Food blogging is fun. It encourages my creativity and introduces me to new ingredients and techniques. But the greatest benefit comes from the amazing people you meet who share your passions (for things like kale). I met Nelly and Camille a couple of months ago after we realized we were all working away in our own kitchens and posting on our blogs from living rooms in the same city.
As soon as we met, we started planning the next time we could get together for some fun in the kitchen. Saturday we made an insane amount of food. We created an amazing array of sweet treats but I’m going to split the goods over two posts, so we’re going to start with all of the savoury delights we enjoyed.
After much online deliberation, (twitter and email brainstorming sessions) we decided to descend upon the beautiful Brickwork farmers market to pick up some local produce. We got together without a plan, we let the available assortment of fruit and veggies guide the menu.
I was happy that Nelly and Camille, shared my market strategy: stroll, chat, taste THEN buy. I like to check everything out before committing myself to a purchase.
Brickworks hosts a number of organic or low-spray farmers, who enthusiastically enticed us with tastes of peaches, plums, tiny gherkins, and a variety of greens. But then there’s the chocolate. Since I moved to Toronto I have found an amazing purveyor of fair-trade vegan chocolate. Actually, Michael and the amazing team behind ChocoSol are involved in horizontal trade partnerships with the farmers in Mexico (he spends much of the year building capacity among the communities in Oaxaca). At many local events and markets they whip up incredible, authentic chocolate drinks and sell chocolate bars, coffee, chia, amaranth and agave sweetened vegan cookies.
ChocoSol is passionate about the product they create and everyone involved in crafting each bite.
After a quick taste of Michael’s cookies we moved on to the fresh stuff.
I love these baby sugar pears. They are the perfect size for a sweet treat at the end of a meal.
We spent a long time talking to the women of Kind Organics; trying different greens and sprouts. They had a sign inviting people to come to the farm to help with weeding in exchange for greens. I can’t wait to set the date for that adventure.
We also got a tiny handful of heirloom tomatoes (I actually took this photo after another market visit). The farmer said it was a tease for what he will have to offer next week. I’m hoping this August will be the month of the Heirloom tomato. If I had a few more I would have created a beautiful salad around this special ingredient (like swell vegan did). Instead we celebrated Nelly’s amazing garden kale with a beautiful plate of greens for lunch.
Kale salad: lemon juice, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, avocado, a few (very lovely) heirloom tomatoes.
Delicious sides: Nelly’s homemade sauerkraut and a spicy nori cracker.
I almost forgot…the mango. Actually, I will never forget the mango. Before we settled in for the afternoon of culinary creativity we stopped in Toronto’s Indian Bazaar to pick up tiffins for Nelly and Camille. It seems tiffin love is contagious!
As soon as we parked we discovered cases of Pakistani Honey Mangos. We had all seen the articles in the paper and clips on the evening news about the man being stopped at the border trying to smuggle this luscious fruit across the border (they are against import laws in the U.S.). I’ve tried alphonso, ataulfo and champagne mangos but never the Honey variety.
After a tasting session (with all the sounds of delight you’d imagine) we used most of the mango in a sweet pudding. But we had about a cup leftover which I decided to blend into an sweet and tangy dressing for our evening dose of greens.
But after hours in the kitchen working on our raw desserts we had developed quite an appetite. To compliment the fresh greens, Nelly shared some of her partner’s Dad’s beet and horseradish relish. It was fantastic.