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Jul 31, 2007 09:08 PM

quick TO report

I'm just home from five days in Toronto. We didn't get to as many sit-down restaurants as I'd hoped, but I had a great time overall and got a fine sense of what's unusual about Ontario versus the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live.

One word: mangosteens! These are not available in the US (although the ban's just been lifted) and I was ecstatic to see them. Even better, they tasted as good as I remembered.

Spent a wonderful morning wandering around Kensington Market. We ate at Jumbo Empanadas (yum!), got chocolate loonies at the corner spice shop, devoured Belem tarts at the Portuguese bakery, and drooled over sandwiches at the deli. The deli and breads seemed like a terrific deal, especially pies ($7 for a blueberry pie! we'd easily pay twice that here). We also stopped in at one of the cheese shops (the one with the olive bar in back) for a taste of Canadian cheddar.

We went to the Brickworks Farmers' Market on Saturday and then took a walk. We were there to snack more than shop. Prices aren't cheap. Coffee was good. I bought some excellent FBOP from the kind gentleman at Oikos teas. Tasty sweet potato cupcakes.

Enjoyed the spicy chocolate sludge (really it's almost a pudding) at SOMA chocolates in the Distillery District. And the pro-biotic frozen yogurt blended with fruit in the food court at Eaton Centre.

Had a tasty dinner at Batifole, including tartare du cheval. I really liked the food, although I was a bit curious about the Vietnamese options in the neighborhood.

While I would have liked to stock up on cheese and pea meal bacon and ice wine, I stuffed my bags with odd-flavored potato chips and unusual candy bars.

Didn't make it to Greektown or St. Lawrence Market, but that'll give me something to do next time.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Glad to hear you'd consider another trip, there's lots of delicious still left in the city!

    1. Fantastic! You really covered the city in a geographic sense and even hit some of my favourites. I'm going to keep your list for when I have visitors to the city as I am always stuck thinking of itineraries....

      5 Replies
      1. re: Julie McCoy

        My overall comment is that compared to the West Coast, Toronto has more recent European and African immigrants. Suspect this is geography rather than a Canada/US division; recent immigrants to California tend to come from Asia and Latin America, at least the ones who start food businesses rather than tech companies.

        There's also a lot of great chowhound values all over--a love of fresh and local items (whether Canadian cheese or Ontario peaches or Montreal bagels) as well as exotic imports. And restauranteurs and cafe owners proud to share their best. I'm glad I was able to come in the summer.

        1. re: Windy

          Glad that you enjoyed yourself. Summertime really is the best food time to be here. Gotta ask, what did you end up bringing for your friends?

          1. re: mikeb

            I brought him an assortment of local SF chocolate bars (Charles', Scharffenberger, Ghiradelli, Guittard, and stretching geography a little, Dagoba). I also got a Michael Mischer bar but ate it before I got there :) I gather Whole Foods in Oakville sells Dagoba, although not sure if you have all 20 flavors.

            Sitting at the airport, the woman next to me had just stocked up on Godiva at the duty free shop, and we compared chocolate presents. (She had never seen Dagoba and wanted to buy the Mon Cheri bar from me. Me: But they're presents! Her: You're the present!)

            These won out over fancier chocolates from XOX, Recchuiti, and Joseph Schmidt because they packed flat.

            Also organic pistachios from the farmers' market, a shot glass, and a jar of raspberry jam. Oh, and a box of See's peanut brittle (sold at SFO, and so good).

            1. re: Windy

              Noah's Health Foods has several flavours of Dagoba, but I don't think I saw "Mon Cheri".

              1. re: Teep

                That's my favorite, along with Lavender and Pacuare, their single source Costa Rican bar.

                Frederick Schilling, their chocolate maker, is a really nice guy, and their prices seem very fair for the quality. (Looks like they, along with Scharffenberger and Joseph Schmidt, are now owned by Hershey.)

      2. If you decide to go to Greek Town, be sure to check out PAN. Excellent restaurant.

        1. You've made some great choices. You don't mention if you had a local ambassador to guide you but these are all places I have been when I want to have a Toronto neighborhood experience. I too would keep this list for my visitors.
          When you come back budget some time for the main Chinatown. it's not as old and 'textured' as the SF outpostbut it's come along. Included but separate from Chinatown is Baldwin Street. Good luck with making a choice there, tho, ouf of all the great places to have an amazing meal.

          1 Reply
          1. re: neighborguy

            I was visiting a friend in Oakville, who insisted on showing me all his favorite spots. If anyone's interested in seeing lots of food photos, e-mail me at itswindy at pacbell dot net and I'll send you a link.

            My tour around Kensington Market was courtesy of my ambassador from the TO greeter's program. (Highly recommended). I had done a bit of research ahead, but had trouble getting oriented to the neighborhoods until I arrived and figuring out what was near what.

            Typically the worst food was concentrated around tourist and convention attractions; I had an awful lunch at Niagara Falls, when all I wanted was a salad and a little a/c. And I walked from the Exhibition Centre to Harbourfront Centre in search of a snack or a place for tea. (Someone should open a taco truck near the Music Garden!) I found the food court upstairs in Queen's Quay too late, but the deli and Greek food with a view of the harbour seemed decent.

            I wandered around Chinatown a little, but mostly with all my luggage. I was very disappointed to miss dim sum (either high end at Lai Wah Heen or the regular kind).

            Chinatown in SF is kind of a relic of a different era at this point--mostly pre-1967 immigration. More recent immigrants from regions of China besides Guangzhou are concentrated along Clement Street (Richmond District) and in the suburbs.