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Eggplant Sandwich 3 comments

Earlier today, I ventured out with my friend Veronica to the St. Lawrence Market.  I will say again the same phrase that I’ve said many many times: the St. Lawrence Market is my favourite place in Toronto.

Sure, the Brickworks Organic Market is charming, aloof, unregulated, rough-around-the-edges. Great burritos. Great vibe. Love it. Today is opening day for a new market near Wychwood Park, so must check that out. Kensington Market has its fervent and vocal supporters.

I’m a St. Lawrence Market kinda gal, though. It is in my blood. I’ve been going there for 15 years now and I know it like the back of my hand which is comforting. I know where to find the cheapest yet best olive oil in the city, the best granola in the city and which puveyors of cheese excel at specific cheeses. (Don’t get me started on cheeses, especially since I can’t eat many cheeses right now!)

Oddly, I never seem to enjoy it as much alone as when I can go with a friend, so I was pleased when Veronica said she’d be into making the trip.

The St. Lawrence Market has the Eggplant Sandwich to end all eggplant sandwiches. No, no … not the one in the basement slathered in tomato sauce and fried green peppers, served on foccacia. No. Blech.

The “death row” Eggplant Sandwich is available only here. At Future Bakery, upstairs, smack dab in the middle of the market. It is near and dear to my heart, this sandwich. My friend Amy and I have been eating this sandwich, and waxing rhapsodic over it, since we worked together on Front St. in 1993. 15 years I’ve been eating this sandwich and, remarkably, it hasn’t changed.

... yes, lots of olives please.

... yes, lots of olives please.

Getting the cut just right

Getting the cut just right

Voila!

Voila!

This sandwich is on a fresh Italian roll, buttered, slathered in Dijon mustard, delicately garnished with roasted red peppers, hot banana peppers, lettuce and tomatos. And olives. Lots and lots of olives. Hold the cucumbers. The eggplant itself is heated and has melted swiss cheese on it by the time it makes it into the sandwich.

I have been known to call ahead to Future Bakery to suggest (demand?) that they have eggplant on hand if I know ahead of time that I’m going to be there on a Saturday. Sometimes, you see, they run out. And this is bad. Very very bad.

So, in case I haven’t made myself clear, if I manage to wind up on death row someday and require a last meal, it is this sandwich, exactly as I have just described. Hold the cucumbers. Cucumbers would be bad. Very very bad.

Next weekend, November 28-29-30, my friend Amy, the original eggplant sandwich sharer, is coming into town and we are having our now annual “girls’ cottage weekend in the city”. We put the fireplace on, drink wine, eat good food and read books. We listen to music and gossip. We go to St. Lawrence Market. We attend the annual Women In Blues Revue. We eat some more. (uh oh) We pretend we are cut off from the rest of the world … but we might go shopping. It is a pre-Christmas distraction for both of us.

I see another eggplant sandwich in my near future (bakery). Yum .

Summer Saturday in Toronto 4 comments

Key word of the day: Stimulus … a sensory feast.

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Morning – Evergreen BrickWorks Farmer's Market with Jeff: I've gone several Saturdays with my neighbour Cory and now it was Jeff's turn to discover this wonderful treasure buried off the Don Valley Parkway. Organic produce, crafts, art, the scent of fresh-roasted coffee wafting over the proceedings … and "hungry man" breakfast burritos that are more than worth the wait.

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Window-2JeffjoysburritoBike-2

This photo of the bike … that belongs to the young fellas who make and sell their divinely radical chocolate products. It has been modified to carry lots of stuff and, when not in use, doubles as an incense burner. Gotta love that …

I love the "rough around the edges" quality to this market. Stalls are roughly, but not precisely where they were last week. Or not. The use of space is not fully prescribed, charted and regulated. It is inefficient, signage is vague and there is no particular prescribed traffic pattern or flow. Love it. Feels very … organic.

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This is the time of year that vegetables start to look so gorgeous, and of course, green. So, thus, eye-catching. I wasn't brave enough to try the sea asparagus but I think I will grab some and experiment next time I see it. I was trying to do something artsy-fartsy with that last photo in the series above and didn't quite pull it off. Lex would have been able to, but I think she slept in.
 

Speaking of art, I bought a new piece yesterday at the BrickWorks. Visitors to my condo learn two things about me: that I love the colour green, and that I collect images of loons. I'm pretty fussy about my loons. I tend to buy as close to the artist as I can, direct from the artist if I can manage it. If I buy from a shop or gallery, I try to establish that the gallery/shop owner knows the artist personally. I just want some assurance that the artist is actually going to get rewarded for their work. Secondly, the image has to be unique. Anyone can schlep down to the bottom of the Skylon Tower and buy a fake soapstone "carving" (mold) image of a loon. No snow globe loons for me, no sir.  I haven't bought anything new to add to my loon collection for years as my criteria are pretty specific. And there are many common images of the Common Loon. But the right piece presented itself yesterday, and I got to speak directly to the artist, Joanne Victoria … and out came the debit card.

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You can see what kind of photo errors / tricks that can be played with photo software. In the first image above, I darkened the matte around the image to dull down the reflection of the photographer (me). In the second, just for fun, I lightened the whole thing to highlight this accidental reflection. Me 'n' mah loon.
 

Noon / Afternoon – Lunch and More Art With Friends: Dry Ice and her husband Martin ventured downtown for lunch, a visit, and a stroll through the annual art show at Nathan Phillip's Square. Dry Ice has blogged about this adventure from her perspective, with more photos. 🙂

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MartinPadthai-papayaCashewchicken-papaya

The food was indeed yummy, especially the green curry, not pictured here. We ate it too fast! It was so nice to see Dry Ice again after the journey she has been on this year through the mine field of breast cancer, the health care system and all the impacts that has had on her life and energy. She is starting to come back into her own and that is so worth celebrating!

Martin took this photo of me with my camera. Somehow, all photos taken of me yesterday made me look either like I was about to fall asleep or had just woken up.  Hm.

We staggered from the restaurant south to Nathan Phillips Square to the pretty darn crowded art show. I'd never been to this art show before … and there is a wee story behind that. Once upon a time, I vowed never ever to go to an art gallery, art opening or other such event again. I'd been to lots, more than a lifetime's worth. All the people there seemed more interesting, more worldly, more thoughtful etc. than I could ever hope to be. I was also convinced that I had no visual language of my own, no way of seeing or feeling the visuals that original fine art so depends upon. Going to art galleries, shows, openings made me feel like a little girl off the farm, standing in the middle of the room with her shit-covered wellingtons and wide-eyed gaze.

It seems evident to me that I've acquired some confidence in my visual sensibilities now. Especially lately … it just takes being more open to it. 

Still, I don't always pay attention to the things I'm supposed to pay attention to. For example, I love the view of Old City Hall from Nathan Phillip's Square, juxtaposing the old Victorian architecture against the ultra-modern glass structure in behind. But I couldn't quite get my little point'n'shoot to do its thing.

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I took the following shots, with the artist's permission, for Cate. Especially the first one.

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This was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon. 🙂 But, I really needed a nap to prepare for the evening's activities.

Evening – Asian Night Market @ Warden / Steeles: Well, actually, there were two events. First, we were invited to gather for refreshments on Jeff's deck prior to the Night Market adventure. Jeff and I added to our collection of photos of each other taking pictures of each other … and I discovered cheese nirvana.

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That is Saint Auberge, a not very blue, totally decadent cheese … which is, basically, better than sex. Especially with olives.  And SO not on my diet. I was so very very bad this weekend … bad bad bad … between dinner on Friday to brunch on Sunday … I'm back in diet hell. Uh oh … anyway … It started to rain so we retired indoors for a bit prior to departing. I did my best to sneak in a second nap, what with being the designated driver'n'all … but it didn't work out so well.


Off we headed to pick up Gerry at the subway and head north to the land of yummy street food.

No one told me about the stinky tofu. That is actually what it is called: Stinky or Smelly Tofu. Fermented, deep-fried, tofu that is a feature of most night markets, or so I know NOW. The smell really defies description but let's say it isn't appealing to most Western palates. To get to the market proper, you have to walk past about three Stinky Tofu booths. It was a test of will. I resisted the, um, temptation to try eating the stuff, although I'm assured it is worth the effort. I headed instead for the more familiar scallops and shrimp, lamb skewers and smoothies.

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It was a total blast, the Night Market. A riot of smells, some really quite yummy, sounds, throngs of people milling about. Complete sensory overload – one hardly knew where to look next, there was so much to see. At one point, I lost my peeps for quite some time, which was a bit unnerving in that massive undulating crowd, but Gerry found me wandering around looking a little bewildered. I think I'd still be there now otherwise. Actually, I think he found me twice – once after I wandered off towards the pretty scallops and got completely disconnected from the gang, and once when I got distracted by the pretty Subarus. It was an environment in which it was easy to get distracted and I sort of felt our little band should be clinging in single file to a rope and under closer supervision.

 Lex did her photo thing and I felt some responsibility to document the documentor.

DocumentorL+ghavingfun

I'm not sure if these make the prescribed criteria for publication … I have others I could add that I'm even less sure about … 🙂

Bellies full and curiosities satisfied, we made it back downtown roughly around 1:00 a.m.

It was a good day. 🙂

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