A personal favourite quote on living a happy, healthy life is from Iris Murdoch: "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats." Those words were very much on my mind when I was invited to write about Tasty Tours Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Chocolate Tour. I am not a chocoholic, in fact, I will often skip over chocolate goodies in favour of fruity or caramel flavours. This is because I think that in order to be worth the splurge, you must be having really good chocolate.
Audrey, Tasty Tours Toronto's owner, embraces this idea and has scouted out some of the city's best chocolate experiences to share with those who take her tour. I definitely didn't feel like I wasted any calories on this experience, which is a good thing indeed.
There were several things I really liked about the Tasty Tours concept. First, I think there's something to be said for exploring your own city. I have lived in Toronto my whole life and I worked in the Trinity Bellwoods area for many, many years. Yet I had only been to one of the stops on the tour previously. We often take our own city for granted and this was a great opportunity to find some new places right at my fingertips. It also encourages the support of local businesses, something I believe very strongly in.
I was also happy that this tour involved quite a bit of walking. Granted, the day I joined the tour it was very wet and chilly, but I still liked the idea that we were going to walk off some of our treats as well as give the tourists on our trip a bit of a tour of the area. Even better, these moments encouraged us to chat with our tour mates, which I enjoyed. There were some really interesting people on this tour and I liked that it wasn't just about Audrey talking at us for three hours - she gave us lots of learning, but also the chance to get to know each other too.
The tour starts off with a chocolate lesson, which was quite interesting. This was a chance to sample cacao nibs, as well as more processed chocolate to see the difference. It really is fascinating how one bean can turn into so very many different confections and products. This was also a nice chance to introduce ourselves and learn a little more about why each of the ten people on the tour had chosen to take it.
After that we were able to sample some yummy Italian pastries and treats. I'm a sucker for really good, really chewy chocolate baked goods, so this got a big thumbs up from me. It was also nice that the bakery's chef and pastry chef came out to talk to us and to tell us more about their creations.
The samples here were quite generous, so it was great that this stop was followed by a walk. I know some people aren't keen on a lot of walking between stops, but I really enjoy that. It makes me feel like at least I'm getting in some exercise to counterbalance all those extra calories.
Our next stop was a personal favourite to me as it was somewhere I've been many times before (no doubt I'll be back again soon too). I've chosen not to reveal the locations we stopped at, since many who take the tour - myself included - prefer not to know before heading out, but you can find that info on the Tasty Tours website if you look hard enough. And this one may be a little obvious for those who are familiar with Toronto's only Japanese grocery. Oh, how I love Japanese candy.
I'm also quite smitten with the Green Tea and Cherry Blossom Kit Kat. It's not an inexpensive indulgence, but that just means I savour every bite. Can't wait to go back again and see what other fun and fancy candy options will be there - they change them up fairly regularly.
For those that like to shop (that would be me), there is ample time on this tour to pick up treats. I was looking for unique chocolate experiences that I couldn't get at other stores, so I definitely picked up some of these Kit Kats and, of course, some Pocky! Japanese candy really is so fun.
We headed off to our next stop (which was much closer) and they provided yet another unique chocolate experience - chocolate with pop rocks. I did get some of that too, but this was a stop where I picked up some other non-chocolate confections. This is a fun element of this tour experience - while all the samples are chocolate, most of the stops offer other sweet treats.
More walking awaited us after this, which was certainly needed. I especially liked that we got to walk through Trinity Bellwoods Park - one of the most beautiful locations in the city. Even in the rain, you can't help but love being there.
And when the end of your walk involves one of the city's best cupcake bakeries? Perfect! We actually sampled their brownies, which are to die for (that perfect mix of chewy and not too sweet), but it was the cupcakes that caught the attention of my camera. I am definitely planning a return trip - and perhaps even a cupcake decorating class.
Next up was the gourmet stuff - and the first time on this tour that my wine and chocolate passions collided. I'm always up for trying wine mixed with chocolate and this was a great opportunity. Unlike many wine chocolates these aren't filled with wine, but chocolates that have been created with wine or other alcohol as an ingredient. They are incredibly well made, entirely decadent and worth their very high price tag. Luxury chocolate at its finest.
All in all a very fun way to spend an afternoon in the city. A great option for locals and tourists alike - all you need are some comfy shoes and a love of chocolate to enjoy this tour.
Learn more about Tasty Tours at their website: www.tastytourstoronto.com
And you may also enjoy these other blogs about Tasty Tours (Marni and Ian are both much better photographers):
Where Sidewalks End
Some more photos from the tour:
And my big indulgence the next day? Some very tasty non-chocolate treats I picked up along the way. Life is better with macarons. It just is.
Full disclosure: I attended this tour as a media guest of Tasty Tours. All opinions on the deliciousness of these local Toronto treats are fully my own.