We’ve struck gold!
Earlier this year, we were looking for smoked paprika to put into goulash. Our favourite nuts/dried fruits/spices store in Kensington Market used to sell it. A customer buying Hungarian sweet paprika (and very good paprika it is too) told us that she thought there might be a store in North Toronto. And someone else thought one of the stores in St. Lawrence Market may have it.
Spice Trader in downtown Toronto sells organic smoked paprika. But it is not available in bulk – only in their smallish designer tins – at rather high prices. (Aside from the prices, Spice Trader is lovely and inviting. But it just didn’t feel like good value to us.) It was a Sunday that day, so we couldn’t check out St. Lawrence Market. We didn’t even bother trying to set our non-designer shod feet into WholeFoods; we knew that even if they allowed us in, we wouldn’t like the prices there….
So we searched the internet to find stores within bicycling distance that sold smoked paprika. And found Pasquale Brothers, a wholesale store also open to the public out in the west end of the city. We made a note to ourselves to ride out there soon.
And forgot to look at the note.
Then, not long before Thanksgiving, we recalled the note and finally bicycled over to Pasquale Brothers in search of smoked paprika. Were we ever glad we went!! It’s a terrific store. Easily as lovely and inviting as any downtown fancy store but with much different prices.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still some big ticket items at Pasquale Brothers. But they really are in the business to sell food. Good food.
(click on image for larger view and more photos)
“Smoked paprika? Absolutely. In bulk? Of course.”
For $3.53 we got 235gm of smoked paprika in a plastic bag. As opposed to around $10 for 50gm in a designer tin.
And then we wandered around admiring the many other things for sale on the shelves (olives, cheese, herbed or flavourful oils, vinegars, pasta, chocolate, etc. etc.) idly exchanging recipes and ideas with other customers or the staff. We couldn’t resist picking up a few other items…
On top of the cheese counter, there was a tasting platter with cubes of roccolo drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The roccolo was so delicious that we had to get some. They say it’s stinky but that the taste is so fantastic the stink just doesn’t matter. But I’m afraid we didn’t notice the stinkiness. (Hmmmm, maybe we’re stinky… ) We did, however, notice the fantastic taste. It’s wonderful! The perfect dessert cheese!
The outer edges of this mountain cheese are hard and slightly caramel-like. The inside is softer and a bit sweeter. This cheese is absolutely delicious with walnut raisin bread.
Then we asked to taste their grano padano. As they shaved off a bit, they apologized, saying that it had been out too long. We thought it tasted fine though and asked how much they wanted for the whole block that had been used for tasting. We paid $2.85 – a little over half price at $15 per kilo!! We also got anchovies, Indian pickles, hot pepper jelly, green peppercorns preserved in brine, and of course, smoked paprika.
Amazingly, all this did not break the bank. Because there is a “bottom shelf” at Pasquale Brothers. We particularly loved the bottom shelf!! It’s literally the bottom-most shelf on the outside wall of the store. And it’s full of all sorts of attractive items that for unknown reasons have not sold well.
This is where we found those jars of most fabulous Indian pickles (mango and lime), hot pepper jelly, green peppercorns for ridiculously low prices. We’re NOT complaining about the prices! We love how the Pasquales think. If something isn’t moving, they drastically reduce the price and place it on the bottom shelf. (Apparently, the Indian pickle did not do so well because it is authentic Indian pickle. Many of the wholesalers and members of general public who frequent Pasquale Brothers are there for Mediterranean tastes.)
As we were having lunch at the picnic table in front of the store, we realized that the actual price for the grano padano was priced amazingly so after lunch we went in a bought some more. As we were waiting at the cashier’s desk, I pointed to a jar of Indian pickle being purchased by the woman in front of us. I mentioned to her that it was fantastic. She smiled and said she had bought it simply because we were raving about it!
16 Goodrich Road, Etobicoke, Ontario
Formerly located in Toronto at 145 King Street East, then at 217 King Street East. The Pasquale family created and manufactured the “Unico” line for the store
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» Pasquale Bros: check out the bottom shelf!! (roccolo and grano padano)
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