Dining Al Fresco – Mushroom Quesadillas, Grilled Cheese, Pies, & Sweets at the Soft Choice Office Market!

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After nearly two months satiating the appetites of office workers and hungry, dedicted foodies, I finally made it out to the Toronto Lunchtime Office Market at the Soft Choice building in Liberty Village!  Yesterday was one of the most glorious, beautiful days so far this year and after missing out on so many great Soft Choice lunchtime markets since its launch back in April, I wasn’t about to pass up the golden opportunity to catch some sunshine and mouthwatering eats.  I had such a fun time snapping photos of the gorgeous outdoor courtyard behind the building where the food market was being held, eating fantastic food, and enjoying a hidden gem of a space for the very first time.  

I couldn’t believe how amazing this outdoor courtyard was.  I was floored.  I felt like I was walking into some secret paradise, separated from the rest of the world and surrounded by food!  The courtyard is beautiful and I’ll be the first to admit that I was completely taken aback by it.  We’re talking about Liberty Village here, an up and coming neighbourhood that continues to grow and thrive as a community, but still very much industrial.  The courtyard is lovely and peaceful, perfect for an outdoor lunch and party and just as perfect for some quiet reading in the shade.  All I could think of was, “boy, this place would look like something out of a fairy tale with some lit up lanterns and tea lights at night!”  Beautiful brick walls surround the space, making it very private and cozy and while much of the space is “open concept”, there are pockets here and there that make the space fun to weave in and out of – it is so much more than just a slab of concrete!

In attendance at the food market: Sara’s Nice Buns (fresh baked bread, buns, and sweet baked goods), The Nut Bakery (gluten-free nut cookies and granola bars), Cookie Martinez (sweets and fruity thirst quenchers), Yorktown Pie Company, Cheesewerks grilled cheese and artisan food shop, and finally, in association with ChocoSol, Gabriela’s Maizal fresh corn tortillas and quesadillas! 

First, let’s do a rundown of some of the baked goods on site.  Sara had her famous herb and onion fougasse on hand as well as her tasty cacao sourdough, white loaf, herb focaccia, and giant apple cinnamon buns; The Nut Bakery with tons of gluten-free samples and cookie jars filled with pecan walnut chocolate macaroons, dark chocolate nut chunk, almond almond, and chocolate pecan macadamia brownie cookies, among others; Cookie Martinez with giant chocolate an dulche de leche brownies and refreshing blended fruit juice made with passionfruit and local Ontario strawberries; and Yorktown Pies with a truckload of sweet and savoury pies including their collard greens and mushroom, chili beef, chicken, apple sour cream, and plenty of turnovers and flaky tarts.

Cheesewerks was firing up their grill with their special Charleston (brie cheese, caramelized onions, and apricot chutney on walnut raisin) and Beijing (asiago cheese, BBQ pork, hoisin sauce, and slivered green onions) grilled cheese varieties hot, buttered, and gooey right off the grill with a selection of cheeses and condiments on hand to purchase and take home.  Finally, Gabriela’s tortilla project gone full-blown quesadilla cafe (her new cafe, Maizal, is now open for business at 133 Jefferson Ave. in Liberty Village!) was bursting with fresh ground corn quesadillas stuffed with mushrooms, spicy guacamole, mashed black beans, shredded, stringy, mouthwatering and to-die-for Oaxaca cheese, and more.             

After picking up a coconut butter tart from Yorktown Pies and inhaling savouring one of Gabriela’s best-in-the-city, fresh ground corn mushroom quesadillas for lunch (and I mean FRESH – her and her team ground the corn in the morning!), I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my lunch time.  I grabbed a copy of Maizal’s menu and I can’t wait to visit her quesadilla cafe and report back to you all with more goods.  It was so exciting for me to finally get to come to this office market (and of course, eat!) and soak in the atmosphere, great company, and beautiful space on such a picture-perfect day.

*****

The Office Markets currently serve 2 locations in Toronto: CSI Annex at 720 Bathurst Street (just south of Bloor Street) on Tuesdays from 11:30am-1:30pm, and Soft Choice IT Soultions at 173 Dufferin Street (south of King Street) in Liberty Village on Wednesdays from 11:30am-1:30pm.  The outdoor local food market is held behind the Soft Choice office in the beautiful outdoor courtyard with patio tables, chairs, and umbrellas.  Perfect for enjoying that lunch in the warm sunshine (or shade) and fresh air!

Hot Town, Summer in the City! June Outdoor Food Fests, Markets, a Quesadilla Cafe, and Chic Patio Dining

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Enjoy these at the *NEW* Maizal Quesadilla Cafe!

Happy first day of June, everyone!  It’s been one crazy month of May with the return of many farmers’ markets, Mothers’ Day events, and spring time festivals, and the fun doesn’t stop here.  June marks the start of the summer season and we know what that means: cocktails and patio dining, ice cream and frozen desserts, firing up the grill (unless you grill all year round and if that’s the case, this is just old hat), and plenty of outdoor food celebrations!  June will be such an exciting month, so here’s a snapshot of some of delicious things we can expect in the next several weeks!

Gabriela of Chocosol’s Tortilla Project will be setting up shop in Liberty Village next week!  She’ll be opening up her very own corn tortilla and quesdilla cafe, Maizal Quesadilla Cafe, on Tuesday, June 5 at 11am at 133 Jefferson Street and really, with the weather heating up and the need for light meals on the rise, this couldn’t have come at a better time.  I am SO excited about this!  Gabriela has been working her tail off at the Toronto Lunchtime Office Markets, providing the most amazing corn tortillas and vegetarian quesadillas, and I cannot wait to see what the cafe looks like and to sink my teeth into some great food, hot off the grill!

Brownies at Leslieville…

…and a rainbow of tiny peppers at Liberty Village!

And speaking of markets, the first two weeks of June will be exploding with returning (and new!) farmers’ markets all across the city!  The market in the Junction (at Pacific Ave. and Dundas Street West) will be making its first appearance on the circuit tomorrow from 8:30am-12:30pm, the Yonge-Eglinton market will be relocating and starting its summer 2012 season in Mount Pleasant Village at the corner of Mount Pleasant Rd. and Davisville in June Rowlands Park on Tuesday the 5th from 3pm-7pm, and both Leslieville and Liberty Village will be busting out the market goodies this Sunday from 9am-2pm!  No matter where you are in the city, there’s a market either starting, returning, or happily humming along.  Be sure to check out the June Market page in the Food Calendar for the full list details.

June is also the month I like to refer to as “the outdoor food festival gut-buster”.  I think we could feasibly find a food festival to attend every single weekend for the entire month!  We have Luminato’s 1000 Tastes of Toronto (taking place at the Distillery District this year), Toronto’s Raw & Vegan Festival, Bikes, BBQ, and Beer at Evergreen Brick Works, Taste of Asia, Francolicous at the Harbourfront Centre (as well as the return of Harbourfront Centre’s World Cafe and summer food events) and – wait for this – The Stop Night Market!!!

Sliders at last year’s 1000 Tastes of Toronto!

Oh my goodness, for those of you who LOVE, and I mean LOVE, street fests and partying into the wee hours with cocktails, drinks, and amazing food, THIS is right up your alley!  Inspiried by night markets around the world, in Asia in particular, The Stop Community Food Centre will be hosting an electric night of food, culture, and entertainment in the lit-up alleyway by one of the city’s most iconic spaces, Honest Ed’s!  Not to discount any of the other food events, but I think this event is going to be a really big hit just because of the nature of the event itself.  So many foodies in the city are craving things like food trucks and more street food and for Toronto, as a city, to (as cheesy as it sounds) get with the program.  Hopefully this event will be a fantastic one (much like the Taste of Danforth) and be a catalyst for more things to come.

A sneak peek at the upcoming patio dining series!

And we can’t forget about the ice cream, frozen desserts, and patio dining!  I’m hoping to get the ball rolling on the upcoming summer patio dining series to showcase some of the oh-so-chic hot spots around town and to also add a little fire and ice to our collection of summer dessert posts.  Just last week I flagged down my very first ice cream truck by my house!  I was SO incredibly happy and excited!  In all my years on this earth, I’ve never been able to catch an ice cream truck in my neighbourhood but I was either lounging around in my pajamas or just realized it too late.  This time, however, I was already out on my driveway, I heard the infamous ding-a-ling music of an oncoming ice cream, and pounced!  I happily ordered myself a vanilla and chocolate swirled soft serve cone and savoured it out on my front lawn.  It was GREAT.  I didn’t have any hands to take any photos though so I’ll just have to snag another truck downtown, just for kicks. 

Sprimkles, sprinkles, sprinkles!

It’s going to be a great start to the summer and I hope you all find something (oh, what the heck, MULTIPLE somethings!) to look forward to and enjoy this month!  Eat well and be happy, everyone!

*****

View Ate by Ate’s June Food Calendar.