Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Bagels & Bread, and Glorious Dips & Spreads at the Leslieville Cheese Market!

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I have a wee bit of an obsession problem at the moment.  Let it be known that I am all over dips and spreads like a bad rash and that because of 1) the scrumptious homemade beet hummus from Luscious Dips (which, to my heartbreak, has relocated to Niagara Falls) during my blogging run at the Toronto Lunchtime Office Markets, 2) the fabulous spinach basil pesto and sprouted chickpea hummuses I purchased from my girls at Earth & City, and 3) the black bean and roasted avocado with tomatillo dips I bought from Mad Mexican at Evergreen Brick Works, I am hunting dips and spreads down the same way I hunt for lip gloss.  Oh yes, it’s THAT bad.  Granted, I don’t have a deep sliding drawer full of the stuff like I do lip gloss, but let’s just say that if these condiments didn’t have a shelf life and if my fridge was bigger, I would have swept Leslieville Cheese Market clean!  And this, my dear friends, is the long-awaited introduction to the Leslieville Cheese Market! 

It’s about darn time.  Considering how much I love cheese it’s any wonder I haven’t been here every week since I found out about its existence last year.  I finally stepped inside this glorious little gourmet food shop and market for the first time this month though, after pining over their grilled cheese sandwiches for months.  And now I almost wish I hadn’t.  Gone to the shop I mean.  There is way too much food I love here!  Not only is the shop teeming with fresh cheese, it also carries Fred’s Bread, St. Urbain bagels, smoked fish and cured meats , jams and jellies, fruit and nut bread loaves, crostini and crackers, a whole menu of grilled cheese sandwiches and soups, and dips!  Loads and loads of fantastical dips!  I’m positive most people come here for the bread, cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  I will come back because I want several containers of dip and spreads.  And a grilled cheese and soup.  But not before I buy a dip.  I can’t help it.  The second I slathered on my beet hummus dip from Luscious Dips onto my veggie sandwich back in March, it was all downhill from there.  I had been bitten by the homemade dip and spread bug and as a result, I have had a bad case of, “I just dip and dunk and spread this stuff on everything!”        

  

Leslieville Cheese Market, located at 891 Queen Street East (with 2 other locations in Toronto and 1 outside of the GTA), has an entire refrigerated section dedicated to spreads brimming with savoury flavours such as smoked salmon, roasted red pepper and white bean, basil pesto, red lentil dahl, baba ganoush, sundried tomato and tapenade, and artichoke blue cheese and walnut among numerous others.  It’s a little pricier than what I normally pay for (most of my spreads and dips have come in at around $5 with a few for $6) with most of the ones at Leslieville Cheese Market priced at $6.75, but the containers are relatively big and many of flavours are really unique so they just might be worth the extra $1 or $2 to check out and try.  My absolute favourite thing to do with my dips and spreads is to spread them on a tortilla, fill it with spinach and other vegetables, shredded cheese, and maybe some smoked turkey or tofu, and fold it over in half to make a quesadilla on the grill.  So, so delicious.

Another highlight of the Leslieville Cheese Market is their fresh bread.  I’m not even that much of a bread head (that would be my mum), but I LOVE fruit and nut breads and I’m a sucker for anything with herbs, so I was super excited to see that they had breads like pecan and fruit, and rosemary and olive oil.  Loaves of bread are also priced around the $5 to $6 range depending on the loaf.      

 

And of course, no discussion of the shop would be complete without a thorough breakdown of their grilled cheese!  I wanted to feature them during the month of April (read: National Grilled Cheese Month) but just wasn’t able to get around to it.  Even though I don’t have any photos of grilled cheese for you all in this post, I promise I will and in the meantime I figure we can drool over their menu.  Their grilled cheese sandwiches ($7.91 including tax) are made on light rye bread with your choice of the following grilled cheese filling combinations: provolone and beef summer sausage, ham and gruyere, chipotle tuna swiss melt, sundried tomat, artichoke, and chevre (goat cheese), a combo of white cheddar and a cheese called muenster, and cheddar cheese and bacon. 

And, there are dipping sauces!  There are 3 to choose from (balsamic ketchup, sweet thai chili, and piri piri which is a spicy blend) and if that’s not enough to get the motor running, there are also soups to accompany your grilled cheese such as corn chowder and potato leek.  Finally (I know, there’s more!), the cheese market also hosts cheese and wine night classes!  I may not drink, but learning about cheeses and pairings and nuances and regional differences and specifics sounds like a lot of fun and maybe in the future I’ll spring for something like it.  Right now though, I’m just feeling excited at the thought of sitting out on bench in the neighbourhood with a yummy grilled cheese and soup on a nice fall day and I can’t wait to do that sometime soon.

*****

Leslieville Cheese Market in Leslieville is located at 891 Queen Street East, east of Broadview Ave., with 3 other locations including a brand new one on Donlands Ave. just south of O’Connor Dr.

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Turkey Sandwiches, Scalloped Potatoes & Fish, and LOTS of Sweet Treats! Courense Bakery on Bloor Street West

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You know what’s better than a bakery that has cakes, donuts, pastries, tarts, mousse cups, cupcakes, and meringues?  A bakery that has cakes, donuts, pastries, tarts, mousse cups, cupcakes, meringues AND fresh baked bread, sandwiches, breakfast, pasta, hot food and plenty of space to sit and eat!  With Christmas decorations!  And a Christmas tree by the window!  Can you tell I’m excited?!  I absolutely lovelovelove bakeries that double as cafés and I happened across a fabulous one in Bloorcourt Village on Bloor Street West, sandwiched between Ossington and Dufferin just west of Dovercourt Rd. 

Courense Bakery is a pretty bakery that lights up from the inside out.  Its dark chocolate brown and frosted gold exterior beckons you inside like a homey Christmas gingerbread house and when I passed by it for the first time a week and a half ago, there was something warm, welcoming, and cozy about the way the lights from the inside shone through the front windows.  It felt like a place I could enjoy some hot cocoa in while inhaling the smell of warm bread and sugary spun desserts.

I had no idea Courense was a bakery and a sit down café!  I was so delighted when I walked in and saw all the tables and chairs to sit and eat on and I was even more delighted when my eyes landed on the trays and trays of beautiful white meringues with Christmas sprinkles!  The dessert and pastry display cases curved around in a J shape – like a candy cane – and carried everything from whole cakes, jelly roll cake slices, frosted cake slices, sweet puff pastries, vanilla cupcakes, donuts, tarts, meringues with Christmas sprinkles and chocolate sprinkles, custards, eclairs, cannolis, chocolate mousse, and more. 

It was so cute how some of the dessert were also decorated for Christmas.  The meringues and chocolate mousse had Christmas sprinkles and some of the pastries were coated in melted chocolate and/or powdered sugar with chocolate cigar biscuits and adorned with a little rainbow candy cane!  The dessert selection is AMAZING.  I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find something that strikes their fancy here!

Courense Bakery isn’t just a place to tickle your sweet teeth though.  They serve sandwiches, pasta, hot food, and breakfast!  Behind the display cases sits a wooden wall rack of fresh baked bread in the form of buns, kaisers, and giant loaves.  When you walk further into the bakery, closer to the back, you’ll find their selection of deli meat, cheeses, and hot food selections for the day.  Here’s the thing though: they don’t have a menu.  Which would probably confuse first-timers big time.  I’m here to the rescue though!  Once you figure out how their portions and pricing works the first time, you’re set for life. 

I know not having a menu with prices to look at might irritate some people (or at the very least cause a little confusion), but for me, it’s okay.  Of course I would prefer a menu to look at.  I can look over something slowly, consider my options, and order my food accordingly.  But the way I see it is that I have no qualms asking the nice girls who work here about the food and pricing.  I have vocal cords.  I am capable of asking questions to find out whatever information I want to find out.  It may not be the most ideal situation, but the food is great and I personally don’t mind because their food falls into 3 categories (sandwiches, hot food, and breakfast), making the situation manageable.  Some might counter back and say that one shouldn’t have to ask about food menu items and pricing and that’s fair.  I’m here to give you the good though, so this is just fair warning!

Courense Bakery serves sandwiches with their deli meats, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo, and mustard.  The flat price of a sandwich starts at $4 and lettuce and tomato are an extra $.50.  Their deli meats for sandwiches probably change on a regular basis depending on what they have on hand, but they have turkey, salami, and ham among others, and their selection of provolone and havarti cheese is delicious! 

Their hot food includes pasta, meats, and potato dishes and they serve them on large square plates fit for a hearty meal.  Each hot food plate entree comes in at $8.50 and you can mix and match your mains to fill your plate.  For example, you can have half a plate of pasta and half a plate of one of the other selections.  On this particular day, they had penne pasta with olives, feta cheese, red onions, tomatoes, and red pepper in olive oil dressing and herbs, roast beef in a marinara sauce, and a fabulous hot food dish of scalloped potatoes, tuna, flaky cod fish, and herbs.  I shared a plate of penne pasta and potatoes and fish with my mum and brother and shared a turkey sandwich with my mum while my brother enjoyed a whole turkey sandwich on his own.

The food is delicious.  We were especially over the moon with the scalloped potatoes and flaked tuna and cod!  I love scalloped potatoes and don’t eat them often enough so this was a scrumptious, shovel-the-food-off-the-plate-and-into-my-mouth treat!  The cod fish was white, meaty, soft, and flavourful and it was just all-around yumminess.  It was a warm meal that really packed a punch and it was great that we were given an ample portion of food on our plate.  I love potatoes and I love both flaky and meaty white fish so I was so excited to see a dish like this here! 

And their sandwiches?  SO.DARN.AWESOME!  Aside from grilled cheese, and vegetarian and cheese sandwiches, turkey sandwiches are my favourite.  You all know how much I love my turkey sandwiches from Raymerville Deli & Bakery and I’ve always tooted my horn that nothing would ever come close to those scrumptious sandwiches.  I think I’ve found an almost tie for my favourite turkey sandwich!  Courense Bakery uses this amazing soft-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside bread (I was enjoying my half of the turkey sandwich so much I forgot to ask what kind of bread they used!  I’ll remember to ask next time!) and the havarti cheese was deliciously rich and combined with the turkey breast deli meat, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard (just the way I like it!), it was a heavenly sandwich.

I can’t report back on the breakfast because I didn’t have any, but I know they serve breakfast because I saw egg breakfasts being brought to some people’s tables!  Courense is a great bakery with a ton of sweet options at very reasonable prices (we picked up huge jelly roll cake slices for $1.65 each!), and I can’t wait to come back for the breakfast, another turkey sandwich, more hot food, and those chocolate mousses!

*****

Courense Bakery is located at 1014 Bloor Street West between Ossington Ave. and Dufferin St.  The bakery is located just one block west of Dovercourt Rd.  In addition to the dizzying array of desserts and fresh bread, they serve breakfast, coffee drinks, hot food, and deli sandwiches.

The Market Is Here to Stay! Vegan Nori Rolls, Raw Pumpkin Tarts, Fresh Spring Roll Wraps and More at the CSI

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It’s official: the Lunchtime Office Markets at both Centre for Social Innovation locations are here to stay!  The office markets have been wildly successful with hungry workers and students, curious passerby, and dedicated market goers like yours truly!  What started out as a biweekly, fall market pilot project has now blossomed into a weekly extravaganza of fresh baked bread, organic and local produce, fresh farm cheeses, fair trade chocolate, and plenty of raw, vegan food lovingly made and sold by local businesses around the city and province.  I’ll be honest, I am absolutely ecstatic that the lunchtime markets are now a weekly occurrence –  twice a week no less!   

Back in October, I was hoping so much for the pilot to continue on well through the anticipated 4-week stint and for the market to become a weekly one as opposed to the biweekly one it started off as during its humble beginnings.  My wish was granted and my market-loving heart is so excited for the many future markets to come.  The market has plans to stay well into December but truthfully, I’m hoping for well into the new year 😉

Up until this point I had only purchased a few bits and bobs here and there including some bread from Nice Buns (I suggest you all try Sara’s cocoa sourdough and white bread buns) and St. Johns Bakery, as well as one of Earth & City‘s creamy coconut macaroons.  This time around though, I wanted a full out lunch and the spread didn’t disappoint!  I picked up a spring roll wrap, a vegan sushi/nori roll, and a pumpkin seasonal fruit tart, all from Earth & City‘s colourful and delicious selection of vegan food.  If you enjoy crunchy fruits and vegetables with a hint of sweetness, you need to try the spring roll wraps.  Made with apples, beets, carrots, red onions, walnuts, almonds, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey dates, sesame oil, and ginger, they’re all wrapped in rice paper and fresh, raw collard greens and they are so incredibly packed with nutrition and texture and sweet flavour because you get a mixture of fruit, vegetables, protein, fibre, and all that good stuff.  You get that sweet and spikey bite from the beets and plenty of crunch from the vegetables.

Now, you’re probably wondering how in the world I managed to eat this spring roll wrap without blowing up like a blowfish because there’s raw apple in it!  There isn’t too much in it so I managed to avoid a major allergic reaction.  I think the worst I got was a tiny red welt on my lip which went away fairly quickly, but no swollen tongue and mouth, no fire in my throat, and no excruitiating pain.  I know I was taking a chance eating something with raw apple in it, but I wanted to try one so bad I threw caution to the wind and figured I could always pick the apple out if the pieces were too big or if the amount was too much to handle.  Sigh.  The things I do for food.

The pumpkin tart was so incredibly smooth and creamy and it was great because it wasn’t overladen with spice.  It tasted fresh and natural, the way it’s supposed to.  The base of Earth & City’s seasonal fruit dessert tarts are made with a raw mixture of organic rolled oats and honey dates and filled with whatever fruit is seasonal and fresh.  For the fall months, Cassandra and Lisa have been filling them with apples, pears, and pumpkin and come winter, they’ll be using storage apples and peach preserves canned during the late summer in August.  The base is chewy as opposed to crumby, cakey, or flaky, similar to a granola and honey mixture, only naturally sweeter because of the honey dates.  I have to tell you, I actually prefer this type of base because for whatever reason, tart crusts and pie crusts don’t work with my tastebuds.  There’s always this bitter, dry aftertaste that I really don’t care for, so this oat and honey date tart base works for me!

And now, my personal favourite: the nori roll!  Earth & City’s vegan sushi is made with thin seaweed sheets rolled with cooked brown rice (one of the only food items of theirs that isn’t raw!) and stuffed with a variety of vegetables.  I LOVED the sushi so much, oh my goodness.  I had shittake mushrooms, red bell pepper, and sunflower sprouts and it was refreshing, juicy, and hearty because of the thick grains of brown rice.  Next time, I am getting myself an entire nori roll log!  Each nori roll is $2 and a nori roll log is $6 which translates into 4 rolls when cut.

The markets at both locations have done really remarkable things and by remarkable I mean getting people involved and getting people engaged in the food and the market itself.  When I go to these markets, I know it seems like all I’m there for is the food and the photos, but I’m also there to learn, to observe, and to listen.  Little do people know that while I’m snapping away and ogling all the yummies, I’m also listening to the conversations that go on between those who make the food and those who make the market possible by buying from these local businesses.  

There have been conversations about ingredients, about new and upcoming products, and about suggestions to make the market even more amazing than it already is.  It’s an awesome feeling being here in the hubbub of lunch hour when people are grabbing piping hot bowls of soup left and right, snatching up buns and loaves of bread, and taking the food they’ve bought and enjoying it for lunch.  You know a market means something to people when they bother to strike up these conversations in the first place because it means they’re invested and that they want to see the market continue and do well.  I can only see it getting stronger and I can’t wait to see what’s in store come December.     

*****

The Lunchtime Markets at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex and on Spadina take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively from 11:30am-1pm.  The Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) is located at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox.  They also have a location on Spadina at 215 Spadina Ave., 4th floor.

A European Bakery, Deli, Cheese Shop, and Sweet Shop All in One – Solero Mediterranean Bakery in The Junction!

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The west end of the city just keeps bringing on the amazing bakeries!  After a brief glimpse into the foodie and bakery scene in Roncesvalles Village and Bloor West Village, I figured it was time to give The Junction some love!  I would give you all the link to the indepth Junction post I wrote in the spring, but the internet sometimes works in funny (read: aggravating) ways and my beloved Junction post magically disappeared one day, lost forever and never to be seen again.  Some of might even remember it because it focused on vegetarian, vegan, and organic food in the area in addition to the history of the community and its introduction to the blog. 

I can’t even tell you how exasperated I feel about this, especially considering the post was part of the official Junction community blog.  I still haven’t been able to muster the brain power and heart to write the post from scratch all over again (I don’t even know how to begin to reconstruct an entire blog post from 7 months ago from memory), but one day I will because the black hole does not sit well with me! 

In a nutshell, the Junction community name is quite literal: the crossing of railways, specifically of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National.  Its name pays homage to the area’s deep, historical manufacturing roots in Toronto and much of this history continues to define the identity of the neighbourhood, with train graffiti art and murals on the side of buildings and Junction banners attached to lamp posts, proudly displaying images of the iconic railway tracks.  There’s plenty of the food in the area, with everything from vegetarian and vegan restaurants and bakeries to coffee shops to diners and organic markets.  Solero Bakery, located on Dundas West in the hubbub of the The Junction community just west of Keele Street, is such a gem.

Solero is a delicatessen, bakery, and pantry grocery shop all in one.  The deli portion of the shop serves fresh cheeses and meats, the bakery boasts loaves and loaves of bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, and sweets, and the grocery section is well stocked with staples such as jarred jams, olives, antipasto, bags of coffee and tea, spices, mixes, and sweets such as candies, biscuits, wafers, chocolates, and more.  

Everything about Solero screams European, especially Eastern European.  It’s here that you’ll find sweets from Croatia and Serbia: KiKi toffees and fruit candies (with their signature bright coloured packaging and clown logos!), Jadro milk and cocoa wafers, Napolitanke hazelnut wafers (Croatian), and Serbiam Yo D’Oro wafers and Eurovafel wafers with hazelnut cream filling.  There’s horseradish relish from Slovenia and some Western European treats from the UK, such as Jaffa cakes!  I’m a huuuge fan of European cream wafers and if I had to choose between Chinese ones and European ones, the European ones would win hands down.  They’re just so much more creamy and you need that in a cream wafer because otherwise, the wafer part is too dry and unappetizing to eat. 

In the deli, you’ll find cold cuts (turkeys, hams, salamis, pastrami, corned beef, and roast beef among others), sausages, Polish kolbasa, and a large variety of European cheeses.  Aside from different types of havarti and cheddar and a selection of gouda, provolone, brie, mozzarella, and asiago, Solero carries Danish blue cheese Rosenborg, edam Dutch cheese, kefalograviera Greek cheese, and Jarlsberg Norweigan cheese.  

I’m a lover of cheese and just looking at the menu board makes me salivate.  All I can think of is, “I am going to grab some bread from the bakery, get some meat and cheese slices, and slap me a sandwich!”  There’s so much cheese here that I’ve never tried or even heard of and I can’t wait to get my hands and tastebuds on some fresh cheeses and deli items for sandwiches one day.  Everything is priced by weight (per 100g) and their selection varies depending on their supply.  If they don’t have it, they cover up the menu item listed on the menu board and leave the items they do have out in the open uncovered.

I mean it when I say I need to come back here to make me a fresh sandwich because their bakery is wonderful.  They had a wall of fresh baked bread, a glass case with cakes and mini desserts, and wooden trays of pastries and cookies that included muffins, poppy seed and walnut streusels, cherry, lemon, and apple danishes, apple turnovers, chocolate croissants, broccoli and spinach pies, gingerbread man cookies, and sugar cookies with sprinkles!  My favourites were the little pink sprinkled ducky and bunny cookies!

I was in awe of the prices.  I couldn’t believe that there were giant loaves of rye, caraway, calabrese, French, and Italian bread for $0.75, $1.75 and $2!  I know I’m not the only one who sadly sighs about rising food prices these days, so it made me so happy to see such reasonable prices for bread here and I’m so looking forward to taking my mum and my brother here someday.  They love bread so much and I usually stand back and let them have their fun picking out all the bread they want because I’m pretty indifferent about it.  I know they’re going to love Solero so much and as my brother said, “we’ll shop Supermarket Sweep style!”  I don’t doubt that.  While they’re picking out eleventy billion loaves of bread, I’ll be filling up a basket with cheese, chocolate, and wafers.  I cannot wait to go back.

 

*****

Solero Mediterranian Bakery is located at 3029 Dundas Street West in The Junction neighbourhood, west of Keele Street.

The Fall Harvest Series – Today’s Thanksgiving! Enjoying Baked Goodies From Evergreen Brick Works, Part III

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Happy Thansgiving to all my fellow Canadian lovelies!  I hope everyone’s had a fun and relaxing long weekend and I hope you all got the chance to eat some amazing food, with or without the turkey!  I’ve had a fabulous weekend, going to Evergreen Brick Works with my family for the first time, having a delicious Sunday brunch at Cardinal Rule (blog post forthcoming!), visiting two more markets on Sunday, and catching up on some much needed sleep today!  There’s so much that I want to do and see still (I still want to get in an apple orchard visit for starters!), and I feel like the days and weeks go by so quickly I can never get everything I want done actually done.  I will say though that this weekend was fantastic and I’m glad I got to fit in so much of what I wanted to do. 

I am bummed though that I wasn’t able to get out and capture a Thanksgiving meal to the nines for you all though.  There were some amazing Thanksgiving feasts being put on by some really places in the city, but the timing just didn’t work out for me.  No extravagent Thanksgiving meal photos – not for this year anyway!  Even though my family and I fancy the idea of traditional Thanksgiving food (you know, the roast turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, that kind of thing), there have been very few times in my life that I’ve actually had that type of meal with all the trimmings.  Just think, the first time I ever had pumpkin pie was last October and the last time our family did the big Thanksgiving dinner with the turkey was five years ago!

Mini pumpkins from Kensington Market. Awww ❤

Amazing mini buns from Evergreen Brick Works!

Do I wish that I had more of those meals to enjoy?  Sure I do, but at the same time, I’ve been really happy just having fun with the season in other ways.  I love fall comfort food and baking, and every year I get excited about the festiveness that surrounds Thanksgiving.  My brother and I love watching the Thanksgiving episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I adore reading holiday-centric books (the Baby-Sitters Club fan in me is still alive and kicking!), I get inspired by scrapbooking fall themed pages, home decor and kitchen accessories, and flipping through fall food magazines and cookbooks.  I may not have the tradtional meals under my belt, but what I have are sweet memories from Thanksgivings past (I don’t think I’ll ever forget the amazing spread my aunt put out when I was 9!), wonderful, homecooked food, and a family, boyfriend, and friends to go through life with.

    

Pumpkin cranberry scones!

I’m bookending the Evergreen Brick Works fall series today with a look at some of the mouth-watering baked goods at the market!  Bread and baked yummies and sweets are definitely a weakness for both my mum and I.  She’s a breadhead and I have a sweet tooth, so together we basically carry a whole bakery home with us when we decide to purchase things.  The market is amazing for things like this because there’s so much variety.  Different kinds of baguettes, loaves, and buns, muffins, cakes, pies, squares, pastries, and all sorts of other goodies.  We picked up a beautiful and delicious mini vegetable and cheese pizza  for my lunch, a blueberry maple syrup scone (OH.MY.GOD), a raisin muffin, and a grab bag of 8 mini bread buns in all these different flavours!  The grab bag had plain ones, wheat ones, corn bread, pumpkin, and BEET BREAD!!!

As my family and I were waiting for the Evergreen Brick Works shuttle bus, there was this nice woman who we chatted with who told us about the famous beet bread at the market and we totally lucked out finding the vendor and bakers who made it.  I’m a weenie though because in my giddy haste over cute buns I didn’t take a photo of the booth itself or get the name of the lovely people behind it.  All I can tell you is that it’s one of the first tables you see on the left when you come into the farmers’ market barn.  I promise I’ll get the name for you guys next time!  The bread was absolutely delicious and I loved it because we were able to try so many different kinds in the grab bag.  We popped them in the oven for our Thanksgiving brunch this morning and they were crispy on the outside and mega soft on the inside.  Every farmers’ market has its own draw and for me, this would have me coming back for more all on its own.

I’ve enjoyed doing the Fall Harvest series so much over the past week and there’s so much more that I want to show you guys that I’m going to continue the series intermittenly for the rest of the month!  I would keep it going every day for the next two weeks or so, but if I’m going to be honest, I am so behind on my scrapbooking that there are certain posts I don’t want to post because I want to do my scrapbook pages for them first.  I’m having a lot fun with the series though, so I’m not going to stop it until winter hits.  There’s still too much pumpkin fall fun and delicious food I have yet to unleash 😀

*****

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 – Spring Roll Wraps, Pumpkin Fruit Tarts, and More at the Centre for Social Innovation Market!

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A photo sneak peek for tonight before I dish out the full post tomorrow morning!

***

Sometimes Twitter is like a ray of sunshine.  Last Thursday, I managed to catch a tweet from Cassandra of Earth and City saying they wouldn’t be at Wychwood Barns on Saturday, but would still be at Sorauren market on Monday and the “@csiTO market” on Tuesday.  I did a double take.  What in the world was @csiTO and how did I not know about this??  Enter the clickity-clack noises of my fingertips flying over my keyboard as I added and followed @csiTO on Twitter and looked them up on Google.  I found out through their Twitter home page that they were actually not a forensic crime fighting team here in Toronto (I know, bad joke, har har), but instead the Centre for Social Innovation, a centre designed to encourage those with social entrepreneurial ideas and skills to bring those ideas to life through local and transnational community involvement. 

The Centre for Social Innovation is, in my opinion, a grassroots think-tank for people from all walks of life to come together to provide support and inspiration, and to discuss and implement programs and changes to social life, whether it be environmental issues, infrastructure, economic, and everything in between.  The focus is building relationships in the community and bringing about change, for the better.  Their spaces are open and welcoming, and anyone can come in to learn more, get involved, and pitch in.  They offer spaces for groups to come in and use for meetings and the like, and they currently serve two locations in Toronto.  The newest located in the Annex is just south of Bloor West on Bathurst Street, and a new location is set to open in Regent Park on Dundas East in the new Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre.

To make this post even more Twitter-tastic, guess how I found out about Earth and City?  You guessed it, Twitter!  I heard about – and saw – the amazing delicious food made my Cassandra and Lisa from my friend Jen, vegan baker and superwoman behind Apiecalypse Now.  I don’t know how I missed them at Sorauren during the summer, but there was no way I was going to miss them this time at a new market I had never been to in a venue I wasn’t even aware of! 

Ah, and there’s a reason for that: the market at CSI on the Annex is a new one.  They just launched their mini market and for the time being, the market will be there every other week until they can expand and run the market weekly, which I really hope they do!  Although the space looks a bit industrial and warehouse-like on the inside, I think there’s a great homey feel to it and it’s wonderful and welcoming with tables, chairs, and couches.  There’s a fully stocked kitchen with dishes and utensils and everything that everyone is more than welcome to use while they’re there.  I love that.  Grab some fresh food at the market and sit down and eat it.  I am totally doing this the next time I come!

The market was almost set up like a buffet, with a long table full of Earth and City’s raw vegan goodies, fresh bread from St. John’s Bakery in Toronto, cheese straight from Ontario farms, olive oils and vinaigrettes (which I sampled with some small chunks of bread – the pizza oil is fantastic!), and plenty of organic, vegan, fair trade chocolate courtesy of Chocosol who have just been all over the map during my farmers’ market visits!  I’ve featured them before in my Riverdale farmers’ market post, along with some photos here and there from other markets, so go have a look see!  Even though the market was small, the spread was fantastic and that’s what it’s all about – quality.

Earth and City changes up their farmers’ market menu on a consistent basis, so you never know what goodies you’ll come across when you visit them (unless of course you follow them on Twitter and they tell you).  Yesterday’s yummies: fresh spring roll wraps stuffed and made with rice paper, apples, carrots, beets, walnuts, almonds, honey dates, red onion, collard greens, ginger, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  I don’t care, I am going to throw caution to my raw apple allergy and get one of these if I see them again for next time.  I figure I can just pick out the apple with destroying the wrap.  They look delicious. 

Also on their menu were their flatbreads, homemade frosted brownies, chocolate macaroons made with coconut flakes, organic cocoa butter, organic raw agave, and raw almond flour, and…pumpkin fruit tarts!!  I honestly should have bought one because c’mon, it’s a scrumptious-looking, to-die-for pumpkin tart!  But I had already bought cookies in the morning.  I’m going to kick myself, sigh.  I did, however, walk away with some bread rolls from St. John’s Bakery and they were delightful with green onion it.

The market was cozy, intimate, and lovely and I am SO glad I went.  I can’t wait for their next one and after checking the calendar, it looks like they’ll be there again on the 18th.  I will be there, ready to eat until I roll out down the street.

*****

The Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) is located at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox.  They also have a location on Spadina at 215 Spadina Ave., 4th floor.  Earth and City serves several farmers’ markets in the city (most notably the market at Wychwood Barns on Saturday and the Sorauren market on Monday), as well as Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market.  They do catering and orders, so visit their site and blog here for more information on their food, mission, and menu.

The Love, Excitement, and Energy at My Market Bakery in Kensinton Market

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There are so many reasons why I love writing this blog.  Not only do I feel giddy anticipation when I try out a new place, explore a new neighbourhood, or create a story through a scrapbook layout, but I also love feeling the energy of everyone around me when I’m at a great foodie place.  I feed off of it (no pun intended!) and I immerse myself in the hustle and bustle.  Every great foodie place has a story, a history, a personality, and a life.  And I love watching everything that goes on around me. 

Some people might say that I miss out on actually experiencing experiences when I’m so busy capturing the flurry of activity around me, that I can’t enjoy the moment because I’m too busy trying to capture it.  I don’t disagree entirely because it can be easy to lose those special moments when you concentrate too hard on trying to get that perfect shot or when you start overthinking things.  But for me, I don’t ever feel like I’m missing out.  I feel richer, more alive, and even more inspired after these experiences.  As an old elementary school friend once said to me years ago, “see, Debra, you remember things because you observe everything around you.  You’re a human archive”.  I thought that was so cute.

This bakery in Kensington Market makes me feel all sorts of happy.  I cannot get enough of it.  A million thoughts run through my mind even before I reach for that door handle to the bakery: ‘what treats will they have today?’; ‘ Will they have those cute meringue tarts I saw the last time?’;  ‘What kinds of sprinkled shortbread cookies are out?’; ‘ Can I just have one of everything??’  The prices are so good – my family and I walk out of here with mounds of cookies and pastries and a few loaves of bread for barely $10.  My mom and brother love picking out fresh loaves of different breads (they are both what I call “bread heads”), and I love ogling the adorable, colourful, and super delicious displays of cookies just bursting with sprinkles and frostings and jams.  I love the baby lemon shortbread cookies, anything with sprinkles, their apricot almond squares, and the mocha frosted tea cookies (shown below on the far left) are to DIE FOR.  I could eat a whole box of them oh my god. 

I know some people may not enjoy being around crowds, but I absolutely love it when it’s piping busy here.  As my mom and brother are choosing their bread of choice (sweet potato and rosemary sourdough?  Light rye?  Garlic and onion buns?  Olive bread?  Raisin bread?), I back away and for a minute time stands still as I feed off the energy around me.  Arms are flying and reaching out from behind us, grabbing loaf after loaf of fresh bread.  Little ones have their little hands and noses pressed up against the glass displays trying to decide which cookies they want.  And plenty of young-uns my age breeze in and out with their backpacks bursting with vegetables from the markets down the street, hopping on and off their bikes with their purchases slung over their shoulder.  For a minute, everyone’s enjoying life and basking in the simple pleasures.  And then there’s me, quietly taking it all in and thinking about how delicious my desserts are going to taste 😀  All from an amazing bakery very near and dear to my heart.

*****

My Market Bakery is located at 184 Baldwin St. in Kensington Market.  The bakery is located west of Spadina Ave. and south of Nassau St.