Monforte Dairy, Cheddar & Black Pepper Scones, Local Food – The *NEW* Crème Fraîche Market Cafe in The Junction!

Leave a comment

Imagine products from almost all of your favourite farmers’ market vendors and producers under one roof.  Then, imagine this one roof being available to you 6 days a week.  Guess what?  You don’t have to imagine.  This is the real deal: introducing the new Crème Fraîche Market Cafe in The Junction!  Founded and run by “Monforte Dairy ladies” Constance Dykun and Rachel Silva, Crème Fraîche is a local food lover’s dream!  The cafe and local food shop located on Annette Street several blocks west of Runnymede Road in the west end takes everything wonderful and delicious about Toronto’s small food business and local food scene (and some non-Toronto), rolls it into one big ball of food happiness, and presents it all back in a sweet and sunny cafe outfitted in yellow and blue decor with baked goods, bread, cheeses, coffee drinks, ice cream, and so much more.  

At Crème Fraîche you’ll find bread and baked goods from Sara Lapell’s Nice Buns and St. John’s Bakery, sweets and baked goods from More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd., Evelyn’s Crackers, Mapleton’s ice cream, chocolate and Mayan drinking chocolate from ChocoSol, jarred pickled vegetables, salsa, and preserves from From These Roots, sweets from DeFloured, and of course, LOTS of Monforte Dairy cheese and products!  They have a selection of prepared food and drink (iced teas, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast tarts for example), and they also have a sweet little breakfast, lunch, and midday snack menu that you can order from. 

Now, keep in mind that while Crème Fraîche is a market cafe, it’s a “stop-by-and-pick-up-goodies” type of shop, so their menu items are definitely grab and go fare.  Their menu includes items such as toast and cheese (fresh cheese and jam, $2), grilled cheese and tomato ($5.25), cacciatore and arugula “bun-wich” ($4), and grilled halloumi (fresh cheese with arugula, radish, and tomato salsa, $7.50) among others.  They also serve plenty of fair-trade, organic coffee (americanos, espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes), tea, and Organic Meadow soy and almond milk.

What I love about Crème Fraîche, aside from the great food I can pick up here, is what the shop itself represents.  It’s easy to think, “oh, well, if I want these market products, I can just go to the different farmers’ markets to get them” or “I can just go to the producer’s main shop and location in the city”, but what Crème Fraîche affords everyone in the surrounding neighbourhood and community is an alternative, a place where people can come in the mornings and afternoons to grab a cuppa, a chance to get to learn about some of the local food that’s available in the city and their makers, an opportunity to form new friendships and relationships with locals, and a sweet shop to grab some great eats.  

I may go all over town to visit all the markets I can, but not everyone has the ability or even the desire to do so.  A farmers’ market in one’s area only takes place once a week and they may not be available year-round; Crème Fraîche is open 6 days a week from Tuesday-Sunday from 8am-8pm.  Even though its location certainly caters to those in the west end and in The Junction area in particular, it’s the concept that I am completely in love with.  There should be a Crème Fraîche in EVERY neighbourhood.  This shop is wonderful and I LOVE that so many of my favourite producers and vendors such as More Than Pies Baking Co. Ltd. and St. John’s Bakery sell their products here.

During this first visit, I picked up a giant cheddar and black pepper scone from St. John’s Bakery ($3) to take home, sliced it in half, and slapped it on my little George Foreman grill (don’t laugh, this thing is all sorts of awesome!) to heat up.  OH.MY.GOD.  One of the best, most delicious scones EVER!  You all know love cheese and black pepper so this scone had my name written all over it.  I am telling you, put the scones on the grill and you will be “mmm”ing the entire time you’re eating it.  It was so fluffy and moist and buttery without actually having to put butter on it and I am so happy I bought it because from here on out I’ll be looking out for these cheddar black pepper scones!

I’ve totally fallen in love with this sweet shop and you can bet I’ll be coming back to check up on what eats are available and to try something off their food menu!  It’s a fabulous concept and I’m glad for the vendors, producers, and to those who eat and work here because they truly get to be a part of something special in the community.   

*****

Crème Fraîche Market Cafe is a cafe and local food shop located in the west end of Toronto in 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.

Advertisements

Snatching Radishes and Ogling Quinoa Salads and Scones – The Farmers’ Market at Riverdale Farm!

Leave a comment

It was hot yesterday.  Disgustingly hot.  Face flaming, sweat dripping down from my forehead hot.  And yet there I was, walking to the Riverdale Farm farmers’ market yesterday afternoon from the Eaton Centre in the muggy, sticky, gross heat.  Granted, I was wearing my little bucket hat and the sun kept coming and going while I was walking, but when it’s muggy out, it sticks to you and makes you feel all sorts of bleh.  I told myself I would go though so I kept walking, keeping my eye on the prize, and breathing a huge sigh of relief when Riverdale Park’s towering trees came into view, wafting in a light breeze.  THANK GOODNESS FOR NATURE’S LEAFY GREENS! 

The farmers’ market was in full swing and while it wasn’t as big as the one I visited last summer, market goers were snatching up goodies left and right and carrying their wares in  tote bags as they surveyed their possible purchase.  And I mean snatching.  As I was taking photos of the radishes up top, I was literally surrounded on all sides by people buying bunch after bunch.  A few seconds after I took my shot, there were only 2 bunches left on the table.  I kid you not!  One bunch of radishes after another kept disappearing and I thanked my lucky stars I got there when I did because otherwise, I would have been staring at a few remaining scraggly roots. 

The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market just started their 2012 season last week (Tuesdays from 3pm-7pm) so I have no doubt that the market will expand and get a little larger over the course of the summer.  Despite the smaller size though, I still found myself wanting to pick up more than a few items to take home.  What can I say, I’m a shopaholic at heart and that clearly extends to food! 

I saw some familiar vendors and faces at the market yesterday, including St. John’s Bakery, La Fiesta Catering (who appear at both Fresh Wednesdays and Tasty Thursdays at Nathan Phillips Square with some of the meanest cornmeal mashed potatoes and pulled pork in the city!), LKP Culinary Groove, and Best Baa Dairy!  Best Baa Dairy was back with their huge assortment of cheese and goat’s milk ice cream, LPK Culinary Groove had their vegan cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and sweet potato donut holes on hand, La Fiesta Catering was firing up their grill with kabobs and succulent hot food delights, and St. John’s Bakery was dishing up the bread, cookies, and scones! 

I was so tempted to grab an ice cream and some of La Fiesta’s cornmeal mashed potatoes (and, I admit, a smidgen of their amazing pulled pork), but I convinced myself I’d come back for them another time and instead, snatched up two amazing scones from St. John’s Bakery.  At $2.50 a pop, their scones came in a varity of amazing flavours such as apple cinnamon, cranberry pumpkin seed, blueberry, and lemon currant among others.  This was the first time I had come across any of St. John’s Bakery’s scones and I was so excited!  Especially when I found out they had a lemon one.  I took home a lemon currant and a cranberry pumpkin seed and savoured them this morning with my brother.  We popped them in the microwave for 15 seconds and they were good to go.  They were so good!  They were pull apart soft and incredibly flavourful and I only wish I had thought to put some apricot jam because that would have been delightfully amazing.

Familiar faces aside, I also happened upon some new vendors at the market, one of them being Rob and Barry’s Vegan and Vegetarian Foods!  Rob and Barry’s business and cooking operations take place right here in Toronto in a commercial kitchen located in Kensington Market, and they’re hoping to open up a retail shop in the near future so they can further spread the vegetarian and vegan love!

For those of you who love taking advantage of vegetarian and vegan options, the Riverdale farmers’ market has welcomed a new vendor selling everything from veggie pasta and pizza, caponata (a Sicilian eggplant salad or dish typically associated with antipasti), quinoa black bean salad, quinoa mango salad, and quinoa chickpea salad!  Prices range from $3-$4 for salads (sold in reusable containers) and $4-$8 for the heftier items.  The food is perfect for take-away to take back home, for picnics, for lunch, or for an afternoon snack (yes, that’s right, I’d eat this as a snack.  I know how to pack it in) and it’s great knowing there’s another vegetarian and/or vegan option on hand for when you want something lighter.

I’m really looking forward to coming back later on in the summer, seeing the market grow, and hopefully, have myself a nice little picnic out on the park when it’s less gross out!  Muggy weather aside, I’m glad I came because I left with some wonderful scones, was reunited with some old food favourites, and was introduced to new food options for the next time around.

*****

The Riverdale Farm farmers’ market is located at 201 Winchester St. in Riverdale Park.  My way of getting here is to either walk along Carlton St. eastbound from Yonge St., or take the College St. streetcar eastbound to Parliament St. and Carlton.  From there, keep walking eastbound on Carlton until you get to Sumach St. and you’re there!  This year, the market is held every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm from May 22 to October 30.

The Return of Asparagus, Rhubarb, and Outdoor Farmers’ Markets – Trinity Bellwoods’ First Market of 2012!

Leave a comment

You know you’re excited about an event when you circle the surrounding neighbourhood several times over because you’re too early (half an hour early) but know you can’t stray too far for fear that you’ll miss out on the good stuff when said event starts.  The event?  The return of the outdoor farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park at Dundas Street West and Shaw, on Tuesday from 3pm-7pm, the first of 2012.  I’m not crazy – just highly enthusiastic!  I’ve been waiting for the markets to either return or move outdoors for weeks and surprisingly enough, I wasn’t the only one!  A number of people were milling around the market as vendors were setting up and displaying their good eats for all to see and devour 15 minutes before the market was set to begin.  I was taken aback by this only because I thought I was the only one who showed up abnormally early to things.  But there I was amongst other market goers, foodies, cyclists, and mums and kids, ready to pounce on anything and everything.   

St. John’s Bakery was there as well as Monforte Dairy, Evelyn’s Crackers, Forbes Wild Foods, Woolerdale Farms, and to my delight, BreadSong Collective!  I discovered them during my last visit to Wychwood Barns when I picked up an amazing kale and black bean empanada to take home and I was overjoyed to find out that they would be at at Trinity Bellwoods.  We know what that means: picnic lunch in the park!  Along with the huge veggie empanadas, quinoa salad, and vegan cookies and brownies, they had some new goodies on Tuesday including some mini stuffed mushroom and onion buns, mini brioche loaves, and some sweet custard-like pastries. 

And of course, we can’t forget about the return of seasonal asparagus and fresh rhubarb!  Woolerdale Farms was on hand with both along with bags of lettuces, greens, and salad mixes, shallots, and beets.  I’m really interested in trying my hand at some rhubarb baked goods this season, so I’m hoping my family will oblige and humour me with this one.  I don’t think they’re all too keen on rhubarb, but fresh market produce is so hard to resist, especially ones that are so versatile in baked goods!

Hypothetically, if I could pick up whatever I wanted from the market without taking money into a consideration, I would have grabbed another empanada and a vegan alfajor from BreadSong Collective, some goat cheese from Monforte Dairy, a package of fudge cookies from St. John’s Bakery, and a bag of leafy lettuces and salad mix from Woolerdale Farms.  I was just getting warmed up though so I held off on purchases for the time being so I’d know for sure what I wanted to come back for the next time.  The season is young so I’m sure I’ll be filling up the tote bags with goodies to bring home in no time!

Coming back to the market at Trinity Bellwoods brought back such a great memories from 2011: chomping on giant vegan coconut oat cookies, bringing my mum and brother to a farmers’ market for the first time, buying my very first bunch of kale, and beginning my whirlwind market adventure last May.  Aside from Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square, the market at Trinity Bellwoods was my first in the city and it led to a hunger and thirst for more each and every single week.  I know this is going to be an amazing spring and summer season, so here’s to many more outdoor market adventures in the city in 2012!     

*****

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

The One That (Almost) Got Away – St. John’s Bakery, ChocoSol, & Baked Goods at the Last CBC Indoor Market

2 Comments

Pretty sugar cookies & chocolate chip shortbread!

Have you ever found out about an event when it was too late or almost too late and it upset you so much because you knew it was an event you would have loved going to?  Hello, my name is Deb and I nearly missed out on an entire series of farmers’ markets this past winter and early spring!  (Cue chorus of voices: “Hi, Deb”).  That’s right.  Yours truly, the self-proclaimed event guru of TO, has let one slip by.  (Cue chours of audible gasps). 

There have been a handful of food events that have happened in the city that I missed out on because I had no idea they were happening, but basically missing out on an ENTIRE series of markets that was happening every month since November in the downtown core right under my nose?!  That is unacceptable!  And even though I made it to the very last market of the indoor season at the CBC broadcasting building  on Wellington this past week, I am fuming because I missed out on everything that happened prior to it!  And to add insult to injury, I found out that this was the indoor version of my beloved farmers’ market at David Pecaut Square outside Roy Thomson Hall.

My favourite part of the CBC building - green tiles!

When it dawned on me that the market had actually been indoors all this time since November, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to run into a secluded corner and scream at myself or stand there and cry.  I did neither.  I bought cacao cookies and scones to soothe my wounded ego instead.  I am so, so sorry for not finding out about this market sooner.  I feel like such a doofus, especially since it was located in such an accessible location – right in the downtown core, accessible by the underground PATH, and just a few blocks away from Union station.   

Simcoe Place Park, just outside

I actually found out about the CBC indoor market by accident.  I was exploring the underground PATH one day in March and as I was passing through the CBC building at surface level, I noticed a poster of calendar events taped to one of the poles.  I saw the words, “farmers’ market” for one of the dates in March and was thoroughly confused.  A market?  In the CBC building?!  SINCE WHEN?!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the market in March, so I told myself I would make it to the one in April and that is how I ended up here.  Sigh.  If it’s any consolation, now that we know the market is in operation year-round we can go on a regular basis now!  And it also makes me feel slightly better knowing that I had only missed one market each month since November as opposed to a market each week.

Beautiful portobello mushrooms!

Just so everyone is on the same page, let me sum up: the farmers’ market that took/takes place at David Pecaut Square during the late spring, summer, and fall months moved/moves indoors into the CBC broadcasting building at Wellington and John Street from November to April.  The indoor markets, however, only take place ONCE A MONTH in November, December, January, Febraury, March, and April.  The market then moves back outdoors in May.  Because the Luminato arts festival takes place around David Pecaut Square and the theatre district though, the farmers’ market actually stays close to the CBC building – just outside at the Simcoe Place park and courtyard until Luminato finishes up.  I don’t have exact market dates for the month of May on me right now, but I’ll find out as soon as I can and report back!  All markets run from 8am-2pm though, so definitely accessible to the morning rush hour crowd and the lunch hour crowd!

Continue Reading »

It’s Soup & Sammie Time at The Depanneur! Sweet Potato, Kale, & Bacon Soup With an Egg Frittata Sandwich

2 Comments

It’s soup and sammie time at The Depanneur!  I hadn’t been back to the cafe since Christmas and I really missed their soup and sandwiches so I made a return trip last month and had myself a warm and yummy comfort meal.  Not only do I enjoy noshing on the good eats here, but I also love just being amidst the hustle and bustle in the commercial kitchen.  On any given day, you would find either Lisa (@afoodgypsy) cooking up one of her fabulous soups, Sara of Nice Buns kneading and baking fresh fougasse, sourdough, and buns for her bakery and the farmers’ markets (and brushing olive oil and herbs onto the mouthwatering finished products!), and local musician Laura Repo making her homemade family recipe granola.  It’s so much fun being a part of the cooking atmosphere and watching homemade food from scratch come together right before your eyes. 

Soups and sandwiches are The Depanneur’s forte and while it’s one of the simplest meals in the book, the crew keeps things interesting and delicious by using simple ingredients and just combining them in different and delicious ways.  At The Depanneur, you get to see food in all its various complexities.  They break out the big guns for the supper clubs with unique interpretations of North American classics (a vegan tv dinner supper club that encourages you to think about the historical and social construction of food?  Oh, hell yes) and plenty of ethic flavour, and they keep their daily cafe menu simple yet insanely scrumptious.  Eggs, bread, potatoes, green vegetables, smoky meats, and a lot of love!

Sara of Nice Buns hard at work baking!

Brushing olive oil and herbs onto the fougasse!

 My breakfast sandwich was a soft, warm, heavenly green pea, red pepper, and potato egg frittata sandwich on St. John’s sourdough with miso aioli.  I think I loved this one even more than the first sandwich I had here.  It was so good.  My favourite parts of the sandwich were the peas, the chunks of potato, and the miso aioli.  The peas and potatoes gave the soft eggs, and the sandwich as a whole, a delicious “meaty” starchiness to it that was totally kicked up a notch by the miso aioli spread.  It was so creamy and savoury and it complemented the bread and the potato chunks so well.  Imagine dipping starchy, potatoey fries or soft-on-the-inside, crunchy on the outside wedges of bread into a creamy garlic mayo.  It’s that, only better because every bite and mouthful is a party of egg, potato, veggies, bread, and creaminess!  I really loved this and I only wish I could have a foot-long baguette sandwich of this.  

The Depanneur takes pride in using as many local ingredients as possible from the city and province and the sandwiches are a prime example of that.  Bread will normally come from St John’s Bakery and Nice Buns, organic eggs from H.O.P.E. Eco Farms (and according to Len, specifically from brown hens kept on grass), and some vegetables from Fiesta Farms here in Toronto. 

The wonderful thing about The Depanneur is how resourceful they are with their food.  They always think big and they always consider, “how can we make the most of the ingredients we have and how many different dishes can we create using these items?”  The vegetables they use for their breakfast sandwiches might make their way into a soup, into that night’s drop-in dinner, or into a weekend cooking workshop or supper club.  It’s exactly how their sweet potato, kale, and bacon soup was created and as soon as I saw it on their menu board, I knew it would be the perfect savoury soup partner for my sandwich and that it would be just as delicious as it sounded!

It’s a combination that I had never encountered before and I was immensly intrigued to try it out.  With onions and red peppers to round out the bowl of soup, it was a bowl full of hearty, feel-good goodness.  The sweetness of the sweet potato balanced out the smoky savouriness of the bacon pieces (yes, that’s right, PIECES) and the kale was very mild in flavour which was perfect because it didn’t interfere with the other two flavours.  Instead, the kale gave the soup most of its body and an aspect of leafy lightness, lifting the soup a little so that the heartiness of the sweet potato and bacon wasn’t overwhelming.  One of the best things about it?  It didn’t need anything.  You know how some soups are too bland and others are too spicy and others are too salty?  Nothing of the sort with this one.  I love cracked black pepper and I always sprinkle some onto my soup (and food, when appropriate), but I found that I didn’t need it or even want it.  The flavours of the soup were bold and spoke for themselves. 

The whole meal was the embodiment of warm comfort food with hearty starches (potatoes and sweet potatoes), smoky flavour from the bacon, and full body from the leafy kale.  There is so much great food to look forward to at The Depanneur and given how the menu is always evolving, this is just the delicious beginning.  

*****

The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) with a number of cooking classes, food workshops, drop-in dinners, and supper clubs throughout the month, which you can keep up with on the Food Calendar or on their Twitter @TheDepanneur.  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

Cooking Classes, Kitchen Adventures & Frittata Sandwiches With Black Bean Soup – Foodscapes at Depanneur, Part II

1 Comment

I love all the various food options in the city and the myriad of ways I can whet my appetite for food exploration, but there are few places like The Depanneur that are as all-encompassing.  Themed supper club and dinner party events, hands-on cooking classes and foodie workshops, cooking, business, and career opportunities for enthusiastic foodies, and weekly breakfast and lunch menus full of healthy, homemade food are all part of the mix.  Now that you’re up to speed on the fabulous supper clubs The Depanneur hosts multiple times a month from yesterday’s Part I post, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty cooking classes and delicious daily food!

The Depanneur holds regular cooking and baking workshops and classes taught by independent business owners, chefs, and passionate, knowledgable folks who love and excel at their food craft.  Prices vary depending on the cost of ingredients and the type of food involved, but generally speaking, you could totally find reasonably priced classes for as little as $30!  Classes and workshops in recent past include Italian panforte, vegan rougelach, World of Truffles mushroom workshops, and Mai Ha’s I Love Puffy Love marshmallow making!  These classes and workshops are open spaces meant for anyone and everyone with any level of experience and knowledge, and they encourage thoughtful, open discussion, questions, and of course, FUN!  It’s about learning from one another, learning about where our ingredients and food comes from, opening yourself up to new experiences, tastes, and techniques, and enjoying the wonderful world of food amongst other excited and eager foodies.

Sara of Nice Buns making fresh bread!

Speaking of cooking, The Depanneur also rents out their commercial kitchen space!  If you love to cook and bake and want and need an outlet for your creativity and food products, this could be the space for you!  Independent food entrepreneurs can use the kitchen to make food and sell it in the cafe on a consignment basis.  Rental rates will depend on how long you intend to use the kitchen, but if it’s definitely worth a look-see so just shoot them an e-mail and the staff would be happy to answer questions and work out an arrangement. 

Sara of Nice Buns is a frequent Depanneur crew member who uses the kitchen to bake her famous bread for the CSI markets and other market events, and Lisa of A Food Gypsy creates homemade soup for The Depanneur’s lunch menu.  This is such a great arrangement because chefs and foodies can use this space and outlet to showcase their love embodied in food and expand their business and clientele, and at the same time foodies like myself can get to know about independent food businesses around the city.

Their breakfast and lunch cafe menu is one that changes every week in terms of ingredients.  The one thing that is constant is the format of the menu and the type of food you can expect.  The weekly menu will always include a breakfast item (for example, a frittata sandwich), two kinds of grilled cheese for lunch with a side of coleslaw or salad, and a homemade soup.  Their menu also includes a number of drinks (hot or cold apple cider, hot or cold chocolate or maple milk, coffee, teas, soy lattes, flavoured sodas, and more) and homemade desserts lovingly made by bakers and chefs who use the kitchen and/or who are part of The Depanneur crew and staff.  Sara of Nice Buns has been selling her cinnamon buns and biscotti here!

I love sandwich and soup meals so I had me their breakfast frittata sandwich and a bowl of their weekly soup which happened to be southwest black bean with sweet corn.  Each item was $4 and the nice thing about the breakfast and lunch food at The Depanneur is the nice rounded price.  Simply put, whatever price you see is the price you pay.  NO TAX TACKED ON.  This part deserves a nice shiny star!  Their frittata sandwich was made with fresh baked sourbread bread from St. John’s Bakery (which The Depanneur also sells!), peameal bacon, herbs, and chipotle mayo, while the black bean soup was a hearty mix of corn, red kidney beans, black beans, diced pepper, and a dollop of delicious sour cream with cilantro with crunch bread crisps on the side!

I loved my meal, especially the warmth and crunchiness from the egg and peameal bacon frittata and the creamy deliciousness of the mayo, but if I had to choose a knockout, it had to be the black bean and corn soup.  This was SO DAMN GOOD.  I was thisclose to ordering a 2nd bowl!  I could have eaten all of it too.  I might be a little person, but I can pack in the food!  The soup was just so well-balanced in flavour.  It wasn’t too acidic from the tomato base, it was too runny or too thick and goopy, and I LOVE the fact that I got sour cream with it!  I can’t wait to try their other soups and I’m so looking forward to chomping on some grilled cheese.  Oh, and maybe some maple milk.  I can eat and watch people cook at the same time.  It’s a lovely thing.      

*****

The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) and they are currently closed for the holidays but will be back with yummy food in the new year on January 10th!  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

The Fall Harvest Series – Spring Roll Wraps, Pumpkin Fruit Tarts, and More at the Centre for Social Innovation Market!

3 Comments

A photo sneak peek for tonight before I dish out the full post tomorrow morning!

***

Sometimes Twitter is like a ray of sunshine.  Last Thursday, I managed to catch a tweet from Cassandra of Earth and City saying they wouldn’t be at Wychwood Barns on Saturday, but would still be at Sorauren market on Monday and the “@csiTO market” on Tuesday.  I did a double take.  What in the world was @csiTO and how did I not know about this??  Enter the clickity-clack noises of my fingertips flying over my keyboard as I added and followed @csiTO on Twitter and looked them up on Google.  I found out through their Twitter home page that they were actually not a forensic crime fighting team here in Toronto (I know, bad joke, har har), but instead the Centre for Social Innovation, a centre designed to encourage those with social entrepreneurial ideas and skills to bring those ideas to life through local and transnational community involvement. 

The Centre for Social Innovation is, in my opinion, a grassroots think-tank for people from all walks of life to come together to provide support and inspiration, and to discuss and implement programs and changes to social life, whether it be environmental issues, infrastructure, economic, and everything in between.  The focus is building relationships in the community and bringing about change, for the better.  Their spaces are open and welcoming, and anyone can come in to learn more, get involved, and pitch in.  They offer spaces for groups to come in and use for meetings and the like, and they currently serve two locations in Toronto.  The newest located in the Annex is just south of Bloor West on Bathurst Street, and a new location is set to open in Regent Park on Dundas East in the new Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre.

To make this post even more Twitter-tastic, guess how I found out about Earth and City?  You guessed it, Twitter!  I heard about – and saw – the amazing delicious food made my Cassandra and Lisa from my friend Jen, vegan baker and superwoman behind Apiecalypse Now.  I don’t know how I missed them at Sorauren during the summer, but there was no way I was going to miss them this time at a new market I had never been to in a venue I wasn’t even aware of! 

Ah, and there’s a reason for that: the market at CSI on the Annex is a new one.  They just launched their mini market and for the time being, the market will be there every other week until they can expand and run the market weekly, which I really hope they do!  Although the space looks a bit industrial and warehouse-like on the inside, I think there’s a great homey feel to it and it’s wonderful and welcoming with tables, chairs, and couches.  There’s a fully stocked kitchen with dishes and utensils and everything that everyone is more than welcome to use while they’re there.  I love that.  Grab some fresh food at the market and sit down and eat it.  I am totally doing this the next time I come!

The market was almost set up like a buffet, with a long table full of Earth and City’s raw vegan goodies, fresh bread from St. John’s Bakery in Toronto, cheese straight from Ontario farms, olive oils and vinaigrettes (which I sampled with some small chunks of bread – the pizza oil is fantastic!), and plenty of organic, vegan, fair trade chocolate courtesy of Chocosol who have just been all over the map during my farmers’ market visits!  I’ve featured them before in my Riverdale farmers’ market post, along with some photos here and there from other markets, so go have a look see!  Even though the market was small, the spread was fantastic and that’s what it’s all about – quality.

Earth and City changes up their farmers’ market menu on a consistent basis, so you never know what goodies you’ll come across when you visit them (unless of course you follow them on Twitter and they tell you).  Yesterday’s yummies: fresh spring roll wraps stuffed and made with rice paper, apples, carrots, beets, walnuts, almonds, honey dates, red onion, collard greens, ginger, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.  I don’t care, I am going to throw caution to my raw apple allergy and get one of these if I see them again for next time.  I figure I can just pick out the apple with destroying the wrap.  They look delicious. 

Also on their menu were their flatbreads, homemade frosted brownies, chocolate macaroons made with coconut flakes, organic cocoa butter, organic raw agave, and raw almond flour, and…pumpkin fruit tarts!!  I honestly should have bought one because c’mon, it’s a scrumptious-looking, to-die-for pumpkin tart!  But I had already bought cookies in the morning.  I’m going to kick myself, sigh.  I did, however, walk away with some bread rolls from St. John’s Bakery and they were delightful with green onion it.

The market was cozy, intimate, and lovely and I am SO glad I went.  I can’t wait for their next one and after checking the calendar, it looks like they’ll be there again on the 18th.  I will be there, ready to eat until I roll out down the street.

*****

The Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) is located at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox.  They also have a location on Spadina at 215 Spadina Ave., 4th floor.  Earth and City serves several farmers’ markets in the city (most notably the market at Wychwood Barns on Saturday and the Sorauren market on Monday), as well as Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market.  They do catering and orders, so visit their site and blog here for more information on their food, mission, and menu.