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Kitten and the Bear : Toronto, Canada

Kitten and the Bear : Toronto, Canada

Name: Kitten and the Bear
Address: 1574 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6R 1A6, Canada
Website: Website
Instagram: @kittenandthebear
Phone: (647) 926-9711
Wifi: No
Tender: Debit, Cash
Neighbourhood: Parkdale, Toronto
Type: Profile – Jam/Confiture/Scones/Afternoon Tea/Tea

Kitten and the Bear is located in Toronto’s Parkdale neighborhood just slightly East of Sorauren Avenue and Queen Street West. Specializing in French style confiture jam making they have already distinguished themselves in Toronto as local legends with their carefully crafted preserves, scones, and exquisite tea service.

With it’s clean white walls, floods of natural light, and vintage accents and tea cups – to walk into Kitten and the Bear is to walk into another place and time. Despite being located in the bustling metropolis of Toronto the space maintains a quiet and comforting charm that is reminiscent of a peaceful afternoon spent at a countryside bed and breakfast.

Kitten and the Bear: Interior, window seating
Kitten and the Bear: Interior, window seating
Kitten and the Bear: Interior seating
Kitten and the Bear: Interior seating

I was both humbled and appreciative to have been invited, alongside a few friends, to experience their distinctive process of French style confiture jam which is only practiced by less than a handful of preserve companies in the world.

On the day of our visit we get to see the process for their Strawberry jam, which is part of their permanent collection and available year round. The remainder of the jams and jellies available are limited and are based on the seasonality of fruit, everything from Red Plum & Rose for spring to Black Plum & Earl Grey for winter months.

At the base of everything of course is the fruit, which is hulled by hand. Wherever possible produce is sourced locally, however depending on the quality and properties of the fruit it may be imported from outside the country. At the core of the process is sourcing ingredients that are of the highest quality and that will produce the results that will showcase the fruits in it’s inherent and purest form in the jam.

Kitten and the Bear: Hulled strawberries
Kitten and the Bear: Hulled strawberries

Fresh, hand-squeezed lemon juice is added to each mixture. Since no additional preservatives or pectin is used the lemon juice acts as a natural agent to help the naturally occurring pectin in the fruits set the jam.

Kitten and the Bear: Lemon
Kitten and the Bear: Fresh, hand-squeezed lemon

The lemon juice, water, and fruits are macerated in order to help release the natural sugars and pectin in the fruits. This process can take anywhere from 24-hour to a few days depending on the type of fruit used, it’s water content, and other varietal properties.

Kitten and the Bear: Macerated Strawberries
Kitten and the Bear: Macerated Strawberries

Everything is then cooked in hand-hammered confiture copper pans which are imported from France and is what distinguishes French style confiture jam making from other preserve processes. The copper’s incredibly high conductive properties, it’s ability to maintain even heat distribution at high temperatures, and the carefully engineered shape of the pan which allows for the most efficient method of moisture evaporation, all result in a jam with a distinctive soft-set texture with pure tastes and flavors.

Kitten and the Bear: Fully cooked jam
Kitten and the Bear: Fully cooked jam

Each jar is then hand-filled in oven-sanitized jars. No detail is overlooked as each jar is cleaned, once again by hand, before capping the lids for one final  cook and setting.

Kitten and the Bear: Filling each jar
Kitten and the Bear: Filling each jar

 

Kitten and the Bear: Final touches
Kitten and the Bear: Final touches

The attention to detail starts, but does not end with the jam. Each tea service is served in with vintage tea sets, tiers, and cutlery that were sourced by the owners themselves from antique markets across the globe. Their jam is served with in house made scones which are masterpieces in themselves. Scones are forever ruined once you’ve sampled Kitten and the Bear scones, especially when eaten with a dollop of Devonshire cream and a generous spoonful of their expertly crafted confiture.

Kitten and the Bear: Housemade scones + confiture
Kitten and the Bear: Housemade scones + confiture

There is in fact no secret to French style confiture jam making, as many recipes are available  and owners Bobby and Sophie themselves cite Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures cookbook as a source of inspiration. But like anything else in life anyone can follow a recipe or a set of instructions. It is the way in which you execute the steps and your ability to adjust based on circumstances that will net you flawless results each and every time. Sophie and Bobby’s passion, artistry, tenacity, and deep rooted knowledge of the process and the properties of the fruit that they work with is what produces a truly artisanal product.

Kitten and the Bear: Tea Service
Kitten and the Bear: Tea Service

The best part of course, is digging in. Once you’re ready to leave you’re also sure to have a smile on your face, a full belly, and several jars of jam as it’s pretty much impossible to not want to take home every single jar home with you.

 

*All images are copyrighted Allons.Y Styling & Photography. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable

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