Friday, June 26, 2009

Historic St. Andrews Farmers' Market

South of the old Queen Street West garment district, and just west of Spadina, hides a new Saturday farmers' market. I use the terms "old" and "new" very loosely, as the "new" St. Andrew's Farmers' Market is actually a blast from the past. It was one of the earlier farmers' markets in Toronto, and now it's back!

Tasty Tastebuds and I had the chance the check out a sneak peek of the St. Andrew's farmers' market a few weeks back, and were pleased to find close to a dozen vendors selling local produce. It is strawberry season, my friends! Time to indulge in the berries that go best with shortcake! We left the market a few weeks ago with Ontario-made beeswax lip balm, and homemade rotini pasta. The pasta was quite incredible. The farmers boasted milling their own grain, managing the entire production line from field to kitchen. We were told that the pasta would keep in our fridge for up to a week, and also could be thrown directly into a boiling pot of water from frozen. We finally did the latter recently, and had some lovely cold pasta salad, topped with fresh garlic greens and other seasonal delights.

The official grand opening of the historic St. Andrew's Farmers' Market is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to strawberries!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Alex Wilson Community Garden

Tasty Tastebuds and I have a small plot at the Alex Wilson Community Garden on Richmond Street West. We have planted many herbs, including dill, coriander, rosemary, and basil, as well as a few celery stalks, an eggplant bush, and some early arugula greens. We are both very excited about the prospect of growing our own food; this is our first attempt at city gardening!

The Alex Wilson Community Garden is a beautiful space, very tastefully designed by local landscape artists. Some fellow community gardening friends complain about the rectangular, graveyard-like layout of some other community gardens in the city, so we are both quite fortunate to share such a gem.

Unfortunately, the garden of late has also been the site of several acts of vandalism. People have climbed the rain barrels, breaking through the wood boards and mosquito screen covering them, as the barrels were not designed to support human weight. People seem to climb on top of the rain barrels to graffiti the wall beside the garden, even though local residents have actually donated much wall space for graffiti art in alleys in the neighbourhood.

Another, more strange act of vandalism that took place recently was the uprooting of certain prominent plants. An anonymous visitor pulled out a mature lovage plant that was tall and full and quite stunning. It was planted by one of the older members of the community garden, six years ago. The member is now in a nursing home, and is no longer able to tend a plot, so the lovage was left every year to grow into a massive, leafy stalk that may have brushed your side as you walked down the wooden pathway. Pulling out the plant must not have been an easy task. Certainly, at least five minutes had to have been spent yanking and tugging at the firm roots. Who, and why, would someone do such a thing?
I look forward to watching the plants grow as weeks pass...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Best Roti in Parkdale: Roti Lady

Roti Lady, on the corner of Queen West and Dunn, is now officially my number one stop for roti in Parkdale. The mixed vegetable roti includes spinach, squash, eggplant, and potato. Plus, there's a sunny patio for outdoor summer eatin'.