As much as I brag about living in my favourite city in the world. Seriously, being Canadian trumps it all.
I couldn’t be more proud of what we stand for as a country.
I couldn’t be more proud, that we’re known for being too kind ( how is that even a thing?!?) and that we have the greatest population of all races and religions. Like any country, yes we have flaws … but the true north strong and free shines, none the less.
You’ve probably heard of a pub crawl – – or club hopping – – window shopping? If not, you’ve definitely heard of a scavenger hunt.
Follow a map
Find the goodies
And runaway with your new treasure!!
This weekend, amidst the usual hustle of Downtown Toronto and the uproar of TIFF a couple of the cutest Smart Cookies and myself participated in the First ever Living The Sweet Life Cookie Crawl!!
What’s a cookie crawl? – – Just like a treasure hunt, you follow a map … find the delicious goodies … and then runaway with your sweet treat and a tummy full of cookies. Good friends … Great weather … and a day full of cookies, what more could a girl ask for?
Ready with our maps, comfy shoes, sunglasses and grumbling tummies we set out to visit Toronto’s west end favourite bakeries and taste their nominated cookie as suggested by The Grid TO. Walking along Queen West, we visited 8 magnificent bakeries.
Our sweet adventure began at the White Squirrel Coffee Shop, a savvy little shop right on queen – – known best for their Ginger cookie. Of course, we all had to try it. It was a crisp cookie, and HUGE… it’s the perfect pairing for a tall glass of milk, or even better a warm pumpkin spice latte as the fall in upon us. This was a great start to our cookie crawl, for next to nothing we were able to get a larger than normal cookie ( I would compare it to the size of a dinner saucer). After munching… we were off to the next.
The second stop was Dufflet. Now, if anyone knows the name Dufflet, it’s pretty much synonymous with cake!! Anytime, I’m ordering a cake ( yes, even bakers order birthday cakes :P) often it has been delivered by Dufflet and to date I have not been disappointed. So, I was extremely excited to enter their Queen Street Store to taste their coveted Cowboy Cookie. As described by GRID TO, this IS a cookie that uses “everything but the kitchen sink” and of course, I don’t like a better idea than that. It’s the perfect chewy mix of chocolate, raisins, oatmeal and brown sugar – – instantly this cookie takes you back to being a kid.
Some of our Smart Cookies were also able to try the best-selling Ginger cookie from Dufflet . This was the ideal contrast to the Ginger Cookie ofWhite Squirrel Coffee Shop. The Dufflet cookie would win over those who were fans of a more chewy texture, it was also deeper in colour – – I’m going to take a guess and say they must use molasses in their secret recipe. Whatever the components, this was one great cookie!! After licking our lips .. we were off.
Our next sweet delight was found at Miss Cora’s Kitchen. TALK ABOUT CUTENESS in one little package!! Located in hipster central, amongst small shops catering to the hip and cutting edge down town crowd, Miss Cora’s kitchen was a true gem! All of their goodies were laid out a fun bake-sale-style fashion outside of their bakery. All of the smart cookies got a chance to gander and Miss Cora’s treasure. Best known for their Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumb Print cookie ( OMG HEAVEN … sorry … I had to cut to the chase).
I also had an opportunity to meet Miss Cora herself. You can tell a lot about a business by meeting the owner. I could tell, this was her pride and joy. Her sweet dreams were now a reality, and each of her treats told a story with a homemade touch.
Miss Cora’s Kitchen had some GREAT Finds … butterscotch bacon ( a great mix of sweet and Salty), Chocolate Salami (a chocolate lovers dream come true)… but I would have to say their Peanut Butter Thumbprint cookie was untouchable. Granted, I’m extremely biased in that if you add peanut butter to anything I would eat it – – but *yuuummmm* — it left me speechless. It was soft, and chewy, not too sweet and it was HUUUGGGEE. I’d like to award this cookie the PBJ Thumbprint Goldilocks award, for having just the right mix of everything that a PB cookie should be.
At this point, we began feeling the effects of a cookie coma – – however we knew there were cookies to be eaten… our mission, NOOOO COOOKIE LEFT UNTOUCHED ( tough gig, huh 😀 )
And so we walked…
Wanda’s pie in the sky ( what a cute name!!) was the next sweet stop on our sugarwalk. Walking into Wanda’s pie in the sky reminded me of a fresh market. Bright colours were splashed everywhere, and the smell of homemade pie occupied every crevice of the store. Here, it was suggested that the smart cookies snack on a Gorilla cookie! Gorilla cookie…. Think cowboy, but bigger with more “stuff” overflowing with flavour.
Being a best seller and clearly a unique treat, the gang was too late. They had sold out for the day… The good news is, this allowed us a chance to get creative. Each of the smart cookies tried something different, some even tasting their lunch menu.
I opted for a chocolate chip walnut cookie and a copy of Wanda’s cookbook. First the cookie…. Perfect size, soft and chewy studded with rich dark chocolate and accompanied with an even balance of walnuts. It wasn’t too sweet, but still sweet enough to remind you, this was a treat. And the cookbook, I can’t wait to dive in!! Fall should pretty much be known as pie season, and I can promise a great selection thanks to the incredible Wanda.
Speaking of the incredible Wanda, she was kind enough to come out and meet me as well as autograph her work. She’s a sweetheart and you could tell, her store and all of the treats produced by her carried a piece of her heart. Certainly, authenticity and quality remained a constant in this lovely pie haven. I’ll have to return, when I set out to find Toronto’s best pie stop ;).
After a quick break to refuel, out next stop quickly became a group favourite. Not known for their cookies, but chocolate chip ice cream sandwich The Big Chill featured a welcomed change to our taste buds. Many of us opted to try their wide selection of frozen treats…
Some, a ginger ice cream- others red velvet, while there were a few that chose to mesh the party and tried the homemade cookie dough flavour. Though different flavours, everyone commented that the ice cream was luxurious, creamy to the tee and served as the ideal way to cleanse their pallet.
I however couldn’t leave without trying their ice cream sandwich. Two cookies + ice cream, in one treat…. Now, that’s some math I could get use to. The lovely lady that served me suggested I try their mint chocolate chip combination.
Chocolate chip cookie
Mint chocolate chip ice cream
Chocolate chip cookie.
We had a winner! And that actually says a lot, I’m normally not a fan of mint and chocolate together, but this was goooooooooooooooooood. It was very refreshing and I appreciated the contrast of the sweet dense cookie against the creamy-minty ice cream. It was pure bliss, I can’t wait to revisit to get my hands on the other ice cream flavours. I may have to have an adventure, just involving The Big Chill where I try all of their ice cream/ sorbet flavours 🙂 ( a girls, gotta do what a girls gotta doo ). After filling our tummy’s with ice cream, we trekked on through little Italy to our next cookie paradise.
Golden Wheat can be only described as such. A paradise. A paradise looming with delicious deserts at every corner. As soon as you walk into the bakery, your eyes instantly fall upon the plethora of delicious looking treats – – your senses were illuminated with a sea of golden delight. You name it, I think believe the Golden Wheat had it covered.
Again the Smart Cookies did what they do best and tested their cookies. Though it was hard to narrow it down, to just one …most indulged in the suggested Almond Cookie. The best way I could describe this cookie, is a meringue-like texture – – extremely crunchy with notes of almond in every bite. With a piping strong cup of espresso, this cookie would set the mood for the perfect afternoon snack. To me, this is a dippable cookie. It was great on its own, but with the contrast of a dark rich coffee, the essence of Golden Wheat’s Almond Cookie would shine.
Some in the group, decided to venture out and try other sweet treats. Mama LTSL had been eyeing a pasteis de natas ( Portuguese custard tart). Dare I say, this was the best one I had ever tasted in.my.life. The pastry was buttery and flakey – – the custard just sweet enough and creamy to a degree that took me away instantly. Any time a craving strikes – – this is my new go-to place.
We were doing very well … but we had two more stops to make along our sweet fantasy.
The next stop, Lit Espresso Bar. What a necessary stop! I’ll be frank — even with the love affair I have with cookies, by this time … we were getting tired. But Lit Espresso Bar offered the exact jolt necessary. Inside, this quaint little shop screams chic simplicity. It seems like the place where cool art kids go to get creative. Besides the great treats, my favourite feature was the old movie shown via projector on the back wall ( how cool is that?!?). Here many of the Smart Cookies opted for a liquid treat of Homemade raspberry lemonade as well as their little cookie treat.
Recommended to us was the Chocolate Chip and Sea salt. I’d like to think this was the adult-style chocolate chip cookie … sophisticated for an adult but just as good as your regular chocolate chip cookie growing up. Unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed. It gets rave reviews in my books. Many found the added sea salt was just what was needed, to take away from the overt sweetness added by the chocolate chunks. This was the chocolate chip cookie that could make someone laugh, mend a broken heart or help someone celebrate the sweetness of life.
And we had one last stop to make!!
The Common, the bitter sweet end to our cookie crawl was the ideal last location. As the cafe name suggests The Common isn’t flashy, and doesn’t scream for attention. However, that’s how you know a city’s secret. It doesn’t have to advertise, locals know it’s name and why they are as well known as they are. When you walk in, antique toys and art lines the wall. It’s a comfort zone. It seemed like a place you would go to just unwind, to just relax and enjoy the company of a close friend over a cup of coffee.
Our cookie crawl would not have been complete without a Shortbread cookie. As ironic as it is, the shortbread cookie told the story of the store. It was a delicious classic. That to me is what The Common was all about… take away the sparkle and all you’re left with is delicious, authentic taste.
And that was that. We were left over following on a sugar high – – with our tummy’s full , with the biggest grin. I think it’s safe to say, the cookie monster would be proud!!
It was the perfect day!! And I am so proud, that the first Living the Sweet Life event was such a sweet success… I am convinced that this cookie crawl will be an annual event where we all continue to taste Toronto.
The Grid TO – – thank you a million times over for creating this delicious map, without you – – there would have been no cookie crawl and these hidden gems would never have been tasted by the LTSL gang. I would also like to graciously thank all those who participated, all of the wonderful bakeries we visited and especially the LTSL family that helped me coordinate the entire day. Though the day was a success, it was because of all of you that the day left me in such a sugar high – – and so THANK YOU!!