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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Kensington Market

One of my favorite places in all of Toronto has always been Kensington Market.

When I first moved here in 1994 as a university undergrad, I quickly discovered the vintage stores there as a source of great, affordable fashion finds.

It was also a place I visited regularly to satisfy my dried fruit habit (I used to eat POUNDS of dried pineapple in the days when I could still convince myself it was "healthy"), and to pick up fresh produce.

A lot has changed about the market - like many more trendy/upscale restaurants and swanky clubs - but a lot has also stayed the same. There is still a cornicopia of fresh produce markets, as well as Latin American and Middle Eastern grocery shops. There are still lots of grundgy cheap and cheerful bars and cafes, and virtually no chain stores (not a single Starbucks in the market!), and it remains a treasure-trove of ingredients for anyone who loves to cook or eat.

Sadly, although it's only a 45 minute walk, or 15 minute bicycle ride from our place, I rarely get there anymore. However, yesterday my allergist cancelled my appointment at the last minute. Since the weather was unseasonably warm and it was a lovely day, I decided I had time for a market visit. I hopped on my bike and rode down. I had the best time!!

Here is a roundup of my favorite places in the market:

House of Spice - A MUST if you love to cook, they have an amazing selection of herbs and spices and the prices are great. I have found things here that I have never been able to find ANYWHERE else!!

Essence of Life - Health food store with an abundant array of products and good prices.

Blue Banana Market - Fabulous place for crafts and gifts.

Dancing Days - My main source for funky clothes back in university. Very good selection of vintage wear.

Courage My Love - Well-known shop full of unique new and used fashions.

Of course there are many, many other fabulous restaurants, cafes, grocers and stores full of fashion and home decor items. If you live in the city and haven't been in a while, you should go!! And if you don't live here but ever come to visit, put it on your list of places to see, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Stay tuned for some new recipes over the next few weeks using some of the excellent ingredients I picked up yesterday!!

It's wonderful places like the market that make the not-so-awesome aspects of living in Toronto (i.e. the constant, constant, CONSTANT traffic) bearable. Note that the market has pedestrian only Sundays, which makes it the perfect day to head down, grab a healthy brunch and stroll through the charming,quirky streets while picking up exotic ingredients to make a spectacular dinner.