Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and with it come the mostly uninspired prix fixe menus, over priced flowers and cheesy cards. But don’t get me wrong. I’d have to be dead inside not to like a day that’s dedicated to L.O.V.E. But although it was originally celebrated as the “day of romance”, these days it’s also a day to show you care, whether it’s your partner, your friends or co-workers. And nothing says You’re Special (in a good way) like a sweet, doughy, chocolatey treat. So whether you’re celebrating new love, old love, or no love, I’ve got you covered. Here are my TOP5 best spots for sweet treats, Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
Nadege Patisserie – This is macarons heaven, although they also offer what seem like any other French pastry and hand-made chocolate. The focus here is solely on the art of the baked good and chocolate expertly prepared by Nadege Nourian, a fourth-generation pastry chef from Lyon, France. There are two locations – Rosedale and Queen West. The Queen West location offers seating and serves coffee and sandwiches which are also delicious. It’s the perfect place to drop by to warm up with a coffee and dessert after a walk in Trinity Bellwoods Park, or to pick-up some of these colourful little gems to go.
SOMA Chocolate – If you consider chocolate as the most important food group, this is the place to be. SOMA makes chocolate in small batches directly from the cocoa bean. The beans are Fairtrade, organic and originating from some of the best places for chocolate making in the world. Soma has two locations – Distillery District and King West. The Distillery District is the original location and it’s where SOMA Chocolate designs and creates handmade chocolate in the on-site chocolate lab. There you can see the workings of a micro-chocolate factory with viewing windows showcasing chocolatemakers busy making truffles, a line of traditional Italian cookies, and the intoxicating drinking chocolate. Come to think of it, it makes for a fun date.
Dlish Cupcakes – If you want to brighten up someone’s day a cupcake is pretty much a no-brainer. I’ve had my share of cupcakes, but Dlish is one of the best ones yet. There are 23 gourmet flavours but only 9 available on any given day. The owner believes that this allows his baking staff to focus their energies on executing the day’s flavours flawlessly. You won’t find multi-colour sprinkles or other candies bedazzling the cupcake. Here it’s all about the flavour in the cake and the frosting. Located in Queen West, Dlish also takes online orders and offers delivery that will definitely make an impression. My favourite thing, other than the delicious product, is that whether you buy a dozen or just one, your cupcakes are boxed and wrapped with a pretty ribbon and your choice of a message. Now wouldn’t that put a smile on your face?
Mabel’s Bakery – This bakery has garnered a reputation for exceptional cookies, cupcakes and most notably triple chocolate brownies. The brownie is my favourite here. It’s rich, sweet and almost a meal on its own. If you’re looking for a delicious dessert or maybe fresh bread and pastries for a Valentine’s Day breakfast, you must try Mabel’s. There are two locations – Roncesvalles and Queen West and both offer fresh baked goods as well as artisan breads and even prepared foods, if you want to prepare a special dinner but you’re not really a pro in the kitchen. Also it’s good to know that Mabel’s uses only the highest quality ingredients, choosing local or organic options whenever possible, with no preservatives or artificial flavouring, so you’re eating healthy even if you’re indulging.
SanRemo Bakery – SanRemo Bakery is to Etobicoke like Carlo’s Bakery is to Hoboken, Jew Jersey. If you’re in need of a cake, pie, tart, fritters….oh the apple fritters…basically any kind of dessert you can think of, SanRemo has it. The bakery first opened in 1969 and since then the bread, most of the pastries, the pizza, pasta, sandwiches and more are prepared at this location. So here’s what you do – you pick up a bit of prosciutto, an assortment of cheeses, maybe some olives and home made spreads, stuffed Vienna bread and for dessert an assortment of gourmet pastries. Add to it a bottle of wine, or two, and you’ve got yourself the perfectly romantic and hassle-free evening.