As I planned my weekend trip up to Toronto, I was approached with the opportunity to take a food tour with Tasty Tours Toronto. But not just any food tour – their Oh Canada! Farmer’s Market Sweets Tour. With a sweet tooth like mine, how could I say no?
The tour was originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, ending at 12:30 – which would give me just half an hour to get across town to start my bike tour of the city at 1:00. I wasn’t too worried until I got an email a couple days in advance that the tour start time would be pushed back to 11:00, ending at 1:30. Oops. Not wanting to cancel altogether, I decided to at least enjoy the first half of the tour before excusing myself to run to the other one. I also arrived in the Distillery District a bit early so I could explore on my own before the tour got started.
The tour was focused on Toronto’s historic Distillery District and its Sunday Farmers’ Market. The Distillery District is a National Historic Site that was once home to the Goodersham and Worts Distillery, which began operation in 1837. At one point, it was even the largest whiskey distillery in the world. It eventually closed in 1990 and in 2001, a massive project began to restore the distillery’s 40 buildings and create a pedestrian-friendly arts and entertainment district (which eventually opened in 2003).
After hearing a bit about the history of the Distillery District, we moved on to the main attraction – the Farmers’ Market that runs from early June to late September. The market is small, with fewer than ten vendors, and as I learned, the opening hours can vary (the reason the tour started late was because the guide learned that the market would be opening an hour late). It also didn’t seem to be totally embraced by the locals yet, as we were some of the only people checking it out.
We had a chance to speak with most of the vendors, all of whom produce their goods locally. We met Debbie from Haute Goat, who runs a 25 acre farm, raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Not only are these goats the cutest things you’ve ever seen (unfortunately, she didn’t have any with her, but she shared an adorable video of a few of them), but they produce some absolutely delicious chocolates and caramels from the goat milk. The samples we tried just melted in my mouth. It was a good thing I only had a few Canadian dollars left on me because otherwise I would have bought a lot to take home with me!
We also talked to the woman behind Hi Honey, who is a beekeeper and bee activist. She makes a wide range of products, from honey to honey soap to beeswax candles, and is extremely passionate about beekeeping and protecting bees. We got to sample three different kinds of honey, which tasted incredibly different, and learned a lot about the honey making process. It was also fascinating (and a bit disturbing) to hear how little regulation there is of honey production in the U.S. and Canada.
Other vendors had locally-made maple syrup, fruit jams and even some gluten-free baked goods. After some free time to shop a bit, the tour continued on to a bake shop inside one of the buildings of the Distillery District. Unfortunately, by this time, I had to leave to head over to my other tour. The hour and a half I was able to enjoy, though, was definitely worthwhile – entertaining, educational and, most importantly, yummy!
Disclaimer: Tasty Tours Toronto invited me on this tour on a complimentary basis; however, all opinions are my own.