Best of CityPlace

A trip to St. Lawrence Market: More than just peameal and produce

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A regular trip to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market may include a basket of produce, some fresh meats and vegetables and a snack to keep you going.

Evening at the Market, however, was an epic event at St. Lawrence Market last week, with nearly every vendor offering hot food to the masses.

The annual event, well worth it for $75, is honestly the best food event I’ve been to in Toronto. The samples are substantial, everything from plates of perogies to fresh fish.

The offerings were on both levels, with vendors on the lower and upper levels cooking and baking all night long.

Wandering through the crowds was tight at times but not at all like some other events where you spend more time in line than eating. In this case, St. Lawrence Market allows just enough people in that the few lineups I did encounter never lasted more than a couple minutes.

And there were enough distractions that those short-lived line-ups were not an annoyance. There was a live band, talented enough to pull off Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I”m No Good,” as I sinfully bit into a chocolate and banana crepe from Crepe It up. And you couldn’t miss the acrobats. Dressed in colourful bodysuits and covered in glitter, these men and women were standing on their hands and doing splits with their legs high in the air, staying entirely and unbelievably still.

Here are my favourite bites of the night, that are all available just a 20-minute walk from CityPlace while shopping for local produce, we’d recommend taking a break and getting one of these meals! I went on a bit of a photo frenzy between bites, check out my photos below of the night’s treats.

Photo Gallery Collection – Courtesy Diana Pereira

Yip’s Kitchen on the lower level was some of the best Chinese food I’ve had. The crispy ginger chicken was crispy and incredibly flavourful. The Singapore-style curried noodles were smooth and hearty, paired nicely with the chicken.

Crepe It Up was making crepes from scratch, resulting in an unlimited hot supply offered up all evening. Not only were they making my favourite chocolate and banana, but a savoury option was also a hit — spinach and mushroom.

Di Liso’s Fine Meats had smoked beef brisket tacos on supply and going fast. I’ll be honest, after a few bites, I felt like I could just go home because the corn taco and smoky meat was enough for me. So … good. But I carried on. But not before spotting the perfect “I need a fast meal to bring back to the condo tonight” freshly made and individually wrapped chicken and beef pot pies. Gotta go back to get those soon.

Seafront Fish Market was a success as always, with grilled and smoked fish spiced by a blend they offer on any day the market is open. A 100% natural blend of natural Indian spices, the halibut masala was indeed a standout dish.

Of course, the usual superstar of St. Lawrence Market did not disappoint. Carousel Bakery and Sandwich Bar, a family business in the market for more than 40 years now, had what seemed like thousands of peameal bacon sandwiches on offer, all fresh and filling on soft crusty buns.

There were approximately 700-800 sandwiches served.

“The peameal was cooked slightly ahead of time and throughout the evening, then stuffed into ciabatta (not our usual buns) and cut, then placed onto a steam table to keep warm,” Robert Biancolin, the executive director at Carousel Bakery, explained. “There were no leftovers since we paced it according to the traffic.”

It is the bakery’s best-selling item and costs $6.45. They also have a version with less meat, with fried egg and cheese for $5.90.

And what’s not to like? The peameal sandwich is even backed by the city. The sandwich, not specifically Carousel’s, was declared “Toronto’s Signature Dish,” based on votes from Torontonians in July 2016.

Buster’s Sea Cove was almost my favourite dish of the night, their spicy fish bites lightly breaded but mostly dense, fresh fish. Served with small containers of tasty tartar sauce, I wanted two more. But again I walked on.

Good thing I did, because I found my definitely favourite dish of the night.

Aren’t We Sweet! Who knew there was a small chocolatier in the lower level of the market by the same name? Me neither.

The owner, Sue-Laeticia, was surrounded by seemingly endless amounts of chocolate truffles enveloped by chocolate powder. The sinful bites were dense and not too sweet, the chocolate powder topping it off for an extra bit of texture.

I’m not going to lie, I savoured the truffles but went back for more.

Sue-Laeticia says they made 1,800 classic French truffles in their kitchen, and thankfully, the ingredients are all available for sale.

The chocolate base is Luker Colombian single origin Tumaco 65% baking chocolate, paired with unsalted butter and the powder is Luker Colombian 100% cocoa powder.

“The truffles were only made for the event, but our customers can buy the chocolate base and cocoa powder at the store in bulk,” Sue-Laeticia explained.

The base and powder are at $3.80 for 100 grams.

And if you’re not into truffles, the shop also offers Canadian icewine and Maple truffles in packages of 2, 4, 5, 8 or 12, for $1.95, $3.49, $3.99, $7.95 and $9.95. Leonidas Belgian truffles are also on sale, per piece around $1.50, or a multitude of different sizes of beautifully-packaged boxes.

No wonder National Geographic called St. Lawrence Market the number one market in the world, it has so much to offer.

So to recap, a trip to the market should be on your weekly itinerary. Not only for fresh groceries but full meals and snacks and why not top it off with a truffle or five. I did.

 

 

Diana Pereira

Diana Pereira is a journalist, a university journalism teacher, a world traveller, a fair-weather kayaker, and a frequent bruncher. She's working on her mermaid status, travelling to as many countries as she can that include a body of water and when she's home in Toronto, you can find her in a kayak on Lake Ontario.