Have you ever wondered what those percentages mean on chocolate bars? Or what marshmallow is, exactly — and where we got the word “marshmallow” in the first place? While you could just Google all these things right now, it wouldn’t get you any truffles or cupcakes. Tasty Tours is your key to the city if you’re looking for a sweeter way to explore Toronto, so book your tour and get ready for a history lesson of the most delicious kind.
Come meet some bakeries, brush up on your confectionery comprehension, and – most importantly – taste your way around town. You can choose between a chocolate tour of the lively Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood, or a sweets tour in the eclectic and colourful Kensington Market. Each tour meets at one of the sweet stops–where you’re introduced to tour guide and founder Audrey Ooi–so you can get right into the action. Book a tour, call up your honey, and let them know they’re in for a sweet surprise.
Tasty Tours Chocolate Tour
The tours are a chance to personally interact with shop owners and get an insider’s view of the business, Ooi says — and with 10 or fewer participants in most tours, you really get to make the most of the opportunity.
Ooi likes to keep some of the destinations a surprise, but one of your stops is at Soma Chocolatemaker‘s, a bright, open space on King and Spadina. You might be craving chocolate already, but Ooi’s presentation (enhanced by her iPad) engages your attention completely. Learning about the history and different types of chocolate only makes you more excited to sample it. The tasting notes and textures are varied in Soma’s chocolates – whether it’s smoky, earthy, or nutty – and the flavours change often, so you’ll want to keep coming back.
From Soma, walk through King and Queen Streets West, lined with trendy and colourful boutiques and restaurants. After a jaunt through Trinity Bellwoods Park – an urban paradise for dog walkers and lawn loungers – you’ll end up at new bakeshop, Le Dolci, and learn about the history of the brownie, just to forget all about it the second you bite into the moist, dark-chocolaty goodness. Last but not least, fall in love with Odile, a little chocolate box of a store. Owner Odile Chatelain tells the story of her store and why she chooses her chocolates. The passion is evident in her specialty truffles: Bite into the Caribbean truffle and let the exotic flavours of cinnamon, clove, and cayenne send you on a bite-sized vacation.
Tasty Tours Sweets Tour
The sweets tour in Kensington Market, on the other hand, plays up Toronto’s multicultural strengths. You’ll meet at a small Chinese bakery, Ding Dong Pastries, in the heart of Chinatown. Three generations of this family-run operation make hundreds of buns and pastries, like the gooey egg tart, every day.
You learn a few fascinating tidbits about Chinatown before you stroll through the market. Here, sample all kinds of sweets, like popcorn, baklava, churros, and cupcakes, all while meeting the chefs who bring artistry to their goodies. You end the tour at Blue Banana, a warmly wacky store with an unbelievably eclectic collection, including the Cadbury Flake and handmade marshmallows by a Vancouver-based company called Butter Baked Goods. Ooi and the other Tasty Tours guides are friendly and knowledgeable, so you soon start chatting and freely asking questions as you go along. You learn a huge amount about both your favourite city and your favourite snacks. Who says education has to be dull?