This is truly the beginning of my favourite time of year, sunny days, lots of flowers and greenery and, best of all, being able to buy local produce. Local farmers markets start showing up in parks and parking lots of large malls. So I decided that one focus of these writings would be about what’s in season locally, introduce you to some of the local markets and a recipe or two to go with my purchase of the day. I hope each of you will write a comment about what’s fresh and where you can get it in your area. Your recipes are also welcome.
Last Saturday I went to St Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto. There are two buildings, the south one is permanent, open all week and has two floors of vendors (come back tomorrow and check out my favourites) and the north building has a farmers market on Saturdays only (it will be amazing by July, but not too much on the shelves now. My husband and I arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and both buildings were packed – too packed to take any pictures so I returned yesterday to take some shots of the permanent market and bought some salmon and sea bass wrapped in banana leaves and shrimp and crab stuffed squid to grill.
Salmon & Sea Bass in Banana Leaves
I thought I’d take photos from purchase to plate. Unfortunately the battery died on my camera by the time it came to grilling, so no photos – sorry! You’ll have to take my word for it that both were delicious along with the grilled young asparagus. The banana leaf packets took about 25 minutes over low heat on my gas bbq with the hood down. The fish had a subtle sweetness from the banana leaves (which I thougth would burn but didn't). The stuffed squid needed about 20 minutes for the stuffing to cook through but that made the squid quite chewy, and made the stuffing ooze out as the squid got firmer. I don't think I'll try that dish again.
I also went to the Farmers Market at Nathan Phillip Square. It’s held every Wednesday from 10-2. I’m sure it will be wonderful by the end of June but not too much is happening yet. Several great stalls for lunch though – roasted yams and corn on the cob, souvlaki, back bacon on a bun, fresh juice shakes to name a few. There were less than a dozen vendors but I did get some wonderful rhubarb from Andrews Scenic Acres. I’m planning to make baked rhubarb and vanilla custard this weekend. The recipe is from Martha Stewart Living (not on their site yet) and I finally get to use the vanilla beans I bought on our trip to Tahiti and Bora Bora. Will let you know how that works out.
Other vendors observed: sweet potatoes – raw, and baked in pies and muffins; ginseng - root, liquid and tablets; flowers – there were tomato plants and pots of herbs, some flowers but not too many; honey and apple vendors were also on hand. In general Nathan Phillip Square was pretty bare (pardon the poetry).
Tomorrow’s musings will focus on some of my favourite St Lawrence Market vendors.