i just got back from a pretty amazing trip to toronto – and somewhat at a loss of how to report out. so i’m just gonna try to break it down as i see fit, and start with the easiest and that which is the quickest for me to digest and evaluate – food.
toronto’s food scene is amazing. i’m sure that the bougie, fancy pants dinner establishments are also amazing, if you have the loot, and a predisposition for that sort of thing, but i have neither. i focused on street food, markets and cheap restaurants.
i was guided in the direction of kensington market – told that there was plenty of diversity of cuisine, as well as food shops, markets etc. while kicking it on the street car, i noticed a large number of signs written in chinese characters and hooped off to poke around seems i had stumbled upon chinatown. i have to say i was immediately happy, as i came across a giant fresh durian – stinking super ripe. i seriously considered purchasing one, but didn’t feel like lugging around 12 pounds of fruit or stinking up every place i went. i settled for what was possibly more exciting to me mangosteens – i’d read about these guys in adam gollners book “the fruit hunters” and been hoping to stubble upon them at some point (here is a trailer for a forthcoming movie based on the book) . described as “the queen of fruit” and now featured in all kinds of energy drinks and such – i had no interest in anything but the real thing and quickly was encouraged to pile some in a shopping bag. before making my purchase, i explored the rest of the market, being enchanted by the produce section stocked full of greens of all sort, tubers of unknown origins, all kinds of preserved vegetables and sausages, meats of every kind, and an unbelievable seafood section.snails, conch, abalone, and fish in every possible shape.
all this food was making me hungry, and i headed to kensington market intent of finding a snack – which i did in the form of a ackee and salt cod – the national dish of jamacia. another food i’d been hoping to try – this one mentioned in mark kurlansky’s “cod” – and featured in the most recent issue of saveur (which just for the record i was disappointed at how overly fancy it is – do i really care about people designing there over the top kitchen – that i’ll never be able to afford? no!) i’m sure i’ll have better ackee and salt cod- but i was pretty pleased, creamy ackee, salty cod and served with a crunchy cabbage pickle, rice and pigeon peas.
dinner that night was chinese dumplings and smashed cucumber salad with my host: wheat. quality.
rounding out my toronto dinning experience – amazing portuguese blackened fish, from a spot with no menu – amazing ethiopian food complete with coffee ceremony including a frankincense incense and popcorn – and great company – i made some wonderful new toronto friends, which makes any meal better.
home delivery of dog food made from local grass-fed beef. these dogs are eatin better than me, better than most folks.
but the products were all the highest quality and artfully displayed.i bought some cheese – and sampled some waffles cause they looked almost as good as the ones ma and i enjoyed so much in belgium. for the record they were not. our host at the market, joshna, is something of a local food celebrity, and she is offered free samples as we stroll – including this – a corn dog – which makes me think of my father – for whatever reason he often recounts memories of being at the minnestoa state fair with me in a carrier on his back and eating a corn dog. those are the days.
this is not my fathers corn dog – it’s another example of how over the top this market is. made with a local beef summer sausage dipped in local stoneground corn meal and served with a chipotle sauce – paired with fair trade locally ground hot chocolate, utilizing bicycle powered machinery. really. i’m not making this up – i just wish i was.
even with all this over the topness i was still vasty entertained by all of this – and very much enjoyed sampling some of what toronto’s excellent food culture has to offer.
one last note – i was very excited that one of the local super market’s was called no frills -the same name one of my favorite taana gardner tracks – as well a samples on de la soul’s second album “de la soul is dead” I had that track going in my head – all day.