Sampling Cheese, Picking Up Dips & Cornbread, and Seeing Beautiful Food – Summer at Evergreen Brick Works

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Going to Evergreen Brick Works always feels like a special day trip right here in the city.  It’s like a little oasis, combining urban and grassroots with its nature trails, scenic gardens, and historic industrial heritage.  Evergreen Brick Works is a thriving hubbub of activity with so much more than just their Saturday morning farmers’ market to offer.  There are site tours, outdoor fitness activities, gardening and cooking workshops, programs and camps for children, film screenings, family pizza nights, tastings, beer and brewery gardens, a Sunday morning antique market, local food festivals, a lovely cafe and farm-to-table restaurant, a portion of the area dedicated to cycling and hiking with workshops and community events, expos and installations (they’re currently promoting their MOVE: Transportation Expo and let me tell you, it is fantastic!), and of course, the venue and host of some of the city’s most popular food events such as Toronto Underground Market and most recently, Lobster Love. 

My latest visit was my first since Earth Day in April and my first during the summer months in general!  I had never been to the Brick Works in the summer before so I was itching to visit the beautiful and gigantic outdoor market to pick up some delicious food, in addition to checking out the MOVE expo, eating at Cafe Belong (you knew a blog post on Cafe Belong would come eventually!), and walking around the grounds a little bit on a warm summer morning.  It was wonderful.  I was there bright and early, just before it got too hot and being there felt so nice and invigorating.  The farmers’ market was already crawling with a large crowd of people and it was so exciting to see the market in its summer form. 

I drooled over the fresh corn tortillas by Maizal, nibbled on one very delicious pork sausage and cheese roll that my boyfriend had bought (piggy in a cheese blanket!), sampled some amazing cheeses, and picked up some corn bread, two spreads and dips by Mad Mexican (a turtle black bean and jalapeno dip and a roasted tomatillo and avocado salsa!), and a beautiful and delicous fresh fruit tart with kiwi, candied oranges, and tiny bright red gooseberries!  Gooseberries aren’t something you see very often on baked goods and pastries and they were so sweet and cute dangling from their stem, all chubby-like in their cluster.  I wanted to share with you all some of my favourite photos from the market that morning and some of the things I loved the most including garlic scape pesto, gorgeous heirloom and yellow tomatoes, bright and colourful swiss chard stems, pints of blueberries and tomatillo peppers, “rainbow” green, yellow, and purple wax beans (these beans make for fabulous salads!), and lots of cheese!

I also love, love, LOVE that a whole section of the market is dedicated to prepared food.  It makes it so much to fun to eat and grocery shop at the same time!  On hand in the EBW market “food court” were LPK with their vegan baked goods, Chocosol, Mad Mexican chips, salsas, and dips along with Maizal corn tortillas, crepes, grilled cheese and scrambled egg sandwiches, cupcakes, salad plates, scones, waffles, and so much more.  One of these days I will do a market “food court” post and get a bunch of different things to show you all!  This visit was probably my most favourite out of all my trips and it was so much fun seeing Evergreen in all its summer glory.    

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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.

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Heirloom Tomatoes, Cherries, & Fresh Homemade Fruit Jams – The Summer Farmers’ Market at Liberty Village!

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The farmers’ market trek goes west this week with a visit to the Liberty Village farmers’ market!  It’s been months since my last visit (we’re talking last fall with pumpkins and cranapples!) and since I gave the east end some love last week with fresh summery posts on the Leslieville farmers’ market, brunch, sweets, and drinks at Hammersmith’s in Riverdale, and sweet tooth treasures at Sweet Bliss Baking Company, it was time to mosey on over in the other direction.  This week we welcome some fresh faces to the lineup from the west side of the tracks including goodies from Parkdale and The Junction.

First up: the Sunday summer market in Liberty Village!  What a difference a year makes.  Liberty Village continues to grow and thrive as a community and as a dining destination with new additions to the neighbourhood including the Softchoice Lunchtime Office Market on Wednesdays and the brand spankin’ new quesadilla cafe, Maizal, on Jefferson Ave. serving fresh corn tortillas, quesadillas, and weekend brunch.  This growth is also apparent in their farmers’ market.  Even though the market itself hasn’t grown larger physically, I felt like there was more to see this time around and I had myself an absolute ball snatching up some goodes and snapping photos!  Along with gorgeous, vibrant heirloom tomatoes, zucchini flowers, carrots, and peppers, the market was bursting with fresh farm fruit: cherries, cantaloupe/musk melon, apples, raspberries, strawberries, baby golden plums, and peaches were all on hand and ripe for the pickin’.

Up and at ’em on a Sunday morning!

And effectively, Liberty Village gave me a very delicious out and solution to my raw fruit allergy problem: fresh homemade fruit jam!  Cue me squealing like a 4-year-old!  I love jams and this is the first maket I’ve been to that has had a spread like this.  There were tables set up in a ‘U’ shape and each table carried one type of fruit with a corresponding display of homemade fruit jam and dish of bread and jam samples.  A cluster of raspberry jam jars were surrounded by a moat of raspberry pints, the strawberries with strawberry jam, and the baskets of peaches with bright, juicy peach jam.  It was so pretty to look at and even tastier to eat!  In addition to fruit and jam, there were tarts and shortbread cookies made with jam and jars of pickled vegetables including pickled beets.  I picked up a jar of pickled beets ($3) for my mum (she loves beets the way I love cookes), a jar of the most delicious peach jam ($5), and a sweet shortbread cookie sandwich ($1.75) with a star cutout in the center revealing juicy raspberry jam inside.

I am dying to make peanut butter and jelly cookie sandwiches and this peach jam would be perfect for them, along with the jar of apricot jam sitting pretty in my pantry.  Oh!  And thumbprint cookies!  And accompaniments to pound cake!  All the jams and jellies I’ve come across during market visits have been so yummy and amazing (like the mango chutney at the North York market at Mel Lastman Square) and I only wish I could have some of everything without creating a pantry avalanche in the kitchen.  I’m really happy with my little market purchases though and I’m glad I came back to the Libery Village to see how far its come and how much its grown.

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The Liberty Village farmers’ market takes place every Sunday from 9am-2pm in the Green P parking lot on East Liberty Street between Atlantic and Hanna Ave.  Liberty Village can be accessed from King Street West and Dufferin Street.  You can view Ate by Ate’s very first Liberty Village farmers’ market post HERE.

Sizzling Summer Markets – Summer Squash, Peas, Scallions, and More at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market

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Another summer weekend means another weekend market!  Between Evergreen Brick Works, The Stop at Wychwood Barns, the Junction market, and Liberty Village, there’s plenty of weekend market love to go around.  It’s been a little over a year since I started going to markets on a regular basis and it’s been amazing seeing how they transform between seasons and have they grow and evolve over time.  There are some markets I’ve only ever been to during the summer and some only during the winter so it’s a lot of fun seeing the differences and taking advantage of all the different food that comes along with these changes. 

In addition to visiting markets and seeing in seasonal lights, that are also a handful that I have yet to visit in general.  I have a list of Saturday and Sunday markets that I haven’t been to that I’m itching to scratch off including Withrow Park and most of the markets in Markham and York Region!  I know, I know – I live in Markham!  It was always easier for me to get around in Toronto though because of the day passes so that’s what I often opted for, but I have a strange way of getting around to things so I know I’ll get to them eventually.

For this particular market excursion, I made my way back to Leslieville!  I love the Riverside, Riverdale, Leslieville, and Beaches neighbourhoods along Queen East so planning  a trip to the Leslieville market is like planning an entire day trip because there’s so much to see and do!  It’s been months since my last visit – almost a year, actually, back in September when Jonathan Ashbridge Park was awash with fall colours and the air was chilly and crisp.  Not so much this time!  It was piping hot out, kiddies were running around screaming in the splash pool, and the market was busy and bustling with market goers and park enjoyers despite the sweltering heat.  It was so nice seeing the market so alive with activity.  Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops had completely sold out (and for good reason!), Hooked Inc. was on site grilling up fish tacos in fresh corn tortillas, and people were snatching up summer vegetables like they were nuggets of gold.    

Even though I’m a self-proclaimed summer wuss, I’m so happy I sucked it up and made the effort to go.  Every season has its own unique beauty and personality and both are evidently manifested and embodied at the market: in the environment, in the atmosphere, and of course, in the gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and bounty of food.  There were mountains of scallions in vibrant greens and purples, beets in shades of plum and bright pink, baskets of beautiful green beans, snow peas, cabbage, and baby Shanghai bok choy, adorable yellow patty pan squashes, crusty baguettes, summer sauces, spreads, and salsas, sweet potato donut holes from LPK Culinary Groove, vegetarian and vegan Indian food from Tiffinday, fresh farm cheese, and spring roll wraps, nut burgers, macaroons, and pesto spreads from my beloved market favourite, Earth & City

My brother and I love condiments, spreads, and sauces (we go through hummus, spicy mustard, and tzatziki like crazy) so I always pay attention to the jarred goodies at the market.  They’re great for sandwiches, vegetables, and things like chicken tenders, sausages, and samosas so we always have a few rotating in our fridge.  I snatched up a sundried tomato pesto spread from Earth & City ($5) this time around, but trust that I’ll give in and take home some chutneys, salsas, and other yummies the next time around! 

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Leslieville Farmers’ Market is located at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park is located in between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave., and can be accessed via public transit by way of the Queen Street 501 streetcar.  The market is new to the lineup of Toronto markets this year and is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.  The last market of the year is on October 28, 2012.  Visit their website to sign up to their newsletter, to get involved, and to learn more.

The Great Outdoors – Sweet Gardens, Green Space, and Food at the The Stop’s Outdoor Market, Wychwood Barns

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The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The market will be heading outdoors for the summer season starting next Saturday, May 26!  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

Vegan Treats & Baked Goods, Sheep’s Milk Ice Cream, & Lots of Chocolate! The Riverdale Farmers’ Market, Part II

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This is the first time that I’ve ever had to split up a farmers’ market post into two parts because of the number of photos I have of both dessert and non-dessert foods.  I know juicy fruits are sweet and dessert-like as well, but today we’re talking about oodles and oodles of fair-trade chocolate and chocolate baked goods, vegan baked treats, cinnamon rolls bigger than your hand, platters of fresh pastries, and sheep’s milk ice cream.  If you have a sweet tooth and you’re looking for a good variety of things to try (or, you know, to stick your face in), the Riverdale farm farmers’ market in Cabbagetown is really fantastic.  I wanted to take away so much more with than just my baby orange grape tomatoes and giant loaf of poppyseed egg bread but there was simply no way I could do that without 1) dropping everything and 2) squishing everything.  I had a lot of bags on me that day (my canvas tote, mini backpack, and my market groceries!), so my take-home sweets will just have to wait for another day.

BUT, that’s not to say I didn’t grab myself a little something to eat while I was there 😉  Before I get to that though, I want to show you all a bunch of delicious photos of ChocoSol’s table first.  I totally remember seeing them at the Bay-Adelaide farmers’ market last month (blog post forthcoming) and drooling over their vegan baked treats.  The sheer volume of chocolate they have on their table would make any sweet tooth beg for mercy.  ChocoSol is a community group dedicated to creating and maintaining trans-local relationships specifically through chocolate goods.*  They had bars and bars of fair-trade chocolate, as well as many vegan baked goods: gorgeous frosted cupcakes, fresh blueberry tarts, giant cookies (seriously, these cookies were the size of a small pizza), cookie cream sandwiches, and cake loaves. 

Oh!  And they have Mexican-inspired vegan drinking chocolate!  I watched a few girls order some and ohhhh man, did they ever look good.  The drinking chocolate is made by putting two pucks of chocolate and 1 cup of hot water in a blender and serving the drink cold with ice.  There is also an option of putting raw hemp (a protein-rich seed that is unprocessed) and agave sweetener in it as well.  When I looked at the finished product, it looked so creamy and refreshing and I can only imagine how good it tasted.  That Mexican drinking chocolate is going to be mine next time.

In addition to the chocolate and vegan baked goods, there were these delicious cranberry custard cream danishes on the same table I nabbed my poppyseed egg loaf.  While the rational part of me walked away without any because I knew they’d get squished and ruined on the way home, the irrational part said, “I want four!!”  The recognition of good self-control is really no consolation here.  I wanted those danishes! 

I did get myself something sweet though: honey vanilla sheep’s milk ice cream!  They had a number of  flavours that day including blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, coffee, and vanilla chocolate chip.  I got my honey vanilla on a cone (a small for $2.50) and I ate it right in the park on a park bench under a tree.  It was lovely, and really, not small at all!  The ice cream was sweet and creamy, with a noticable difference in texture from regular ice cream.  It was little less thick and dense and it was very good.  I’m really glad I got the ice cream to try, but good grief, I am still thinking about that drinking chocolate and those danishes two days after.

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The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market is located at 201 Winchester St. in Riverdale Park.  My way of getting here is to either walk along Carlton St. eastbound from Yonge St., or take the College St. streetcar eastbound to Parliament St. and Carlton.  From there, keep walking eastbound on Carlton until you get to Sumach St. and you’re there!  This year, the market is held every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm from May 17th to October 25th.

*source = ChocoSol website and blog

The Closest I’ll Ever Get to the Moo-Moos and Oink-Oinks – The Fabulous Riverdale Park Farmers’ Market, Part I!

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Good morning everyone!  The skies are bit overcast and cloudy right now (and as I am writing this, the rain has just started coming down), but I’m hoping that this fabulous selection of farmers’ market photos will lift your spirits.  After how the beginning of the week started off, I think we could all use a bit of good cheer.  I’m actually splitting up this week’s market post into two parts because it’s THAT big!  I’m going to save the sweet stuff for tomorrow’s post and just focus on the fruits, vegetables, and other goods today.  And there is plenty to show you all. 

I went camera snap-happy yesterday and for good reason: the Riverdale Park and Farm farmers’ market in Cabbagetown is absolutely incredible.  Week after week, my socks (or rather, my flats.  I haven’t worn socks in weeks!) have been knocked off by the sheer calibur of these markets.  I thought the market outside the East York Civic Centre on Coxwell was amazing.  Then I thought it couldn’t get any better after I went to the one in Mel Lastman Square.  And we all know what happened after that.  I couldn’t stop raving about the market at David Pecaut Square by Roy Thomson Hall.  My lovelies, my shoes have been knocked off once more.

The park itself is a wonderful green space, the type of space perfect for picnicking, sitting out on a bench with a book, walking and playing with your dog, and splashing around in the wading pool with your little ones.  The farmers’ market at Riverdale Park in Cabbagetown is remarkable.  It is HUGE, stretching from one side of the park to the other with white tent after white tent offering pints and baskets bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, baked goods, jars upon jars of jellies and preserves, ice cream (yes, ice cream!), and vegan chocolate sweets among other things.  The market is located at the north end of the park, where the park meets the street all the way to the entrance of the animal farm. 

Speaking of which, I’m really sorry for not being able to show you any photos of farm animals.  Just as the post title says, the market is the closest I’ll ever get to an actual farm because I am, unfortunately, allergic.  To hay, specifically.  And how did I come to find out about this allergy you ask?  The hard way.  Long story short, on a school field trip to the farm at the age of 6 in 1st grade, I began to choke and weeze so severely the teachers and chaperones had to remove me from the premises and from the other kids, and stick me in a porta-potty so my reaction would calm down.  I was taken to the doctor shortly after where I was told, “hey, you’re allergic to hay!  Oh, and you have asthma”.  Not in those exact words, but you get my drift.  Needless to say, farms and I don’t mix.  I may have outgrown my asthma, but sadly not the allergies.

Anyway, the market was chock full of sights, smells, and sounds yesterday.  The smell of fresh pizza, the sight of juicy, fuzzy peaches (which I am also allergic to, but that’s beside the point), tiny colourful bell peppers, the tiniest and purplest of eggplants (and I thought the ones I bought at East York were cute and small!), and the sounds of kids laughing and asking their parents were ice cream.  After purusing the market and jogging back and forth between vendors, I walked away with some amazing goodies: a large pint of baby orange cherry tomatoes and a hulking huge loaf of poppyseed egg bread! 

Oh my goodness, you have no idea how excited I was to get my hands on these two things.  For one, the orange cherry tomatoes were a steal.  While a number of other markets were selling them for $4 or $5, I got mine for $3 yesterday!  I was doing a happy dance.  Or as my boyfriend likes to call them, happy fists.  I tried one of the little orange tomatoes last week and I have never in my entire life tasted a tomato so sweet.  It tasted like a peach!  Everyone, you must get your hands on these.  They will make you wiggle with happiness.  Oh, and the bread.  Jeebus, I could not stop smelling my loaf of bread on the way home.  And I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it.  I am a big fan of poppyseed bread.  Really, I must have looked like a pothead on the bus, sticking my nose into a paper bag every so often.  It’s bread, y’all.  Very good bread.  And one very amazing farmers’ market.

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The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market is located at 201 Winchester St. in Riverdale Park.  My way of getting here is to either walk along Carlton St. eastbound from Yonge St., or take the College St. streetcar eastbound to Parliament St. and Carlton.  From there, keep walking eastbound on Carlton until you get to Sumach St. and you’re there!  This year, the market is held every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm from May 17th to October 25th.

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 😉

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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.