Kensington Pedestrian Sundays 2015

I’ve been putting off a write-up of Kensington Pedestrian Sunday (officially abbreviated PSK)for a few years now, simple reason being each time I attend, I’d rather enjoy the sights/sounds/smells/tastes without a camera weighing me down. This past July, I decided that it wouldn’t be right for me keep this monthly summer event to myself, and finally showcase some of what Kensington Pedestrian Sundays have to offer.

For the unacquainted, Kensington Market consists of the two small roads just behind Chinatown, just west of Spadina, between College & Dundas. Most prominent are several Latin American restaurants and groceries, a pair of cheese stores, and an eclecticly ethnic mix of restaurants. A few cafes, a few bars, a few boutique stores, and several vintage clothiers make up the rest of the neighbourhood.

The Pedestrian Sunday event runs monthly between May to October (inclusive), on the last Sunday of every month. From noon until 7pm, the streets of Kensington Market are closed to vehicular traffic, giving pedestrians and stores full reign of the ashphalt.

The event is very kid-friendly, with buckets of sidewalk chalk for them to draw with.
chalk

This was new, a bucket of soap to make huge oversized balloons with.
soap_balloon

Oversized classic boardgames litter the streets, from dominos to Scrabble to Jenga!
dominos

scrabble

This maze on Augusta, near the parkette, is repainted every so often, and is fun to navigate.
maze_painting

The crowd density at Kensington always feels “just right”. The mix of young and old, and never any aggressive or frustrating walls of people, and the lines are always reasonable.
streetview

Easily my favourite vendor during PSK, Emporio Latino puts their griddle out onto the sidewalk, serving up fresh everythings with a wonderful welcoming warmnth. Crispy flautas, fresh-formed pupusas, and amazing plantain.

emporio_lation_stall

emporio_latino_griddle

The plantain was mildly sweet, but with perfect firmness and flavour. We added the cheese, but it was definitely not necessary.

plantain

The Tibet Cafe had momos (dumplings), both meat and vegetarian. Em saw these, and was reminded of the momos she had in Nepal (in flavour, not in shape). I enjoyed that the skin had a good bite to them, very homemade.
tibetan

momos

Fresco Fish & Chips have a stall on the sidewalk, featuring some snack-sized bites. I do wish they offered their famous Miss Vickies-battered Salt & Vinegar fried fish, in a smaller snack-sized format, but you could just as easily go in the store and order the full thing.

fresco_stall

Fresh buck-a-shucks are available from Hooked, with self-serve lemon wedges, horseradish, and hot sauce.
hooked

Rasta Pasta has been building a name for themselves, featuring their unlikely pairing of jerk chicken and pasta.
rastapasta

There’s a simple little takoyaki stall on the south end of Augusta, in front of the Fukien Society. I’ve had them in the past, and they’re decent, but nothing rave-worthy.
takoyaki

I normally always grab something fresh off the grill at Emporio Latino’s streetside stall, so I decided it was time to venture from the usual plan. I don’t remember Good Price putting up a grill/griddle during past PSK, so decided to try them out.

goodprice_stall

They offered grilled porks on skewers, as well as bean & cheese pupusas.

goodprice_grill_pork

Their beans & cheese pupusa ($5) was reasonably good, a freshly made disc of masa (corn meal), filled with refried beans & cheese, and cooked crispy on the grill. It wasn’t especially spectacular, so with Emporio Latino’s equally good (albeit a little bit smaller) pork & cheese pupusas at ~$3, I think I can skip Good Price’s next time. The staff also seemed stressed and surly, as opposed to everyone else at PSK.

goodprice_pupusa_griddle

goodprice_pupusa_plate

Aloha Shaved Ice is new to PSK, having started selling only this year. They have a stand in front of the Long Board Living surf shop. They were in Hawaii recently, and fell in love with the idea of shaved ice with fruit toppings, and decided to bring this back to Toronto.
aloha_menu

On this blazing hot Sunday, all the folks in line had the right idea. Despite the long wait, I think everyone was satisfied, and felt the end product worth the wait.
aloha_line

Each cup of shaved ice was hand-ground — no instant machines here. Seeing how hard they worked, especially in this heat, made the $5 seem trivial.
aloha_shaving

They did not skimp on the flavouring/toppings, either. They took care to stop the ice-shaving every so often, and add some flavouring in the middle of the ice, so that the entire cup would be tasty, and not isolated to the top.
aloha_serving

We ordered the mango, and were very happy with the result. Their other super popular flavour was the pina colada (which we didn’t try), with toasted coconut toppings. Would definitely order the mango again. I don’t think they have any plans to do the food/street festival circuit this year, but I would not be surprised to see them making the rounds next year. They also do parties, so definitely something to consider for those summer outdoor corporate events or weddings.
aloha_mango

Right outside Portugese restaurant Amadeu, across from Bellevue Square Park, the sardine grill is an iconic institution of PSK (to me, at any rate). Smoke billows from the barbecue, creating wafts of fishiness that you can whiff a half block away.

sardine_stall

The sardines are grilled whole, mostly descaled, and seasoned lightly with salt (and maybe some citrus?). Served with a hunk of bread, you’ll likely make a mess, unless you bring a pair of chopsticks. Bone-in, stomach-in, be prepared to make a delicious mess.

sardine_grill

sardine_plate
Galbani Cheese Canada (www.galbani.ca) set up a tent, giving out free samples of caprese salads on a stick, featuring their own bocancini, and a light brushing of pesto. The presentation is very cute, using mini italian flag toothpicks.
caprese
While food is typically my primary focus, I can’t neglect the amazing performers that play duing PSK. In past years, KC Roberts & The Live Revolution, and Samba Squad have performed here. Another time, a band was jamming on the streets, while a vocalist (who they had just met) was rhyming/singing off Dr.Suess books. There have been rooftop performances a la Beatles as well.

On this particular weekend, two blues bands were rocking out, with the crowd spilling out onto the ashphalt.

band_1

band_2

One musician was performing in support of Amensty International, looking for signatures on petitions.

amnesty_musician

Local artists flex their talent during the event as well.

The Chalk Lady is always working on something fantastic for PSK. This weekend, she was drawing a very dynamic Silver Surfer, herald of World Eater Galactus.

chalklady

This portable typewriter caught my eye — poet Kaile Glick (https://thespontaneousprosestore.wordpress.com/) will compose a poem for you on the spot.

poems

Leo Krukowski (leo.krukowski@gmail.com) makes rings using nothing more than old silverware, a mallot, and a steel pipe for bending. Each ring can be made to size, and it’s amazing to watch Leo create these beautiful pieces.
ringmaker

ringmaker_mallet

ringmaker_card

Starting in 2014, PSK has also put up a Kensington Art Fair event, with tents set up to showcase pieces from local artists. It’s a slighty detour from the rest of the PSK stretch, but makes for a good break from the eating and the crowds.

art_fair
On Kensington avenue, a slew of shops showcase vibrant vintage wears/wares. Definitely worth walking down this stretch and taking a look, even if vintage isn’t your thing.
colours

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