Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brick Street Bakery & SOMA: Delights of the Distillery District

With only a short time to explore Toronto, I needed to be very selective as to my destinations.  I knew that I had to visit the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, located in the Distillery Historic District. This district consists of restored Victorian Industrial buildings, with restaurants, art galleries, fashion shops, cafes, jewelry stories, theaters and more.  The streets also have some intriguing artwork, including some large and fascinating metal sculptures.  While waiting for the sake brewery to open, I wandered through the area, sampling a few of the district's delights.

The Brick Street Bakery uses many local, natural ingredients, producing a variety of breads, cookies, pastries, baked goods, pies, sandwiches and much more. Everything looked very appealing, and I bought an assorted bag of pastries, from Eccles cakes to croissants. An Eccles cake is a British pastry, a flaky cake stuffed with currants.  Everything I tasted was fresh and delicious, most items costing about $2-$3.

Various tarts, from chocolate to lemon.

A line-up of fresh loaves of bread, from Basil Parsley Sourdough to Corn Bread.

Cookies, including Butter Shortbread, Oatmeal and Eccles.

Overall, I was very pleased with the quality and diversity of the products, and I would return again. The croissant and brioche was both light and fresh, and especially good.

Brick Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Another compelling destination is SOMA Chocolate, an artisan chocolate making shop which produces small batches from the cacoa bean. They use mostly Fair Trade and organic ingredients, and make a variety of products, including hot chocolate, chocolate bars, truffles, pralines, caramels, cookies, gelato, and more.

There are large glassed-in areas where you can watch them producing chocolate, though they were not making any chocolate at the time I visited.

These are but some of the individual chocolates available, and there are plenty of chocolate bars also available, from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, including chocolates of various origins.

I decided to try some of their hot chocolate, available as One Short Intense Shot, a Mug with Steamed Milk or a Mug with Hot Water. I got two types, the Spicy Mayan and Classic Dark Side, in the One Short Intense Shot size, $3.50 each.  Though both look alike, they are certainly different in taste, despite some similarities. Both are thick and rich, coating your throat and mouth with velvety chocolate. The flavors are very intense, with the Mayan having an intriguing spicy blend with hints of heat.  Out of the two, the Classic Dark most appealed to me, and due to its rich intensity, you really don't need more than a small cup. Definitely one of the best hot chocolates I have tasted in a long time and highly recommended.

I also had a small cup of Thai Coconut Sorbetto, which was smooth and creamy, with an intense coconut flavor.  Intensity of flavor seems to be a common denominator for SOMA's products, and that flavor seems natural and not artificial. Prices might be considered high, but then you are also receiving high quality products, made from top notch ingredients, so you should expect to pay more. To me, the items are worth the price as they deliver the taste you will crave. This should be a must-visit destination if you visit Toronto.

Soma Chocolate on Urbanspoon

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