One of my favorites parts of travel is bringing things home. I love the idea of a souvenir that stays with me — at least for a short while — and reminds me of my adventures elsewhere. Sometimes it's an intangible thing, like a way of eating dinner, but more often than not it's a more physical (and edible) treat that I can savor from the comforts of home.
My most recent trip to Toronto yielded a few really great souvenirs — some of them expected and a couple that were more surprising. Read on to find out the five things I brought home from Canada (maple syrup not included!).
1. Quantum Coffee Riserva Espresso, $17
Coffee is one of those things I almost always seek out when I'm away from home. First, because I know I will always, always be in need of coffee. Second, because it's fun to try different beans.
Toronto has a lot (really a lot) of coffee shops, and most of them are independently run, with beans roasted in-house (or, you know, 500 feet away). One of my favorites was Quantum Coffee, a sleek, year-old spot attached to a shared work space that also sells juices, nut milks, and kombucha.
I opted for the house espresso, which has notes of "ripe fig and toffee with a buttery finish," because I wanted to try out my new Bialetti Moka Pot.
2. Soma Drinking Chocolate, $5
I could have spent a very, very long time in this serious chocolate boutique on King Street, which was recommended to me by a Kitchn reader (thanks, Mary Frances!). I definitely spent a lot of money, but it was totally worth it. I picked up some dark chocolate coconut toffee clusters (already gone) and three different chocolate bars, but my best buy was their Gianduja drinking chocolate. I nibbled on it straight, drank a concentrated shot with hot water, and mixed it into my morning banana-date smoothie. So good!
3. Kozlik's Canadian Mustard, $5
So I didn't bring home any maple syrup, but I did bring home maple mustard from Kozlik's, a family-run operation with dozens of different mustards in three main categories: spicy, sweet, and savory. I visited their stall at St. Lawrence market, where I must've sampled about 10 different varieties before settling on the sweet-with-a-bite "Amazing Maple." It's definitely going to give my vinaigrettes a kick and I'm thinking of using it to make these roasted dijon potatoes.
4. Havana Club Anejo Cuban Rum, $27
It might seem weird to bring Cuban rum home from Canada, but here's the thing you might not know: The "Havana Club" rum you can find in the States is made in Puerto Rico. In Canada, you can find the real Cuban stuff in basically any liquor store. The seven-year version tastes like tropical fruits, butterscotch, and vanilla. I recommend it neat.
5. Chan Chi Kee "Small Slicer," $67
If you are a person who loves knives, then you may know that Toronto is home to the only Chan Chi Kee knife shop outside of China. If you are a person who loves knives, you will also know that Chan Chi Kee is known for its very good and relatively inexpensive knives. I am not this person, but I know someone who is. So I got a "small slicer" for chopping vegetables.
What's your best culinary travel find?