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.
Named one of the best cheese shops in the city by blogTO, Cheese Emporium curates cheeses from at least a dozen different countries, celebrating the unique cheese-making character and tradition found in each locale. French and Italian cheeses dominate the dairy cases in the shop, whose selection Toronto Life describes as “defiantly European.” Pungent and creamy Delice de Bourgogne fills a cheese plate alongside one of three Roqueforts, and Italian offerings such as Sardinian goat cheese and buffalo mozzarella mingle with swiss gruyere. More local cheeses stroll over from other provinces and the USA, including a 12-year Quebec white cheddar and a smoky Oregon blue. Toronto Life also describes an “extensive olive bar” from which customers can harvest a wide variety of googly eyes for the sandwiches at their next business lunch.
Advocates of organic and gluten-free baking, the pastry specialists at Dvine Gelato Lounge and Coffee Bar produce inspired confections devoid of chemicals, pesticides, or hormones. One of the bakery's most popular and corrugated items, the gluten-free krinkle cookie pleases food-conscious appetites with its entirely vegan ingredients. Dvine Gelato Lounge's ovens also release armies of deceptive PeaNot Butter bars, which contain no nuts and are instead composed of peanut-flavour-mimicking cornflakes and soy butter that, when united, can fool the most suspicious circus elephants and taste buds. Wary of gluten cross-contamination concerns, Dvine Gelato Lounge takes food safety precautions that include using separate baking sheets, storing different flours separately, and employing the help of wheat-sniffing dogs.
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.)