The selection of tropical fruits currently for sale at Phil's Place. Ever tried a quince?
This week sees the release of Yung Chang's documentary The Fruit Hunters, which tracks fruit obsessives as they head into the jungle on the trail of the rarest delicacies or mobilize to organize community gardens in their cities. So we thought we'd give Toronto's own budding (get it?) fruitophiles a guide to some of the freshest, juiciest and most exotic fruit stands in the downtown core.
1. Phil's Place (93 Front East, at Jarvis, in the St. Lawrence Market, 416-363-9153)
Especially at this time of year, when the more tropical fruits are fading out of season, leaving little choice beyond pears and clementine cultivars, Phil's Place has got your fix. While Family Food Market on the Market's upper level may seem more enticing, what with the sunlight streaming in, you're more likely to find stuff like persimmons, carambola (aka starfuit), passion fruit and air-flown Brazilian mangos here. Also, if you care about vegetables, Phil's carries about 90 varieties of lettuce.
2. K&K Specialty (298 Spadina, at Dundas, 416-979-3435)
Located in the heart of Chinatown, K&K Specialty earned its name - the "specialty" part anyway - by importing delicious, high-quality fruits for Southeast Asian expats. So if you're bored with oranges and pears and want to try dragon fruit, mangosteens, rambutans or custard apples, imported seasonally and priced to move, pop into K&K.
3. Maple Produce (225 Roncesvalles, at High Park, 416-532-8788)
No, you probably won't find custard apples at Maple Produce, but this stacked, reasonably priced shop is the highlight of Roncesvalles's string of fruit stands. Maple stockpiles lots of fresh, locally sourced and organic fruits (and, yes, vegetables). Plus, overripe produce gets marked down at the cash, perfect for impulse buys.
4. Bloor Fruit Market (662 Bloor West, at Manning, 416-588-1898)
This Koreatown shop is one of the city's best all-round markets. Granted, it doesn't offer the most exotic selection, but the fruit and veg are fresh and in season. There's a notable focus on berries, especially when they're ripe. All that business leads to a pretty high turnover rate, meaning nothing's left ripening on the shelf for too long.
5. Trinity Supermarket (591 Gerrard East, at Broadview, 416-442-1288)
Located in the heart of Chinatown East (aka Little Vietnam), Trinity is one of Toronto's best (and best-priced) markets. Given the neighbourhood's demographics, it's a good place to find in-season South Asian fruits like durian and jackfruit as well more ubiquitous but no less delicious standbys like the Ataulfo mango. Also, if you've ever wanted to try a nashi pear, this is the place to go. Then you can join the ongoing debate about why they're called pears when they're clearly apple-shaped.