Celebrating Sisterhood with the Ultimate Chocolate Tour!
Hanging out with your friends, even once in a while is integral to reconnecting with yourself. The person beyond the parent, the caregiver and the mentor. If you can, everyone once in a while, it’s nice to just be with your friends, sans children and relax and enjoy yourself. I know I needed this experience.
I have three friends who are admitted chocoholics. My sister, who is about to get married and is dealing with the typical wedding planning becoming a second full time job. Her best friend, also getting married who is about to become an aunt and also is going through the day to day wedding planning second job situation. Last but definitely not least, my blogger of the year and dear friend Momma Braga who has just moved wanted a girl’s day. What could we all do for a day out in Toronto during Canada’s 150th year? There are so many different options to choose from but we want to do a unique experience that will be something each of us will all remember. We don’t want to do anything that involves a lot of strenuousness. No marathons this time around. How can we do something that does not involve us doing more work but still get a great bonding experience? We wanted to do something different, something other than dinner and drinks or dinner and a movie.
We are admitted chocoholics and we thought hard for a way to honour/honor all of these upcoming events in our lives and still celebrate sisterhood, Audrey from Tasty Tours had our answer. An Ultimate Chocolate Tour! We knew we could count on Tasty Tours to give us an experience that we would never forget that would be both unique and a bonding experience for everyone involved. On a bright sunny day, we were invited to go on a Chocolate walking tour to learn more about chocolate and taste samples of this yummy treat from all over the world. With a resounding “yes” from my girls, we were off to explore the “tasty tour” and learn all about chocolate in Toronto.
Admittedly, we love chocolate but we do not know the history and background of chocolate. What is great about Tasty Tours is that it is okay to be a beginner at the subject of chocolate, but you leave the tour feeling a bit like an expert! We were greeted by the friendly and knowledgeable tour guide Alex at SOMA, our first stop in our Ultimate Chocolate tour. Alex teased us by sitting us amongst the back of SOMA, so we could admire how chocolate was made and drool over some of the tasty treats about to go on the SOMA shelves.
Now, admitted, we all love chocolate, but we did not know a lot about chocolate. The members of our tour concur. Many of them are Nutella fans and Alex assured us this was not a Nutella tour but a chocolate tour and he was ready to teach us in the ins and outs of this tasty treat.
Alex explained how chocolate came originally from Mexico without the sugary additives we see today. We learned about how chocolate comes from a cacao nut and we saw one up close. Bigger nuts does not necessarily mean better! We were taught how to try chocolate in three simple steps: Break, sniff, taste!
Break the chocolate in half! Does it melt in your hand? It should start to! IF it does not, Alex explained it may have too much additive in it. Sniff the chocolate. Do you smell any hints of fruit, nut or something else? I watched as the other members of our tour had their taste buds open up as they did taste different hints. Lastly, taste. Do you taste a salty flavor, a fruity one?
Chocolate percentages are integral to understanding the taste of chocolate. A 70% would be something that was 70% from the cacao nut, the other 30% would consist of additives, mainly sugar. After tasting the Brazilian chocolate who are old pros at chocolate making, I found myself drawn to a new player into the world of chocolate, the Vietnamese 60% chocolate. Vietnam had a delicious chocolate with a hint of fruity flavor.
We love SOMA for its fair trade chocolate and we admire SOMA for going out of its way to ensure that the cacao nuts they receive was in a fair way and not in disputed ways as many of their competitors concede in buying.
Go to SOMA to taste and try with friends, family or just your partner and marvel at the way chocolate is created. This place is such a fun experience!
But we were off to our second destination to try a completely different form of chocolate, with Death in Venice Gelato Co.
I was excited when Momma Braga informed me that this would be the first gelato she had ever tried. She, along with the rest of us would dine on chocolate bourbon gelato. Everyone was excited when we saw a generous sample come our way. We cheers, we lift our spoons and dive in. Delicious. Pure deliciousness. The verdict was in, the novice gelato eater loved it, as did her friends.
Owner and Gelato Maker, Kaya Öğrüce spoiled us with a lesson on how to make gelato. It has to be the perfect temperature or it could crystalize and just won’t have the same level of deliciousness. This is an intricate process!
Yes, you may recognize Kaya’s name from Chopped and yes, he won! We were spoiled by a winner and we were excited. Chocolate Bourbon was delicious!
It was time to move on to Sanko Trading Co, a Japanese store full of different food and gifts. Though it was an unlikely stop on our chocolate tour, it had some very special lessons to teach our tour group.
The murals outside are a good will gesture of coming from Japan to Canada. Look closely for hidden meanings and sayings in both Japanese and English! It’s a beautiful testament to the area that supports Sanko and how Sanko came to be the staple that it is in Toronto.
Our introduction to Kit Kat was a pleasant surprise! We learned that in Japan they have hundreds, yes hundreds of different flavors of Kit Kat! Interesting flavors that we would never see here in Canada. Luckily, Sanko has a few of these Kit Kat flavors for us to try.
We sampled Japanese Sake Kit Kat. As I unwrapped the bar, I realized that it was white chocolate and I dove in and took a bite. This was an unlikely favorite for me and I was pleasantly surprised! I picked some more up for family members to try later. The girls also spent time picking up little presents for family and friends. Sanko is also a great place to get unique gifts for any occasion.
We continued on our adventure to Nadege, a patisserie shop with flair! This contemporary store had two different samples of chocolates for us to try. We viewed some delicious creations that were simply gorgeous and would be perfect for gifts, parties and just because days. Their chocolates from A-Z were delicious. Each letter represented the flavor the chocolate had within its contents.
Le Dolci was our next stop and we were excited. I made a decision to try something that I would not usually try and I was not disappointed. Le Dolici is a beautiful dessert place that specializes in occasion cakes, macarons, cupcakes and more. Not to mention they have different must try classes for lovers of dessert. I would highly recommend checking these out. We oversaw a cake decorating class and I could not believe that these people were amateurs, just taught by the course. The cakes looked amazing. I wondered to myself if I could be as creative.
Le Dolci spoiled us with our choice of macaron tasting. I went with rose water, hoping that I had made the right choice. The majority of our tour chose the chocolate macaron or the salted caramel, which makes sense, it’s the ultimate chocolate tour! I broke the mold so to speak and tasted this rose water and suddenly I realized I was a convert. This macaron was delicious! I have had so many in my life but always gravitated to chocolate and “safer flavors.” Thought I am sure I did not win any awards for stepping out of the norm, for me this was the best macaron I had ever tried. I envisioned myself bringing these macarons to parties and dinners. They would be a hit.
We were also lucky to see Momma Braga enjoy her very first macaron! Maybe we should take their coveted macaron class in the future!
Sadly, our last stop was on the docket. Luckily, we were spoiled by Odile Chocolat and one of my many chocolate questions was answered.
This store is owned by renowned food industry specialist, Odile Chatelain. She grew up near Paris France and her and her mother would make delicious chocolate truffles each Christmas. Little did Odile know, she would eventually bring this delicate art form to the delight of Torontonians years later.
Odile is the superwoman of chocolate. She taught us how chocolatiers get those beautiful designs on tiny chocolates. It is an intricate process. We were amazed with how she took such care with each piece and then we got to have our pick of chocolate to try. She even allowed us to try a piece of cacao, which was a unique flavor!
When it was chocolate deciding, I again stepped out of my comfort zone and went with something new, Lavender chocolate. Again, deliciousness. Its subtle flavor was a mix of relaxation and chocolatey oasis.
I learned that my personal favorite percentage of chocolate was at 55-65%. I like sweet things but all chocolate is good with me. Find out what chocolate percentage you like best by going on this tour!
The tour ended soon after and though we were sad to see everyone go, we learned so much about chocolate, countries that are taking the chocolate world by storm and how important ethical chocolate is. Alex was engaging and made sure that everyone was included and having fun. He was an excellent tour guide.
The Ultimate Chocolate Tour is one tour offered by Toronto’s Tasty Tours. We are always impressed with the wisdom the tour guides offer, the companies they work with to provide us with not only delicious food but an experience and the way they guide us with ease through Toronto. The groups are never big and you always walk away meeting new friends. We have found the groups are anywhere between 10-15 people. It is always easy to have a chat with one another and also the tour guide as you feel you are not being swallowed up as you would with competing tours.
The groups are eclectic, from local people to out of towners to even international visitors. We encourage everyone to try a walking tour with Tasty Tours. You will get to see parts of a city that you would never even know about going, converse with the locals and meet some notable people making a difference in the beautiful city of Toronto. Not to mention, the tour guides come with an array of wisdom. Another notable tasty tour is the Sweet and Savory Tour of Kensington Market which you can read about here.
Families are welcomed on these tours including babies. We find generally, it is enjoyed by families with older children or families with children in a stroller. You can also book your own unique group experience with Tasty Tours. Just give them a call and they will set something up!
For a day out with friends, a family trip or even a cute day date, try the Ultimate Chocolate Tour with Tasty Tours. This is a unique, delicious once in a lifetime tour that will have your friends admiring your newfound chocolate knowledge and creating memories to come.