A Taste of Spring, A Taste of Summer – Farmers’ Market Season & Ate by Ate Are Back!

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Happy first day of June everyone!  While the season of beaches, sand, and endless sunshine doesn’t officially start until June 21, I think it’s safe to say that June 1st is the unofficial kick-off to the summer season and all the amazing things to come in the coming months.  We got over the May long weekend hump (which, ironically enough, is almost always chilly by our standards!), we’ve been peppered with a few days of muggy weather over the last week or so and now we’re fully immersed in the farmers’ market season!  A number of markets have made their return in May (including Leslieville, Trinity Bellwoods, Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square, East York, Metro Hall at David Pecaut Square just to name a handful) and a long list of others will be joining the market family for the season in June.  Given how I’ve been away for the last little while, I’m obviously behind on my market lists but rest assured, they’ll be up this week with updates and the like for markets in the Toronto and York Region area.

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I am so happy to be back and to put some things behind me.  I needed that time to completely annex myself from the blogging community and from most of the online world with the exception of checking e-mail (unfortunately, there was no running away from that one).  So far, 2014 has been…trying, to say the least.  Looking for work, dealing with winter, and making some revelations about people in and outside of the blogging community has not been fun.  At all.  It’s one thing to know when folks are trying to take advantage of you and giving your best one-two punch in return to stand up for yourself, but it’s a whole other can of worms when it becomes blatantly obvious that many will stoop to the level of scum to get what they want and have no issue pulling the rug out from under you when you’re not expecting it.  And let me be clear that while some of this applies to me, some of it does not.  Some of it is seeing it happen to others.  And it has sickened me.  Stealing content and ideas.  Taking credit where credit isn’t due.  Not being up front and playing people as fools.  Using someone to pimp them for information.  All without shame.

It’s been one hiccup after another and there were times during those low moments when I would think, “what is the goddamn point to all of this?  I’ll just stick to my own craft and scrapbook and not share ANYTHING of mine with anyone because people are freakin’ tools and be done with all of this garbage!”  And then my mum would remind me, “but your blog is your baby.  You gave ‘birth’ to it and you would never give it up.”

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And as much as I hate to admit it when my mother is right, she was right.  I’ve devoted 20 years of my life to a love of art and food; in spite of all that “garbage”, it didn’t make any sense to let any of this go.  It was so important to remind myself why I love doing what I do and the things that make me happiest.  Tune out the numbers game that folks try to play, tune out the one-upping, tune out the negativity and just be strong and focus on the pure love and passion for the craft.

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So while I haven’t blogged, I haven’t stopped photographing, I haven’t stopped exploring (well, except when it was unbearably cold), and I most certainly have not stopped eating!  I started going to the markets again and actually went two weekends in a row at the crack of dawn recently (hopped on a bus at 6:30am!) and shopped and photographed my brains out.  Simply because it made me happy.  The market at Wychwood Barns moved outdoors earlier in May which made for some beautiful shots and I was able to pick up a ridiculous amount of fresh food: gorgeous baby kale, beautiful arugula (if my memory serves me right, I bought 4 bags), amazing local cheese, black bean vegan burgers and navy bean parsley pesto from Earth & City and so much more.  Aside from cupcakeries, tea shops and afternoon tea, markets are truly my happy place because you can tell your story through photos alone.

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Cassandra from Earth & City really tugged at my heartstrings during one of those weekend visits when she introduced me to one of their newer hires: “Deb blogs and she was there with us during our first months years ago and we were so excited because, ahhh, press!”  And there it was right there, why any of this is meaningful.  Because not only can we quietly make a positive impact on others through what we do but along the way we make friends, meet good people that make us believe that the good has a shot at outweighing the bad, and we become special notes and memories in each others’ life stories.

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For all of Ate by Ate’s Wychwood Barns farmers’ market posts, click HERE

For all of Ate by Ate’s farmers’ market posts over the years (84 and counting!), click HERE

For all of Ate by Ate’s posts on vegan food producer Earth & City (and plenty of mouthwateing food porn), click HERE

The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  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

Photo Spotlight on Bun-wiches, Grilled Cheese & More Food at Crème Fraîche Market Cafe!

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Crème Fraîche Market Cafe is a cafe and local food shop located in the west end of Toronto in Annette Village/The Junction neighbourhod at 639 Annette Street.  The shop is just several blocks west of Runnymede Road and south of Dundas Street West.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays), from 8am-8pm.  Visit their official website HERE.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, It’s Beautiful Day for a Market – A Trip to Trinity Bellwoods!

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bellwoods collage2Last Tuesday was one of the most topsy-turvy days I’ve experienced all year.  I was taking a vacation day from work as a “me” day and I had my fun day all planned out: lots of yummy food, walking around town, a little bit of shopping, and oh, going to the amazing Taste of PEI and PEI Cooking Challenge event taking place at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village and MEETING MICHAEL SMITH!  Holy shit on a stick.  Rest assured, you will all see and hear about it once I get my wits together and bang out those posts in the new few days!

But was last Tuesday ever a rollercoaster.  One minute I was in such happy conniptions I was ready to jump out of my skin, the next I wanted to cry because my head was pounding so hard from an oncoming migraine that couldn’t decide if it wanted to just call it a day and leave me alone once and for all or, well, kill me.  I could not believe my rotten luck.  SERIOUSLY.  On the day I was set to immerse myself in PEI cuisine and Michael Smith’s presence.  The sheer coincidence was worthy of an eye-roll and a few choice curse words at the very least.  It really shouldn’t have come as any surprise though.  The weather had been shit: it was cool and overcast, then drizzly, then back to overcast, then sunny and warm, then uncomfortably warm and it’s any wonder I made it through the entire day in one piece.

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Then as soon as I thought the dull pain in my head had subsided, my feet decided to revolt against me.  I mean, I know I was walking around town in Mary Janes but in my defense, they had nice rubber soles and were quite comfortable aside from the fact that the strap on my right shoe was strangling my right foot because my right foot is lame and is slightly bigger than my left.

Even after that, I made it out at the end of the day happy and excited and so full of joy.  And a part of that joy came from making a return visit to the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods!  It was Tuesday, the event didn’t start until 4pm, the market started at 3pm, and I was only a hop, skip, and step away from Ossington which would take me straight into Liberty Village on bus.

IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

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I miss going to weekday markets SO MUCH.  Coming back to this one felt like home.  I snapped photos of beautiful asparagus, granola cookies, the pretty rainbow of colours in Evelyn’s Crackers’ packaging (my boyfriend is quite the fan of their stuff and I’d recommend their lavender shortbread!), the cutest of mushrooms and baked goods among other yummies.  Highlights?  Seeing Apple Mint being sold by Wooler Dale Farm (I didn’t know such a thing existed!), drooling over lemon ricotta croissants and apple, coconut, almond granola from Breadsong, snapping shots of the gorgeous yellow oyster mushrooms from The Mushroom Man from Waymac Farms (can you imagine how awesome these would look on a mixed mushroom pizza or flatbread?!  It’d be gorgeous and most likely delicious), and seeing the giant Trinity Bellwoods market banner strung over the fence by the kids playground in the park.

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Markets are so integral to our communities and woven so tightly into our communal fabric.  It’s a beautiful thing to see and an even more beautiful thing to be a part of regardless of what part of town the market is in or the size of it.  No matter how many times you go to the same market, there will always be something a little different to see, to try, and to explore.  Looking back at my Trinity Bellwoods market posts, with the exception of nice asparagus in the spring posts, nothing is exactly the same and that’s a good thing because while consistency is nice, it’s the new and the different that will keep things fresh and keep everyone engaged.  I’m happy I braved my head pain to make this visit and while I didn’t pick anything up to bring home this time around, I can’t wait to come back later on in the summer during my time off and really take advantage of the market groceries!

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The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm.

It’s Good to Be Back at the Market – Fresh Cheese, Vegan Eats, Pies, Sprouts & More at Wychwood Barns!

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The Stop Community Food Centre booklets at Wychwood Barns farmers' market.

My left arm hurts from carrying my heavy load of market groceries.  My shoulder blades and neck are a wee bit sore from being wrapped in a heavy-duty scarf for most of the day.  And I’m just a little sleepy; leave it to me to wake up at 6am in the morning on a Saturday to go to the farmers’ market in the cold blowing snow/sleet/wet crap!  Who needs to walk when you can let the gusty wind push you along?  All I needed was a long coat and hat and I could have passed for the city gal version of Mary Poppins with a pink umbrella!

Despite the less-than-stellar weather, my trip to The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns yesterday morning was SO WORTH IT.  Even though I came home cold with rosy cheeks and just a tad on the wind-whipped side, I came home happy and so full of joy with some of the best food from the market in my grocery bag.

Root vegetables at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Carrots, potatoes and onions at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

The Stop farmers' market at Wychwood Barns

It’s been months since my last farmers’ market trek.  Not just months since my last post, but literally months since the last time I went to a market at all.  The last time I went to one was back in December and that was to Evergreen Brick Works where I lugged home bags of kale, salad greens, and butternut squash.  I know taking a break from blogging after that was something I had to do but since that last market visit, it’s almost as if a part of me was missing.  A part of me that so desperately wanted to go to the market and do blog-related things but couldn’t because I was tired and because I knew I had to sacrifice some of that precious blog time to take care of other aspects of my life that need my attention.

Going to the market yesterday for first time in nearly 4 months was like a breath of fresh of air.  It felt SO GOOD.  Like that something missing had been fully stored.  I had missed it so much and as sappy as it sounds, it’s stuff like this that makes you appreciate all the good things in your life.  The stuff that puts you in your happy place and makes your life so content, rewarding and satisfying.  I saw market vendors and friends, I took a ridiculous amount of photos (93!), I stuffed my hungry face with samples, learned about food, picked up a bunch of new food literature, and filled my grocery bag with some delicious eats!

vegan desserts by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

chocolate and vanilla macaroons by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

lentil-walnut vegan burgers by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Yorktown Pie Company at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

butter tarts by Yorktown Pie Company at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

A trip to The Stop Market at Wychwood Barns is never complete without fresh vegan eats from my beloved Earth & City and Yorktown Pie Company!  Cassandra from Earth & City was on hand with spring roll wraps, lentil-walnut burgers with sundried tomato puree, red onion, and collard green leaf “bun”, kale and arugula pesto, and a mountain of mouthwatering vegan sweets including their famous vegan brownies, chocolate and vanilla macaroons and cowgirl cookies, cookies with oats, almonds, banana, honey, dates, cinnamon and sea salt.  And Yorktown?  They had their famous mini butter tarts, chocolate chip cookies, and plenty of meat and vegetarian pies and pastries including spinach and ricotta, spinach and feta, chicken, steak and Guinness, mushroom and leek, and good old fashioned sausage rolls!

I happily picked up a container of a lentil-walnut burger, vegan brownie, and a container of kale and arugula pesto from Earth & City, and a sweet butter tart from Yorktown to bring home.  I cannot wait to come back to see if I can snatch up my favourite apple crumble and apple sour cream pies (what some have referred to as “apple crack”) the next time!

Chocosol coffee and chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol fair trade chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol coffee and chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol fair trade chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Between snapping photos and picking up food literature, I also added some walnut-raisin buns to my grocery bag from St. John’s Bakery, some AMAZING fresh-as-a-daisy Black Peppercorn goat cheese from Crosswind Farm who makes, by far, the best goat cheese EVER in the most delicious flavours (feta, maple cream, herb, green and red peppercorn, garlic Italian blend and a brand new creamy brie-style goat cheese), and a GIANT bar of Luscious Coconut chocolate from Chocosol.

It was so awesome seeing Chocosol’s fantastic selection of fresh cacao bars and beans and thanks to Chocosol’s Yanni (I hope I’ve spelled your name right!), my boyfriend and I learned the process behind Chocosol’s fair trade chocolate: cacao beans are roasted; shells from the roasted beans are then removed via fans which blow the shells off; the fresh cacao is then stone-ground into a paste, which is then tempered a number of times before flavourings and seasonings are added to create their famous flavours such as their hemp, spicy chili, dark and more.  Taking it all in was like cacao 101 which was awesome!

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

During this visit I also discovered some fantastic new vendors!  Now, these vendors aren’t exactly brand new to the market but they’re new to me.  First up, Essa Sprouts!  I love pea sprouts and shoots and sunflower sprouts like nobody’s business and Essa Sprouts grows everything from sunflower sprouts to sprouted chickpea, daikon radish, pea shoots, buckwheat, alfalfa, crunchy bean and more.  They have so many different types of sprouts and microgreens that are perfect for any type of palate (spicy, mild, you name it) and the baggies come in a number of sizes so you can choose what best suits your diet and sprouting eating frequency.  I picked up a small baggie of sunflower sprouts and have already inhaled the whole bag with help from my mum and dad!  You can find them here at The Stop at Wychwood and also at the Richmond Hill market (which I will add to the market list) and Barrie which is interestingly one of the oldest markets in the province!

sunflower greens and sprouts by Essa Sprouts at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Finally, I saw Delish Kitch at the market for the first time yesterday!  In a nutshell, Delish Kitch specializes in gluten-free, low-starch food with the absence of refined sugars.  They offer vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free options on their impressive menu: veggie pizzas, cookies, muffins, savoury tarts and pies, bread, tons of granola, soups, and their speciality, Bisckers, which are a cross between crackers and biscuits with a hint of scone without the gluten!

Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

gluten-free baked goods by Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

mushroom gluten-free pizzas by Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

This visit was just what I needed to kick start some extra inspiration and I happily got everything I wanted out of it.  It’s almost May and we all know what that means: spring and summer season at the markets!  I just found out all the 2013 dates so in another week I’ll be updating the market list with a rundown of all the ones returning in May and June and all the great market events we can expect this year!  I am so pumped and excited!

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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 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

It’s Mitten Weather – A Photo Spotlight of Evergreen Brick Works Last Outdoor Farmers Market of the Year!

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There was a lot to celebrate today at Evergreen Brick Works: the first day of sun we’ve had in a week (for the first time in 7 days I didn’t need to open my umbrella, finally!), the last outdoor market of 2012 (they’ll be moving indoors starting next week on November 10th!) and Día de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead” Mexican festival!  It was such a fun market today despite the chilly cold weather (my hands were totally freezing while taking these photos.  Note to self: remember to wear gloves as opposed to mittens so you can actually hold your camera without getting fingers frostbite!) and I bought and sampled some wonderful, delicious food including some big bunches of kale, bags of gorgeous spinach and salad greens, and samples of cured meats and cheeses, and some fresh and scrumptious dumplings!  Truly, out of all the times I’ve been to Evergreen, I think I had the most fun at this market and it makes me look forward to more, especially with the holidays around the corner.  This Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market post is broken into two parts, with this one being the farmers’ market photo spotlight featuring some of my favourite shots from today, and tomorrow’s Part II post as the full-length account of all the food and Día de los Muertos festivities during my time there with lots more photos!

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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 during the summer and fall months (May to November) and from 9am-1pm during the winter months (November to April).  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.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Ate by Ate Still Went Farmers Marketing! The Wet & Rainy Trip to Wychwood Barns!

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I have never been to a farmers’ market in the rain.  Ever.  I’ve been at the market after a fresh rain with droplets still clinging to the grass and leaves, and before a rain shower with thunder rumbling in the distance, but never during a wet, rainy mess.  If it was raining, I just wouldn’t bother.  It’s not easy making the trek for an hour and a half  to two hours depending on where the market is!  But I had day-long plans with my best friend yesterday anyway and thought, “why not?”  I hadn’t been back to Wychwood in two months, I was dying for a farmers market trip, and part of me was extremely curious to see what the market was like in the rain!  I suited up in rain boots, jacket, and umbrella and I was on my way!  It was definitely a different experience to say the least!  I was lugging around my tote bag, purse, umbrella, camera, and my bag of market goodies – I was a clunky mess but still had a lot of fun nevertheless! 

The Stop Market at Wychwood Barns has a really big advantage over other summer outdoor markets because if the weather ever gets icky, the vendors can move back indoors if necessary unlike other markets where an indoor venue isn’t even available.  Half the market stuck it out outside in the rain yesterday (the ones with bigger tents most likely) while the other half packed up and moved indoors.  The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though!  There were so many people at the market, wet shopping bags, puddles, and all!  There were crowds by Mad Mexican and Maizal Quesadilla’s table (I know, I was part of that crowd!) for dips, corn chips, and fresh corn tortillas, market goers were snatching up cheese, baked goods, and plenty of late summer, early fall fruits and vegetables.

 

It was such a great time to see the colours and varities of fruits and vegetables transition from summer ones to early fall ones.  I got my first glimpse of the fall season’s offerings: gourds and little squashes, giant purple eggplants, cabbage, swiss chard, arugula, and so much more.  There was an abundance of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes in both regular and baby varieties, fresh garlic and herbs, beets, rainbow carrots, green beans, and even a roasting corn pit by the wood-fired oven outside! 

I picked up 4 baby purple cabbages (which my family and I happily used to make a fresh cabbage slaw salad for lunch today with a mustard vinaigrette) and a new container of kale pesto dip and spread from Earth & City!  It was my first time buying cabbage from the market and even though I’m not the biggest fan of cabbage as a food, I couldn’t pass them up.  They were so cute and beautiful.  And four of them for only $2!  My mum and I cut them all up and it filled an entire big salad bowl!  It’s the edible purple gift that keeps on giving!  It sure as hell beats the $1.29/pound my mum saw at the supermarket the other day for plain green cabbage.  (Cue me scoffing here).  I felt like I had struck gold with such a great deal and it ended up making a great lunch for my whole family.

Little by little, the markets will be cloaked in oranges, reds, yellows, deep purples and greens, and it’s already showing now with all the rich colours.  It’ll be so nice getting photos of Wychwood Barns in the thick of the fall season in late September and October, especially since my first posts were made back in February!  And I know this is months away, but I am so, so excited for the holiday and Christmas season!  I know, I know, it’s too “early” to be thinking of that.  But writing this blog (and working at Kraft!) has definitely speeded up the creative process where you’re brainstorming and working on things months and months in advance.  I am so pumped to start the Fall Harvest Series in a few weeks and I think going to the markets is a great precursor for things to come.

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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 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

Photo Spotlight on Mushroom and Collard Green Mini Pies by Yorktown Pie Company

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It’s time for me to divulge yet another food confession: throughout my almost 27 years of life, I have never been a pie lover.  Ice cream, yes.  Cookies, yes.  Cupcakes, OH YES.  But never pie.  I know, it sounds absurd considering how much I adore Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and my dear Raymerville Bakery & Deli up in my neck of the woods; but it’s true.  I once read in one of my Martha Stewart Living magazines that Martha herself thought that the best dessert was a piece of pie.  And I rememeber reading that sentence and thinking, “really?!”  I just couldn’t wrap my head around that.  My mum and brother would share an entire 8-inch between the two of them and I’d stare at them quizzically and wonder what the heck was wrong with me – or maybe what the heck was wrong with them.  I’ve always thought pies were beautiful.  And at times I would even salivate over varieties such as lemon meringue and cherry and the occasional cream pie.  But, truth be told, if I saw an ice cream truck passing by, I’d leave the pies in the dust and chase the truck down the street. 

There’s always a place and time to for preferences and tastebuds to evolve though, and our beloved hometown Yorktown Pie Company has carved a little pastry wedge into my heart with their adorable sweet and savoury mini pies, tarts, and turnovers.  I always internally squeal over how cute they are and I marvel at how so much amazing food and flavour can be tucked away in such a little package.  The aesthetic makes my heart melt and all the different fillings and flavour combinations have me coming back for more.  Everything is baked and handmade with so much love and care, with family recipes spanning decades and generations coming to fruition at farmers’ markets across the city.  All of Yorktown Pie Company’s little pie gems are priced between $2-$6 and their savoury pies are great to have for lunch alongside a salad while their sweet ones are fantastic all on their own as a full-blown, foodgasmic dessert.  There’s a reason why their apple sour cream is nicknamed “apple crack”! 

I am all over their sweet pastries and pies (their butter tarts are delicious and anything apple of theirs needs to be inhaled) and their vegetarian offerings such as their spinach and goat cheese and this little guy over here: the mushroom and collard greens pie with soy egg base!  I love mushrooms like PB loves J and anything with collard greens piques my interest since it’s not something you see in baked goods very often.  And the soy egg base!  It’s like silky egg tofu and savoury custard all in one.  What makes the pie even more terrific is how great it tastes both warm and cold and how it’s literally studded from top to bottom with veggies and filling. 

It’s the kind of food that would be great as part of a brunch or light lunch and if you’re looking for something a little heartier, Yorktown has a number meat pies including a chicken pot and a stout steak mushroom!  I haven’t had anything of theirs in weeks (I know, what a lengthy period of time!) and I would love to get my hands on another one of their coconut butter tarts, their apple sour cream, their apple crumble, and anything with cheese in it.  It’s going to be one heck of a warm and sunny Canada Day long weekend this weekend, so head out to Wychwood tomorrow if you’re looking to enjoy some great eats and adorable pies at a great market.  Happy weekend, everyone!

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Yorktown Pie Company is a local food business here in Toronto specializing in everything pie!  From pot pies to tarts to turnovers, they churn out the sweet and savoury baked goods and pastries on a weekly basis at farmers’ markets across the city.  You can find their vast array of good eats at The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns on Saturdays and the Toronto Office Market at the Soft Choice courtyard on Wednesdays.