My dear friend Julie has always been the fearless one to lead the charge amongst us, and having a baby was no exception. Jules had a beautiful baby boy in January and so last month, we girls swooped into Toronto to visit the new momma and meet Charlie. Now, forgive me for being sentimental, but I just need to take a moment here to recognize these amazing sister friends of mine. Over our weekend of catching up, gabbing about relationships, getting the skinny on birthing, shopping, and eating (the things we do best together)...it occurred to me how far we’ve come together. Jules, Megs, Becca and I all cut our teeth at the same ad agency in New York. We were fresh out of college and bonded over the woes and thrills of climbing our way up, first dates and heartbreaks, and the overall intoxication of life in the big city.
Vegas...and now, a baby!
So that is how I found myself in Toronto on this particular day, shopping for charcuterie and cheese at the St. Lawrence Market.
I love going to the local marketplaces when I visit a new city – you can just get such a wonderful sense of place by seeing what people eat and make and sell. The indoor portion of the St. Lawrence Market has everything from meat and poultry, to cheese, bread, produce, and specialty salts and condiments. There is also a Saturday Farmers’ Market and a Sunday Antique Market.
We were planning to make a Raclette Dinner that evening, so we hit up Alex Farm Products, which specializes in artisan cheeses produced by small operations in Europe, Quebec, and Ontario. In addition to a hunk of raclette (semi-soft cow’s milk cheese), our cheese guy steered us towards some other goodies (Four girls together for four days? There is no such thing as too much cheese in the house).
I was particularly smitten with this raw sheep’s milk cheese encrusted with rosemary (Don Heliodoro Viejo Reserva al Romero from Central Quesera Montesinos). This lovely cheese is bathed in virgin olive oil every 15 days for 7 months. It is then covered with rosemary for the rest of the curing period, up to 12 months. Like a fragrant pecorino, this cheese is blooming with nuttiness, piney rosemary, and lush olive oil.
Cheese heavy in hand, we headed to Scheffler’s Deli to pick up some charcuterie. Scheffler’s boasts the largest selection of prosciutto in the city, plus antipasti, cheeses, pates, and gourmet condiments. After proving too wimpy for a spicy Calabrian Soppressata, we settled on some Niagra Prosciutto aged 18 months and Tiroler Speck.
Dinner that night was Raclette – a French/Swiss dish, essentially a fondue/hotpot dinner of melted cheese. We broke out Julie’s fancy raclette maker, which consisted of a griddle on top and these handy little compartments that fit under the griddle to melt your individual portions of cheese. On the griddle, we fried up some quail eggs, and grilled off asparagus spears, potatoes, short ribs, prosciutto and speck, marinated olives, and slices of bread. While these items cooked up top, our little dishes of cheese melted below. Once the eggs, meats, and potatoes are done, you transfer them to your plate and simply poor the melted cheese over everything! Pair this oozing cheese bonanza with a few bottles of wine, and this is the perfect long meal to catch up with old friends over.
St. Lawrence Market
92- 95 Front Street East
Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada
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