Tasty Tour Treats of Kensington Market
I spent my Sunday eating tasty treats in Kensington Market in Toronto. My tour was hosted by Tasty Tours Toronto and led by Audrey. This tour had my attention from the get-go; tasty treats in a intriguing neighbourhood? I’m there. But what kept my attention was all the fun facts of the tour like What do Ronald Reagan and JellyBellys have in common? Keep reading to find out.The tour started in a Bakery on Spadina. The bakery is one of many competing bakeries on Spadina ave in the Chinese district of the city. The signs are all written in Mandarin or Cantonese before English – that is something I appreciate about the street – it transports me to another country without ever leaving my own.
We met Audrey at the back of the Bakery next to a glass window behind which we could watch the production of the pastries and other delectable goodies on display around me. In front of our small group of 10 sat yellow tartlets; tartlets that were beaconing me from the instant I walked in. Yes I have THAT much of a sweet tooth. But turns out, what I thought was a lemon tart was actually an egg tart.
Egg Tart History Lesson: Egg tarts originated in Hong Kong as competition to Dim Sum restaurants. Their sweetness is influenced by the British who colonized Hong Kong for 50 years.
Egg Tart Taste Analysis: Nice light snack that isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. I wish there was MORE sugar in it – but that is just me (But I WAS also expecting a lemon tart, so a mind-switch from lemon to egg may of set me up for a sugar desire)
Next up was a dessert Bakery in the heart of Kensington Market. Infront of the bakery was a table piled with every type of cavity-inducing deliciousness I could desire: cupcakes, brownies, cookies OH MY! But what is on top of a cupcake? Is that frosting or icing? That depends on your origin but I’m calling it icing.
Cupcake History Lesson: was named originally because of cakes made in cups. I do love this idea – cupcakes are WAY better than cakes! Another type of cake is special too; The 4-3-2-1 cake. 4 eggs, 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 cup of butter. Voila, the perfect simple cake for you!
Cupcake Taste Analysis: I am a fiend for red velvet cupcakes, and that is exactly what they offered me. Cora’s Kitchen provided the perfect blend of cupcake to cream cheese icing. 5 sprinkles to you Cora!
No tasty tour could ever be complete without Chocolate. And so Audrey led us to the Chocolate Addict (They are certainly describing me – their new favourite customer). Inside were truffles, truffles, and more truffles. Truffles of every flavour; Wasabi, Mint, Chili, Pumpkin, Salted Caramel, and more! Difficult choices needed to be made. I went with the pomegranate truffle. I don’t remember eating it – it went down so quickly.
Pomegranate Truffle Taste Analysis: I could get really really happily fat here. I would let myself go forever in this store and smile while doing it. The truffle was incredible and I only had ONE! Since I had the rest of the tour to go, I restrained myself from buying a box of 12. But I will return…..(tomorrow)
Kensington Market is an eclectic assortment of cultures. We headed next to a Syrian Restaurant that served up Syrian treats!. Baclava originated in Syria – but the Turks and the Greeks will argue this point – but the Syrian owner told us Syria is the origins of it and the invaders came and the recipe went with them. But I loved the Turkish delights on display and the ethnic offerings for my taste buds to enjoy.
Baklava Taste Analysis: oddly it was not as sweet as the description made it out to be. the swirls of sugar whips led me to believe I’d be eating straight sugar, but no, it was a moderate level of sweetness played off nicely by the few nuts wrapped in the centre.
Keeping with the multicultural flavours, next up was a place I call “I Love Churros”, and boy is that a sentiment I can relate to! Pancho’s Bakery is a Mexican restaurant in the heart of the market. Pepe works behind the counter and its him you hear yelling “Churros” down the street. I bet that will make your ears Perk Up. Not only Churros, but Churros filled with dulce de leche, strawberry, or chocolate. Poncho’s found the way to my heart.
Poncho’s Bakery History Lesson: Pancho’s bakery was no opened in 1927 as indicated on the sign, but in 1973. Why does the sign say 1927? Well, his great grandfather was a baker in Mexico, and when he came to Canada he didn’t want that life for himself, but he couldn’t find any Mexican Bakery to meet his standards so he opened his own! 1927 is in honour of his families tradition of being Bakers.
Poncho’s Bakery Churros Taste Analysis: I may of drooled a lot as Pepe filled the churro with dulce de leche. Even after insulting my Spanish use of “Vos” instead of “Tu”, I devoured the Churro instantly. Pepe doesn’t want to be my friend any more after seeing me gobble the Churro down – I think that proves its deliciousness. I gave up a budding friendship for the churro.
Our final stop on the Tasty Tour of Kensington Market was at Blue Bananas Market, and with a name like that who wouldn’t want to explore the place? It is a co-op market where many vendors sell their ware; from a wall of British goodies, to JellyBellys, to Artwork, Clothing, Teas, and everything inbetween. It is my new happy place.
JellyBelly History Lesson: And finally I will answer you the question I started you with: What do Ronald Reagan and JellyBellys have in common. Well the answer is he ate them; a lot. He ate them to help him stop smoking. He ate them so much he was the influence for the Blueberry JellyBelly – why? Because Ronald Reagan needed a Blue JellyBelly to have on display to match the colours of the USA flag.
JellyBelly Taste Analysis: If you have’t had a Jellybelly then you don’t know what a jelly bean CAN be. These things are such delightful explosions of fruity flavours with each bean! YUM! Since I don’t smoke, I can’t use them as an alternative, so instead I’ll use them as a daily delight!
And then I was left to my own devices – filled up with eggtarts, cupcakes, truffles, baklava, churros, and jellybellys. Good thing I wore a lose fitting dress because my stomach has expanded gladly to inhale all of these delicious Tasty Delights.
Which Tasty Tour Treat are you Most likely to Inhale?
**Disclaimer: Thank You Audrey and Tasty Tours Toronto for the complementary tour and for being an incredible Host and teaching me about the history of treats and satisfying my sugar tooth! All opinions are my own.