In a world saturated with cheap potato chips and stale snacks, Spudniks stands apart. Rather than selling crinkly bags of chips and popcorn designed to last for months—thanks to additives and preservatives—they make each without unnecessary chemicals and serve them up to customers fresh and warm. The flavours are better, too—snacks are only seasoned once they're sold, and the shop's varied seasonings come with gluten-free options in flavours such as bleu cheese and chicken wings, mexi-jalapeno, and spicy thai-chili. The finger food selection ranges far and wide, from potato chips and kettle corn to spoutine and spachos, Spudniks' takes on the traditional comfort foods.
The products are also available in sealed packages for retail sale and portable consumption, with each bag actually full of snacks—not the disappointing air pocket or novelty rubber snake that fills other bags. For off-site enjoyment, Spudniks caters events with their warm chips and popcorn.
Inspired by the boutique markets of New York and France, Fresh & Wild's King and Spadina and Bloor West locations buzz with activity as customers browse produce, meat, and artisan goods sourced both locally and from across the globe. Within the King and Spadina store, a high-powered media system plays rock and blues as shoppers lasso tapenades and fresh tomatoes into carts. A modern café echoes Italy as it brews fair-trade coffees, leans slightly askew, and dishes out flaky pastries from local bakeries. The Bloor West location celebrates the bounty of nature by displaying vibrant green plants within indoor and outdoor cases.
Each morning at 4 a.m., the grocery's buyer arrives at a food terminal to acquire fresh items and potatoes, which he then uses to fuel his car back home. Additionally, Fresh & Wild employs a catering team that stack gourmet sandwiches and shake up organic salads until they plead for mercy.
Nella Cucina grants the fabled power of food preparation to neophyte cooks through a variety of classes. Each month brings new classes and new cuisine styles, ensuring that you’ll find at least one tasty tutorial in which to immerse yourself. The month of May, for example, kicks off with a Malaysian-cuisine class ($95) in which instructors from Arvinda’s Artfully Created Indian Spice Blends will teach the spice-tinged ins and outs of the Indian-Thai hybrid cuisine through such dishes as fragrant lemongrass-coconut soup, Malaysian chicken curry, and vanilla-coconut-chai ice cream. Break open a piñata of possibility with May 11’s class in Mexican cuisine ($125), taught by chef Jose Hadad of Frida Restaurant & Bar, or scale summits of pasta and prosciutto at May 19’s class in authentic Italian cooking ($125), courtesy of chef Gabriele Paganelli of Romagna Mia. The snowy winds of summer bring classes in Latin-American cuisine ($125) on June 16, classic soup and stew stocks ($95) on June 19, and authentic Chinese cooking ($95) on July 7. Peruse Nella Cucina’s list, with classes detailed into the autumn months, to find the cooking course that best speaks to the ladle of your heart. (The letters next to the prices are a key to the types of classes: I for individual, G for group/team, D for demonstration.)