My Trip to the St. Lawrence Market

On October 19th I took my first trip to the St. Lawrence Market in years. I can vaguely remember going there way back when I was just a child but I hadn’t been back since. I chose to go to the market because so many people I know rave about the produce and fresh meat and dairy products that are available there. It also happens to be extremely close to George Brown College and my apartment which is definitely an added bonus.

I browsed throughout the different fruit and veggie markets and came across actually quite a few products that I have never tried before; Persimmon, granadilla, etc. Or, if I have tried them it’s been in a restaurant or a pre-made food/drink that I have not personally prepared. I decided to purchase a starfruit as I have never bought one before and it really stood out to me. The curvature of the fruit was much more interesting than the others and the name itself intrigued me.

Starfruit is actually the common name for Carambola; It got the nickname starfruit because of the shape of it and when cut into pieces it actually resembles the shape of a star. Carambola is said to have originated in Sri Lanka and now is grown on trees in tropical locations such as; Thailand, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, as well as a few places in the United states—Hawaii and Florida. Starfruit typically blooms in April through May and then again in October until December. I purchased my starfruit for 2 dollars at the market which to me seems a bit expensive considering you only get one fruit for the price.

14813072_10153805799956836_415056563_oThe starfruit is about the size of my fist and feels hard and waxy to the touch. It has five ridges that go vertically down the fruit. The colour is a pale yellow with a light green going down each ridge, according to what I have researched I believe that my starfruit is not quite ripe yet; It should be a a golden colour with no green. The scent of the fruit reminds me of a granny smith apple — crisp and tart. When biting into the starfruit the texture reminded me of a grape and a green bean combined. Stringy and chewy on the outside and soft on the inside; It was also quite juicy. Strangely, the flavour to me also reminded me
a bit of both a green bean and a grape along with a granny smith apple. I believe that due to it not being completely ripe the fruit was a lot more tart and sour than it would be if fully ripened. My starfruit was quite tart and sour with just a hint of sweetness, it also possessed an earthy note.

Due to its sweet yet tart nature, starfruit is typically used for drinks, relishes, and desserts; However, it can also be used in savoury dishes. It can also be eaten just the way it is, all of the fruit can be consumed so you don’t need to worry about taking out seeds or anything. It is not often cooked, it is just eaten raw. I personally would like to keep the taste of the starfruit as true to itself as possible and create something sweet with it. I think a great recipe for it would be a sherbet or sorbet which would truly showcase the flavour of the fruit. I have found an extremely simple yet delicious looking recipe for Brazilian Star Fruit Sorbet  (see below). Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 10.29.02 PM.png

I have not tried this recipe yet, but I think that it looks extremely promising and would be a delightful treat in the summer months when this fruit is in season.

I really enjoyed this experience as it has opened up my eyes to what different foods are out there that I have yet to explore. I am not typically one to explore markets, I just tend to buy products from the closest grocery store to my home because of convenience. Due to this adventure though I will definitely be heading back to the St. Lawrence Market and possibly to other markets as well. It definitely had a more interesting variety of produce that places like Loblaws and Metro can’t offer. I would highly recommend checking out local markets near you to try new and exciting products!

 

Advertisements

Banh Mi — A sandwich worth trying (if you like cilantro)

I recently visited the restaurant Banh Mi Boys located on Queen Street West in Toronto. Banh Mi Boys is a Vietnamese sandwich shop with a twist; It incorporates Taiwanese and Korean flavours into classic banh mi sandwiches. I had never had banh mi prior to my trip to the restaurant and was excited to see what it would be like.

The menu is relatively simple; It gives you the options of banh mi, tacos, steamed bao, and then sides and entree salads. They do however offer a few crazier options that you don’t often see on sandwich menus. A couple different types of banh mi that hey have are; squid, duck confit, and braised beef cheek. I decided to play it safe with this endeavour and went with the five spice pork belly banh mi and I also got a side of kimchi fries.

14571962_10153768886386836_1022177465_o

Visually I found the sandwich to be appealing, it was colourful and had a good amount of filling in it. Right away I was not pleased with the scent of the sandwich as it smelt strongly of cilantro. I wasn’t aware that the sandwich would be heavily garnished with cilantro. If I had known prior I would have seen if there was a way to have it without it so that my view on the food wouldn’t be so hindered. Each bite had a good combination of texture, the bun was crunchy, the veggies were crisp, and the meat added a chewy element. The carrots and cucumber added sweetness, the meat was savoury, and the cilantro added bitterness. I wish that it had more saltiness and also found that it lacked a sour element.

My favourite part of the meal were the kimchi fries that I ordered. The kimchi fries consisted of fries, mayo, kimchi, and green onions. I had never heard of kimchi fries prior to seeing it on the Banh Mi Boys menu; I enjoy the idea of incorporating two different types of cuisine into one to make something new and tasty. Each bite of the fries had all of the five basic tastes within it — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umame. The fries were perfectly done — they were crispy and salty. The onions added some bitterness, the mayo added sweetness and the kimchi added a mix of everything. The texture was relatively soft with a bit of crunch from the fries and kimchi, I feel like this worked extremely well for the dish.

My trip to Banh Mi Boys allowed me to experience a new type of fusion cuisine that for the most part was quite satisfying. The food re-established my distain for cilantro and I learnt that combing different cuisines together can work extremely well and create more exciting dishes. I would definitely go back to Banh Mi Boys again, especially for the kimchi fries! I would love to try more of their dishes but hopefully sans the cilantro.