I didn’t grow up going to Farmers’ Markets. There aren’t many in Houston and the ones that are there are quite small. In fact, I didn’t go to my first farmers market until I moved to Toronto. It seems that every neighbourhood in the city has its own farmers market with all kinds of locally grown produce. Those markets, though, are dwarfed by the mother of all farmers markets — Toronto’s legendary St. Lawrence Market.
The St. Lawrence Market is a complex made up of three buildings, including the North Market, which was established in 1803 (!) and is known primarily for its Saturday Farmers’ Market where producers from across southern Ontario sell their wares seasonally; on Sundays, the North Market turns in to a giant antiques fair. The South Market, and the larger of the two, has more than 50 specialty shops selling everything from rare French cheeses to Moroccan candies to olive bars into which I’d like to dive.
I never really got into the habit of going to the Market on Saturday like so many of my friends. Rather, I got into the habit of going to Loblaws on my way home from work on Fridays, so I didn’t have to deal with the crazy grocery store masses on the weekend — you know, like strollers the size of Hummers packed with screaming triplets and lines wrapped through the store. Anyway. With the invention of my Toronto Bucket List, though, I decided I needed to spend a Saturday morning roaming through the St. Lawrence Market.
I saw so many delectable, delightful goodies that my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I can’t list every store I went into simply because I pay by the inch* and it would be cost prohibitive. 🙂 Some of my favourites, though, were Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard (honey and lime mustard FTW), Scheffler’s Deli & Cheese (where they sell hanging cheese!), Everyday Gourmet (for delicious, delicious coffees and teas), and Di Liso’s Fine Meats, where I snagged 4 pounds of extra lean ground steak for $12. Sweet. I have a serious addiction to olives, and I saw an olive bar so vast that my eyes welled up with tears. The Carousel Bakery, a Toronto institution, is also inside the Market and sells its “world famous peameal bacon sandwich” in droves — people were literally snaked through the market standing in line to buy a sandwich. I tried one, of course, but not being a huge fan of “back bacon”, or peameal bacon, I didn’t really care for it. Apparently, I’m the only one, though, so don’t listen to me.
The St. Lawrence Market is the world’s largest indoor farmers market and it’s been right in my own backyard all this time. I’m sad I didn’t take advantage of it sooner than I did, but better late than never. Reason # 54,912 to love Toronto.