I remember the day I was strolling through Kensington Market in the heart of downtown Toronto and realized that, for the first time in my life, I’d found that place called “home”.
It was the late-’70s and, a divorced single mum of a young daughter Esther (now 40 years old, married and a successful therapist living in B.C.), my career as a food writer was germinating. I was also learning some hard life lessons. While dealing with a lot of painful change, I was about to find my calling.
It’s that blah mid-winter time of year and, for me, a bumpy patch on the meandering path of discovery.
The obvious antidote: cooking up a storm in my compact Kensington Market kitchen.
Much of this culinary cure for whatever ails my troubled soul is inspired by recipes from cookbooks and food magazines, both of which are on-and-off addictions.
I thought one addiction to a Wanda’s Pie in the Sky confection was quite enough. I speak here of the Dulce de Leche Macaroons jokingly dubbed “crack cookies” by the baker-in-chief herself Wanda Beaver. These yummy little creations (dusted with a white powder that is, in fact, icing sugar) consist of a rich brown, delectably chewy exterior that encases an oozy filling of luscious caramel.
This appeared in the Toronto Star on September 13, 2008.
“It’s like a death in a family,” says Sarah Dearing to friend Steven Davey on hearing the devastating news.
“It is a death in the family,” he replies, expressing what so many of us feel as we continue to grieve the loss of beloved Kensington Market restaurateur Amadeu Goncalves.
In case you didn’t catch my chat with host Jeff Goodes on Fresh Air on CBC Radio on Saturday morning, January 27, here’s a list of places I mentioned during our discussion about eating out in winter:
Down the Street, Stratford, Ontario, especially for its warm welcome but also for the cozy decor and excellent food.
Just as I’m not a fan of food gadgets – being technically challenged is one reason, finding the wooden spoon, whisk, a good quality iron skillet and good knife to be key tools of the trade is another – I am not one who seeks out the latest trendy ingredient.
When my daughter came back from a recent trip to Sri Lanka, she brought some loose black tea in a plain paper package. Knowing that this country, formerly called Ceylon, is prime tea-growing land, I had high hopes for those aromatic leaves.
I was right. They brewed up the most deliciously balanced, flavourful yet not at all bitter, slightly sweet cuppa. With milk and a little sugar, as I like to drink tea, this was unequalled.
Having grown up in a family that refused to stay put, I’ve spent much of my adult life trying to put down roots. I found them in an instant when I walked into Toronto’s feisty, colourful and inimitable Kensington Market one sunny day in the late 1970s and knew immediately that this was home. Its ethnic mix, Jewish history and cheaply cheerful warmth proved irresistible and I lived happily in the heart of this wonderful place for more than 25 years, nearly all of them in the same house on Augusta Ave. facing a lively park.