I joined my friend for her birthday for Tasty Tours Guided walk through a bit of China Town and Kensington Market. Before the tour we had breakfast at KOS which and found that nine thirty or so on Sunday was the perfect time to go. Lots of space and quick service. As the weather was crazy bouncing from rainy to pouring and later in the day some impressive hail. We went on walk through China town in search of a suitable umbrella. I actually don’t believe in the things myself. Well I believe in them and have seen a few, I just find them a pain in the butt and being Chicago’s rival for windiest city umbrellas in Toronto are nigh useless.
Umbrella in hand we hit Moon bean coffee and found our way to the tour rendezvous spot at 492 Dundas East the Butterfly Bakery.
Rounded up by our guide, we were walked through the premise of the tour. Whose purpose was to get people into local stores we might not have gotten into before and to try new things and expand our palate by opening up a bit to things we may not have tried before. Our first treat was a Chinese egg tart at Butterfly Bakery. It was very much like a western custard tart though generally lighter and it was quite good the filling was bright yellow leaving most of us to assume it was a lemon tart.
Our guide was rather knowledgeable about the confection we were trying and explained that the tart was popularized in the 1940’s in China as a way for cafes to compete against Dim Sum restaurants. Though these days egg tarts are often offered in those same places.
Off into Kensington Market up to 69 Kensington Avenue to Miss Cora’s Kitchen. We were offered both carrot and chocolate cupcakes. The chocolate ones were amazing fluffy and not too sweet with delicious icing. My tour mate asured me the carrot was just as fantastic. I did miss the explanation on the history of Cupcakes as I was in the back and taking photos.
Back into the rain which then became the impressive hail, it was like someone throwing popcorn kernels at us. Further up into the Market we went into the Chocolate Addict. The chocolates in the display case are all made on premises which allows them to come up with different flavours sometimes not available anywhere else. They were delicious and well made. I tried a white chocolate green tea chocolate it was so well prepared and the flavours blended well. In my experience white chocolate is really hit or miss and green tea Is a hard flavour to blend into things and make palatable. The chocolate was so good I could have ended the tour right then and gone home happy.
Pancho’s Bakery up at 214 Augusta. This is a dangerous place that I have long avoided in Kensington Market. The winter fat had its way with me as it was and I did not need to be acquainted with a place that made churros. Especially when we when in and I found out you could have it filled with sauces. Strawberry, chocolate and caramel. I tried the caramel one and it was amazing.
Further North on Augusta we were brought into the Blue Banana Market.
First we tried the Butter Baked Goods Marshmallows. I went with the strawberry one and it was really good. It was interesting to learn that Marshmallows were so named because they actually originated from the sap of a marshmallow plant. Originally the sap was drank with honey as a tea to help with sore throat and similar ailments. Later the French figured out how to make them into the puffy marshmallow more like what we think of when picturing marshmallows. They became very popular and it was found that the marshmallow sap was too labour intensive and expensive so manufacturers figured out how to to replace the sap with corn syrup and other sugars thus eliminating any health benefit and making them the camping staple we now know and love.
We went over to Chocolate corner in Blue Banana and discussed chocolate for awhile before going over to the British section and trying our final sample a piece of a Cadbury flake bar. The Flake bar itself was actually the result of using chocolate cut away from another product. At the time ads for confections and products like chocolate were usually a page long news paper article explaining the benefits of the chocolate. Needing to stave off bankruptcy Cadbury started producing propaganda like poster ads to directly market there product. Which became the basis for the bombardment advertising that we have known in the last several decades.
The Tasty Tour was a fun way to become more acquainted with some of the shops and places that we may never make it into. Each one was interesting and good at what they do. Our guide was pleasant and fun to have lead us in the tour and the history of some of the lovely things we got to experience.