Making Jam at St. Lawrence Market

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A couple weeks ago, I visited St Lawrence market in Toronto for the first time. I’d been meaning to go for years, but there was always some reason—it was never open on the day I was in Toronto, or I was off elsewhere in the city.

My main reason to go was that I signed up to take a cooking class on Marmalades and Jams. But of course, who goes to a food market and doesn’t buy some delicious things to eat?

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Above: Slicing some succulent bacon at Carnicero’s.

My first stop was to buy a breakfast sandwich. Carousel Bakery might have the “World Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich” but those sandwiches at Carnicero spoke to me. They had gorgeously dark and roasted side bacon and back bacon laid out just waiting to be consumed. The staff member sliced off thick slabs of bacon for me and laid them on a fresh bun. It was almost too much to eat in one sitting, but I tried my best. It had a delicious crust, and moist bacon inside. If I had a cooler, or lived in Toronto, I would have purchased some of the maple chili pork chops they had on display. Alas, I shall just have to make my own!

(One downside to St Lawrence market is that they seem to have neglected people who may want to eat and linger. There are few places to sit down to eat, so be sure to snap up whatever bench or chair becomes available.)

Conveniently, most of the bacon sandwich stands are located right by the main entrance of the market. Coincidence? I think not!

The market does not have many fruit and vegetable stands—San Lorenzo market in Florence is far better for that! However, there was a fresh pasta stand I perused, and some cheese stalls, where I found some Lincolnshire Poacher cheese. One highlight was the cheese and mustard breadsticks at Kozlik’s Mustard shop. I bought one: it was a glorious cheddar and grainy mustard combination, twisted into a croissant dough, and baked with more cheese on top. The combination of flavours is one of my favourites! (I tried the mustard and gruyere cheese stick, which was also excellent).

After some snacking, I went to the demo area upstairs for my cooking class. It was a nice, airy space with a long island workspace. My skills with jam making are already pretty good, so I was primarily there to get some tips and new ideas. I’d never made any sort of marmalade before, nor worked with any professional chefs. It was interesting, and insightful. And the smells of the fruits cooking down was divine!

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Meyer lemons have a rich, almost orange-hue, and are full of sweet juice.

We made a batch of Meyer lemon marmalade. The skins are fairly soft and delicate, so it took less time to cook down. The Seville oranges, in contrast, were thicker and more robust, so they needed to cook down for a good hour or more. I’m not much of a fan of marmalade, but those that we made were inspiring and so, so fragrant! We also made a Hot Pepper Tequila jelly, which is excellent with cheese. It has jewel-like flecks of hot pepper in a beautifully clear jelly that catches the light wherever you put it! We got to take home a jar of each of the types of preserves we made. They are so pretty I almost hesitated to open them!

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Ladling the Seville orange marmalade into the jars for processing.

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Top to bottom: Tequila Hot Pepper Jelly, Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Seville Orange Marmalade.

After the class, I met up with friends for lunch at one of my favourite Toronto restaurants. Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu is a little joint in Koreatown that specializes in soon tofu jigae, a delicious and hearty stew filled with tofu, kimchi, and different cuts of meat. Every time I have been before, the place has been packed. Because of the grotty weather that day, it actually was only about two-thirds full, so we did not have to wait. The menu is small and limited, making food choices simple. I ordered the same thing I do each visit: Kimchi Soon Tofu, which includes little bits of beef and pork in a spicy broth (you pick how hot). The meals are served with banchan, little appetiser-like dishes of kimchi, vegetables, and other pickles. I love the sweet-and-savoury pickled daikon and the umami¬-rich kongjang (soy beans braised in sweetened soy sauce). Our table went through two rounds of banchan—and we ate every little mung mean scrap!

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Hot, comforting Korean food on a cold day in Toronto.

When I visit a favourite restaurant for the first time in a while, I always worry that my food won’t live up to the memory I have of it. However, my Kimchi Soon Tofu was as delicious as I remembered, bubbling hot and filled with fluffy clouds of soft tofu. It was the perfect food for the cold, drizzly afternoon we had. If I had easier access to Korean ingredients in my town, I would love to try making my own version of the dish. Perhaps a future experiment?

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