Sunday, August 21, 2011

Toronto aka "Chocolate Wonderland"

Toronto, you caught me by surprise.  It turns out that I like you a lot.

What was I expecting?  The nicest people on earth, certainly (aren't Canadians just the best?).  Tall buildings and meetings were a given.  But I was not expecting to run into one of the most amazing dessert bars I've ever eaten.  Plus I added a new word to my vocabulary: Nanaimo.  As in, Chocolate Peanut Butter Naniamo Bar.  Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bar, The Sweet Escape Patisserie

I ran into a few of these bars throughout the area, though Nanaimo is actually located in British Columbia, on the opposite side of the country.  The funny thing is, no one that I talked to seemed to know the origin of the bar or anything beyond the fact that it's called the Nanaimo bar, and Nanaimo is in BC.  Your geography lesson for the day, my friends.

The Historic Distillery District in Toronto
I visited Toronto's Distillery Historic District, which is not only one of the most adorable restaurant/boutique areas I've ever seen, it is gloriously blessed with sweet shops every few inches (or centimeters for you Canadians).

At The Sweet Escape Patisserie, their take on the CPBNB starts with a chocolate crust interlaced with coconut flakes, followed by a creamy layer of peanut butter, a layer of light buttery whipped cream, topped with a thin layer of chocolate ganache.  My mouth is watering just thinking about this concoction.

What I love about dessert bars is the layer upon layer of deliciousness--so many different flavors and textures that could be a giant mess, but somehow work together in perfect harmony.  That first bite was ridiculous.  It's no surprise that I'm a peanut butter fanatic, so I was already pretty giddy with excitement--but add the chocolate, the coconut flakes, the whipped cream, all fabulously balanced so the flavors complement each other--and you have one of the best dessert bars ever invented. Thank you, Anonymous Genius Baker of Nanaimo.

There was one more amazing stop in my new favorite historic distillery district, Soma Chocolatemaker.  I really wish this was a real name because I would marry this man in a heartbeat--who wouldn't want to be Mrs. Chocolatemaker?

One of the unique treats at Soma Chocolatemaker
If you're even a small fan of chocolate, this shop will blow your mind.  They offer traditional chocolate bars, as well as unique chocolate offerings, but they incorporate very interesting ingredients and cocoas from around the world.  But their most unique offering, and one of the best desserts I've ever drank, is their famous Mayan Hot Chocolate.  So in addition to the amazing chocolate masterpieces they create, they also serve a variety of yummy chocolate drinks, a la the movie Chocolat.   I half expected Juliette Binoche to peek her head out of the kitchen.  Warm, spicy, rich chocolate coated my throat and slowly made its way to my very happy tummy.  I bought a few bags. 

After leaning off CN Tower at the newly installed Edge Walk (another story entirely), as soon as I got to my hotel, I hit the gym.  A very indulgent little stop, but completely worth it.

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