I never figured that being a foodie could result in starting up your own successful business.
Nope not me, this is highlighting another University of Toronto alumni, Audrey Ooi who started Tasty Tours in 2011. Tasty Tours is a guided sweets tour through one of three selected neighbourhoods in Toronto; Kensington Market, Trinity-Bellwoods, and the Farmer’s Market.
I was on a meet and greet with some food bloggers and the activity for the day was a chocolate tasting tour in the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood.
Needless to say, I absolutely LUUVV chocolate <3. What I didn’t know was how much more enjoyable eating chocolate is when you learn the history and making process of it as well. I think it has to do with Audrey’s charismatic style in telling the history of chocolate that kept me so captivated during the tour, but there was never a dull moment.
We started off the tour at Soma Chocolatemaker on King and Spadina where I learned that they’re one of the few places in Toronto who actually make their own chocolates from the cacao beans.
It was there that I also learned the art of tasting chocolate, which is simply to use your five senses:
- Sight: What shade of brown is the chocolate? What is the quality of the sheen?
- Smell: Do you notice any notes coming from the chocolate?
- Hearing: See if the chocolate speaks to you. Mine told me his name is Dave. Kidding, you’re to hear the sound it makes when you bite into it.
- Touch: Is the chocolate smooth to touch? Does it melt quickly in your hands?
- Taste: Allow the chocolate to melt on your tongue by gently pressing it to the roof of your mouth and getting the different aromas and flavours from the chocolate.
Who knew there were such intricacies with chocolate and the tasting process of it. It is definitely a learning experience, one of which has got me fascinated to try out some of Soma’s chocolate offerings.
SANKO TRADING CO.
The second stop on our tour was Sanko which is a Japanese grocery store. What seemed at first an out of place selection for this tour made complete sense when the Sanko representative was explaining the significance of chocolate (specifically the Kit Kat bar) in the Japanese culture.
Some of you may have spotted some interesting flavours of Kit Kat bars such as matcha green tea, strawberry or even wasabi. These flavours are indeed from Nestlé Japan but all of these flavours are not available throughout the whole country of Japan. Depending on what a certain area of Japan is famous for, usually that flavour of Kit Kat will be the most bountiful there. To collect all of these flavours can be quite the trek itself.
Apparently, Kit Kat bars are a popular gifting item to students writing exams because “Kit Kat”, resembles the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katto” which means “You’ll surely win.”
This is why the back of the Kit Kat bars have a blank spot where the gift giver can write motivational words to cheer on the student. Honestly, if people gave me these during my university years, my exam periods would have been a little bit more bearable.
The Japanese grocery store was interesting overall as it had some very unique items for sale such as real wasabi root, Dragonball Z incense (no idea how this works) and an assortment of Japanese sweets.
I finally visited the main location of Nadège and learned that they too were very experimental with their chocolate. Just recently, Nadège finished their alphabet chocolate flavours.
Nadège likes to experiment with the different flavours that they make for their chocolate bars and each letter represents a different flavour. I tried the W bar, which stood for Wasabi.The couverture chocolate that Nadège uses is from Valrhona which is one of the highest quality chocolates made almost exclusively for commercial use.
Nadège actually uses one of Valrhona’s special Illanka line for it’s Illanka Macarons (pictured below).
Le Dolci was actually at Taste of Toronto (read my coverage/review of the event here), so I was really happy to be able to drop by their shop to see what the classes were like. Le Dolci was designed almost exclusively for these baking/decorating classes. We dropped by mere moments after a cupcake decorating class (which I would have loved to join in on) and were taught the making of a good macaron.
I learned that the coconut macaroon and the almond powder macaron both derived from the same item and that both words can be pronounced as macar-oon in English. The only reason why we pronounce both of them differently is to distinguish between the two, but using macaroon in English to describe the almond cookie with filling is correct as well.
Sticking it right to you, Macaron snobs. Just kidding, love all around.
Their chocolate macarons pictured here actually contain cocoa in the shell itself, lending to a rich chocolatey flavour.
The last stop was my favourite and also very bittersweet (<– see what I did there). Odile Chocolat hand-makes their chocolate truffles on-location. Odile also sources her chocolate from non-conflict areas. Just like coffee, there are places that do not treat the farmers properly and Odile makes sure the chocolate is conflict-free.
There is a huge array of different flavours of truffles to choose from but I ended up choosing a very Canadian flavour which was the Maple Sugar Chocolate Truffle. The flavours meld so well together and not too sweet that I really wanted to get another one.
Odile taught me that the common bitter flavour of darker chocolates (my favourite is 70%) is a result of people burning the beans in the roasting process. Good dark chocolate doesn’t need to taste that way and she demonstrated that with a number of these couverture chocolates of ranging darkness which all tasted rich and beautiful.
The sad thing is that Odile Chocolat has officially closed its physical shop as of Saturday (August 24th) and will be hunting for a new spot to set up shop, otherwise will operate solely online.
This walk which constituted to almost 10,000 steps alone was educational, fun, delicious and ever so sweet. My highest regard to Audrey Ooi for doing such an excellent job in running this business and making this experience enjoyable for us all.
If you’re ever looking for date ideas, bachelorette party ideas or anything to explore the city better, I highly recommend going on one of these tours. Check out Tasty Tours here.
Until we dine again,
The Piquey Eater