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Aug 5, 2007 06:54 AM

Power Foodie Shopping in TO - trip report

After posting several questions and reading through umpteen postings, girlfriend and our hubbies came to TO yesterday for food buying jaunt. Here is a quick report in order of our stop.
1. St. Lawrence Market - Headed first to the North section across the street where we loaded up on Chorizo, Lamb Sausage with rosemary, Andouille, English breakfast sausage and Italian spicy sausages at El Gaucho Chorizos ; had free samples of peameal). Picked up some guacomole at Sabores Latinos. Bought fingerling potatoes and lovely, young tender carrots.
Went to the south building and the feast began. We bought some caraway and french bread from Future Bakery, then had a couple of portuguese custard tarts from the same bakery across the hall. Picked up some cornish hens and duck breasts at WhiteHouse Meats, then were drawn in across the hall from it to the guy slicing parma ham and giving free samples. Purchased some imported pancetta from them and then headed to Alex Cheeses where we had a riot. We were there at least 45 mins and sampled at least 10 cheeses and their imported Kiri figs. Sampling works because I walked out with a few bags full of goodies at $270. Went nuts on the imported French and Italian cheeses.
Went to Seafront and Mike's fish markets and purchased - fresh sardines, octopus, wild Irish salmon, halibut, wild tilapia, grouper, malpaque oysters, sushi grade mahimahi and tuna, sea bream and red snapper (don't ask how much!). Couldn't find any fresh anchovies!
Men went to the car to drop off the said purchases and came back to pick up cappuccinos downstairs at the place with all the Illy coffees ($15 for a tin, $10 at Costco, not sure if they are exactly the same size, but I didn't buy a tin). Had a crepe (a little thick) with that and some fried greek donuts from the greek place down there. Men had Mustachio sandwiches (how do they get their eggplant cooked so perfectly - it IS a mystery!). Went over to Honey World and tasted several kinds; settled on the imported French with Rosemary.
2. Malta Bake Shop - Picked up uncooked cheese and spinach Pastizzi ($7.50 for 12). Tasted every kind, preferred the cheese and spinach, but am going to call to order cheese and achovies for our next trip down.
3. Headed to St. Clair's little Italy where we bought beautiful, young artichokes at Diana Grocert ($4/lb), and some great EVOO. Also picked up some egg noodle farfalle which are delicate, fluff up when you cook them and are superior to any other dry farfalle I have had. Went to Centro formaggio, and picked up some rosamarino spread (red, hot, spicy, salty) as well as some artisan pasta like thicker spaghetti. Bought a jumbo bag of porcini mushrooms (dried in nice huge chunks) and some different types of espressos. Did some retail clothing therapy at some of the boutiques. Bought a case of green figs at an outdoor market stand too. Went to Tre Mari bakery and bought some babas au rhum, cannoli with custard, chocoalate and ricotta fillings, and some dry cookies sold by the pound. Went to the hot table area and puchased some tripe in tomato sauce to take with us.
4. Went to Pantheon on Danforth and had their grilled squid and grilled octopus -tender, good oil, fresh tasting; will return.
5. Headed over to Pusateri's. Purchased some orato fish, amaretti di saronno (small package not in a tine for $6), organic prosciutto, preservative free roast beef, and some of Fred's artisan breads. Also picked up imported (NItalian / Swiss) mix for polenta and imported specialty rice (La Bomba) for paella. Did not buy any prepared foods; were not that appealing and were not overly unique. Bought and had a few different carbonated drinks. I hadn't been there in quite a while and the major change was the unknowledgable staff - most people behind the counters and out roaming knew very little about anything I asked and were not helpful. The main supervisors were busy but knew their stuff. Can I say that the parking, sadly, is still terrible! A lot of what I saw can be found at the market or at other food stops, but is a lot more pricey.
6. Il Gelatiere - It was hopping! The lady behind the counter needs to adopt her brother's(the gelatiere from Rome) and husband's (taking money) personality. She made little or no eye contact and was robotic. Even after smiling at her, making a few jokes, we could not break her. The line up soon formed to the door. We had the following both with that wonderful unsweetened panna and without; all in a cone: chocolato con peperoncino (hot, spicy and refreshingly with an unsweetened cocoa flavour, fichi, fiordilatte, limone, maria, ananas, and stracciatella. Bought two large containers to go ($18ea) of fig, lemon, chocolate with chilis. Surprisingly, we put them in a small cooler, totally immersed in ice and they were perfect even 4 hrs later. I almost saw my husband tear up when they said they do not make pistachio on that day.
By then, we could not sample any more and decided to go shopping at Sherway Mall, headed home and at 8:30pm had a smorgasboard of our purchases along with some excellent wine. All in all, a successful day. Traffic was not unbearable either! Will be back in a few weeks, hoping to make some different stops, but Il Gelatiere will be a stop for sure.

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  1. Whew, I'm exhausted just reading about your day! But it sounds wonderful and you made some very choice stops. Thanks very much for the report. And if you haven't tried Hollywood Gelato, it's only about 4 blocks from Il Gelatiere... so next time, try both and see which you prefer!

    1. Ummm, can I come to your place for leftovers? ; )

      1. Oh my God! I am drooling!!! I thought I was a really good food shopper, but you have put me to shame!!!!!!! Wowza! Good for you...I am curious though....are you shopping for an army? How long will all this stuff last you? Are you freezing (gasp) all that fresh fish and meat? How will you ever get through all that cheese? A case of figs? How will you get through these before they rot? Do you need volunteer guests;-) ? Enjoy!

        2 Replies
        1. re: GRobin

          I must admit I was curious about that as well. Seemed like way too much food for anyone to eat while it was still fresh unless they were hosting an upcoming party.

          1. re: GRobin

            OK. So, here goes. The dry goods will be gone in a month of so. We are only two of us, but are entertaining several times this month. Secondly, sadly, the fish, I have to freeze; I grilled the sardines the next day (delicious!). The cheese (hard cheeses will stay for a good month in my cheese drawer. The taleggio and the other semi soft cheeses - I will be making cannelloni (meat and cheese) and cheese manicotto today and freezing them for quick and easy meals and for surprise company. I made oysters rockeffellar and froze them raw; I have done that before and although it is not as good as fresh, they are the next best thing. Plus, we managed to down some raw with some mignonette that evening. The dolcelatte gorg - I froze half (sadly) and kept half out to make Joe Heflin's reported best risotto from this website (toasted pistachios and gorgonzola). The dried figs are shrunk wrapped and the olive oil will be used within the next month or so. Next, the duck breasts and such are all cryo vac'd and have been frozen, same with the sausages. Roasted fingerlings and carrots last night with the pork belly roast - delicious. Lastlly, the figs are almost gone. We eat loads of fruit and leafy greens, so there were only about 12 figs in the case. Today will be the last day to eat them and then we have polished them off (plus I grilled some that night I got home to eat as an antipasto). Pastizzis are uncooked and frozen so I can pop them in the oven when needed. If I had the luxury and benefit of eating these foods all unfrozen and lived in the TO area, I would not freeze them, but a person's gotta do what a person's gotta do. Oh, and the gelato - we are rationing it. One container left! We are sharing it with family for them to try so they can go get some themselves when they are in HogTown.