Edible Rainbow Veggie Hummus Bowls, Cheese, and Sustainble Fish – A Winter CSI Lunchtime Market

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One of the best things about winter farmers’ markets is its capacity to instantly cheer you up.  While the weather outside is dreadful, dreary, and depressing, everything at the market is alive with freshness, vibrant colour, and vitality.  Going to the market is such a healthy mood booster and it’s been so much fun integrating these visits into my life on a regular basis.  These visits rev up my inspiration, expand my knowledge of food, and make me that much more excited about writing and future blog posts.  Aside from my highly anticipated first trip to the Saturday morning market at Wychwood Barns earlier in the month, my farmers’ marketing has been pretty sparse since the new year and it’s only because of bad timing and lack of opportunity on my part.  I desparately wanted to go to another CSI Lunchtime market, so I made my way over recently to snap some new photos and to scope out the tasty goods!  My last visit to the CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) Lunchtime Market was actually before the Christmas holidays so this post-new year trip was long overdue!

To my delight, there were market vendors at the Spadina market that day that I had never seen before at CSI!  In addition to ChocoSol and Monforte Dairy, Luscious Dips and Toronto’s very own sustainable fish and seafood shop and educational space, Hooked, were there to bring fresh, organic, local, and sustainable food to the table.  THIS is what gets me excited!  Being introduced to new, local businesses and learning about growing food enterprises right here in our city makes me feel like the world is at my fingertips without ever having to leave town.      

What you see here is lunch, courtesy of Jesse’s Luscious Dips and Sara’s Nice Buns!  These are giant “bowls” of red cabbage leaves with cucumber and carrot slices, wedges of Sara’s famous homemade fougasse bread, and generous dollops of Jesse’s homemade vegetable and hummus dips.  Luscious Dips are bright, super colourful spreads and dips that are vegetarian and vegan, and perfect for pitas, chips, crostini, sandwiches, vegetables, crackers, and everything else you could possibly enjoy eating with dip!  I LOVE dips, spreads, and sauces (I mop up sour cream, tzatziki, hummus, and bean spreads like there’s no tomorrow!) so this is right up my alley!  Jesse has previously sold her homemade, vegetarian delights at Leslieville’s farmers’ market and I finally saw her at the CSI during this visit.

Luscious Dips come in reusable containers for $5 each and by golly is there ever a lot of dip in each container!  When I went to the new Maple Leaf Garden Loblaws last weekend with my family, my mum and I picked up a little container of butternut squash and caramelized onion dip along with an arugula pesto.  We only requested half a small container of each and that lasted us for days, so I can only imagine how far the Luscious Dips would go.  At the CSI market, Jesse had two flavours of dip on hand for sale: a bright, fuschia beet dip and a gorgeous sunny yellow, Indian-inspired garam masala spaghetti squash hummus.   

The beet dip was comprised of beets, navy beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, sunflower oil, cumin, cayenne, salt, and lemon zest, while the garam masala spaghetti squash hummus was made with roasted spaghetti squash, navy beans, lemon juice, sunflower oil, garlic, garam masala, tumeric, cayenne, and kosher salt.  There were samples of each with slices of cucumber and corn chips for dipping on a wooden serving platter and the whole set-up with the edible hummus bowls was just absolutely gorgeous.  It looked like a beautiful painting with the colours and smooth textures.  You could totally put Luscious Dips into little bowls and make a makeshift food artist’s palette at your next dinner party.  There’s an idea!

The whole premise behind the CSI Lunchtime markets is fresh, healthy, local convenience and that means offering food for lunch that can be enjoyed on the go or in the office setting and environment with no prepartion whatsoever – forget the office microwave!  Furthermore, staying true to the “innovative” aspect is the name of the game at the CSI.  When we think about our food, we can’t just think about it as an isolated entity.  We ultimately have to reflect on our environment, our cooking methods, and our health when we consider questions such as, “how can we minimize damage to the environment?  How can we increase the longevity of our lives in a positive way?  How do my decisions and overall lifestyle influence local foodsystems and vice versa?”  One of the ways businesses strive to be environmentally innovated is to offer products that produce less waste.  LUSH has been doing this for years with their solid shampoos and other products by using less or no packaging at all.  At Luscious Dips, enter the edible bowl!  No paper plates, no styrofoam boxes, not even a utensil!  Colourful, healthy finger food at its finest. 

Finally, I met Kristin of Toronto’s sustainable fish shop, Hooked, for the first time and being a seafood lover, this bodes well for me!  Hooked is a fish store located in Leslieville on Queen Street East that offers fresh, local, sustainble fish and seafood and exciting, educational classes and workshops.  In addition, their shop offers a teaching kitchen, experience, knowledgeable culinary staff that know their craft and are happy and willing to answer questions and explain cooking methods, cleaning methods, and other seafood related concerns and issues.  The shop not only sells fresh catch, but the shop also supplies a selection of cookware to handle the delicacy of fish and seafood.  Kristin, her husband, and the staff at Hooked are completely devoted to the Slow Food movement and believe that the food we eat needs to be handled with care and with the utmost respect, which means buying directly from producers, knowing and developing genuine relationships with the fisherman who catch the fish, knowing exactly when and where the fish were caught, and making sure quality control is maintained at all times. 

In a nutshell, the Slow Food movement is a grassroots movement concerned with moving away from the corporate, fast food model and counteracting the erosion of local, long-standing food tradtions by emphasizing traditional cooking methods, accessibility to fresh and healthy food, and food knowledge.  Hooked is committed to these values and I am so excited to visit their shop on Queen East sometime to learn more!  I’m really happy that I was able to come the CSI market again, especially since it won’t be around for much longer.  Rumour has it that next week will be the last of the bunch before the Lunchtime office markets make their way to ING Direct on Thursday, March 1st!     

   

 

*****

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-1:30pm.  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.

Bringing Fresh & Organic to Urban Cityscapes – Boardwalk Chocolates’ Vegan Truffles & Fresh City Farms

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Welcome to Part II of “Fresh Faces at the CSI Lunchtime Markets”!  Since I started posting about these markets back in October, I’ve shown you guys lots of photos of Earth & City‘s fabuous vegan food and yesterday I focused exclusively on the bread and baked goods made by Sara of Nice Buns.  Today I’m sharing with all you two new faces who joined the foodie team at the CSI markets several weeks ago: Fresh City Farms and Boardwalk Chocolates!  Both Fresh City and Boardwalk are local, homegrown Toronto businesses bringing fresh produce and vegan chocolates to the lives of Torontoians and beyond. 

Fresh City Farms is a program, initiative, and urban farming business that operates right in Toronto and their mission is to bring fresh produce, food knowledge, and awareness to urban farming practices and social food policy.  The very first time I learned of Fresh City Farms was actually during the summer at the University of Toronto farmers’ market at the St. George campus.     

What’s significant about Fresh City’s enterprise is their mission and their goals.  Let’s face it, many of us have grown up in urban environments that are far removed from the processes of food production and manufacturing.  It isn’t uncommon for people to go through their whole lives not knowing where their food comes from, how it was grown, who was involved in the process of food growth and creation, and all the other facets of production.  There is so much that goes into every bite of food we eat every day and whether our lack of knowledge is a result of a lack of learning opportunities, awareness, or open discussion, it’s an issue that many food producers and policy makers are attempting to remedy. 

This is where Fresh City Farms situates itself.  It functions as a local food business, providing fresh, sustainable, and organic produce and food products to the greater city of Toronto through its Fresh City box initiative.  Its mission is to provide the knowledge, tools, and connections to those who wish to engage in urban farming practices right in their own backyards or local neighbourhoods but can’t because of infrastructural issues or lack of resources.  

Their initiative is to bring awareness to Toronto’s foodways and policies, encouraging everyone to learn more about how they can make a difference in their diets, their environmental impact, and the ways in which food is cultivated.  The whole premise behind this mission is that the more connected we are to our avenues of food, the more we engage and learn about social life and the environments and resources that surround us.

Fresh City Farms holds the same belief as I do: that food is not just food; it’s a learning experience and a creative work constantly in progress.  Food is about labour, the environment, creativity, family, survival, relationships, and so much more.  Fresh City, along with Earth & City, Chocosol, and a host of other CSI Lunchtime Market team members, are guided by these same beliefs and values.

On this particular day, Fresh City Farms had wooden crates bursting with bright orange carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic bulbs, mushrooms, red cabbage, yams, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, fresh herbs, apples, pomegrantes, oranges, and blueberries.  Even though I was the first one to show up to the market that day (what can I say?  I’m a eager beaver), it quickly became busy with people buying bowls of pumpkin butternut squash soup from Cassandra’s Earth & City table (a first for Earth & City according to Cassandra!), nabbing some of Sara’s apple cinnamon walnut buns and bread, and grabbing bags of potatoes and other vegetables left and right.  Had I not been there right when the market started, I would have had one mighty difficult time taking photos!   

To add even more sweetness to the vegan delight mix, Siue Moffat and her Boardwalk Chocolates were there to lend a decadent vegan, gluten-free, and organic chocolate hand!  Boardwalk Chocolates is a chocolate truffle and candy confection business located in the Annex in Panacea Eco Shop just off of Bloor and Bathurst, and is the Great White North’s only vegan and gluten-free chocolate truffle company!  Siue and her chocolatey, fair trade, vegan creations can be found and enjoyed at different markets and events in town (check out their website for a listing of events and appearances) and this just in, now also at Sadie’s Juice Bar (Sadie’s Diner’s sister) in Kensington Market! 

The flavours of chocolate truffles alone will have you tripping over yourself.  We’re talking key lime pie, gingerbread caramel, banana split, lavender chestnut, almond orange, peanut butter cloud, sesame and banana with orange blossom water, and many more.  The truffles come in boxes of 4 ($5.50) with four different flavours in each (each box contains a different flavour collection, such a nut one, a dessert inspired one, and others) and at the market, they were also available individually for $2 a piece.  I honestly couldn’t believe what good prices the chocolates were.  All the truffles I’ve come across at other confectioners have been on the pricier side and although $2 is pretty average for a single truffle, $5.50 for a box of 4 is just fabulous.  I wish I had bought some that day, but alas, I didn’t and am totally kicking myself for it.  I am definitely planning on snatching some up for the holidays though! 

Boardwalk Chocolates also sells solid chocolate pieces, vintage chocolate molds of 60s inspired objects, and chocolate bark.  In addition to the sweet vegan delights, Siue also sells a zine version of her vegan dessert cookbooks, Lickin the Beaters 2: Vegan Chocolate and Candy!  I know many of you are huuuge fans of zines and vegan baking and desserts so I wanted to pass that along for those of you who might be interested in checking out the scrumptious literature! 

I’ll be really sad to see the market eventually come to an end and I hope the markets will continue on in some form in the new year because they’re so much fun and of course, delicious!  It’s amazing what you can learn just be going and I’m so happy to pass along everything I see and discover onto all of you.  It’s all about options and accessibility and it’s wonderful knowing that we have people in the city who genuinely love food in all its forms and who share their passion and creativity with the rest of us. 

*****

The Lunctime 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.

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.

Changing the Food Landscape & Our Accessibility to Food – Earth & City, Nice Buns, & Lunchtime Markets at CSI, Part II

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Imagine a world where the accessibility of healthy food isn’t an issue, isn’t a barrier to living life to the fullest.  Imagine a world where you could explore all the foodscapes you want without worrying about how, and how much it would cost, to get to those destinations.  Imagine equal opportunities to food.  It’s hard to envision, isn’t it?  We all come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and situations that either allow or inhibit our pathways to food exploration, and I don’t just mean exploration by way of eating great food, I mean seeing it, hearing about it, learning about it, and being exposed to it.  Not only is it important to theorize and critique our city’s food channels, but it’s equally important to find ways of improving these networks and to approach it from different angles.  It means pinpointing a problem, a missing link, or an oversight, and then coming up with ways to promote change for the better.

The Lunctime Markets at the Centre for Social Innovation on Spadina and in the Annex have started something wonderful because accessibility and exposure are both at the heart of the conceptual and theoretical premise behind it.  The Centre for Social Innovation Food Constellation began piloting this mini market at both CSI locations in October, and the plan was to host markets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30am-1:30pm for at least a month to determine its level of success.  Success at what exactly, though?  Answer: bringing healthy, local food to office buildings and institutions around the city that may not have the access or connections to engage in food culture and simaltaneously widening the consumer base for local farmers and food producers around the city and province.

I’m fortunate enough to have Facebook and Twitter accounts that allow me to communicate and build relationships with businesses and other food institutions around the city in this fashion, but not everyone cares to be a part of those communities, and not everyone has the same access to technology, transportation, and infrastructure.  The whole point of the Lunctime Office Markets is to develop reciprocal relationships between producer and consumer that otherwise may not have been created, and to give people options.  These mini markets do so much.  They 1) offer delicious, healthy food to either eat right then and there or to take home, 2) present food options outside of  the large chain corporation model that isn’t always inclusive, 3) break up the monotony present in office buildings and institutions that lack food pathways, 4) strive to bring the public food sector closer to the private one, and 5) grant people with the opportunity to learn more about local food businesses, producers, and entrpreneurs.

Several particular local producers and businesses that have really shined at the CSI markets since they started back in October include are ChocoSol Traders, Earth & City, Monforte Dairy, and Nice Buns Toronto.  I was treated to another gorgeous spread of food, with everything from heirloom peppers and vegetables to cheese to lamb barley soup to cocoa sourdough buns!  Cassandra and Lisa’s Earth & City brings a mouthwatering buffet of mostly raw vegan food to every market they participate in and they change things up all the time so that there’s always new and different items to try.  Their food is fresh, organic, seasonal, and always vegan, and their menu reflects this with different vegetables and fruits used in different dishes depending on their seasonal peaks. 

There were mountains of spring roll wraps just like my last time, along with huuuge veggie tacos made with collard greens wrapped around sunflower sprouts, tomatoes, dried cumin and chili, fresh corn, some sea salt, lemon juice, and cilantro.  They had their famous flatbread sandwiches made from flax, sunflower seeds, and onions, and served open-faced with tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, raw almonds, basil and oregano, among other ingredients, as well as vegan sushi!  The platter of vegan sushi was beeeautiful (it looked like a gorgeous painting) and because I was so in awe with its prettiness, I forgot to take down the list of ingredients.  I’m working on it, so for the time being, admire the photos!      

Earth & City always brings an offering of sweets along with their savoury foods and this time, we were treated to their vanilla and chocolate coconut macaroons made with coconut flakes, organic coconut butter, organic raw agave and cacao powder from ChocoSol, vanillia extract, raw almond flour, and sea salt, their frosted brownies, and their choco-peanut butter thumbprints!  I took away a cocoa sour dough bun from Sara’s Nice Buns and one of Earth & City’s vanilla coconut macaroons to enjoy on the subway.  I ate it in two bites and it was crunchy and creamy and all sorts of delicious.  I bought the bun for my mum and she shared some with my brother and they both thoroughly enjoyed and were pleasantly surprised when I told them there was cocoa in it!  I love that the menus are always evolving and I love that all the ingredients are listed under each Earth & City dish and item.

I love this market with a passion and judging by the crowds, I’m not the only one.  The market has exceeded its 4-week pilot period and I’m hoping so much that the concept and program will continue to grow and spread throughout the city.  There’s so much wonderful food to enjoy and discover among good company and little by little, these initiatives will hopefully spur positive change when it comes to our access to healthy food.

*****

Source of information: The Skinny on Maplekeys Lunchtime Office Markets

The Lunctime 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 Cozy Market That’s Fresh and Local – Earth & City, Nice Buns, and More at the CSI Lunchtime Market! Part I

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With fall in full swing and winter approaching, you might be inclined to think that that the farmers’ markets in the city have slowed things down.  Truth?  They haven’t.  Although many markets have recently packed up for the year, there are still plenty that are raring to go every week, offering more amazing food, baked goods, and fresh produce than ever before.  There are so many markets I want to revisit now that they’ve moved indoors for the rest of the season and into the new year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll have in store for the holidays! 

When I first started going to the markets on a weekly basis in late spring (sometimes visiting more than one in a week), I thought, “what will I do once they’re gone for the season?”  I thought I had exhausted most of my options over the course of the summer and the first month and a half of fall.  I was well aware that some of them operated year-round, but I still wondered how I was going to keep things active on the market front aside from going to one here and there during the winter. 

I had been bitten by the market bug and I wanted more.  I craved for the opportunity to keep learning, to keep growing and, of course, to keep bringing home delicious food!  Lucky for me, the market fairy came knocking on my door last month.  I was finding out about new markets sprouting up and new ways to engage in market culture.  I started reading magazine articles, learning more about circulating petitions and local market events (if I only I had known about Foodstock sooner!), following farms, vendors, and local businesses on Twitter as I came across them, and just immersing myself in whatever literature that was available to me. 

One particular market discovery in October has captured my heart: the Lunctime Market at the Centre for Social Innovation.  I admit it, I’m a devoted groupie.  After my first visit to the market at CSI in the Annex, I’ve become so invested in following this market and finding out as much as I can about the businesses that participate and how the market came to be in the first place as the market didn’t even exist during the spring and summer months.  I’m super excited to share these photos with you all tonight and I can’t wait to talk about the idea behind this growing market, and the wonderful, delicious food from Earth & City and Nice Buns tomorrow!  Be prepared – it’s going make you monstrously hungry.

*****

The Centre for Social Innovation (Spadina) is located at 215 Spadina Ave. on the 2nd and 4th floors of the Robertson Building.  They also have a location in the Annex at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox.  Nice Buns is located at 402 Queen Street East (visit their Facebook page here) and 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 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!

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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.