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!

*****

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

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The Cupcakes, Cookies, & Cakes in the Hat – A Photo Spotlight on Dessert Oasis, Bakerbots, in Bloorcourt Village, Part I!

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*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.  Part II full write-up post coming tomorrow!

It’s Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market Tomorrow! Head On Over to Wanda’s Pie the Sky, Part I

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Given how tomorrow marks August’s Pedestrian Sunday in Kensington Market, I thought it would be super appropriate to crank out my posts on Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and a new scrapbook layout to go with it!  I love Pedestrian Sundays and I only wish Sundays were a little more convenient for me transportation-wise because if they were, you can bet I’d make it to the market for this at the end of every month!  In a nutshell, the last Sunday of every month from May to October is Pedestrian Sunday.  The roads are completely blocked off in Kensington to motor traffic so you can skip and twirl in the middle of the streets with your delicious food and cute purchases swinging about to your heart’s content.  There’s often live music out on the streets, vendors and shop owners bring out all their wares, and there’s always some really cute activity happening in the market.  Case in point: giant, larger-than-life Scrabble on the street with square foot tiles!  Anyone who hasn’t been should skip on over, stat!  And while you’re there, check out Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is one of my favourite spots in Kensington and for the longest time, I always thought it was a dessert place exclusively selling pies, cakes, and the like.  I was so wrong.  And I don’t often say this, but I’m so happy I was wrong.  Wanda’s is, quite possibly, one of the BEST lunch spots in the city for a lunch date and I say this not only because of the sheer volume of food available, but also because Wanda’s is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, which makes it PERFECT for carnies and veggies alike. 

I was gobsmacked when I walked in and discovered just how much delicious food was inside those pastel brick walls.  Pasta salads, vegetarian sandwiches, soups, pizza flatbreads, quiche pies, vegan cupcakes, soft-serve ice cream, cookies, macarons, tarts, cakes, and yes, lots and lots of PIE!  It is incredible and because I like to tease you all, this is a teaser post to tide you over until tomorrow’s big fat Part II, complete with scrapbook layout and the prettiest, coolest, most awesomet cake you’ll ever lay your eyes – and possibly teeth – on.  Hint: look at my header image 😉  Enjoy!

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Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located at 287 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market.  Wanda’s Pie in the Sky is located in between Nassau and College St.  They are open every day from 8am-9pm.  For more info on placing orders, attending classes, and dessert items they serve, check out their website here.

Fruit, Muffins, and Pies – A Farmers’ Market That’s Close To The Heart at SickKids Hospital

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I am SO sorry for not posting yesterday.  I had every intention of posting these pictures and doing a write-up after I came home from downtown yesterday evening, but as luck would have it, technology problems struck.  Long story short, everything on my SD memory card was inaccessible and unreadable (it got to the point where both my laptop and my dad’s desktop couldn’t even recognize the removable disk drive) and after many failed attempts at trying to open my files, I had to do things the “hard” way.  I had to manually transfer all my photos that hadn’t been copied onto my hard drive from my SD card to the internal memory of my camera and from the camera to my laptop hard drive…8 photos at a time.  I had 80 photos – do the math.  I was up till midnight doing this and I was so crushed that I had missed an unintended posting day for you guys.  After reformatting, the memory card is healthy again so no more kerfluffles like these again!

I hope you guys have been enjoying the farmers’ market series so far!  I’m having so much fun going to a different one each week and every so often I’m going to go back to ones I’ve already been to just to see what’s new and kicking.  I’ve been having such a good time that I’m going to try my hardest to make attending farmers’ markets once a week a long-term goal.  I love seeing fruits and vegetables I’ve never seen or eaten before, and the amazing baked goods (both vegan and otherwise) are an amazing added bonus for me.  I know a lot of these markets are only out during the summer, but I know there will still be plenty to explore come fall and winter too.

Yesterday’s farmers’ market of choice: The Hospital for Sick Children here in Toronto, or as it’s often referred to, SickKids Hospital.  SickKids is one of the most renowed children’s hospitals in the country, and even in the world, so attending the farmers’ market outside the front terrace of the hospital meant a lot, especially on their opening market day.  I know as only one person, my hands are tied in how much I can contribute to the hospital and foundation, both financially and voluntarily, but everything everyone does counts.  I promised myself that once I made decent money, I would do everything I could for SickKids because I feel so strongly in supporting our hospitals and especially one that is solely dedicated to caring for children.  And if you’re wondering, yes, there’s a personal connection to SickKids as I was once a patient here when I was very, very young with, according to my mother, a fever so high it nearly killed me.  I’m alive and kickin’ though (obviously, ha!) and enjoying life the best that I can!

Even though some farmers’ markets have some of the same types of vendors across the board, each one has its own star and the name of the game for me yesterday was pie, muffins, and cakes! 😀  There was this fantastic booth with a plethora of fresh baked muffins, pies, pie slices, and cake loaves made with fruit grown on Loffredo Fruit Farms in St. Catherines.  I knew my family had just finished an apple pie the other day so I didn’t want to pick up another pie (variety is the spice of life, right??) and I knew we had some banana cake, so I went with a gorgeous looking half-dozen pack of apple buttermilk muffins

I may not be much of a muffin person (confuse a cupcake for a muffin and I will go bat apeing crazy at you), but my mom and brother loooove muffins and they also love apple baked goods, so I knew they would be salivating and devouring the apple buttermilk ones.  There were so many different kinds of pies and muffins: apple, cherry, banana, rhubarb raspberry, and mixed buttermilk fruit varieties.  I’m so glad I went and I can’t wait to see what other markets have in store for me.  Enjoy the photos!

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The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is located at 555 University Ave. at Gerrard St.  The outdoor farmers’ market takes place every Tuesday from 9am-2pm from June 7th to October 25th.   

Valentine’s Series: The Keys to My Heart Part IV – Memories of High School & My Favourite Turkey Sandwiches

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Forget the pretentious gourmet stuff.  The BEST turkey sandwiches in the world (okay, fine, in my world) are made at one of the most fantastic bakeries in town located just across the street from my old high school: Raymerville Deli & Bakery located at 1 Raymerville Drive south, off of McCowan Rd. and north of Bullock Drive in Unionville, Markham.   This is truly one of the reasons why I’ve been so excited to share the Keys to My Heart series; to showcase the things I love the most in any category of food and to tell all the memorable stories attached to them.  I think I may keep this series around just for the heck of it because talking about my favourite things is fun and makes me happy! 😀  This bakery holds a lot of fun memories, especially from high school. 

I would buy my lunch once a week and about a third of the time I’d go to the bakery across the street.  I remember running over at lunch hour with a few friends in tow and lining up in the packed bakery for my coveted smoked turkey sandwich on crusty kaiser bun.  Watching the ladies slice my turkey meat, pack on the toppings, and wrap it in the signature white sandwich paper with deli sticker made my heart pump fast and till this day, it still does.  Everything about this sandwich is amazing.  The crusty kaiser is the best with its bread crumb dusty top and soft insides and no sandwich makes me happier than this one: fresh smoked turkey piled high with lots of shredded lettuce, tomato, mozzerella cheese, and mayo and mustard.  I might be all into trying new things and consistently expanding my food horizons (pft, like you couldn’t tell from the blog, right?  Ha!) but this is one thing that I’ve been eating the same way for 10 years and it tastes SO FREAKIN’ GOOD each and every single time.  This bakery has not lost its touch.

The bakery is family owned and run, and is stocked to the brim with Italian pastas, meats, and dry food pantry items.  Racks and racks of fresh baked bread are ripe for the picking (with a bread slicer that you can use if you would rather have it done in-store) and there is plenty of other good eats to nosh on too: pepperoni pizza slices the size of the moon; ginormous chocolate chip cookies which might as well be the moon because of the all chocolate chip craters; fresh baked apple and fruit pies; apple, cherry, and raspberry turnovers (my brother and mum’s favourite); pastry twists dusted with powdered sugar; and oodles of tarts, cookies, and strudels.

You can choose any bread or bun in the bakery and bring it up to the deli counter to have  your sandwich made, but I’m telling you, you MUST order  a sandwich on the kaiser, which they have a basket of up on the counter.  Why?  Because I said so.  Trust me!  Prices for kaiser sandwiches vary depending on the type of meat you want and whether ot not you order it with cheese (extra 50 cents), but most sandwiches are anywhere from $3.50 to $5.  Oh!  And no tax.  I KNOW.  What dimension are we in, right??  If it’s $4.50 for your sandwich, it’s $4.50.  Take a minute and wrap your head around that.  And imagine all the yummy baked goods you can buy for $10.  Mmmm.  It makes me wistful knowing I can’t walk across the street to the bakery anymore, but I look forward to any and all trips I make there.

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Raymerville Deli & Bakery is located within the strip plaza right at the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Ramerville Drive south, on the east side of McCowan (Carlton Rd. is on the west side of McCowan).  It’s about a 10 minute walk (or a 2 or 3 minute drive) from Markville Mall.  They usually have a day off during the week and I’m pretty sure that day is Monday, although your best bet is to visit them during the middle of the week or on the weekend.