A big part of Toronto's charm for me is it's diversity. There are many cultures represented here in our people and our restaurants, supermarkets and specialty stores. If you're feeling for West Indian food there are restaurants all over Toronto to satisfy that craving. If you want to cook with typical West Indian ingredients then Eglinton West (aka Little Jamaica) from Allen Road to Keele Street is one stop shopping and dining Caribbean style.
As a downtownmom and a huge Kensington Market fan, I head to Caribbean Corner for all things Jamaican when I need groceries. I even went there to put together a care package for my daughter in university because Jamaican ingredients are hard to find in some cities and really expensive when you do find them. I have never seen a girl so happy for Excelsior Water Crackers, curry powder and hot sauce!
Caribbean Corner has been the place to go for all the good things we love to eat and cook since 1978 when Yvonne Grant decided to ditch her 9-5 job and start her own business. This small shop has been serving the community for over 3 decades and it's still going strong because the food is fresh and the service is fantastic.
Hard to believe given how small this shop is, but you can get lost in there. The colours of all the fresh fruit and vegetables, the aroma from the beautiful mangoes or the fragrant thyme, the sounds of Yvonne and her friendly staff interacting with everyone are all the things that make this place so special. It's like walking into a little market on an island somewhere. Need some cooking advice or help choosing the best plantain? Just ask! Staff and patrons alike will be more than happy to help you.
There is so much packed into that space and even though I've shopped there before I always feel the need to look at everything, just in case I miss something! Sometimes, it's just nostalgia that keeps me in the aisles. Standing at the cash I get distracted again and either pick up something else like tamarind balls or find myself sending my daughter a picture of the Ferrol and Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil for sale behind the counter. She grew up on a daily dose of Seven Seas and a weekly dose of Ferrol and seeing them while I'm cashing out brings back some great memories. I doubt that seeing those bottles bring on the same feelings for my daughter!
Caribbean Corner is not just a destination to pick up the yam and pumpkin you need for the soup you're making that day, it's a trip down memory lane to a simpler time and place where the food was natural and community was important. Standing in line I got advice from an elderly woman on cooking soup and raising my daughter and I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in ages. Community - one of the many reasons this place is so special. One love!
Caribbean Corner info:
171 Baldwin Street
New to West Indian cooking? Check out these websites for inspiration...