For much of my life I did not suffer from the perils of the Sweet Tooth. I was a salt-and-fat girl all the way, and while I would merrily eschew the lure of cake on my birthday, I could make short work of a bag of potato chips in a way that would make the Tasmanian Devil proud. Then I got older, there were lifestyle changes (like quitting drinking alcohol altogether) and the occasional sugary pick me up started working its way in to my daily routine. What would be an innocent toffee at 3:00 gave way to a cookie or two, which quickly morphed into having dessert after dinner. Then lunch. Then the notion of “breakfast pie” entered my vernacular. I can go long periods without refined sugar but I do have to watch myself. Its a slippery slope and a rapid descent once I start eating sweets and I honestly feel better when I don’t.
I am kicking off another spell of vegetarian eating shortly but in the meantime the Toronto Bakers Market popped up and I knew that my good intentions were going to have to wait for a day or two. I am utterly useless in the kitchen when it comes to baking, but Long actually went to pastry school and is not only a fully qualified pastry chef (complete with internships and everything) she is also a perfectionist, so everything she ever does if finessed with exacting detail. (I like to call her a Master Baker, mostly because it sounds slightly dirty). We are a perfect pair to analyze these events as I go on my gut and she goes with the seasoned eye of a pro.
The market was set up very close to my place at The Great Hall, and fortunately I had picked up on the fact that it landed on the same day at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which meant extensive road closures across the city. Long would have to take a very circuitous route to get there, and I just had to hobble over from my place. I did so and arrive just past the 11:00 opening time to a line up and vendors only just arriving with their wares. I assumed they had been diverted by marathon traffic, so I cut them some slack which is, in general, entirely unlike me to do. Long and I have attended many food festivals over the past few years and disorganization causes us no end of consternation. We were finally allowed in to the venue which was small and poorly lit, but with a cornucopia of candy unfurled before us. 28 vendors in all, some selling drinks (Lemon Lily Tea, Just Craft Soda, Sparkplug Coffee) some selling savouries (Plum Bun Bakery, The Empanada Dealer, Mnandi Pies) and even one place that had baked treats for pets (Peppy Paws & Co) but most with cookies cakes and chocolates for out sampling pleasure. We took a quick pass moving clockwise around the central oval, which had vendors set up on the interior and exterior peripheries,sampling as we went with the intention of only buying from the best of the best.
Except they all looked delicious. I was immediately taking in by the table of decadent cookies – all a spin on the chocolate chip – and hawked by the very charismatic Craig of Craig’s Cookies, who told us about his wares. I wanted to buy one, and walked away with five – Strawberry Pop Tart, Cadbury Mini Easter Egg, Kraft Caramel, Toffee & Brownie – all fresh, fantastic looking and gently sweating butter on to the paper bag they came in. Ndulge offered chocolate peanut butter bites, make all the better by the addition of rice krispies which gave the treats a delightful crunch. Golden Crumb Biscuit had milk chocolate shots, liquid in a pastry shell that you chased with a mini glass of milk. The Ultimate Cinnamon Bun looked to be just that, and had baked buns the size of a baby’s head. I bought a row of cheesecake bites from Bossy Cakes, resisting the temptation of the full sized tarts.
Several of the booths had decorate cookies for Hallowe’en. like these lovely little minions, and one place features treats featuring the candidates in in the upcoming US election.
I could not resist the lure of the sky high birthday cake from Cakelaine, and just as I though we were about to go completely mad, we decided that we were through.
We had espied some gourmet donuts on the offer from Donut Monsters, and decide the last thing we would do was grab a couple, so we picked up a Raspberry & Habernero and a Sangria to snack on as we climbed to the atrium to avoid the crush. Sadly while they were nice enough they did not live up to expectations. There wasn’t much of a hint of either the tang of the raspberry nor the heat of the habanero in the first donut, and the second, billed as Sangria just tasted like candied citrus and the icing was a little crystallized and sparse for our tastes. Every so slightly disappointed I perked my spirits up by buying an excellent tote bag on the way out.
Long and I popped by my place and carried on to have lunch, and when I returned the extent of my buying spree actually hit me. I live alone, and none of my co-workers have a sweet tooth (and there are not a hundred of them) so I went out and rapped on my next door neighbour, who fortunately was willing to take some of the bounty off my hands. They did not take everything though, and if ever a slice of birthday cake could look smug there is a piece on my counter doing that very thing.
Next time I go (and oh yeah, I will be going) I will bring a team of people and we will fan out, share a small bite of everything then disperse to our respective homes for a post sugar rush nap.