On the Shelf – April 26th

As someone with a love of food, I’m always poking around in shops looking for new things to taste and try. And to share. On the Shelf is a new (-ish – we did one back in December) monthly feature in which we share our great food finds for the month.

Alphanso Mangoes
If you’ve never eaten an Alphanso mango, you don’t know what you’re missing. Not to be confused with the Mexican Atulfo mango which can be found in grocery stores from late February onwards, Alphanso mangoes come from southern India and are available only from early April to mid May. In Toronto, they can usually only be found is various shops in Little India, so head on over to Gerrard Street East and stop by Toronto Cash and Carry(1405 Gerrard Street East) or Koohinoor Foods (1438 Gerrard Street East) to try some. Alphansos are generally available by the box only (either a half or whole dozen) and 12 of them will run somewhere around $24. At $2 a piece – and smaller than the Atulfo, this might seem like an exorbitant price until you taste them, and then all other mangoes will be dead to you. A combination of floral and spice, Alphanso mangoes are juicy, heady and fragrant. (I’ve recently found canned Alphanso mangoes at my local supermarket – will report on those next month.)

Chocosol Chocolates
“Pedal-Powered, Stone-Ground, Socially Just and Made Fresh!” Besides their ethical standpoint, Chocosol (6 St. Joseph Street, 4th floor) makes some darn good chocolate. Michael Sacco, the company’s owner, sold me a big bag of goodness at the Slow Food Farm to Home Fair last month and we’ve been working our way through bars of the various flavours including the five chile bullet bar and the sinfully raw vanilla dark chocolate bar. I even tempered some and mixed it with almonds and dried cherries for some awesome and anti-oxidant-rich homemade almond bark.

Grey County Granola
We picked up some of this handmade granola at Pantry (974 College Street) a few weeks ago and quickly became addicted. Made by Marja McKay, a friend of the shop’s owners, it’s heavy on the nuts and fruit, light on the oats, with rye as the main ingredient and puffed millet adding  some nice texture. It’s also full of almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts as well as dried cranberries. McKay makes the granola in the kitchen at Pantry, but is looking to expand and get the product into more stores around the city. We’ve been eating it with organic yogurt and can’t wait for summer to have it on top of some fresh strawberries.

Ptasie Mleczko
My Polish is not so great (okay, non-existent beyond the word “perogie”), but these chocolate-covered marshmallows from the E. Wedel company of Poland are one of my favourite candies. This particular flavour includes strawberry jelly in the centre, which is made with cochineal (aka. cochineal beetles), but the other flavours available (vanilla, chocolate and lemon) are vegetarian because the marshmallow is made with agar, not gelatin (they still contain milk and eggs – sorry vegans). I grab a box of these every time I stop by Benna’s Fine Foods (135 Roncesvalles Avenue).