The chocolatiers at Chocolate Tales love a sweet bit a cocoa, but they love bringing people together even more. That's why they created the Chocolate Social, an innovative event that combines the hands-on fun of chocolate making with the laid-back ambiance of a happy-hour bar. The vision for this new social experience comes from David, the founder of Chocolate Tales. Inspired by his time in Europe, he brought back the continent's shared love of quality chocolates, social camaraderie, and a few stiff drinks before adding his own, unique spin.
During these two-hour sessions—held at bars and restaurants throughout the GTA—groups loosen up with a drink and chocolate pairing, sipping on wine or cocktails in between bites of delicious confections. Then, they listen to enthusiastic chocolatiers share their knowledge of generating fine, cocoa-based creations as well as tasty tidbits of chocolate history. Finally, it's time to get hands-on; participants bond while creating impressive sweets such as hand-rolled truffles.
Wineries are often found far down country roads, shrouded by the curling tendrils of their vineyards. At The Wine Garden, though, the entire winemaking experience can be had without setting foot outside of the city.
Yeast bubbles busily in stainless-steel fermentation vessels, transforming the juices of grapes from fertile regions of Chile, Argentina, and California. The fermentation process yields wines that range from crisp chardonnay to heady cabernet franc, the progenitor of cabernet sauvignon, and oak barrels bestow some of the elixirs with a rich maze of tannins. Fruit wines made with peaches, cranberries, or strawberries make refreshing summertime drinks and help work friends mingle with hummingbird friends at parties. Patrons play a major role in the entire process, selecting grapes and siphoning finished wine into bottles. The Wine Garden's gourmets also brew craft beers and stock hot sauces with humourous names such as Blair's Chipotle Death Rain.
The ancient arts of healing take root at Happy Foot Spa, where a team of therapists employs Asian bodywork techniques in pursuit of holistic improvements. Chinese tui na treatments and Japanese shiatsu treatments employ massage techniques that focus on acupressure points to balance and propel energy throughout the body. Lymphatic-drainage techniques target built-up fluids and toxins in the body with the hopes of improving metabolism and immune systems. Happy Foot Spa’s mix of classic spa treatments can also help beautify faces, slim bodies, remove hair, and paint "Do Not Chew" signs on finger- and toenails.
Columbus Bakery's adept bakers employ Colombian ingredients and enthusiasm to craft a range of traditional sweet and savoury baked goods. A completely Colombian staff stuff baked and deep-fried desserts with tropical fillings, including guava and sweet arequipe, to satisfy diners and fight off packs of roving birthday cakes. Colombian coffee complements both traditional finger foods and baked goods. Bathed in natural light, the cafe space's tile floor, tall stools, colourful hanging lamps, and shelves piled with pastries welcome northerners with a South American flair.
The Great Canadian Gift Company carries Canadian-made clothing, specialty and gourmet foods, and other gifts available for individual purchase. An array of gift baskets conveniently compiles heart-warming sentimentality or thanks for a job done medium rare in handy portable containers, such as the Icewine Winter Harvest basket loaded with Icewine chocolates, preserves, tea, and salmon ($69.99). Buyers can also build custom gift baskets by picking a container and stocking it with their own product theme. Fill a gold galvanized bin ($12.99) with a celebration of all things maple syrup, from maple barbecue sauce ($8.99) to maple crunch shortbread ($6.99). The Great Canadian Gift Company's team helps vessel captains optimize their container-to-product ratio with eco-friendly gifts such as the Urban Salvage maple serving platter ($49.99), which simultaneously expresses a sensitivity for the earth and gives wood from broken homes a second chance.
Sugar Mountain Confectionery stocks its shelves with domestic and imported retro treats from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as mountains of Jelly Bellies and troves of sugar-free sweets. Bulk options let connoisseurs stock up on a single favourite or mix and match to their sugar-buzzing content for $.02 per gram, as Sour Patch Kids, Boston Baked Beans, and Whoppers patiently wait to be scooped into shopping bags or hollowed-out wooden legs. Bar-shaped bites include vintage Koo Koo bars ($0.99) and Abba-Zaba bars ($1.89), whose creamy peanut-butter centres have rewarded devoted fans for more than 60 years. Shoppers can adorn their throats or busts of Sir Winston Churchill with candy necklaces ($0.79) or wake up sleepy palates with a packet of Razzles, fruity candies that morph into chewing gum ($1.99).