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Exploring Toronto

August 22, 2009

Dear Caitlin,

Friday was a day of much exploration but not much (food) preparation. So unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures or stories to share with you about all the awesome things I ate yesterday (my meals were consisted only of yesterday’s sunflower seed & lentil pate, almond butter, pita bread, baby carrots, and a nice fruit salad David prepared for everyone). However, I do lots to tell about all the places I went and food I bought. So here we go!

There were many things I wanted to do on Friday, and not all of them were food related. My first stop for the day was the local library to get a library card, which I now have! The library (which is very close to my house) is very cute, newly remodeled, but sort of small. It seems like a great place to go and do work or relax, but not the best place to go browsing for books.

Next I decided to ride my bike out to the downtown area to find a souvenir shop, since I thought that’d be the most reliable place to find a Toronto map and a Toronto mug. What I ended up finding was St. Lawrence Markets, a huge warehouse building filled with various vendors and grocers and all sorts of amazing places. Just check out this sign for one of its shops:

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A store devoted entirely to sprouts? Yes, please! I got a really interesting blend of all sorts of sprouts which is going to be great on salads and sandwiches. Also, look at that tofu sign below it—more on that company later!

I did end up getting to the souvenir store eventually, though, and I did find my Toronto map and mug. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any mugs with my desired amount of kitsch, but I still found one that I found very classy and functional:

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After the souvenir shop, I went uptown to the largest branch of the Toronto Public Library, the Toronto Reference Library. This library was enormous and beautiful, but since it’s a reference library, most of the books are not for checkout and only for perusal. Still, it’s an amazing place. Check out this photo:

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After this, I had a little more food shopping to take care. Really, I just wanted to go to a couple of the more nearby grocers and check out their selection. The first place I went to, Taste of Nature, is great little health food store, complete with almost all the pantry things I’d ever need. It was so impressive that I actually went back this (Saturday) morning to get a few things I forgot. The other place I went to, Organics on Bloor, is another small grocery, but this one specializes more in fresh produce. I found it a little too pricey for what it was offering, so I don’t know if I’ll go back.

Now, originally I did plan to have a nice salad for dinner, but one of my roommates asked me to go out to this folk music concert and so I didn’t have time to prepare a real dinner. I was a little bummed at first and not very happy that I’d have to put my salad on hold for the night, but the concert we went to totally made up for all the disappointment I was initially feeling. The show was literally in some dude’s backyard, in a wood shed no bigger than a two-car garage, crammed to the walls with listeners surrounding a quintet of guitars, stand-up bass, banjo, and percussion. The band was completely acoustic—not even any microphones—so the show had the intimacy of a small folk club, but the quiet excitement of a packed room. On top of all this, the band was also really great, very much like Iron & Wine or the more intimate songs of Sufjan Stevens. Since getting into the show was free, I decided to throw some money the band’s way and pick up their CD. I still haven’t had time to give it a listen yet, but their name is The Wilderness of Manitoba. Perhaps they have a website or something you can check out.

The show was continuing with another artist after The Wilderness of Manitoba finished, but I was feeling tired so I decided to head back home and go to bed. The next morning (today), I woke up and got my stuff together to head to a nearby farmers’ market. On my way there I was a little shocked because, after a full day of biking riding around the flat streets of Toronto, I experienced my first Toronto hill! Thankfully the hill was on the ride there and not back, because I sure did load up my backpack with fresh goodies. Here are some photos of the market itself:

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As you can see, it was well vended and well attended (and this was at 9 in the morning!). There were so many wonderful things here. Some of the things I purchased included…

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Ying Ying Soy Food Gourmet Tofu packs! Remember that sign below the sprouts sign from before? These are the same guys. Now normally I don’t go for these pre-flavored tofu packages, but after the vendor gave me a sample, I just couldn’t resist. This is seriously some of the best tofu I’ve ever tasted, and it’s not just the flavorings (although those was superb as well). Also, Ying Ying, besides from being a local Toronto company, makes their own tofu from a local soybean farmer’s crop. If you can’t read the labels, the flavors I ended up choosing were curry, tomato, and sweet & spicy. I’m sure you’ll be seeing these in some meals soon!

Next up, one bag of peaches and one bag of greens, squash and sweet potatoes!

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I can’t really report on how good any of these things are, as I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m looking forward to them. The potatoes came from  an exclusively sweet potato farmer and vendor, so I think these should be interesting!

After the farmers’ market, I did a little more food shopping, going back to Taste of Nature and the local Asian market, which was very impressive. I think I definitely have enough food now to keep me busy for a while. There should be many exciting meals on the way!

Before I sign off, two quick questions: Do you have a good peanut butter sauce recipe? I’d like to make some with udon noodles sometime soon. Also, the local Toronto free city paper, Now Magazine, has an issue this week all about green eating and related topics, and I found how the cover story, The 100 Mile Myth, to be very interesting. It’s a short read and I’d definitely recommend it, although it is a little depressing in how it reminds you just how complex our food buying choices are.

I should be back again today with some reports on all the delicious new food I bought and will be cooking with! Until we eat again,

Willie

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2 comments

  1. Wow, that looks like so much fun! I didn’t read the article yet, but I will be sure to later today!

    As for a peanut butter recipe, would you want the simple Vietnamese one that I made a couple times over the summer? or something a little different because I think I might have other ones… I tend to think that sauce is best with tofu or veggies mixed in, though it probably would go well with udon noodles… Maybe I can make a post of it?

    I’ll also be posting later about the large and amazing dinner I had last night, courtesy of Crescent Dragonwagon!


    • I like the Vietnamese one a lot, but something new might be nice too. I can do some looking around as well, of course.



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