Kitten and The Bear
Kitten and The Bear, which opened just shy of three weeks ago has been steadily winning over their Parkdale clientele, one small batch of preserves and marmalade at a time. For those who've been vying to relive childhood memories of teatime, Kitten and The Bear has captured the essence of these vocations and made them adult friendly, through ornate storefront design and more importantly, uniquely crafted recipes; evoking fables of their own that are worthy of an afternoon of 'play time.'
Kitten and The Bear is both an artisanal shop and cafe. They carry small batches of six carefully crafted flavours of jams ($10 a jar), each inspired by what is seasonal, local and a reflection of each fruits personality. On the shelf, you'll also find Sloane Tea tins to purchase ($15-26), Pig Iron roasted coffee ($18) and hammered copper jam pans ($380) for the brave home preserver. Every morning and afternoon they're also baking up the fluffiest and creamiest scones ($3.50) in the city, served with, wait for it, a pot of Devonshire Cream ($1) on the side. I resisted from asking if I could get it on tap.
It's hard to believe that Sophie and Bobby, the impassioned owners of Kitten and The Bear started preserve production just over a year ago. Their repertoire, respect for tradition and skillful grasp of flavours makes you think they've been doing this for a lifetime. They follow old world traditions for making their jam, taking two to three days for production, using only natural ingredients; even hand selecting the fruit that goes into each batch.
They also take local seriously. So seriously, that they recently knocked on a neighbours door, asking if they could forage their crabapple tree, as it was the best they'd ever tasted. When they're not climbing trees they receive their fruit, spices and flowers from expert pickers who have relationships with local farmers around Canada.
Although you can order to go, it's hard not to be taken by the charm of Parisian tunes curling around the hot steam of a perfectly steeped half pot of tea ($2.75). I order the Jam Sampler ($7), which comes with three jams, two scones and butter. I personally took to the Apricot, White Cherry and Amaretto; the apricot hitting a falsetto in flavour and plump pieces of fresh white cherry transporting me back to time spent with my grandparents around their cherry tree.
Bobby tells me how his mother has a tendency to eat their jam by the spoonfuls and it wasn't shortly after, that I too was cleaning the edge of the bowl with my spoon, contemplating buying a whole jar for dinner. The Strawberry, Gooseberry and Fresh Elderflower would be the perfect choice, with full pieces of sweet Ontario wild strawberries and delicate elderflowers in almost every spoonful.
Kitten and The Bear is open Tues-Fri 8:00am-6:00pm and Sat-Sun 9:00am- 6:00pm. You may even find them making a batch or two on a visit, as they prepare everything in house, in their open kitchen.
Writing and photographs by Jackie Pal