January 12, 2008

Kensington Market

Kensington Market. The name alone brings a smile to my face. It was the first area of Toronto that I got to know in my second year of University when I moved off campus and into the heart of the market. And what a market! Kensington is certainly a place that can be described as having character. Rain, snow or shine, the market is open year round and has everything you need to make any meal and then some. Each little shop specializes in something; from fruits and veggies to spices, meat, fish, cheese, chocolate, bread and eggs.

Sundays are for pedestrians only but no matter what day of the week you’re there, the market area is filled with shoppers and cars have to wait. If you like to people watch, there’s no place better than Luis Coffee Shop. Grab a coffee, pull up a stool and enjoy the scenery. Kensington is a place where diversity reigns. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of the Cat Man who walks around with two seemingly content cats on his shoulder, (I couldn’t make this up if I tried…) or the Bird Lady, (same deal, but with birds).


On my most recent trip I picked up some pomegranate molasses and garam masala from House of Spice, parmesan and smoked gouda from Global Cheese, a baguette from My Market Bakery, enormous fuji apples from Oxford Fruit and some ground beef from European Meats. You tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll tell you where to find it in Kensington. Looking for satsuma mandarins? Go to Oxford Fruit. Got a craving for some goat roti? Go to Patty King. Need a chocolate fix? Go to Chocolate Addict. Feeling like a specialty brie with truffles? Go to Global Cheese. Looking for vintage clothing? Yes, that’s right, the market has more than just food, with Kensington Ave devoted to all things vintage.


I mainly make my trips to Kensington for groceries to make my own meals but if you don’t feel like doing the cooking yourself, Kensington is also filled with an eclectic mix of restaurants and cafes. From snacks to full out meals, with dishes from South America to the Caribbean to Portugal to Thailand, the market has what you want.


As if all of this weren’t amazing enough, it’s the low prices and lack of pretentiousness I love about Kensington Market. Shopping in regular grocery stores leads me to drive people crazy saying things like “you can get this cheaper in Kensington.” Not only can you get it cheaper in Kensington, but it’s more fun to get it from a market that has people and food from around the world that exist together in a laid back, comfortable atmosphere. Kensington Market is my kind of place.


20 comments:

Manggy said...

That looks like it could be my favorite place, too. Talk about lacking pretense: it's "CHOCOLATE ADDICT!!1!!" not "Un Palais du Chocolat" or something.

Let's challenge it! Do they have Bagoong? Tamarind soup base? :)

Cakespy said...

I love markets, and this looks like an excellent one.

Lydia said...

On my first visit to Toronto, I made a pilgrimage to the spice market at Kensington Market. What fun! It's been a few years since I was there -- glad to know it is still wonderful.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh, I want to camp out between the bakery and the cheese! Sounds like a perfectly fabulous place!

Emiline said...

OH. I am so jealous. I don't mind admitting it. There's nothing like that around here.
What wouldn't I give to have a market like that?
Fresh baked bread...
Pomegranate molasses...
A weird cat man and a bird lady...

Lyra said...

Awesome! Kensington Market looks like my kind of place too:) Can I come visit?

Steph F. said...

Oh wow, these photos are gorgeous! I'm jealous, we don't have anything like that near our university.

Andrew said...

Just stumbled upon your blog looking for good Indian recipes.

I hope in all your time within Kensington Market you've had a chance to dine at El Trompo (the Mexican place above Nassau on Augusta). It's a deeply satisfying place to chow down.

And you're beyond correct about new gen.

Katy said...

oh wow, that looks amazing. and i definitely understand being very attached to your favorite market! i am probably moving this summer and my top factors are 1) nice renovated kitchen, and 2) close to the farmer's market! that bread stand looks just amazing -- I would fall in love with that too!

Julie said...

Congrats on your shower:) I love markets--you're so lucky to be close to such a great one. I love Toronto, and always went to St. Lawrence Market when I was in town. Very good post!
Julie

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I do love going to markets when I travel. Haven't made it to Kensington... Yet!
Thanks
Sandi

Aimée said...

I've been there once, briefly, but your post reminded me that it was far too rushed. I would love to have a whole afternoon to poke around...

Kevin said...

The Kensington market is a good place to shop.

canarygirl said...

Wow...what a great place to do the food shopping! I could spend all day there. :)

nicisme said...

What a fabulous market! The bread and cheese looks brilliant - thanks for sharing Bri.

Matt Wright said...

Great looking market! It is so good to live in an area with a wealth of them! Good job with the photos too.

Erin said...

I love market photos. Your photo of bread is giving me some very non-Atkins cravings right now!

Anonymous said...

I really love the ginger beer you can buy from the fountain at Patty King.

Anna

Annemarie said...

I love finding places like this, particularly within a city - helps to make the big town a bit more intimate and, frankly, tasty.

Ferdzy said...

Oh man. I loves, loves, loves me some markets, and it all goes back to Kensington. When I was little (6,7,8) we didn't live too far away and would often walk there on a Saturday. I remember getting pickles fished out of old wooden barrels, and all the chickens, pigeons and rabbits in cages, waiting to be taken home and - eaten, I'm afraid. Both of those long gone, with the mostly Jewish shopkeepers who made money and moved northwards. I lived there again in my early 20's when the area was changing again, this time an influx of Vietnamese. I know it's changed a lot since then too.

It's funny, though - I recognize it at once from your photos - in some ways it's very much like it's always been - a great and exciting place to explore and shop.