Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A charming little piece of Newfoundland in the GTA

Newfies and Maritimers who have migrated to Toronto don't have to go without the tastes of home. Much of the distinctive East Coast cuisine is available in a little shop called Seaport Merchants at 1101 Victoria Park Ave. and St. Clair East. (See map at end of post.) 

Fish, of course, is the main attraction. "Our fish comes fresh from the East Coast and Ontario lakes," says Lorne, who started the business with his father—who hails from Newfoundland—in the late 1970s. At the time, the neighbourhood had a lot of people from the East Coast and Caribbean, but now it has bigger numbers of Sri Lankans and Filipinos.

Depending on the season, the shop sells snow crab, dungeness crab, sword tuna, mahi mahi, marlin and salmon. 
Co-owner Marilyn shows off the live lobster.
Lorne, also co-owner, with one of the large pots he rents out to cook lobster at large family gatherings and fundraisers.
The shelves are stocked with all kinds of East Coast packages foods, and many might seem strange to someone who isn't from the region. You can buy large cans of lobster bisque and clam chowder, and tubs of cured navel beef.

The Newfoundland pudding bag can be used to make pease pudding, a dish made of split yellow peas.
Cured navel beef (salt beef) is used to make the traditional Newfoundland meal Jigg's dinner.
The store has many different products made by Purity, a popular Newfoundland brand.
Chow Chow, Marilyn tells me, is a Nova Scotia sauce made from unripened tomatoes and served on fish.
Partridgeberries (left, better known as lingonberries) make a wonderful tart jam; cod tongues are, um, the tongues of codfish.
Marilyn says it's easy to figure out where each customer is originally from. "I can tell by the combination of things they buy," she explains. "A certain combination of candy and pickled fish would be a dead giveaway."

There are several other stores specializing in Newfoundland cuisine in the Greater Toronto Area. You can check them out in Adam McDowell's story in the National Post.

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  1. Glad to find a Newfie Store so close to us as my wife is Newfie see you soon

  2. Does anybody know if there is a Nefie store in Mississauga or Brampton. I don't drive and Trans Help doesn't go into the GTA. Dying for a bit of Fish and Burse. I've tried Sobeys but can't get the salt pork. I can find everything else. My family is from the southern coast and we use salt port to make scrinchins, to pour over the fish and burse.

    1. the reply back is yes the newfie store is one on Melanie dr. and steels the other is freezer land on Dixie and steels the other one highway 10 and Williams parkway

    2. Evangelist Alma Burton

      the same as the 1 above wrote I use all 3 of them there very good

    3. sobey's sell salt pork. i buy it there all the time

    4. food basics also sells it

  3. We've been going here for 15 years, it's nce dealing with personable people in a big box world. Anything seafood they will make happen.Marilyn and Lorne did a seafood party platter that was over the top for us.Support your local business and they will support you.Rob