A guide to food vendors at the Junction Flea
Launched this past June, the Junction Flea has quickly gained a reputation as a monthly west end destination with an urban shopping experience reminiscent of New York's hip Brooklyn Flea. Located in the otherwise vacant lot at the corner of Dundas West and Indian Road, an eclectic assortment of dealers offer unique vintage finds, handcrafted art and stylish accessories.
Appealing to both the gourmand and the merely hungry, market organizers from local retailers Smash and Russet & Empire have also included a well-curated group of food vendors selected for their unique menus. From locally baked goods to made-to-order mini bites, a visit to the flea may be worth it for the food alone. I stopped by to check out the menu this past Sunday.
The Last Splash
A new side project for Michael Leary, chef at Sauvignon Bistro for the past nine years, this music-influenced fish sandwich pop-up takes its name from The Breeders album. Sunday's sandwich featured trout cured with three types of tea, topped with English cucumbers and pickled onion jam and was thus billed the Robert Smith ($5). Past sandwiches building on the music-food connection have included The Lightfoot and The Gainsborough. A cold watermelon soup with lemon and mint ($2.50) is also available. Leary smartly catered to the morning crowd with a smoked trout and caramelized onion frittata ($2.50) that sold out by 11am.
Recently transplanted to Prince Edward County, former Torontonian Erin Demille is determined to take everything frilly and pink out of baking as she puts a modern twist on family recipes that feature seasonal fruits and syrups. Aided by a background in design, she thinks in terms of clean lines and strong packaging for her range of treats that includes mini bundt cakes ($6), cookies ($3), muffins ($2) and jams ($5 small, $7 large). Her maple bacon butter cookie was a strong seller at the flea as was her triple lemon bunt cake.
Manual Labour Coffee
Manual Labour Coffee made their second appearance at the flea and served hot and iced espresso drinks ($2 - $3.75) made from Detour beans through the window of their vintage trailer to an endless line of caffeine-deprived market-goers. Owner Mathew Taylor, formally of Mercury Espresso Bar in Leslieville, favours the pour-over method - a process that emulates a beaker-lined laboratory experiment and involves a slow hot water pour over ground beans. The correct water-to-grind ratio is key and, when mastered, the result is a superiorly fresh cup made-to-order. On Saturdays, find the coffee truck at the Oakville Place Farmers' Market.
The Kissing Booth
Leah Wildman and Lauren Wilton's snack food popup has appeared at the flea since the first market event in June. The menu last Sunday featured jerk pork ribs served with a choice of spicy pickled cabbage and cauliflower or red skin potato and chickpea salad ($8 with one side, $10 with both), plus grilled corn in coriander butter, homemade peach-basil lemonade ($3.50) and cookies baked by Leah's mom ($1). The duo, with a combined 10 years of experience in the restaurant industry, is also available for catering gigs.
This vendor offered perfectly charred barbeque corn ($5 for two), homemade sauces and chutneys ($7) as well as doubles, a street food style snack sandwich featuring wheat-based fried flatbread and chickpea filling ($2).
Consistently facing line-ups up to a dozen people deep, FeasTO has been cooking up - and selling out - their signature dumplings since the first flea in June. Their three varieties are pork and bokchoy, shitake mushroom as well as duck and foie gras. The delicate dumpling trios ($5) are artfully presented on picnic-worthy checkered paper. Also available is home-brewed chrysanthemum iced tea ($3).
Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops
Farmers' market favourite, Janet Dimond has been crafting her all-natural, handmade frozen fruit pops ($3) since she inadvertently test-marketed her inaugural batch at the Roncesvalles neighbourhood yard sale last May. Sweetened with organic cane juice, honey or maple syrup, the mainly vegan assortment always includes one sugar-free option (orange tangerine on Sunday).
Janet looks to cocktails and desserts for her inspired flavour combinations such as wild blueberry mojito, mango lime basil mint, sour lemon and cherry, and her personal favourite grapefruit ginger lime. Other standouts include Vietnamese coffee, which includes sweet condensed milk, and flea bestseller wild blueberry sour lemon cream. Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops are already available at several local retailers and Janet is working on wider distribution.
The Junction Flea has been held on the second Sunday of the month since June and the final confirmed market takes place on September 9th. Good news for flea fans, organizers are searching for an indoor space to continue the market through the fall and winter seasons.
Writing and photos by Cheryl Kozoriz