One of the things that we love about Toronto is the fabulous array of exclusive food shops and grocers that we have hidden away throughout the city. The well established ones have been fixtures in the city for years, but they do virtually no advertising and so they are not always known to people who don’t live within close distance to them or who don’t know people who already shop there.
So, if you aren’t familiar with Rosedale and Summerhill Avenue, perhaps you’ve never heard of Summerhill Market. A fixture in the neighbourhood, this grocery has been family run and operated by the McMullen’s for over 50 years.
Recently, Brad McMullen, the youngest son of Bob McMullen, decided that he was going to take the business uptown and opened up a smaller Summerhill Market in North Toronto’s chic Mt. Pleasant Village.
Like its older sister, the uptown location offers a variety of over 400 freshly prepared food items daily. Each selection is hand made with every attention paid to the little details and each item is created with only the freshest and highest quality ingredients. “We try to focus on using the best ingredients. When in season, the best are definitely local and we are greatly partial to independent and likeminded suppliers. For us, quality is paramount. For example, chicken is our most prevalent ingredient and it as all locally grown and harvested about an hours drive from our store. There are of course items we can’t source locally, the lobster for instance, is shipped from the East Coast twice a week” Brad informs us.
Summerhill Market offers a wide selection of pre-prepared meals for your family. As an example of how diligent and how much preparation goes into these exquisite offerings I asked Brad what some of the prep work is. “Veal marrow bones are oven roasted for 3 hours with mirapoix (celery, carrots, onion), then simmered for eight hours, strained, then this veal stock is used for a braising liquid for various beef products we make, then strained again. This ‘fortified’ sauce will now be reduced, thickened and seasoned as a finishing sauce for the prime rib dinner.”
At Summerhill, besides the hundreds of unique in-house produced products, you will also find a number of items that are exclusively available to their store. Take for instance the selection of the Fage Grade A all natural Greek strained yogurts, which if you’ve never tried, is worth the visit alone, the Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, or the full line of Udis Gluten Free Bread. True, a few stores may carry Udi’s now, but Summerhill has served the full line for some time now.
Summerhill also comes to the rescue for all of your event needs. From fresh flowers and arrangements from their floral department, fresh appetizers and whole meal options for all your special occasions. As a value added incentive, if you place your meal orders online they offer a 5% discount.
Make sure to stop by and pick up a few goodies. Some of my suggestions would be a turkey pot pie (this went down very well and very quickly in my household) a cranberry, goat cheese and walnut tossed salad, and for dessert, try one of their scrumptious homemade mousse offerings. We tried the lemon mousse and it struck just the right balance between its sweetness and acidity. I’ve already told you about the prime rib—it was almost sinful in all its tasty glory.
As a value add for all of our Sceners, Brad has provided a family recipe for their Butternut Squash Soup.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Few knobs of butter
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- About 1 litre hot chicken stock
- 1 tsp mild curry powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Small handful of coriander, leaves chopped as garnish if desired
Heat a heavy-based pan with the olive oil and butter, then add the onions, bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover the pan with a lid and cook over a low heat for 5-7 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer in another saucepan. Add the curry powder and nutmeg to the onions and stir for another minute. Add the squash and add a little more oil to prevent the squash from heating too quickly. Cook for about 10-12 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized.
Pour in just enough hot stock to cover the vegetables and gently simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Fish out and discard the bay leaves. In batches, purée the soup in a food processor or blender adding until smooth, adding a small amount of cream. Return the soup to the pan to reheat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with some chopped coriander.
Summerhill Market Uptown
1054 Mt. Pleasant Road, Toronto Ontario