Tickets on sale for The Stop’s Night Market this week

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Written by Siobhan Ozege, photos by Yuli Scheidt

The Stop’s annual Night Market is nearly upon us. For those in the know, it’s one of Toronto’s most coveted and cherished food events with tickets selling out within hours every year. This year, you’re lucky to have Fat Girl Food Squad watching out for you and giving you the heads-up: tickets go on sale THIS WEEK. On Thursday May 1st for just $65 you get the double-whammy: support the amazing and important food security work that The Stop does, AND eat some of Toronto’s best foods.

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The event itself takes place over two nights, with different vendors each night. Happening on June 17th & 18th from 7-11pm in the Honest Ed’s alleyway, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. Your ticket includes all-you-can-eat and drink from such FGFS faves as Fonda LolaDundas ParkSmall Town Food Co., and the Dock Ellis among many, many more. There will be savoury apps, sweet desserts, craft brews, local wines, and even some delicious coffee roasters on site. For a complete list of food vendors, you can visit the Night Market website.

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If you’re still on the fence about buying a ticket, we’d suggest reading a bit on what The Stop does. In their own words, “The Stop works to increase access to healthy food in a manner than maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.” This organization runs a number of food programs across the city, including after school programs, community markets and bake ovens, and a drop-in food bank space that serves Toronto’s West End. They’re a great cause, and we’re proud to support them.

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Mark your calendars, you won’t want to miss out on these amazing eats. This will be our second year attending this event, and our mouths are already watering.

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We Love Our Sugar Mamma’s Mini Donuts!

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It’s Saturday morning and the smell of freshly fried dough has hit the air. If you’re in the Christie and St Clair area, then you might be smelling the sweet, delicious, mad-cookery of Sugar Mamma’s Mini Donuts at the Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

Say hello to Wade Vroom and Keith Barker, your two bad boys behind the mobile mini donut pop-up.  We sat down together on Saturday morning during the Farmer’s Market and chatted about all things, well… donuts.

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“When we originally sat down to come up with the concept for Sugar Mamma’s in 2009, we were seriously considering opening up a mobile coffee truck,” Keith tells me.  However, a family member from Texas was already in the donut business in Texas selling mini’s at flea markets and farmer’s markets and they changed their concept. “We sat down and really thought about if we wanted to perhaps do coffee and donuts, but then we just decided, donuts – we’e doing it.”

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Since then, their donuts have been a hit amongst all for their unique cooking and delicious taste. Each of the Mini Donuts are cooked in a organic coconut oil which gives them a unique taste and aroma then they are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. “We’ve been working lately on making some new donut mixes that could be vegan, organic and/or gluten-free.  We’re really committed to expanding the types of donuts we have but also trying to expand the different types of markets we will be attending,” Keith mentions.  As it stands, the new mix uses a combination of coconut flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour and chickpea flour.

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Each order is made right in front of you and can cause much joy and delight to watch the donuts run down the line.  Your donuts are then scooped up and put into a little baggy with both Wade and Keith mugs and the Sugar Mamma logo. When I ask them about the branding, they tell me, “Travis Murphy put together everything we have and he has made it look great.  He’s a genius!”

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Biting into your first Sugar Mamma’s donut is crisp, fluffy heavenly goodness.  At first glance they may look like your average Tiny Tom Donuts, but these are much better and way more than average.  On deck, they have been thinking about introducing different flavours (like cayenne pepper, for savoury folks) or perhaps a flavour of the month (in their next season), but as it stands, they are sticking with Cinnamon Sugar.

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So what is in store next for Keith, Wade and Sugar Mamma’s?  They would both love to see their pop-up turn into a potential food-truck but most importantly, taking the Sugar Mamma’s brand and donuts further.  “We love what we do and we want to continue doing it and pushing ourselves.”

Visit your Sugar Mamma every Saturday at the Wychwood Barns.

Dundas Park Kitchen Bringing Comfort Food Home

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Over the past few months, a stretch of new restaurants have opened along Dundas West that have been offering healthy, grab and go choices.  One such place is the Dundas Park Kitchen, which nestled right beside the Belljar Cafe.

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I first came into contact with owners Alex Tso and Melanie Harris after they offered up an old espresso machine (on Facebook) from the old Portuguese restaurant they were refurbishing to make their own.  My partner ended up obtaining the machine and I tracked the progress of Dundas Park Kitchen via Twitter.

The kitchen and its interior have been completely redone from head to toe. As soon as you step in through the doors, you are greeted by an open seating with beautiful wood (which Melanie tells me wasn’t reclaimed but rather claimed and made into the furniture now seen in the space) seating and benches.  Looking up, you’ll note the open kitchen with the workers dutifully working on everything from preserves to sandwiches to chickens.

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When Yuli and I stopped in one Friday evening, Melanie sat down to tell us about the shop opening and told us, “We always had the idea to open up a restaurant in this area.  So we gutted the entire space and kind of built this place organically.  It took us three years, as we had a baby in that time.  But our original plan was to have a small sit-down restaurant and then we realized the area was lacking something, good quality take over”.  Thus, Melanie and Alex changed their plan and Dundas Park Kitchen was born.

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Upon first entrance you’re greeting with a huge chalkboard of sandwich, soup, salad and quiche choices.  Melanie mentions to us that they visit the Wychwood Barns Farmers Markets very regularly and try to change their soups/quiches/salads seasonal, while still keeping prices reasonable.  They do a very good job in doing so.  Each item ranges in price from $5.50-$13 in their soup, sandwich, quiche and salad line.

Throughout the evening of being there, many frequent regulars and new locals trickle into the spot for one of their top sellers: the Roasted Chicken dinner.  The Roasted Chicken dinner is available for $25 ($15 for a half chicken) and could be quite possibly their best deal.  From 5–7 p.m. Monday to Friday, you can obtain a golden skinned chicken with two side dishes.  Not half bad!  When I ask Melanie where they came up with the idea, she tells me that: “We thought about what families would eat for dinner in this area and what they use to serve up in the Portuguese restaurant prior.  We thought we would stick true to those roots.”

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Melanie saddled us up to their most popular sandwich (next to the Meatloaf Sandwich, which sells at $10.75), the All Day Breakfast sandwich.  It was packed with pork sausage, cheddar, organic corn relish and grainy mustard.  At the price point of $7.50, the sandwich was delicious and not at all heavy.  The corn relish also gave it the extra little pop that it needed.

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If you were looking something to take on your sweet tooth, they have that covered as well. Some of my recommendations would be the Sweet & Salty Sandwich Cookie and the Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie, both at the pricepoint of $1.50 and baked in-house by Melanie (a former pastry chef).  Melanie tells us that their Sour Cherry Gillettes are some of their most popular items along with their Orange Creamscile Macaroons, selling at the price point of $2.25.

So if its snacks or something hearty you are looking for, both Melanie & Alex are welcoming you into their Kitchen for great cooked food.

Eat, Drink and Play at the Summer Camp for Adults – Two Islands Weekend

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Everybody longs to be a kid still.  We hang onto those memories oh so dearly.  As a kid, we all remember being sent off on the yellow school bus off to Camp and enjoying roasting marshmallows over the open fire with friends.  This September, Danielle Goldfinger (coordinator of The Stop’s Night Market) has developed this one-of-a-kind experience for adult’s that will have you reminiscing of your childhood days. Say hello to the Two Island’s Weekend.  an adults-only, two-day retreat at Camp Timberlane in Halliburton.

For $300 all-in, campers will feast on meals prepared by top Toronto chefs (including Tom Brodi a private chef, formally of TOCA, Joshna Maharaj, a food activist, Rossy Earle, Elyse Wahle of Sullivan & Bleeker, Trish Gill of Catch Seafood, Amanda Ford of Citygirl Catering, Daniel Sanders of Globe Bistro, Jason Cox of Opus, Tony Cammalleri of Pusateri’s, and Kristina Groeger) But that is not all.  .Camp admission also includes all remarkable programming and an all-you-can drink bar with spirits included by Rosewood Estate Winery, McAuslan Brewery, and Black Fly Spirit Beverages.

I had the chance to speak with Danielle regarding her newest project and what potential attendees can expect from this whirlwind weekend:

(1) Tell me about the Two Islands Weekend?  How did you come up with the concept?

I came up with a concept while hanging out with a friend last summer.  We were reminiscing about our childhood summers at camp and how as adults were just don’t have those opportunities to take off and literally run around outside all summer.  We joked about starting a summer camp for grown-ups.  After that conversation, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  I started to do some research and found that a summer camp for adults don’t really exist her in Ontario, despite our plethora of children’s camps.

(2) When you were developing the programming, how did you come up with what would take place and did you fear that some people would not want to be involved.

Camp Timberlane provided a lot of support on this front.  They gave me insight into the activities that usually do well with adult groups.

I’ve definitely considered that some people will not want to participate.  No one has to participate in any activity they don’t to – unlike camp for children.  No one is going to force you to play baseball, when you really want to hang out by the beach.  That being said, there are so many great activities – there will definitely be something for everyone.

 (3) Tell me an experience you had a camp (bad or good).

I went to camp for 6 summers – so I have a lot of memories and they range from the profound to the mundane.   When I was 10, I sang a song from Les Miserable and was so terrible that I made the entire camp cringe in their seats.  You know that moment, when everyone is so embarrassed for someone they just can’t bare to look? I was that source of embarrassment!  To this day, I don’t really like signing out loud.

But I also remember lots of small things: signing & dancing to Patricia the Stripper with my cabin.  There was always PB&J and hot chocolate in the mess hall in between meals and the way my friend Justine braided her hair every night before bed.

(4) What can you tell me about the location of where Two Islands is being held — how did you secure it and tell me more about the landscape.  What can people expect when they arrive?

When I started to do research I discovered that lots of camps rent their facilities out.  They mostly rent them for weddings, schools and corporate groups and so I when I pitched my idea many immediately said it wasn’t the right fit.  When I met Harley, from Timberlane, he immediately got it and worked with me to create the perfect concept.  He’s been a camper, counsellor and now Director at the Camp, so he knows the place inside and out and knows what ideas will work and what won’t – that’s pretty invaluable information.   When I went for a visit last October – I knew that it was the right place.  The facilities are immaculate – you can tell the people that work and live there really respect the place.

The camp is located on The Lake of Two Islands – it’s a pretty small lake and it’s really private.  Surrounding the camp are forests and trails of the Halliburton Highlands.

When people arrive they will be greeted by a team of enthusiastic counsellors, who will show them to their bunks.  Once people are settled in, they can make their way to the beach, where we’ll have some drinks and snacks and get to know everyone.

(5) Why should people attend the Two Islands weekend?

It’s an opportunity to shed our 9 – 5 selves and just have a nice time, in a beautiful place with super nice people and great food.