Ranked the #1 Food Market in the World by National Geographic, the historic St. Lawrence Market in Old Toronto is a must-see for any food lover. A congregation of the City’s best local producers, this historic landmark is one of two famous Markets (the other being a hipster’s paradise – Kensington Market) and I can safely say, that if I lived in Toronto I would most definitely spend every earned penny on produce from St. Lawrence.
“Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” -Anthony Bourdain
Vegetarians, Fruitarians, Pescatarians, Meat Lovers, Wine Connoisseurs and Confectionery Lovers – there’s something for everyone (especially if you’re a Bacon Lover). To make it easier for the discerning traveller, here are a few recommendations on what to try at St. Lawrence:
- Peameal Bacon Sandwich – The most popular one is the local favourite – the Peameal Bacon on a bun, which I tried without any trimmings, only the addition of some Maple Mustard, Mayo and Spicy BBQ Sauce for that extra kick. A leaner, softer form of Bacon, this made an unexpected but delicious meal. I ate at the popular Carousel Bakery, but if you look a little further there are more options of this sandwich at different Butchers and as a devotee to the Church of Bacon, I strongly suggest trying any form of Bacon you can get your hands on.
- Butter Raisin Tarts – A ‘quintessential Canadian dessert’, these little beauties transcend any kind of tart I’ve ever eaten. I packed mine up and took it home, where I warmed it in the microwave just so it got a little sticky and oozy, not unlike a Caramel Tart but just so much better! Other varieties include Pecan and Plain (boring!). Also, if you can get your hands on some Portuguese Custard Tarts, thank me later.
- Ice Wine – Ice Wine is made with frozen grapes, which concentrates the sweetness, but also limits the amount of Wine produced (i.e. the same amount of grapes used to make a regular sized bottle of Wine, if used to make Ice Wine, would yield less than half the quantity). I tried an Oak Aged Wine which had a beautiful, intense but balanced sweetness which reminded me of honey. A little expensive, but definitely worth it if you’re into Dessert Wines.
- Cheese – More specifically, Canadian Cheese. Ask at any of the numerous Cheese stalls, the vendors are friendly and happy to help you pick which Cheese would suit your palate. I tried a few, Oka Cheese – a semi-soft cheese made from Cow’s milk – which has a nuttiness to it, rather like a Swiss Emmental and a Bouq’ Émissaire – a raw Goat’s milk Cheese with an ash-covered rind – which had a surprisingly clean taste.
- Maple Candy – Forget Maple Syrup and get your hands on some Maple Candy instead. It’s just Maple Syrup in hard candy form, but oh my word, it is extremely delicious and addictive. You’ll find yourself craving for more, so savour each little piece and keep the packet out of reach!
All of the above are Canadian specialties, but whether you’re a local or visiting, if you haven’t already sampled these goodies, just go for it! The amount of fresh Fruits, Veggies and Seafood on display was just gorgeous. Spend an afternoon just walking around the Market, there’s lots to feast your eyes on and the people are lovely and easy to strike up a conversation with. Keep an eye out for some rare meats (pun intended) not just limited to Beef and Pork! While the fresh produce is on the main floor, St. Lawrence also has a few fancier Gourmet Stores and little shops for Honey, Mustard, Rice, Coffee, Tea etc. in the lower ground section, along with a souvenir shop.
Happy Eating (and Exploring)!