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30 May 2015

Tasting Toronto

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Toronto might be the most multicultural city we’ve experienced in North America. And that’s a really hard thing to say for two people who have lived in New York and Chicago. The influence of such an exciting mix is evident in the local food scene.


Beyond poutine and Molson Canadian beer, Toronto food means Indian roti, Portuguese pasteis de nata, country-style peameal bacon sandwiches, French crepes and tasty vegetarian dishes from the Caribbean. It’s all here. It’s considered their local food.

The Distillery District 

Take their Distillery District, for instance. Our first stop in this culinary exploration. What used to be Canada’s largest whisky distilling firm in the 19th century, it’s today the home of Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, IZUMI. You can experience sake making first hand and enjoy a tasting of their pasteurized and unpasteurized sake, as well as traditional Japanese ice cream made with red bean or black sesame.


A few steps from IZUMI, you’ll find the award-winning El Catrin, where Toronto chefs Olivier Le Calvez and Andre Walker will delight you with modern Mexican dishes and the “best tacos” in the city. Furbo Coffee is also close by if you are craving a good old Italian Panini and quality espresso. Their whisky-infused black olives are such an amazing treat.


Kensington Market

Second stop, the Kensington Market. Whether you are craving Venezuelan arepas, good Jamaican jerk, Indian Dosas, Middle Eastern treats or delicious raw salads, this is the place to visit. It is by no means the fancy part of town, but it doesn’t need to be. It is defiantly autonomous and imperfectly beautiful. It is a must to come here.


There are so many interesting little restaurants, specialty shops and fruit stands. This is the place to take cool photos, people watch and purchase everything from dried rose petals to green gouda cheese. Don’t miss the Global Cheese store and Bunner’s fine vegan goodies.


Chinatown

Not too far from Kensington, you’ll find Chinatown, or at least “a” Chinatown. As we were told, Toronto has several Chinatowns. But here, you can literally walk for hours checking out noodle shops, spice stores, clothing stores, housewares stores and anime stores. Totally worth the trip.


Both the Kensington Market and Chinatown are walking distance from the entertainment and business districts where you’ll find a lot of the hotels.

Queen Street West

We also explored Queen Street West, Toronto’s hipster town. A lot of cool bars and trendy restaurants for 20-somethings here. The popular Drake boutique hotel has a nice rooftop bar, The Sky Yard, and the award-winning restaurant Drake One Fifty. Chef Corrado and team specialize in small plates, seasonal comfort-food and raw dishes.


After our meal we really enjoyed walking the residential streets looking at the old brick houses and their colorful front yards. A lot of young couples in this area.

A few blocks from the hotel, we also found Poutini’s: House of Poutine. This is the recommended place to get hand cut fries with everything from vegan cheese to pulled pork and a variety of dipping sauces. It’s Toronto in a bowl.


Little Portugal

A few blocks north, you’ll find Little Portugal, with lots of bakeries, specialty grocery stores and restaurants. Bairrada Churrasqueira on College Street was our choice for date night and it was perfect. Their patio is gorgeous, the menu has all the classics and the prices can’t be better for the value.


Order a pitcher of good sangria, their caldo verde and some seafood to share. Their bitoque or espetada de carne are also tender and flavorful. And for dessert, the nata-do-ceu is divine.


Other Neighborhoods

Like this churrasqueira, every neighborhood in Toronto has so many hidden gems to discover. We walked a little bit of the Design District, Little Italy, Gerrard Street East (Little India), Yonge and Dundas, and the famous underground PATH.


Taking a ferry to Centre Island was also a lot of fun and the best way to enjoy the city’s skyline. But there was so much more to see.

Old Toronto

For our last day, we headed to St. Lawrence Market in Old Toronto, the largest indoor market in the city and named the world’s best food market by National Geographic.


Here is where you come to buy all the local goodies: Ice Wines, butter tarts, cheese, perogies, Niagara peaches, smoked salmon, cured meats and that divine sandwich made with peameal bacon. The list goes on and on.


From the lady at the mustard shop to the wine seller, everyone takes the time to tell you more about their unique product.


They want you experience and taste what makes them so proud. This definitively made our visit so much more special. We learned so much. And we'll definitively be back very soon.

For more Toronto pictures, visit our Instagram page or check out the Spanish version of this post with different photos. Until next week.

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