Posted by: Isobel Medel
Date Published: June 25, 2014
Calling all sweets lovers and history buffs! If you’re as addicted to sugar and local history as much as we are then you won’t want to miss this new tour, it hits all the right sweet spots.
Tasty Tours is partnering with the Distillery District for their ‘Oh Canada! Farmers’ Market Sweets Tour’. As Toronto’s only farmers’ market tour, launching on Canada Day Weekend, the jaunt focuses on Canadian sweet treats while providing a deeper understanding of local food culture and issues.
“Growing up in a city, I never really had the chance to interact with farmers,” says Audrey Ooi, founder and owner of Tasty Tours. “I’ve learnt a lot from the farmers on our tour and I want to share their knowledge and passion with locals and tourists alike. An awareness of where our food comes from is very important, because it impacts our health and our community.”
The ‘Oh Canada’ tour includes stops with three vendors at the Sunday Market, as well as at three eateries located in the heart of the Distillery. The District’s Sunday Market, based at Gristmill Lane, is open from 10am to 3pm every Sunday until the end of September. The vendors were selected specifically for artisanal goods that were produced within 100 miles of the Distillery District.
There’s an abundance of sweets to be sampled, but the real beauty of this specific tour is the intimate interactions with these unique vendors! At Haute Goat you’ll meet Shain Jaffe, who’s wares include goat cheese chocolate truffles, goat butter caramel corn, goat milk cajeta (caramel sauce), salted goat milk caramels, and even raw goat milk soaps. Shain’s passion for his farm near Campbellford and their Nigerian Dwarf goats is simply contagious.
Next, the tour moves on to the Hi Honey stand where beekeeper / activist Karen McKenna shares her enthusiasm for all things bees and educates the group on the negative effects of neonics. Karen frequently rotates the honey she sells, but we were able to taste this fantastic blueberry blossom honey from Dutchman’s Gold. It was like a pow of blueberry flavour in your mouth; the magic of bees!
Audrey keeps the liquid sugar theme going by taking us to Spade & Spoon’s booth, where we sample different grades of maple syrup. Adam Smith explains the nuances between dark, medium, and light maple syrups and also has an assortments of small batch jams and preserves for sampling. Spade & Spoon’s offerings are vast and include a Zingy Rhubarb Jam, Hot Red Pepper Jelly, Apple Rosemary Jelly, Homestyle Corn Reslish, Dill Pickles, and Pickled Beets. When speaking with Adam and Blythe, you leave with a real sense of the pride they have in their ingredients.
After some time perusing the Market, the sweets train alters its course slightly and the tour focuses more on the Distillery and what it has to offer. Audrey aptly segues into the second half of the tour by discussing the local history of the district as well as the history behind the sweets still to be sampled, including butter tarts (spoiler alert – they were invented in Ontario!) and Nanaimo bars.
Stops during the Distillery portion of the tour include Sweet Escape Patisserie, Soma Chocolatier, and Mill Street Brew Pub. Tasty treats from these eateries include butter tarts (customized specifically for you), ice wine macarons using Lakeview Cellars Vidal Ice Wine, microbatch chocolates, short rib poutine, and samples of various Mill Street beers.
“It’s funny how learning the history behind something makes it more enjoyable,” says Lacy Atalick, a participant of the tour. “I’ve had this beer before, but it’s never tasted quite as good.”
Tours cost $39.82 per person for adults and $26.55 for children (plus HST). Any early birds who book by Canada Day (tours can take place after) will bring home a tour-exclusive ice wine macaron.
Officially launching on June 29, rain or shine, tours take place Sunday mornings at 10am and lasts approximately 2.5 hours. Capped at 10 people per tour to create a more intimate experience, this new Tasty Tour is an ideal Sunday activity for those with a sweet tooth!