It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, It’s Beautiful Day for a Market – A Trip to Trinity Bellwoods!

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bellwoods collage2Last Tuesday was one of the most topsy-turvy days I’ve experienced all year.  I was taking a vacation day from work as a “me” day and I had my fun day all planned out: lots of yummy food, walking around town, a little bit of shopping, and oh, going to the amazing Taste of PEI and PEI Cooking Challenge event taking place at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village and MEETING MICHAEL SMITH!  Holy shit on a stick.  Rest assured, you will all see and hear about it once I get my wits together and bang out those posts in the new few days!

But was last Tuesday ever a rollercoaster.  One minute I was in such happy conniptions I was ready to jump out of my skin, the next I wanted to cry because my head was pounding so hard from an oncoming migraine that couldn’t decide if it wanted to just call it a day and leave me alone once and for all or, well, kill me.  I could not believe my rotten luck.  SERIOUSLY.  On the day I was set to immerse myself in PEI cuisine and Michael Smith’s presence.  The sheer coincidence was worthy of an eye-roll and a few choice curse words at the very least.  It really shouldn’t have come as any surprise though.  The weather had been shit: it was cool and overcast, then drizzly, then back to overcast, then sunny and warm, then uncomfortably warm and it’s any wonder I made it through the entire day in one piece.

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Then as soon as I thought the dull pain in my head had subsided, my feet decided to revolt against me.  I mean, I know I was walking around town in Mary Janes but in my defense, they had nice rubber soles and were quite comfortable aside from the fact that the strap on my right shoe was strangling my right foot because my right foot is lame and is slightly bigger than my left.

Even after that, I made it out at the end of the day happy and excited and so full of joy.  And a part of that joy came from making a return visit to the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods!  It was Tuesday, the event didn’t start until 4pm, the market started at 3pm, and I was only a hop, skip, and step away from Ossington which would take me straight into Liberty Village on bus.

IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

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I miss going to weekday markets SO MUCH.  Coming back to this one felt like home.  I snapped photos of beautiful asparagus, granola cookies, the pretty rainbow of colours in Evelyn’s Crackers’ packaging (my boyfriend is quite the fan of their stuff and I’d recommend their lavender shortbread!), the cutest of mushrooms and baked goods among other yummies.  Highlights?  Seeing Apple Mint being sold by Wooler Dale Farm (I didn’t know such a thing existed!), drooling over lemon ricotta croissants and apple, coconut, almond granola from Breadsong, snapping shots of the gorgeous yellow oyster mushrooms from The Mushroom Man from Waymac Farms (can you imagine how awesome these would look on a mixed mushroom pizza or flatbread?!  It’d be gorgeous and most likely delicious), and seeing the giant Trinity Bellwoods market banner strung over the fence by the kids playground in the park.

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Markets are so integral to our communities and woven so tightly into our communal fabric.  It’s a beautiful thing to see and an even more beautiful thing to be a part of regardless of what part of town the market is in or the size of it.  No matter how many times you go to the same market, there will always be something a little different to see, to try, and to explore.  Looking back at my Trinity Bellwoods market posts, with the exception of nice asparagus in the spring posts, nothing is exactly the same and that’s a good thing because while consistency is nice, it’s the new and the different that will keep things fresh and keep everyone engaged.  I’m happy I braved my head pain to make this visit and while I didn’t pick anything up to bring home this time around, I can’t wait to come back later on in the summer during my time off and really take advantage of the market groceries!

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

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A Photo Spotlight on Luxurious Macaron Bites & Gourmet French Eats at Nadège Patisserie

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Nadège Patisserie is a gourmet food boutique and patisserie specializing in Parisian macarons, French pastries and cakes, and fine chocolates.  They serve two locations in Toronto: 1) 780 Queen Street West beside Trinity Bellwoods Park and 2) 1099 Yonge Street several blocks away from Summerhill subway station, where these particular photos were taken on a rainy Sunday afternoon!  They are open 7 days a week: 8am-8pm Monday to Wednesday, 8am-9pm Thursday and Friday, 8am-8pm Saturday, and 8am-7pm Sunday.

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

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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!     

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

There’s a Chill in the Air – The First September Farmers’ Market Visit and a Return to Trinity Bellwoods Park

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I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, put on a zippy sweater and hankerchief scarf, and prepared myself for a glorious day out in the city.  I was really excited for my first farmers’ market of September today and I’m looking forward to so many more this fall, especially since this is my first year visiting the markets on such a regular basis.  I can’t wait to see pumpkins, squash, gourds, cranberries, more apples, and everything else the fall harvest has to offer.  It was overcast for most of the day today but I welcomed the lack of summer heat and relished in the fresh coolness instead.  It felt so good today.  Crisp, clean, cool, breezy, and perfect for walking around town and strolling through a market in the park.  The last time I went to the market at Trinity Bellwoods was back in May, so I thought, “what better time to make a return visit than the first week of September?  A visit at the cusp of summer and fall means a lot of new things to see!”    

My feet were a little sore from my long walk akong Dundas West, but my spirits were high and I smiled when I saw the big, bustling crowd hovering in and around the market at Trinity Bellwoods.  Babies were playing on playmats on the grass, people were lugging around bulging bags of fresh vegetables, and everyone was in happy, carefree spirits.  It’s the best possible energy to be around and it’s engaging and infectious.  Things looked vastly different from my first visit back in the spring.  At the time, there was an abundance of asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, fruit and oatmeal cookies, and lots of bread and baked desserts.

The bread and baked desserts have stayed, but everything else has changed and it was so awesome seeing the vibrant fall colous at the market.  They were absolutely beautiful and so perfect for the start of fall with burnt oranges, bright reds, and golden yellows at every other table of goodies.  There were wooden baskets and barrels spilling out with tons of radishes, beets, parsnips, carrots, apples, corn, mini squashes, and pears and even though I knew summer wasn’t officially over, I could already hear the leaves and grass crunching under my feet and I could already feel the excitment and anticipation of carrying home bushels and baskets of fall goodies.  All of this would drive any foodie’s mind in circles with all the possible fall dishes these fruits and vegetables could be a part of including fall stews, soups, risottos, baked desserts, and many more. 

You all know I have a hard time leaving the market empty-handed so for the first time ever, I picked up a HUGE, leafy fresh bunch of kale and this baby is going in the pot for dinner sometime this week!  I’m so happy I was introduced to this vegetable last year.  I could munch on a whole plate of the stuff all by its lonesome with nothing on it and be a happy camper.  I may have walked away from the adorable teeny yellow tomatoes and homemade blueberry scones I saw today, but I walked away with a very beautiful vegetable and as an added bonus, it made it all the way home with me sans the squish.  I’d say the fall farmers’ market score card is off to a fantabulous start so far 😀

 

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 The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  The next time you’re there, be sure to also sign the petition to prevent the increase in farmers’ market user fees.  You can also access and sign the petition, and learn more, online here.

Sipping Tea in the Park on a Sunshiney Day – “Tea”licious Coconut Blossom Green Tea at Tealish!

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Tealish is a place that makes me cheerful and happy the minute I step through the door.   A fun and fresh tea boutique located at 728 Queen St. West, Tealish’s walls are lined with shelves upon shelves of colourful pastel coloured canisters offering everything from black, green, white, oolong, rooibos, and herbal loose leaf tea, as well as adorable tea accessories.  Think little red, blue, and turquoise teapots, little tea cups, tea thermoses, tea strainers, and individual loose leaf tea packets in a host of flavours.  Tins of loose leaf tea in any one of their 100+ flavours can be purchased in 50g, 100g, and 250g, and prepackaged tins of loose leaf tea are available for purchase in gift sets and individual tins on the shelves.

With its hardwood floors and bright lime green and white decor and storefront, there’s a brightness and freshness about that is so refreshing and inviting.  It feels and looks so cozy inside, especially on a sunny morning with the warm sunlight filtering in through the storefront window.  It’s the feeling you get when you’re lying back relaxing with a good book a lazy summer day.  When you’re inside, you don’t feel like you’re in a tea shop in the retail sense of the word; you feel like you’re in a sunny country kitchen with an inviting tea room in the back just beckoning you to sit back, relax, and sip on some soothing and delicious tea.

I love Tealish’s loose leaf tea selection.  For one thing, deciding on the type of tea you want is super easy because 1) each shelf is allocated to a specific type of tea and 2) each type of tea is colour-coded.  If you want loose leaf flavoured green tea, check out the lime green canisters on the 3rd shelf.  Feel like a rooibos variety?  Puruse the bottom shelf with the pretty pink metal tins.  I am crazy about fruit teas and dessert teas and Tealish has plenty to choose from.  Just the thought of teas such as lemon meringue, coconut cream chai, orange marzipan, and double chocolate make me salivate.

I knew I wanted a dessert tea and because I’m crazy for coconut flavoured anything and everything, I got myself a small ($2.50) coconut blossom green tea, iced.  I was so excited about my tea that I completely forgot to write down and take note of the prices for the other sizes, so I promise I’ll get that for next time!  Now, I love coconut dessert stuff and I enjoy green tea, but I’ll be honest and say that I really didn’t know what to expect from this tea.  I didn’t know if the coconut flavour would be too subtle for my taste, if it would end up being diluted, if it would come across too artificial in taste, that kind of thing. 

I was not disappointed AT ALL!  In fact, this tea figuratively knocked my shoes off.  The coconut blossom green tea is DELICIOUS!  The coconut flavour hits you right from the first sip but isn’t so strong or aggressive that it takes away from the green tea herbalness.  It’s a beautiful meshing of flavours and there is no mistaking the coconut flavour.  It tickles your tastebuds as you drink and it leaves a yummy after taste that leaves you licking your lips for more.  Drinking this tea makes you feel like you’re eating a piece of sweet coconut cream pie.  It’s THAT good.

Located in the West Queen West neighbourhood, Tealish is just steps away from Trinity Bellwoods Park which I think is such a perfect fit.  In the spring and summer, it’s so nice sitting out on a bench sipping some iced tea and in the fall and winter, you have your hot cup of tea to warm you up while you crunch through fallen leaves and fresh snow.  And that’s exactly what I did with my coconut blossom green iced tea.  I sipped on my cool drink, sat back on a bench with the warm sunshine beaming down at me while I watched cute puppies running around, and enjoyed the nice breeze that nipped the trees around me.  With a tea as “tealish” as this one, I almost felt like I was catching some rays out on a cabana.  Almost 😉

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Tealish is located at 728 Queen St. West at Claremont St. just steps away from Trinity Bellwoods Park.  In terms of major streets and intersections, Tealish is located in between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave. on Queen.  Their official website is located here where you can purchase teas online and puruse their many “tea”licious flavours!

It’s the Season of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables and Healthy Baked Goods: Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market!

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The snow is gone, the sun is out (on some days anyway!), and the temperatures are warm.  You know what that means: farmers’ markets across the city!  I fell in love with going to farmers’ markets last summer after going to Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square several times over the course of a few months.  It’s so heart-warming seeing everyone there picking up yummy baked goods, homemade jams and honey, and lugging around bulging bags of fruits and vegetables.  Farmers’ markets are so much more than just offering people a great deal.  It’s about connecting the public with the local economy and showcasing the talent and hard work that may not always get noticed on such a large scale.  There’s always something new to see (I saw and tasted gooseberries for the first time last summer!) and my camera will be there to capture it all for the next few months. 

First up: the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park in downtown Toronto, located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  I was there today with my mum and brother and I snapped some photos of the delicious food at some of the booths and picked up some vegan oatmeal coconut cookies (these things are HUGE oh my lord!) among other things.  There were booths selling bundles of fresh asparagus, baked bread, jarred honey and jams, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan sweet goodies including .  You can bet I’ll be going back for all those amazing treats.  Enjoy the photos!

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The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  Check out other farmers’ markets and foodie events in and around the city on my Food Calendar