Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kensington Market - The Vegan Mecca

I grew up 200km away from Toronto, in the city of London. My first trip to Toronto didn't happen until I was 19. It took 21 more years until I discovered Kensington Market.
Until this spring, whenever I heard the word Kensington, I thought of a cheesy 1970's Canadian television show called 'King of Kensington' starring Al Waxman. Until this spring, I'd been close enough to touch this lovely little neighbourhood many, many times without the slightest idea it was even there.
This little neigbourhood in the heart of the city is bounded by Dundas, Spadina, Bathurst and College with the lively section being from Augusta Ave. east to Spadina where it merges with Chinatown.
The area is packed full of shops selling retro clothing, artistic wares, hemp products, hawaiian shirts (!!! - the best selection I've ever seen - !!!), and of course, vegan food products. The restaurants form a little United Nations with cuisine from around the world. Some restaurants serve only vegan food - the rest have vegan food on the menu.
The area, of course, is more than a group of buildings housing shops, grocers and restaurants. Kensington is an atmosphere not found anywhere else. Everyone is marching to a different drummer yet they are all in harmony. It is an atmosphere that has to truly be experienced to be understood.
My suggestion is to start on Spadina and don't rush through the frantic market area of Chinatown. The selection of exotic and unheard of fruits and vegetables here is amazing. Do your best to ignore the murdered pigs and chickens that hang from numerous windows and make your way to St. Andrew St. and meander westward into the market area. At this point, let your senses guide you through the amazing place called Kensington.

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