The Toronto Baker’s Market

The Toronto Baker’s Market

Every month, the Toronto Baker’s Market is held in the city’s east and west ends. The one I went to last Sunday with my friend Rita was held at the Great Hall on Queen West.

It’s no secret that I enjoy a baked treat. So when I heard about this market full of treats, I practically ran there. And by ran there, I mean ran to catch an Uber since I was feeling particularly lazy that day.

The excitement began (at least for me) as soon we walked in, with an offering of free hot chocolate. Because, what better way to wash down your sugar-laced treats than with more sugar? Delicious.

Walking down to the vendor area, was what I imagine my personal heaven would be like.  The smell of freshly baked EVERYTHING wafted through the air, and as with any time I find a good bakery, I became instantly happier. With vendors selling everything from cinnamon buns, to homemade Pop Tarts (below), I didn’t know where to begin.

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Pop Tarts from Sugar Rush Bakery

So I just started trying one of everything that caught my eye. The first thing I tried was a gingerbread scone. I turned around to tell Rita how delicious it was, and she had a meat pie in her hand. This place made for an awesome walking lunch, so long as your lunch doesn’t need to involve vegetables.

The next vendor that caught my eye was the Cinnabean Cakes stand, where I saw some adorable penguins and dogs with Santa hats.

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As I was taking this photo,  the folks at this stand offered Rita and I a sample of their carrot/coconut cake, which of course we happily tried. “This cake is so good,” I excitedly exclaimed with frosting on my hand. The vendor pointed to the containers of individual slices for sale, and my eyes lit up. You’d honestly think I’d never had a piece of cake before I was so excited. Surprisingly, this cake made it home where Matt got to try some.

At this point, I had to tell myself to chill out. So I began taking some photos of what I’ll try next month, because I’ll definitely be back. My first stop may have to be to grab one of these tasty looking donuts from Donut Monster.

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Check out the next Toronto Baker’s Market in Leslieville, at the Ralph Thornton Centre on December 18th from noon-4 pm. Entry is free.

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Kensington Market Crawl

I can’t believe it’s December. Even though my Christmas tree is up, and I’ve almost completed my Christmas shopping, the lack of snow is really throwing me off. It still feels like October!

But, I’m not complaining. This awesome weather means more outdoor activities without bundling up like a burrito. To take advantage of the mild weather, I’ve continued shopping at my favourite market in Toronto – The Kensington Market. Read on for some of my favourite shops in the area.

Bunner’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Bake Shop

While I’m not a vegan, the cinnamon buns here are delicious. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first. After all, how can a cinnamon bun without butter and cream cheese taste good? The answer: I don’t know, but trust me, it does. I mean, how could it not be delicious looking like it does here? After biting into its dense dough, with delicious frosting that always gets all over my face, I am instantly happier every time I go.

Sanagan’s Meat Locker

Like I said, I’m not a vegan. Sanagan’s is my favourite butcher in the city. This is the place to come to if you’re a steak snob like me, and if you want good quality meat, period. This is totally Toronto of me to say, but I do like knowing which farm my meat comes from. They also do a mean sandwich here, and they carry a selection of high end condiments to go with your meats.

Global Cheese

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know that I enjoy a good sample. And Global Cheese always offers the best kind of sample: cheese. The sign really does explain this shop perfectly, as the staff that work here know everything about cheese. And, they do carry cheeses from around the world. They also have quite the selection of crackers and jams to make yourself a great little cheese plate. I’m making myself hungry just writing this!

Kensington Fruit Market

Kensington Fruit Market allowed me to get through my university days with something other than mac and cheese. I’ll routinely fill up an entire basket with fruit and vegetables, and it usually comes to around $30. The best part is, it’s fresh produce that’s almost always better than the stuff I’ll pick up at my local grocery store.

If you’re planning to make a visit to the market, check out this map to visit my favourite shops.

Do you visit the market often? I’d love to hear about your favourite shops that I haven’t mentioned here.

Getting in the spirit!

Getting in the spirit!

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Confession: I am huge Christmas dork. I am one of those people who becomes instantly cheery at the mention of things like Christmas craft markets, ugly sweater parties, and holiday baking. Cheery until January 2, when nothing but my stretchy pants fit. Until then, I’ll continue to eat a nanaimo bar with every meal of the day. Because, ’tis the season, right?

My child-like joy for Christmas officially began last weekend, when Matt and I visited the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District. 2016 marked the 5th year we’ve visited, and there are many reasons why this has become one of our favourite holiday traditions.

Reason #1 – carbs, carbs, everywhere

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We started out our walk around the market with a sandwich, which is how Matt and I usually begin our outings. I didn’t snap a picture since my hands were freezing (and because we ate it so quickly), but we tried out a ham and cheese croissant sandwich at Cluny Bistro. You really can’t go wrong with meat and cheese on a butter-based carb. This cafe also has some tasty looking macarons and other Parisian treats. It’s definitely worth a stop here before you walk around the market.

Even if we hadn’t stopped at the Café, we definitely wouldn’t have gone hungry. Street vendors sell pretty much every kind of indulgence here – from giant pretzels, to fudge, to chocolate dipped bacon.

Reason #2 – mulled wine and other fun beverages

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The Toronto Christmas Market introduced me to the joys of mulled wine 5 years ago, and it continues to bring me happiness at this time of year. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what goes into mulled wine besides red wine, but what I do know is that it is delicious, and it keeps my hands warm. So while I frowned at the $8.50 price tag for a cup this year, I knew that it would be worth it.

Walking around the market, Matt and I eventually came across one of the two highly enjoyable outdoor liquor sampling areas, complete with heaters and fire pits. As I do every year, I giddily approached the Two Oceans wine sampling booth. One of the staff members said, “have you tried our wines before?” To which I replied without hesitation, “No.” If I was Pinocchio, my nose would have been about 3 feet long at this point.

The samples alone will make even the Christmas Scrooges and Grinches out there get in the spirit!

Reason # 3 – Christmas themed photo opportunities

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I love a good opportunity to ham it up, and the Hershey’s photo booth at this year’s market provided the perfect opportunity to do just that. And afterwards, we got a chocolate. Fun!

Reason #4 – Christmas shopping

While I was happily sipping away on my wine samples, Matt had turned around and made a bee-line for the Kozlik’s Mustard  booth. The last time Matt came across a Kozlik’s mustard booth was at the St. Lawrence Market, and he was dipping various meats and pretzels in mustards for a good 20 minutes. Not even exaggerating. Turns out, he’s on to something.

These mustards are delicious. Even if you think you don’t like mustard, trust me, if the same staff member is there when you go, you will purchase ALL of the mustards.  He mentioned so many usage scenarios for mustard that I had never thought of:

  1. They make great hostess gifts
  2. They are great on roasted pork, chicken, and sausage
  3. They are amazing in salad dressings

Sold. We bought 4 different kinds. Sometimes, Matt and I are like pigeons walking around with our wallets out, just waiting for someone to sell us something.

Since we spent all of our money on mustard and mulled wine, the rest of our time was spent window shopping. But, if I went back, I would definitely purchase some Christmas gifts here. There are some really unique stores, where you can find some different gifts for those people that have everything. Need a set of organic toothpaste? You can buy that here. High-end makeup for your bestie? I saw that too. One day I’ll buy something I can’t eat! But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the store windows with a snack in hand.

Reason #5 – the giant tree

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In my opinion, this tree is Toronto’s version of the Rockefeller Center tree. It always makes me feel super Christmasy.

The Toronto Christmas Market is on until December 22nd.

Weekend Wednesdays

Weekend Wednesdays

Here’s some fun things to do this weekend, November 11th-13th.

Party with some dinosaurs

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Check out Friday Night Live at the ROM on November 11th. Enjoy the exhibits with an adult beverage (or two), eat some tasty snacks, and get your dance on. Tickets are $15/adult or $13/student. Doors open at 7 pm but I suggest getting there early to avoid the line-up.

Get that tattoo you’ve always wanted

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Give your dream tattoo a test run 

From November 12-26th,  Inkbox has a pop-up shop downtown at Adelaide and Spadina. This shop specializes in 2 week tattoos that look like the real thing, giving you the chance to try out some ink without the pain and (sometimes) regret of permanent ink. I’m wishing this place existed when one of my friends and I thought the best way to spend a Saturday was getting actual tattoos!

 

 

 

 

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Sweating for the Wedding

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As my beach wedding is fast approaching, you’d think I’d be more serious about getting washboard abs. Instead, I visited Prairie Girl Bakery three times last week. I just can’t say no to their “treat of the week.”

Since I have no self control, I thought that I would aim for balance instead. The thing is, I was getting bored with my fitness routine and wasn’t feeling challenged. Probably because it consisted of going running, which was more of a light jog, and then coming home to stretch try and touch my toes with a glass of wine.  My boredom led me to join a Crossfit gym last month, which surprisingly, I am still a member of. Go me!

If you’re looking to shake up your fitness routine too, I’ve written about my favourite group fitness classes in Toronto below.

Crossfit – Don’t knock it till you try it!  

This is hands down the most difficult workout I’ve ever done!

Best for: people with some experience working out looking for a challenge. This sounds super vague, but what I mean is, it’s probably not a great idea to go straight from your couch to a Crossfit class. With that said, every movement can be scaled up or down based on your fitness level.

Format: each day there is a workout of the day, or WOD (get used to lots of acronyms here, by the way). Before you get going on the WOD, you’re strongly encouraged to warm up as mobility is key to performing the workout movements effectively. Then, there is sometimes a 20-40 minute skill building component of the class, where you can focus on your skill for a specific movement (say, a deadlift or a squat).

While the actual workout portion of the class may only be  7-15 minutes (or, as high 45 minutes on some days), trust me, you will be breathless by the end! This is because the workout could be something like 10 reps of throwing a medicine ball at a wall, followed by 10 burpies, done as many times as you can for several minutes.

How to get started: try a free class. There are quite a few Crossfit Gyms in Toronto, and it’s a super supportive, friendly environment. Don’t be afraid of checking it out!

Cost: well, this isn’t a Goodlife, so you’ll be paying more. But, it’s worth it if you can afford it. Check out these Toronto Crossfit gyms below for more information.

Fit Chicks

For women only, this boot camp style workout is another boredom buster. Fit Chicks is awesome if you want to tone up quickly.

Best for: women of all fitness levels. If you have a specific event to shape up for, like a wedding, you may find just the support you need here. Lots of girl power to go around here!

Format: different every time. Each class begins with a short warm-up followed by the workout. Expect body weight exercises like push-ups, and exercises with hand weights, including lunges and squats.

How to get started: try a free class. Bring your own mat, towel and hand weights to class (I saw anywhere between 2-8 pounds used).

Cost: this varies depending on the length of bootcamp that you choose. To give you an idea, 7 weeks of classes (14 sessions total) is $258 plus tax. Check out their pricing page here for additional promotions, which seem to be ongoing.

Goodlife Fitness, Body Attack Class

If you’re currently a Goodlife member, you should definitely check out this class for a fun challenge. The best part is, it can be so fun that you might just forget that you’re working out.

Best for: beginners to gym rats. This class is great if you’re bored with your gym routine, and are looking for something sports-inspired to change it up.

Format: 60 minutes of jumping around and kicking to fun music. Like I said, you may forget that you’re working out, until you see the puddle of sweat underneath you.

How to get started: try out a free class if you’re not a member by signing up for a three day pass. From experience, I suggest arriving at least 15 minutes before class starts as they usually fill up quickly.

Cost: included with a Goodlife membership. If you work for a larger organization, there is usually a corporate membership rate which is worth checking out.

While there are GoodLife locations pretty much everywhere, these locations are my favourites to do the Body Attack class at. All three have decent sized group fitness rooms, and some pretty fun instructors for this class.

If you’re feeling bored with your fitness routine, let me know if you go out and try any of these classes. I’d also love to hear about your favourite classes & gyms that I haven’t mentioned above.

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Weekend Wednesday

Here are some fun ideas for this coming weekend, November 4th-6th.

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Check out a Musical

Whenever I see a show advertised on the TTC, I’m a bit skeptical. But, anything with Disney princesses is my jam. Especially sassy Disney princesses who didn’t have a happily-ever-after. This is the last weekend for the Disenchanted musical at Randolph theatre. Grab the Groupon here, and head on over for a fun girls night.

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Sunday Funday at the Toronto Chocolate Festival 

While many of us have likely eaten our way through at least 50 mini chocolate bars by now, there is no such thing as too much chocolate. Wear your stretchy pants, and head on down to Roy Thomson Hall to chow down on chocolaty treats all afternoon.
Tickets are $25, and include 5 sampling tickets for tasty treats.

 

 

 

Weekend Wednesdays

Weekend Wednesdays

Every Wednesday, I’ll be posting some fun happenings and ideas for the weekend. Here’s my suggestions for October 28th-30th.

Do something Halloween-related, obviously.

  • This is the last weekend for the haunted house at Casa Loma (see my previous post for how much fun this was).
  • If clubbing is more your thing (also if $3 drinks are your thing), and you fondly remember the 90’s, check out Bar 244 on October 28th. Warning: this may be a bust, as I’ve never actually been, but it could also be super awesome. But hey, advance tickets are only $10 so it’s worth the gamble.
  • Check out Night of Dread  at Dufferin Grove Park on October 29th. This event is pretty unique sounding. Dress up in white and black attire, parade around, and then come back to the park for a show put on by the Clay and Pepper theatre.

Let me know if you head out to any of these events!