an endless supply of them for the rest of my life, I would be very happy.  They had plenty of cookies and baked goods for sale that day including giant ginger molasses cookies, peanut butter cookies, cranberry pistachio biscotti, lemon bars, and lots of tarts and squares.  I am getting myself a giant ginger cookie next time!

I feel extremely fortunate that I have access to these wonderful markets because not only have they provided me with fresh, local, and delicious food to buy, but they’ve also changed me as a person as they’ve inspired me to get creative with my meals and to take on a more active role in the kitchen.  These market visits are so much fun and ever since I started going to them on a regular basis, I find that I want to learn more, about the food and about the community.  I can’t imagine not going to them now and it excites me knowing that a new season will bring a whole bounty of new things to see and try.  Summer is far from being over though, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and enjoy every minute of it.

*****

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.