Here at Old Town Toronto, we love to cook.
Now don’t get us wrong, we’re extremely lucky to be one of the top culinary destinations in the city with all of our amazing restaurants and cafes, but we also love the thrill of gathering ingredients from various stores and combining them all into something delicious at home. Aside from making us less hungry, cooking allows us to see every single step of the process and teaches us to appreciate how every single ingredient needs to be at their best in order to make the dish as a whole a success.
Now, we’re also lucky to have convenience on our side for when we feel like cooking but don’t have the energy to make a whole dish from scratch. Pre-made frozen meals and sauces from places like Farm’r, HOTHOUSE, and Mercatto are perfect since they never fail to deliver on quality and skill. But if we have the time and energy to make something ourselves where we can get the best ingredients, well, the St. Lawrence Market right here in Old Town Toronto is there for us.
Below you’ll find four classic ingredients where quality can make all the difference in a dish. We’ve included some humble suggestions of where to go in the market to get them, and presented you with a recipe that highlights each one for a bit of inspiration.
Enjoy! And don’t forget to invite us over for dinner some time! 😉
All good dishes require a solid base and in many cases, from skillet-fried steaks to soulful soups, a splash of olive oil is the first step. So start cooking right with the help of the award-winning Acropolis Organics! The family-owned business provides hand-picked, cold-pressed, and unfiltered olive oil from the island of Crete. The olives themselves are free of pesticides and chemicals, so the flavours you get are pure 100% koroneiki olives.
Now obviously you can use olive oil to cook almost anything, but to really appreciate the smooth, earthy goodness that it provides, a classic salad dressing is the way to go. This Lemon-Lime Salad Dressing from “The Ciminelli Solution,” by Sue Ciminelli should do a great job of highlighting the olive oil while giving you one last burst of summer brightness.
Zest and juice from one lemon and one lime
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground white pepper
- Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl together
- Let stand 10 minutes before using
From sausages and shanks to roasts and rounds, if you’re a meat eater you know that the cuts and quality of meat can make or break a dish no matter how well it’s cooked. But that’s a problem you won’t have to face if you order from Di Liso’s Fine Meats, who have been serving the public for over 40 years!!
Selling delicious seafood, amazing cuts of beef or pork, divine poultry, and around NINE varieties of sausage, De Liso’s has anything you could possibly need for cooking on a grill or in an oven. They even have special variety boxes if you’re having a tough time choosing (personally we suggest the beer and sausage box set!)
There’s plenty available at the store, for pickup or delivery, that you can just cook as-is, but for a wow-worthy dish that takes advantage of three different kinds of meat (shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage), we have to suggest some good ‘ol Jambalaya. And while we’re a longtime fan of C’est What’s version of the dish, making it from scratch can be a whole new experience! This recipe from Gimme Some Oven is a classic!
You gotta eat your greens! No matter what dish you’re having, vegetables make for a great side or a fantastic main dish! Soups! Salads! Stews! Casseroles! Stir Fry! The choice is yours to make whatever you want, but like all good dishes, you’re going to need fresh ingredients to make it pop!
And for that you can head on down to Urban Fresh Produce for some good quality vegetables. With a focus on organic and locally-sourced produce, Urban Fresh has been a wonderful addition to the market and a go-to for anyone on the grocery hunt.
The versatility of vegetables and the variety of flavours mean you can go as complicated as you want for a dish, but if you’re feeling a bit too tired, why not go simple and make yourself a plate of some hearty oven-roasted vegetables? Here’s our favourite recipe:
2 cups of broccoli florets
2 cups of cauliflower florets
1 onion, cut into six pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
2-2 ½ tbsp Acropolis Organics olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Add all the vegetables to the baking sheet
- Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and mix together with hands or a wooden spoon
- Season with salt and pepper (feel free to add any seasoning blends you like!), gently toss.
- Arrange vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet
- Throw in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are tender and lightly browned. Don’t forget to stir halfway!
- Take them out and enjoy! Can be eaten with a dash of hot sauce!
Honestly, do I need to even try and sell you on cheese? It’s CHEESE.
From sharp and tangy to sweet and gooey, there’s a type of cheese for every type of person out there and if you’re in Toronto, chances are good that Olympic Cheese has it. Since 1958 they’ve been the ultimate source for cheesy consumables and owner George deals directly with manufacturers in Canada and Europe so you’re guaranteed to get good prices.
And I don’t know about you, but as we’ve begun to enter the season where warm, comforting foods are essential, we’ve been enjoying a classic grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup.
For the soup you could go canned, sure. But why do that when CoMMO here in Old Town has some delicious ready-made tomato soup that just requires heating up? Additionally don’t forget to pick up the bread from Carousel Bakery, the preferred Toronto stop for Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay!
2 slices of rye bread
Butter (Though we’ve heard that mayo works too!)
2 slices of sharp cheddar
2 slices of provolone
- Put the cheese between the bread
- Spread butter or mayo on outside sides of the sandwich
- Cook on hot skillet, flipping occasionally until golden brown and the cheese looks gooey
- That’s it, that’s the grilled cheese.