The organic waffles at Über Delicious (Image: Caroline Aksich)
You don’t have to be a wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked tot to enjoy the second annual Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. Heck, you don’t even have to be the world’s greatest fan of carollers and reindeer songs—because the edible offerings at this year’s cheery fest are the perfect remedy for holiday exasperation (especially the mulled wine). We hit the Distillery’s cobbled streets to seek out the best the market had to offer. Here’s what we found.
These organic waffles ($3.50), embellished with icing sugar and Belgian chocolate, are like a Christmassy take on the candy apple. The German ladies at Über Delicious, a Bavarian food stand, also carry adorable pre-made gingerbread houses.
Tiny Tom Donuts, a 50-year-old Toronto tradition, is making donuts on the spot at the market. The deep-fried rings come in a bag of 12 for $5. They’re available in four flavours: apple-cinnamon, chocolate, icing sugar and plain old cinnamon, which evoked the all-Canadian beaver tail (that’s a good thing).
Tourtière is typically served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (when Quebecers traditionally open their gifts), but this flaky, buttery meat pastry is delicious any time. Served at the Taste of Quebec stall. (Slice $6, whole pie $25)
This chocolate bacon bark ($5), sold at the Leonard Cake Company stall, reminds us why the whole bacon-everything trend started in the first place. We preferred it to their double-smoked hickory bacon on a skewer dipped in milk chocolate.
Honourable mention goes to Soma’s Mayan hot chocolate. They didn’t have a booth at this year’s market, but it’s easy enough to sneak down to this temple of cocoa for the spicy beverage, with its notes of ginger, orange peel and vanilla. ($4.19 with steamed milk)
The family-owned Boivin Hastings Maple Products, from Quebec’s Eastern Townships, were occupying two stands at this year’s Christmas market: one with sticky maple taffy cones ($3), made on-site; the other with medium amber maple syrup in unusually shaped bottles ($5–$70). The crowd was apparently going gaga over the shoe-shaped ones.
There’s nothing like mulled wine to take the bite out of the winter air. ($5.30)
We had a hard time choosing just one item at the Stickling’s stall. This Peterborough-based bakery is known primarily in Toronto for its organic breads, sold at the Big Carrot and Noah’s, but it also whips up some mean Bavarian goodies. The marzipan stollen (a loaf-shaped cake, covered with powdered sugar and stuffed with either nuts or dried fruit) is perfect for dessert, although it’s a popular breakfast food in Germany. Marzipan is often desiccated or tough, but Sticking’s was perfectly moist. (Marzipan stollen $11, small bag of marzipan fruit $5)
Pouding chômeur, which literally translates to pudding of the unemployed, is a Quebecois dessert that originated during the Depression. The traditionally frugal dish is made with flour, water, butter and brown sugar. At the Taste of Quebec stall (conveniently located in front of the store), they’re dishing up a more luxurious version of this visually unappealing but mouthwatering dessert (it’s drenched in maple syrup). ($5, but big enough for two)
This grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesewerks (which opens on Bathurst next week) oozes with two kinds of Balderson cheddar (double-smoked and two-year-aged) between two slices of cracked pepper sourdough from St. John’s Bakery. Pair it with a cup of rustic tomato soup for a traditional combo that’s a time-honoured remedy for the December chill. (Sandwich $7, combo $10)