Warning: this article may cause uncontrollable urges to consume large amounts of delicious chocolate. Reader discretion is advised.I love spending a Saturday immersed in culture along King West and Queen West...and stuffing my face with chocolates and sweets! I was more than happy to join Tasty Tours' Chocolate tour – a three hour guided walk to visit six chocolate shops. Our guide, Audrey Ooi, introduced me to the origins, history, production and benefits of chocolate – all while I satisfied my cravings. Since there’s walking involved, maybe this counts as an Activity-A-Week article?
The first stop was 443 King St. West – aka heaven on earth. I couldn’t stop inhaling the scent of chocolate after entering Soma,one of the few artisan chocolate-makers that makes small batches directly from the cacao bean. The staff roast, refine and conch organic and fair trade cocoa beans from places like the Caribbean, South America, Madagascar.
With a menu of truffles, there’s something for everyone. Soma truffles are preservative-free, made with fresh cream and butter and take up to three days to complete. Too lethargic to chew? A shot of Mayan hot chocolate will glide down your throat like lava.
I was a huge fan of the dark Peruvian chocolate. It took serious willpower to limit myself to two helpings.
Loosen your belt and get ready to feast on freshly baked cakes, cookies, and other sweets at Forno Cultura! Italian baker Andrea Mastrandrea makes everything fresh at this upscale grocery store.
$2.00 will buy you a slice of Gianduia cake – a blissful blend of chocolate and hazelnut
Okay, this one took the cake – no pun intended. I swooned over the chocolate cherry cake. AMAZING.
Nestled near Trinity Bellwoods Park, Delight is a hidden treasure –a tiny sweet shop specializing in organic, fair trade treats.
The Ice Wine truffle was my favourite sweet on the entire tour. I’m salivating just remembering it.Stop #4: Nadège
I was full of chocolate by the time the tour reached Nadège – a patisserie owned by a fourth generation pastry chef from France. But the array of French biscuits, ice cream, croissants, cakes and truffles summoned my appetite.
Remember pop-rockets from Grade five? Nadège had the genius to add the explosive candy to dark chocolate. Loved this!
Just the way I like it – wall to wall chocolate!Stop #5: Sanko
Before the tour, I had no clue that this Japanese grocery store housed some unique and delicious chocolate.
Sanko introduced me to the world of Green Tea Kit Kats imported from Japan. I thought these were even tastier than the regular bars.I also learned all about Pocky – a biscuit dipped in chocolate that’s super popular in Japan.
Stop #6 – Chococrepe
The tour wrapped up at Chococrepe, a chilled-out creperie that just opened its doors in January. Chococrepe brings a bit of Montreal to Toronto with its menu of savoury and sweet crepes. Even though I was sufficiently full, I couldn’t wait to try a crepe!
I fell in love with my banana strawberry crepe sprinkled with Valrhona chocolate – so delicious! The hot chocolate was made with real melted chocolate. I finished off the “meal” with an array of dark, white and milk chocolates.
Chocolate is the answer. Who cares about the question!
Thanks to Tasty Tours, I’m now fully educated in the ways of chocolate.
LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT MOTHER’S DAY PRESENT?
Tasty Tours is launching its Chocolate Tour on Mother's Day weekend. Tickets are $35 per adult, $15 per child. Book your spot by visiting: www.tastytourstoronto.com/chocolatetour.php
Space is limited, so hurry! --Lisa Jackson