Tag Archives: The Distillery District

Ghosts of Christmas Markets Present

Distillery Xmas Market - Gooderham & Worts sign

This past weekend, we checked out the Christmas Market at the Distillery District… twice!

I’ve been craving a German Weihnachtsmarkt since we were in Germany in 2006. For a brief time, I was incredibly jealous of Vancouver for getting one this year. A couple of days later, I found out about the one here in Toronto, in the Distillery District.

Distillery Xmas Market - lights
Lots of lights and huts

Initially, I was hung up on the things I remembered of the German markets – things that were missing from ours (like real Glühwein, served in keepsake mugs). Once I got over that, I was able to relax and enjoy the environment and the spirit. The thing about this kind of Christmas market is that it seems to be missing much of the tackiness of the season that we normally can’t seem to escape. Something about the little wooden huts, the smell of the food and the sound of caroling is kind of relaxing and enjoyable – even when you’re standing out in the cold.

We went on Friday night, and then again on Saturday afternoon.

Distillery Xmas Market - Goodies
A very large gingerbread house, and some Xmas cupcakes.

There was fun to be had by all ages. Friday night, we definitely saw more adults milling about the beer garden, sampling some yummy Glenfiddich, Amarula and Weihenstephaner beer. Saturday afternoon was definitely for the kids, with some live reindeer, pretty ladies dressed as angels, and other family fun (in addition to the beer garden).

There was a variety of food available – mostly decadent treats, of course! The Sweet Escape even made a child-sized (real) gingerbread house. There was a sign to not touch, but I’m pretty sure there was a bite out of the side! I swear it wasn’t from me! The lineup for Soma was out the door and down the street (ridiculous!) on Saturday.

There were stollen, fruit cake, pfeffernüsse, marzipan pigs and all sorts of holiday baked goods. But that wasn’t what I was there for…

Distillery Xmas Market - Sausages and Beer
Sausages and Beer! (No, the sausages aren’t both mine)

Yup, I went in search of sausages. Initially, I was hoping to find some Thuringer sausages like we had in Frankfurt. Instead, we found some tasty Oktoberfest sausages. They hit the spot. Too bad they ran out of Sauerkraut on the Saturday!

Distillery Xmas Market - Raclette Fries
Distillery Xmas Market – Raclette Fries

One of the stalls was serving freshly melted Raclette cheese on top of French fries. You could smell it before you could see it – the cheese had a wee bit of stink to it, in a good way. It was gooey and tasty, just as expected.

Distillery Xmas Market - Raclette Making
Raclette Making

The guy making them had a pretty neat rig, too. There was a heating contraption that fit two blocks of cheese. They would melt the top layer of cheese, and he would scrape the melty goodness onto the fries. Pretty sweet! He was also serving up some choucroute (French for Sauerkraut, but no doubt prepared in its own way). I kinda wanted some cheese and coucroute on my fries, but I think that would have been an expensive box of fries!

In all, I think this was a valiant attempt at having a not-so-tacky Christmas event. If this can happen every year, I’m sure it can only get better.

Next week, a peek at the Ghosts of (my) Christmas Markets Past…

Until then, take a look at some other cities’ markets!

A Cupcake Spring

Distillery Cupcakes - Café Mocha


I don’t eat them often, but I have always enjoyed them. I have never made them from scratch, and have even recently made some from a box. Yes, I know – shame!!

This Spring, I plan to explore the world of the springy treat with gusto!!

The Plan: Visit a few different gourmet cupcake establishments, and see what it takes to be a delicious gourmet cupcake. Then, try my hand at making some. I am enlisting the help of some of my girls (and, undoubtedly, my guinea pig J) and we will all figure out what all the fuss is about!

My first stop was at a wee location tucked inside one of the buildings in the Distillery District, The Sweet Escape.

Being a smaller shop, they don’t have hundreds of cupcakes on hand. That said, I didn’t have any trouble finding exactly what I wanted to try. I narrowed it down to two: Red Velvet and Café Mocha. Before you start to judge – I didn’t eat them both myself!!! I split them with J (he deserves it!).

Distillery Cupcakes - Red Velvet

Sweet Escape Cupcakes – Red Velvet, anyone?
  • Red Velvet – nice light cocoa cake, with a rich cream cheese frosting
  • Café Mocha – rich chocolatey cake, with a delicious espresso buttercream frosting and topped with an espresso bean

I enjoyed both of these quite a bit, but my vote has to go with the Café Mocha. I prefer its richer chocolate over the light cocoa taste of the Red Velvet, and I’m a sucker for coffee infused anything! The icings on both were rich, creamy and nicely flavoured.  Definitely a great start to my adventure!

But it doesn’t end there. I had to try a new (to me) tasty treat.

Distillery Cupcakes - Macarons



I’ve been told that cupcakes are on their way “out”. That’s pretty funny. What’s supposedly coming up in popularity is the french macaron, which I believe because I’ve been seeing them everywhere. Having never tried one before, I thought this would be a good opportunity. I read that they are French macaroons, which led me to believe that they were full of coconut (even though I couldn’t see any evidence of it on first glance). Let me reassure you, these are NOTHING like the coconut-filled macaroons that we have here in Canada. The coconut ones are commonly found in Scotland, North America and Germany and really don’t taste anything like the French macaron.

This was heavenly – light, crispy meringue outer shell, a soft and chewy middle, with a fine nuttiness. I instantly regret buying only one. I didn’t even share it with J.

Is this the beginning of the end for me? Will I decide that cupcakes are an appropriate food item for every meal? Not likely. But I think this is going to be a fun Spring!!


Gimme Soma Chocolate!

In this installment of ‘Market Mayhem’, I visit the home of chocolate lovers to enjoy the ‘elixir of the Gods’.

Yes, my friends, I went to Soma Chocolatemaker, my very favourite chocolate shop in Toronto. While there, I enjoyed some some Mayan hot chocolate, some truffles (Douglas Fir, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar) and went home with a parting gift, to be enjoyed later.


Perusing chocolate, watching the machines in the Chocolate Lab (tee-hee).

Beware of the spooky faces I make in the video. Not sure what’s going on here, but I get all squinty and weird when in front of a camera. I need to practise in front of a mirror or something.

Can’t see the embedded video? Click here!

No, I didn’t buy the $75 chocolate bar… but I didn’t buy the smallest one, either. Yes, we did end up buying a Douglas Fir truffle, and yes it does kinda taste like trees… but in a good way. I know that trees, olive oil, hot chilis and balsamic vinegar all sound like bizarre ingredients for chocolate, but they are amazing and should be tried at least once. These are the ones I reach for the most – when I’m spending that much on a truffle, I don’t want to play it safe.

Go! Find your local chocolate maker! Indulge!