My dear friend Dana recently moved back to Toronto after living in London for the past four years. As a native of Thornhill (and still based there as she gets settled back in) I’ve taken it upon myself to prove to Dana how cool Toronto is; mainly so that she doesn’t up and leave again. Our upbringings were very different, mine being raised downtown and hers being far far away uptown. Still, we both had the urge to move away as soon as possible when we were done university (where we met) and both found ourselves landed in London around the same time. Now that I’ve been back home for two years (already!) I’ve never been happier and appreciate living in Toronto (and Canada) more than ever before, for so many different reasons. Slowly but surely I am exposing Dana to new neigbourhoods, shops, and restaurants around the city. Last weekend we spent some time in Kensington Market and she had quite the reaction to it! So much so that she wanted to write about it, here’s her story:

Thomas Lavers Cannery and Delicatessen

I love markets. I am obsessed with markets. For example, this is me at craft markets: “OMG look how cute this felted cat brooch is!,” vintage markets: “How much would you sell your whole stock for?,” and food markets (even better): “You grew it yourself? And then you pickled it? Ill have one. Ummm… actually, can you give me a better price if I buy 10? Goose eggs? Ill take ‘em! Pickled herring, YUMMM.” You get the idea.

When I moved to the UK I was in market heaven. Four years later I moved back to Toronto. Apart from my boyfriend, I was going to miss my beloved markets the most. Broadway Market is an amazing little street (which seems more like a little village) and was one of the first markets I hit when I moved to London.  My first apartment was located just around the corner on a road that locals call the “Murder Mile” but that’s a whole other story.  On Sundays this little street becomes a market-loving hipster’s dream. It’s packed with cooked and fresh food (including the world’s best, fish monger Fin and Flounder), and there’s also a plethora of clothes, cupcakes, vintage and coffee. What about when it’s not Sunday? There are amazing pubs, shops and the best coffee shop ever Climpson and Sons. This type of stuff could never exist in Toronto right? Wrong.

Dana in the kitchen at my cottage!

When I decided to move home, I was really worried that Toronto was going to be the dreariest non-market filled city on earth and although I was excited to see more of my family, I was dreading the return. But I totally didn’t need to, I didn’t even realize what was happening in Kensington Market. I should have thought about it, I should have seen the trend coming, but, when I got to Kensington I couldn’t believe my eyes. I almost didn’t notice Hooked had opened up, not to mention Sanagan’s Meat Locker a few doors over and Thomas Lavers Cannery and Delicatessen across the street. Then, I turned onto Kensington Ave and I saw Hogtown Charcuterie. A Kensington Market renaissance? I can’t believe I was so oblivious, so involved in my London life and shrugging a shoulder at Toronto that I completely and utterly ignored what was going on!

The most amazing and forward (my exchangeable word for things European) places are popping up everywhere. I just can’t explain how exciting this all is to me. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” book – you go this way or that and you never know what amazingness is going to pop up! It’s like a dream where I get to take all my favorite London food shops and market stalls and cut-and-paste them into previously tired streets in Toronto. I’ve never thought that I loved to Toronto but you know what? I really think I do.

What are some of your favourite spots in Kensington Market? Please share!