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Best of the 905: Gourmet Woodbridge

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By Michele Chandler

We start out on the hottest day of the year, but fellow foodie Andrea Peric and I are on a mission – to suss out some of the best food sources north of Highway 7, between the Islington Road/Jane Street corridor.

A woman after my own heart, Peric loves to explore the nooks and crannies of her neighbourhood (she confessed she normally travels with an ice pack and a cooler). Having recently moved to the area, she was willing to share with me some of her local favourites. And she knows her food – with five years at Dish as a senior food stylist and cooking instructor.

She suggests that we begin our tour at San Antonio Fish Market in Woodbridge. This brand-new, immaculate food emporium located north of Langstaff and east of Weston Road, has been operating its wholesale and retail divisions from the current location for about a year. San Antonio specializes in imported fish, with a weekly supply arriving from Italy every Thursday. An array of Mediterranean and Australian fish sits glistening on ice, just waiting for some parsley, lemon, olive oil and a hot grill. Available on the day we visited were spigola (Mediterranean sea bass), orata (sea bream), marluzzo (whiting) and octopus that has been tenderized using the old-fashioned “fish washing machine” method to tumble the tentacles and reduce chewiness.

An innovative antipasto bar offers marinated anchovies, stuffed squid and salted sardines for those looking for prepared seafood. In many ways San Antonio is a one-stop shop for dinner, also selling, at very reasonable prices, imported water, pasta, canned goods and coffee.

Driving south to our next stop, we are looking for the well-concealed Sweet Boutique. Located in a nondescript strip mall east of Weston Road, this artisanal bakery specializes in authentic Italian cookies and pastries presented the old-fashioned way, on gold foil trays. The owner/baker is Anthony Macri who learned much of his trade here, but spent a year in Italy refining the art of Italian pastry. The shop offers a complete line of baked sweets, including special seasonal items like the famous zeppole (Italy’s version of a doughnut) which is traditionally eaten around San Giuseppe day (March 19th).

All this hard work in the heat of the day sends us in search of the perfect antidote—gelato. The retail outlet Gelato Gelato is not in what you would call a user-friendly location, but it is definitely worth the trip. Buried in warehouse country south of highway 7 and east of Pine Valley Road, this very small, family-run operation is producing some of the best ices and ice creams in town. The owner, Sebastiano Strazzeri has been making gelato for a quarter of a century, mostly in Europe, and for the past five years has been quietly gaining a loyal clientele in Woodbridge. His wife, Mary, explains that they only use fresh fruit, with no flavour enhancers—magnificently highlighted in a citrus gelato that is like eating frozen blood oranges. Strazzeri also likes to bend tradition- he makes a chocolate peperocino flavour that slides across your tongue innocuously, and fires a shot of pepper heat as it slides down your throat. After tasting his products, I wish that I had adopted Peric’s tactic of travelling with a cooler to bring home some of these great iced concoctions..

Vincentina Meats is our final stop, and what a culinary experience it is! Buried east of Jane Street, north of Langstaff, we drive around in circles, looking for the two cows on the meat packer’s roof that is our beacon. Vincentina is known for its porchetta—a cooked and seasoned pork roast that has the rind still attached. A great alternative to take-out.

More interestingly though are the marinated, frozen and pre-boxed spiedinis. The ultimate barbeque hors d’oeuvre, these bite-size skewered pieces of chicken, lamb, pork, or any combination of the above are a do-it-yourself addition to an outdoor event. Special barbeques can be purchased at Vincentina that have specially designed skewer holders allowing your guests hot-off-the-grill spiedinis on demand.

My pockets are lighter and my car is a bit more laden down as I drive south down the 400, but the quality of the ingredients and the prepared foods was well worth the effort. I now know that I too, should travel with a cooler anytime I’m going to be driving past the 400’s highway 7 exit.

San Antonio Fish Market
130 Creditview Road
Woodbridge, Ont.
L4L 9N4
905 850 4088

Sweet Boutique
www.sweetboutique.ca
905 851 8388

Gelato Gelato
100 Marycroft Avenue, Unit 2
Woodbridge, Ont.
L4L 5Y4
905 851 0400

Vincentina Meats
125 Edilcan Drive
Concord, Ont.
L4K 3S6
905 738 9998



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