Toronto

The goat patty at this Eglinton East shop is a great blend of flavour and texture

Patty Cake and Ice Cream is at 2600 Eglinton Ave East, Toronto.

Patty Cake and Ice Cream is at 2600 Eglinton Ave East, Toronto

The goat patty at Patty Cake and Ice Cream if a textural journey. The key is chunks of goat cooked down slowly with chunks of potato and a great blend of curried spices. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Suresh Doss: There is no shortage of places in this city to get beef patties. Two years ago, I did this roundup of the best beef patties in the GTA and a lot has changed since then. We've seen a number of new patty shops open up and many of the families that started patty shops in the 70s, 80s, 90s, have grown in scale. You know you can find a beef patty everywhere in this city, from subway stops to convenience stores.

Ismaila Alfa: You get in the front door and look for that glass case behind the counter.

Suresh Doss: Yes that glass case is everywhere and this is why I think Toronto is in a unique position to declare that it has adopted the beef patty as its food of identity.

Ismaila Alfa: So who's behind all of these new patty shops?

Suresh Doss: Simply put, it's a generation of patty fanatics that grew up eating patties during their lunch breaks. They're younger entrepreneurs opening up their own shops, and making this iconic street snack in much smaller batches. And I have to say, we have never had it this good. 

Patty Cake and Ice Cream keeps it simple with three categories of food on the menu; patties, cake, and ice cream. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

I want to introduce you to Patty Cake and Ice Cream today. This is a small shop on Eglinton East in Scarborough. And there are three categories of food on the menu; patties, cake, and ice cream.

Here is the owner, who goes by Shawn J, explaining why his patties are so special. 

"Me and my brother used to love patties. We'd go to Jamaica and my grandfather would make them from scratch. When I got into the business of making patties, I said, 'let me ask my grandma.' I went there and she showed me; it's a technique more than the ingredients. Once my grandma showed me the technique, then I filled in the gaps. I kept on trying over and over, trial and error, to balance the sweet and savoury along with the meat. I gave it to my mom first to try it because she is a hard critic and she loved it. Once she loved it, it was good."

Ismaila Alfa: That would be a nerve-wracking test. 

Suresh Doss: You have to go to mom first, mom is always the judge. 

Owner Shawn J grew up on homemade patties. He learned the technique from his grandmother in Jamaica and brings that skill to his Scarborough shop. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: So what type of patties are there? The classic beef patty?

Suresh Doss: I think what is really exciting about these new places is that you're seeing some really wonderful iterations of the classics. So at Patty Cake, there are three signature patties.  There is the jerk chicken patty, which is a twist on a plated jerk chicken. You open this patty and it has sizeable chunks of meat, it's not as finely ground as the typical factory-style patties you see. And there's quite a bit of seasoning in there. Shawn says the holy trinity of ingredients that he must have is, a lot of onions, a lot of green onions, and thyme. So when you open the patty, you can see this.

Then there is a jerk beef version of this, which is also very good, and it has that pronounced beefy quality. It's almost like eating a burger.

The jerk chicken patty tastes like a plated jerk chicken in a patty crust with a great balance of flavours. The jerk beef has a very meaty flavour, like a burger. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: That sounds amazing. And the third?

Suresh Doss: This is my favourite, the goat patty. You won't find any other patty shop doing a patty quite like this. Shawn says the trick here is chunks of goat cooked down slowly but chunks of potato as well. So you really get that sort of textural journey here. 

I know these are all meat patties, I'm happy to say that Shawn will be releasing vegetarian patties very soon. Next week he's debuting a callaloo patty. And he'll be doing an ackee and salt fish patty soon. And, I got really excited about this, sometime very soon he's going to do a patty stuffed with curried chickpeas.

Shawn J offers a delicious goat patty; a rare find in Toronto. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: Like doubles-style chickpeas?

Suresh Doss: Yes in a patty which I can't wait for. So you'll have quite the menu to work through. 

Ismaila Alfa: And you'll finish with some cake and ice cream?

Suresh Doss: We need to talk about this, Ismaila. So Shawn's wife makes a seasonal cheesecake which, if you have a sweet tooth, you have to try. .And there are ice creams that Shawn carries from Kawartha Dairy, notably Caribbean style ice creams from Tropical Treats. So I would say the right play here is to get a triple scoop; grape nut, passion fruit, and mango. In one cup. That's how you finish the meal.

Top off your patty with a great selection of tropically flavoured ice cream like this grape nut, passionfruit and mango ice cream with caramel bits (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa:  That does sound like a perfect end to a Toronto meal.

Suresh Doss: Yes, you know Ismaila, Shawn and I had been chatting about this idea that patties are Toronto's most iconic food. 

He says, "Back in the early 80's, it wasn't as prevalent as it was now. There would be one, two places my mom would go and get patties and freeze them and we'd have them for a snack. Once it became popular, then it exploded and it was all over the place. I used to go to Churchill and across the street there was a Jamaican, West Indian spot and we'd do the same thing over there; patty and coco bread. Five bucks and you could get a whole lunch. So I think the high school kids of Toronto have made it what it is. Every single Torontonian I've met has memories of patty from high school."

Ismaila Alfa: The patty memories, can't let go of those. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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