Monday, 8 November 2010
A Visit to the St. Lawrence Market
We don't get into Toronto too often these days, but we found ourselves with a free Saturday there this past weekend. So, bright and early (alright it was 10:00 am) we went off the the St. Lawrence Market, a place I well remember going to as a child. We started in the North Market, which is where the actual farmers' market is. It opens at 5:00 am, so we could really have been there bright (dark, actually) and early if we had wanted.
It's not as bustling as it would have been in the height of the season, but there were still a few vendors spilling out onto the sidewalks, and the place was pretty packed.
Inside, it looks very much as it did when I was first taken there in the late 1960's when it would have been brand spanking new, except I'm pretty sure it has a lot more vendors, a lot more variety of produce and a lot more customers. Back before the big surge in interest in local food it was looking pretty sad for a while as I recall. It's good to see it so busy and interesting again.
I was also aware that this was probably the last time I'll see the old market building. The market is due to be rebuilt next year, so it will be greatly disrupted and then the year after it will be a whole new thing.
Now you can get all kinds of stuff at the market. Best Baa Farm was there with a selection of sheeps' milk cheeses. Didn't have that when I was a kid!
A colourful display of Brussels sprouts and peppers.
There are a few traditional butchers.
Cabbages and rutabaga - it's beginning to look a lot like winter!
A great array of winter squash take centre stage, literally.
Lots of baked goods available, including these colourful pizzas.
An amazing selection of more exotic meats: guinea fowl, bison, fallow deer, muscovy duck, pheasant and ostrich.
A large display table was devoted to every product of the beehive, including some very nice candles. I didn't get it at this table, but I was excited to find some melon-blossom honey available. I'm getting to have quite a collection of honeys; I should do a honey-tasting one of these days.
Alas, I didn't think to bring my vouchers so I didn't get any cheese from the Monforte stand. (Actually this turned out to be just as well - stay tuned for further details!) However, I was excited to see that they have added a truly scrumptious Gouda cheese to their available cheeses.
Once we were done with the North Market, we went across the street to the South Market, which is an older and more interesting building. It's open every day but Sunday and Monday, but isn't particularly a great source of local produce.
However, there certainly is some! I love all these baskets of veggies with the bright blue wall.
The basement is a warren of fascinating little places, and the scents from this bakery fill the whole place. We didn't get anything here even though the chocolate croissants looked amazingly good because the line-ups were pretty amazing too.
Upstairs is more spacious and filled with cheese and meat vendors, as well as more vegetables and other little food-related boutiques. I swear I remember many of the vendors as having been there when I was a kid, or at least when I was much younger; 40 years ago. The St. Lawrence Market is nothing if not an institution.
These guys are relatively new, though. I always make sure to pick up some Kozlik's Mustard when I'm at the market.
The hard part - definitely - is picking which one it's going to be. There are so many to choose from. Fortunately, you can sample them before you buy.