A Library of Cookbooks and Kitchen Accessories from A-Z! Good Egg in Kensington Market

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A is for apple, B is for bagel, C is for cupcake, D is for doughnut, E is escarole, F is for funnel cake, and G is for…Good Egg in Kensington Market!  You were afraid I was going to recite this through the entire alphabet weren’t you?  I had to do it considering one of my favourite items in this fantastic foodie, kitchen accessory store is a framed poster of an adorable alphabet of food and cooking items that I very much want to hang on my own wall at home! 

I fell in love with Good Egg the second I walked up to the storefront and peered in through the giant glass window display.  I saw baking books, cute stationery, cookbooks, and bright coloured paper flower ornaments hanging from the ceiling and thought, “where have I been all this time?!”  All this time I thought Blue Banana was my primary foodie haven in Kensington Market.  I was wrong.  Good Egg is so much more than I ever could have expected and I am so happy I decided to walk in on whim.

Good Egg is a wonderfully fun, whimsical shop devoted to food and cooking with everything you could possibly want in a foodie establishment, mixing the contemporary with retro and vintage, and function, practicality, and education with creativity and inspiration.   Although their classes are currently on break until their kitchen renovations are completed later on this year, Good Egg host classes such a knife skills, butchering, and other cooking related workshops and demos. 

Their function and practicality stems from the cooking tools and accessories they sell.  Don’t let the cutesy home decor items fool you; Good Egg is serious about spreading the love of food and cooking and making it less intimidating and more accessible by carrying colourful kitchen utensils such as spatulas, ladles, wooden spoons, mortar and pestles, and silicone whisks, salad bowls, and cutting boards; fun aprons and cloth linens; heavy duty baking dishes, roasting pans, butter dishes, and skillets; tea and tea accessories; and salt and pepper grinders among many other items.

The fun and whimsical is clearly apparent from their home decor items and giftware, right down to the bow tie mugs, heart-shaped egg shapers, and patterned cupcake wrappers!  I was head over heels in love with this too-cute-for-words baby fawn soap pump, bright coloured tea pots, gorgeous patterned napkins and tea towels (one of these days I will have my own linen closet filled to the brim with them!), and the aforementioned mugs with the patterned bow ties and bold colourful stripes.  The shop is incredibly neat and organized, divided into different sections making everything easily accessible and simple to shop around and find.

What really makes Good Egg stand out though is their food library!  The book lover in me was in conniptions over this!  Floor to ceiling shelves stuffed with cookbooks and coffee table food books occupy half the shop and within these shelves you’ll find gloriuous reading material dedicated to everything from food and herb planting znd gardening, veganism and vegetarian cuisine, baking, wine, butchering, wild foods and foraging, roasting, braising, food science, cultural cuisines, and plenty of Food Network celebrity cookbooks from chefs such Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes.

Their library of books is the heart and soul for me because it showcases the interrelationships and connections between the historical and the present, and the local and the global.  These books highlight social food movements, classic cooking techniques that have stood the test of time, molecular gastronomy, nature’s bounty, and the pure joy and love of cooking and food exploration.  Its location within Kensington Market makes it all the more fitting because it lends itself to the neighbourhood’s unabashed organic personality.  There are hundreds of reasons why I love Kensington Market and why it’s my favourite neighbourhood in the city.  And I think I’ve found another hundred reasons to add to that list in Good Egg alone.

*****

Good Egg is located at 267 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market, south of College Street and west of Spadina Ave.  You can keep up-to-date with their classes, events, and news on their website here or follow them on Twitter @goodeggnews.

On the 12th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me a Christmas Kitchen Boutique from La Merceria

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Raise your hand if you’ve started decorating around the house!  Just this past weekend, my parents hauled out some of our Christmas decorations like our wreaths, our two mini light-up trees, and our brand spankin’ new mini santa sleigh that is sitting proudly by our fireplace in the living room.  Soon enough we’ll be outfitting our dinner table in our cute Santa Claus and Christmas tree printed tablecloth (complete with reindeer and little stars flying about) and all the house will need are stockings by the fireplace and my mini light-up gingerbread house in all its frosted, candied glory!  

In no time at all, I’ll be gathering up all the recipes and ingredients I need for the holiday baking I plan on drowning myself in (chocolate peppermint and cinnamon sugar, here I come!) and while I do so, I will wimper over all the oh-so-cute Christmas bakeware and accessories in stores that I cannot have because if I gave into my penchant for Christmas-related everything, the whole house would be full of the stuff and my family would have to sleep on the roof.  So what’s the next best thing?  Daydreaming about said accessories.       

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a Christmas kitchen boutique?!  Pretty much.  What a dream it would be to bake Christmas cookies in a kitchen even Mrs. Claus would envy!  And what a dream it is browsing the Christmas kitchenwares in the shining, twinkling, winter wonderland that is La Merceria.  As a follow-up to last week’s peppermint hot chocolate sweetness, this post shines a spotlight on all the beautiful kitchen accessories that the Argentinian café has to offer.  You won’t find appliances, cookware, or bakeware here, but La Merceria is perfect for the food photographer, kitchen accessory lover, and home decor fanatic.  Their Christmas lineup includes beautiful table linens, wooden utensils and boards, mortars and pestles, wooden spice cellars (the ones at La Merceria look exactly like the ones that Giada has on Giada at Home!) dishes, bowls, glasses, honey drizzlers, tea and tea accessories, cream pitchers, home fragrance, candles, ornaments and more.

La Merceria is the type of place where I construct mental wishlists, not only for myself but for others as well.  There are so many items I would snatch two of just because I know others would be delighted with them.  I am smitten over the plush dolls (gnomes and pigs!), I am gaga over the table linens, and don’t even get me started on the ivory pine cone candle sets!  The gorgeous display of Christmas and winter treasures sitting daintily on the café’s front table were bathed in shades of red,  moss green, ivory, and brown and what I love about these items are their coordinating shades!  The colour palette is so easy to work with and it lends itself to a never-ending cycle of possible decorating colour schemes.  Red and ivory, moss green and ivory, moss green and charcoal, the list goes on.    

I love it so much when places go all out with the decorations and celebrate the changing seasons and holidays because it brings a whole new level of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement to an establishment.  La Merceria is consistently changing their displays and their selection of products so it’s always worth a look-see.  It’s a one-of-a-kind place wiht a lot of heart and so much character.  When I saw the beautiful Christmas decorations on the wall (the 12 Days of Christmas decal with ornaments on the wall has to be one of my favourite things ever) and the front of the café transformed into the Christmas treasure island that it is now, I felt like I was walking in a hush little snow globe, only without the snow.  With the early morning sun streaming in, it felt like a quiet Christmas morning.  It felt peaceful, magical and full of colour and joy.  And that’s really what the spirit of Christmas is all about, bakeware or not. 

*****

La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street West by the northwest corner of Adelaide and Portland Street, east of Bathurst.  La Merceria is located beside Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar.  Visit their website and blog here for updates, info, promos, events, pictures, and contact information and visit their Facebook page here.

Kitchen Accessories, Cooking Tools, and Kiddie Cooking – Clay, A Kitchen Boutique in the Wychwood Community

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I love to bake, I want to be a great cook someday (I really don’t have the experience under my belt to even call myself a cook, much less a good one!), I get giddy over kitchen accessories, food photography and scrapbooking are in my heart and in my blood, and even with all this, writing up this post has still taken me by surprise.  Aside from my first post on La Merceria, I’ve never written about kitchen accessory, tool, and gadget shops on the blog but it makes sense to do so.  Great food, creative cooking, and fun baking don’t just fall from the clouds; there are so many tools that we use to create our food, from humble dishes to gastronomic masterpieces.  Independent kitchen accessory stores are so great because they carry unique products that you may not be able to find in large chain stores, they provide the community around them with outlets to experiment, learn, and grow in the kitchen, and let’s face it, foodies foam at the mouth when it comes to gadgets that are cute and of great quality.

Nestled in the Wychwood Barns neighbourhood on St. Clair West, Clay is one such example of a kitchen boutique that simaltaneously caters to the novice, the experienced, and the hardcore foodie.  As the sister shop of Carlos Flores’ and his wife Sandra’s CocoaLatte, Clay is an extension of CocoaLatte’s kitchen with everything from panini presses to coffee mugs, grinders, and accessories.  Since its opening in December of 2010, Clay has provided the surrounding community with kitchen goodies for wine and cheese lovers, coffee addicts, avid bakers, burgeoning chefs, and even kiddie cooks in the making!

The inspiration behind Clay emerged from a desire from CocoaLatte’s customers, as well as from the surrounding neighbourhood, for a shop solely devoted to cooking and kitchen products.  I know it seems easy enough to say, “oh, well just purchase things from Wal-Mart or the department store or Ikea”, but we can’t forget that certain areas in the city don’t have practical access to these types of stores.  Even if they were easily accessible by public transit, which many people rely on to go about their day-to-day activities, it’s not fair to assume that everyone will go across town for the sake of obtaining a new mixing bowl.  Clay strives to create relationships with their clientele and to make everyone with any level of cooking experience feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the skill set and the products they purchase.

My favourite things about Clay are the bright colours and cute accessories!  I am absolutely in love with the bright primary coloured ice cream bowls, the traffic light coloured spatulas, ladles, and slotted spoons, and of course, the pretty patterned table linens!  If I had to choose my favourite items, it would have to be the squirrel walnut cracker (which my friend Wini would be gaga over!), the red, yellow, and green utensils, the ice cream bowls, the kiddie section, and the kitchen stationery and sticky notes set!  

The shop itself is divided into a number of different sections that cater to particular forms of cooking, baking, and drinking: wine glasses and accessories with cheese cutting boards; colourful and whimsical kitchen linens and napkins; roasting pans, skillets, kettles, and griddles; stoneware cups, bowls, butter dishes, and ramekins; coffee mugs, grinders, and tea boxes; glass bowls, cookie cases, mason jars, muffin and cupcake pans, cookie sheets, and measuring cups; larger appliances such as stand mixers, blenders, and panini presses; a wall of goodies including egg poachers, walnut crackers, juice reamers, ice molds and trays, spice racks, mortars and pestles, fruit and vegetable slicers, ice cream bowls, spatulas, ladles, slotted spoons, and wooden and bamboo utensils; cookbooks, food books, and cute stationery; spices and jarred relishes; and finally, a whole bright and cheery section of children’s cooking knicknacks!

The children’s section is so adorable!  There are beginner children’s cookbooks, little aprons, lunch bags, sandwich cutters in fun shapes, bamboo, silicone, and acrylic safety utensils, and bowls and plates with fun prints and patterns.  This section is really sentimental to me because one of my absolute favourite toys when I was little was my toy kitchen.  I played with my toy kitchen every day after coming home from kindergarten, pretending to pour juice from my little plastic pitcher (and sometimes pouring real juice, ha!), sticking things in the little plastic oven and fridge, and placing my beloved plastic pots and pans on the little stovetop.  Those tiny transparent coppery brown pots and pans were my pride and joy and I loved them all the more because they looked exactly like my mum’s real ones!  It’s so sweet to see such kid-friendly kitchen things because although some are hesitant to involve little ones in cooking activity for safety reasons, it can be a great learning and bonding experience as well as a creative outlet.

No matter how we feel towards cooking (some love it, some loathe it), feeding ourselves is an inevitable part of life and kitchen boutiques like Clay offer us an outlet to explore, learn, and grow in the world of food.  This may just be the 5-year-old in me talking, but I can’t wait to outfit my future kitchen.  For the time being, I’m happy to browse and daydream until then.

*****

Clay is located at 659 St. Clair West, just steps away from CocoaLatte and the St. Clair streetcar line in the Wychwood neighbourhood.  Clay will be marking their 1st anniversary this December on December 1, 2011!  To celebrate, a number of products are currently on sale for 20% off.  The shop is open daily at 10am.  You can view Clay and CocoaLatte’s Facebook page here and CocoaLatte’s website here.