Popular items: Persian breads and baked goods, hummus, piroshkis
The family-owned crowd favourite Alma Bakery is back for a second season at the Underpass Park Farmer’s Market, innovating classic Persian breads and dips with their unique family recipes and offering up organic, vegan and gluten-free options.
After relocating to Toronto from New Brunswick last year, the North York bakery’s goods have become a hit with Persian food retailers all over the G.T.A. and their loyal online customers. Now, they’re bringing the irresistible smell of their fresh breads to the Underpass Park, in flavours like herb and garlic and tomato basil and olive, which pair wonderfully with their selection of homemade hummus and yogurt dips. If sweets are more your thing, try their Persian-style cookies with raisins, rosewater or cardamom, or their saffron-infused sweet milk bread.
Any market fan, however, will swear by their showstopper, the homemade piroshkis; warm, pillowy yeast buns stuffed with chicken, beef or veggie filling. To learn more about their products, (or to just drool over close-up photos of fresh baked goods) check out their website.
In a humble Toronto kitchen, a little chocolate bar named Chad stood up and announced, “I want chachalate!”
His little voice pronounced it as CHA-CHA-LIT.
Chad didn’t want just any regular chocolate from the grocery store though, so he decided to make his own. Being a chocolate bar himself, he knew that every cocoa bean has a different personality, and if given the right care and attention, he could make their fruity flavours shine like no other chocolate bar you’ve had before!
With a tiny spatula in hand, Chad sourced the most amazing cocoa beans from around the world.
He then found and built some machines (turns out he’s really handy!) to sort, crack, winnow (remove the shell from the nibs), grind, refine, conch, temper, and mould. Phew.
He didn’t realize how much work it was to make a chocolate bar, but it was all worthwhile when he saw first-hand how a piece of chocolate was able to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
Chad’s working on becoming his best chocolate-y self and to bring out everyone’s inner (discerning) child. Soon, you’ll be yelling, “I want chachalate!” with him.
In his free time, you’ll find Chad watching his favourite movie, practicing his photography skills, or training for his next adventure.
Angelina and Kyle met… at a farmers’ market! It was only natural that a couple of months later, they were selling products of their own from their small, three-acre farm in Claremont, ON.
County Left adheres to organic farming standards, although they chose not to get certified. Everything they do is at hand scale, with only small tools and a walk-behind tractor. That’s how they’re able to produce their oh-so-tasty vegetables, from spinach and kale to beets, turnips and radishes, not to forget herbs like parsley or cilantro!
Ernie’s icebox is Julia Heist’s dream of the perfect ice cream sandwich coming to life! After years of never finding what she was craving for, she simply decided to make her own.
Handmade, proudly local and made completely from scratch. New flavours are introduced regularly, and announced on Instagram, along with weekly pre-order drops! The newest one at the moment is Black Forest, but you could also try Cheery Cheesecake or the timeless PB&J!
Popular items: Samosas, tuna balls, Asian spring rolls, chicken biriyani
If you’ve been at the market at least a couple of times since we started again this season, you probably noticed a line in front of one of the stands. What’s going on and why is there such a line? Because people are hungry for what Fathima and her family cook!
Specializing in South Asian delicacies, they source mostly local ingredients from Ontario farmers and create dishes using recipes passed down through generations.
Popular items: Hot sauces in flavours like mango madness, sweet maple heat & citrus spice.
So, now that you’ve scored all the best ingredients from the market for an amazing meal, how do you make them sing? Not to fret! Firecracker Pepper Sauce is here to bring the flavour and the heat!
When Carmen and Mike McCracken were planning their wedding, it was important for them to find ways to celebrate the joining of their Canadian and Indo-Caribbean cultures. One particularly creative method was to batch up Carmen’s family recipe for Trinidadian pepper sauce and send everyone home with a jar; before long, friends and family were knocking at their door asking where they could buy more of the magical concoction, and thus, a hot sauce company was born.
Three years later, Firecracker Pepper sauce is going strong with several different options for all-natural, vegan and gluten-free Trinidadian/Canadian recipes, placing in the top three sauces at the Royal Winter Fair and bringing their families’ flavours to the market. For the uninitiated, a jar of the crowd-favourite Mango Madness brings tons of tangy sweetness with a hint of scotch bonnet, a 3 out of ten on the heat scale. Looking for something a little stronger? Carmen’s personal favourite, Nuclear Bacchanal promises an experience that can really only be expressed by the name itself.
Popular items: Salmon fillets, smoked salmon, spot prawns
The Pacific Provider is owned and operated by a North Vancouver fishing family. The 43-foot boat leaves Vancouver in the late spring and returns to Vancouver in the fall. All their salmon are caught by hook and line using barbless hooks. The fish are landed by hand and cleaned immediately. They are then flash frozen on board while at sea. The boat fishes throughout Haida Gwaii and out of Prince Rupert. Rick, the skipper, mainly employs local university students as crew whenever possible. This family is committed to the small-scale production of high-quality products.
The Pacific Provider has Ocean Wise Certification.
It’s practically impossible to celebrate Ontario’s stunning agriculture without acknowledging the Niagara Region’s world-renowned wines. Luckily, brothers Charles and John Neufeld of Palatine Hills Winery are saving us the hour-plus drive by bringing their award-winning bottles to the market.
The Neufeld family seemed destined to become winemakers; after their second-generation tender fruit farm started growing grapes for local wineries, they found themselves with an excess of ice wine grapes late one season in 1998. Rather than sell them off at a deeply discounted rate, John Neufeld Sr. decided to make his own batch, which he subsequently put in a tank and didn’t think of again until four years later when he needed the tank back. He bottled it up, and unbeknownst to him, one bottle found its way to the Ontario Wine Awards where it won “Best Wine in Ontario”. When news outlets started calling soon thereafter insisting to come to visit their “winery”, it seemed their fate was sealed, and the rest is history.
Eighteen years later, the next generation of Neufelds is bringing a sampling of their most popular wines to Underpass Park, such as the Lakeshore Series (a selection of easy-drinking reds and whites) and the 1812 series (for the more dedicated wine lovers.) Though some of their bottles are available in the LCBO, the advantages of a slight discount plus being able to buy it directly from one of the Neufelds themselves makes a purchase at their booth less of an indulgence and more of an opportunity to broaden your Ontario agricultural education.
Popular items: Original gin, spiced gin, citrus gin
The Reids are originally from the UK (England and Scotland) and Martin, the father, acknowledges the fact that ” the idea of a distillery was not foreign to me growing up – though we were predominantly a whisky household”. The interest in gin came later, as the family was making frequent trips to the UK and got to witness the explosion of the craft gin scene over there.
Soon enough, Martin and his three kids Calvin, Jaqueline and Graham, started experimenting, until they finally opened Reid’s distillery on Logan Av. Their gins are made from Canadian wheat, wild-foraged Canadian juniper and many other diverse botanicals. The flavours range from spicy to floral, citrus to aged, sweet to herbal… and they even offer cocktail kits!
Saulter Street Brewery’s red barn doors opened in August 2017 with the goal of making great beer and creating a space that inspires people to come together and live in the moment.
So, with that goal in mind and with a talented team in place, they started brewing. They quickly fell in love with the entire process. As the founder, John Sterling would put it: “The endless combinations kept our curiosity alive and I developed a patience that I didn’t know I had. Watching others enjoy our creations made me feel like I’d found my true calling in life and, in that moment, I knew that we had the opportunity to do something great”.
Far from sticking to just one type of beer, Saulter Street Brewery developed some classics, such as an English Ale or a Belgian IPA, but also some more exotic refreshments: lime and coriander Belgian-style wheat or Strawberry Sour, for instance!
Popular items: Medium roast blend coffee, dark roast blend coffee
Kara travelled around the world a lot when she was in her 20’s. She experienced many different places, cultures, foods and… coffees. When she settled in Toronto, she was somehow disappointed with coffee; that’s how her original for great coffee began.
Nowadays, you can find great coffee shops in the city, but Kara never stopped searching and Sparkplug now brings freshly roasted, carefully crafted coffee to other coffee lovers out there. Sparkplug Coffee is all about freshness and reliability, so whatever blend you choose (classic? fruity? dark? super dark?!), it will be the same taste every time. A great taste!
Popular items: Tomato plants, potted plants, garden herbs
The Strong Earth Company grew out of Pandemic and a Chef who had no one to cook for. The Strong Food Company was a corporate caterer who threw fabulous parties for their clients using the very best and unique ingredients.
Maureen Strong, the chef and owner, grew into an urban farmer planting way too many unique Heirloom Tomatoes, New Mexican Hatch Chiles, Stunning Dahlias, Garden Herbs, Edible Flowers, Collectible Houseplants and Beautiful Succulents.