3 Years in the Making – A Return Visit to the East York Farmers’ Market! The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 007

2 Comments

DSCN2298

Time passes by so fast that sometimes, you don’t even notice how long it’s been since you last did something because each and every day comes and goes in a blurry flurry of activity.  You think, “oh, it must have only been a year or so” until you think back real hard or look at photos and realize, “holy jeebus, make that three!”  That was me today after my visit to the East York farmer’s market just outside the East York Civic Centre at the corner of Mortimer and Coxwell.  I haven’t been back to this market in three years.  THREE.  And oddly enough, almost right down to the day: June 14, 2011 when I took those first photos and wrote my post on the market and its baby eggplants.

It’s the strangest feeling in the world when the realization sinks in that while three years have gone by, some things just don’t change.  In some ways I feel like I’ve come full circle to where my life was at three years ago and feeling somewhat…stuck.  And in other ways, everything has changed.  In June 2011, I had just graduated from grad school, I hadn’t yet started my baking adventures with Lisa and Miya at Le Dolci, and Ate by Ate was only 6 and a half months old.  I don’t even think I had a Twitter account for Ate by Ate at that point yet.  The one constant though?  How my routine jaunts to the markets have grounded my blogging, made photography so much fun, and in general, made me happy.  They’ve pushed me to keep positive.  You get out for fresh air.  You walk.  You meet nice people.  You visit neighbourhoods you wouldn’t otherwise visit.  And you get those creative juices going like you wouldn’t believe.  And as a bonus, you get to eat and buy some awesome local food.  Who knew fruits and veggies were good for your health in more ways than one?!

DSCN2272

DSCN2274

DSCN2275

Today’s morning visit to the East York farmers’ market was so lovely.  The weather was beautiful and it was so nice to get out and clear my head for a bit.  That and I just love taking photos of fruits and vegetables!  I definitely got a lot of amused smiles and stares from vendors and fellow market-goers as I clicked away at tomatoes, asparagus and baby zucchinis.  It happens every time; I’m used to it!  The market is set up in a really great green space outside the civic centre near plenty of benches to sit on, trees and shade to keep cool under, and even some pretty gardens to enjoy.  Despite the generous crowd of people who filter in soon after the market is up and running at 8am, there’s still this beautiful sense of peaceful to it and I love it.

DSCN2313

At the market today: heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, jams, jellies and honey, bread and pastries, sausages and cured meats, baby eggplant, baby zucchini, wild mushrooms, bell peppers, fresh herbs and herb plants, lettuces and kale, strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus – lots and lots of asparagus!  I know this sounds weird, but asparagus has truly proven to be one of the most photogenic vegetables.  I’ve photographed asparagus many times over the years and it still amazes me how you can get such cool shots of it time and time again.  Hello total foodie geek moment.

DSCN2288

DSCN2306

DSCN2308

DSCN2278

DSCN2291

So, what did I pick up from the market this morning?  Two big bunches of gorgeous green leaf lettuce, $2 a pop.  YES, lettuce.  I know it’s nothing glamourous but I love me my greens and lettuces!  I’ve been going nuts over the arugula at Wychwood Barns as of late so why not throw some more greens into the mix?  The stuff is less expensive AND nicer at the farmers’ market than it is at the supermarket so there’s really no reason to pass on such nice food.  I can’t wait to use it in sandwiches and as the base for lettuce wraps.  I can see it now: green leaf lettuce wrapped around shredded chicken, sprinkled with sesame seeds and drizzled with peanut sauce.  Or wrapped around shredded chicken with black beans, avocado, and shredded cheese.  Or with fish.  Or shrimp.  YUM.

DSCN2311

*****

East York Civic Centre is located at 850 Coxwell Ave. at Mortimer Ave.  The East York farmers’ market takes places on the front terrace of the civic centre every Tuesday from 8am-2pm, May to November

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

Leave a comment

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.

*****

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

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

1 Comment

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

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

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

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

*****

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.

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

1 Comment

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

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

Up and at ’em on a Sunday morning!

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

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

*****

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