In Toronto, we love that we’re spoiled by amazing specialty foods – whether that means rare imports, organic/vegan/local specialties or odd finds that most people don’t know exist. If you’re keen to impress friends and family with speciality fine foods, or are looking for a last-minute holiday gift or housewarming present, or just for some inspiration, try out these gems.
- Sandy Aleksander Fine Food
Located in Leslieville, Sandy Aleksander’s is a must if you’re in the east end. They offer a wide selection of artisan cheeses, an assortment of charcuterie options, prepared meals, catering and artisan chocolates. What makes this joint stand out, though, is its heavy focus on local and Canadian options, such as Dolce Lucano meats, Laura Slack’s chocolates and Rustichella’s flavoured oils and vinegars. Sandy Aleksander’s was named NOW Magazine Readers’ Choice for the Best Charcuterie in TO.
- The Spice Trader/Olive Pit
If you like your spices, this is your spot. This Trinity-Bellwoods boutique carries a well-rounded selection of spices, sourced from all over the world and many are organic. This company sources and tests all of its stock, and creates all of its own mixtures as well. All spices come in the pretty, repurposable little green tins (that ensure freshness) and make excellent gift options for the food enthusiast. They also offer cooking classes, which are extremely popular. Taste-test their olive oil and balsamic vinegars in the shop.
- The Kitten & the Bear
Just do yourself a favour and head to this tiny boutique in Parkdale. They make exquisite artisan jams, jellies and marmalades. Their confitures are made by hand, according to French confiture style, and contain no pectin, preservatives, or additives. Their flavours and creations are original, but among the best are the black plum and Earl Grey, or the pear and house mulled wine jams. Just be forewarned that the jams are made seasonally and some batches are micro batches, meaning your fave might not always be in stock. These jams make excellent gifts and are a real treat. They also serve tea, scones, clotted cream and, of course, jam.
- Soma Chocolatemaker
If you love chocolate (if you don’t, we’re not friends) go to one of Soma’s two locations (Distillery District or King West) and try theirs. Unlike other places that sell chocolate, Soma’s atelier is in Toronto, where they select, clean, prepare and roast cacao beans, make the chocolate and make all of their chocolate products. They have a standard core selection of 26 truffle flavours, as well as rotating specials, cookies, gelato, bars, hot chocolate, toffee and more deliciousness. They also offer a number of gifting options and do wedding favours.
Know of a specialty food boutique in TO that should be on this list? Share it below.