When I recommend good eats to friends and tell them about my fun walks and exploration days in the city, my friends will often ask, “how in the world do you find these places??” I know my brother has asked me that very question on more than one occasion and the only answer I can give everyone is that I walk. A lot. And I look at maps of the city. A lot. I have a hunger and a thirst to see and do as much as I can and to learn about my surroundings. I’m fascinated by the different neighbourhoods and enclaves in the city and their histories. Every part of town has a story and exploring it all on foot (or bus or streetcar) is like experiencing a visual playbook. Finding food gems in every Toronto neighbourhood is one of the best – and most rewarding – parts of exploring and discovering Cabbagetown has been no different. Walking east from my favourite indoor garden conservatory in the city, Allan Gardens, seemed like a no-brainer for me and this “just keep walking” mentality of mine led me to one of my favourite foodie discoveries last year.
The cheerful “Welcome to Old Cabbagetown” billboard sign sits right at the intersection of Carlton & Parliament St. and it beckons you to take a stroll and to take a look at what is now one of the largest areas of restored and preseved Victorian housing and architecture in the city. And you feel it and see it when you walk around. You see the historial significance of the neighbourhood’s name when you pass by a house donning an old green-and-white Cabbagetown flag, indicative of the Irish immigrants who settled into this neighbourhood in the 1800s. You feel as though you’ve entered some parallel universe where the contemporary and the old have fused into one. You see where the old has been retained and at the same time, you see where the gentrification has happened.
On the one hand, Cabbagetown makes you envision old school general stores and barber shops with the iconic striped twirly outside along with vintage bicycles and horse-drawn carriages roaming through the streets. You envision men in tweed and women carrying parisols. But on the other hand you have hip home decor stores and cafés amongst buildings reminiscent of the early 1900s. There’s so much history; from Cabbagetown being dubbed by media outlets as an impoverished slum from the effects of WWII and the neighbourhood’s proximity to low-income social housing by Regent Park to the gentrification of the area in past decades, you can’t help but get immersed in it when you get to know the neighbourhood.
Visually, gourmet haunt Daniel et Daniel near the corner of Carlton and Parliament St. tips their hat to this history with its old-fashioned lamp posts and their logo of a man riding a vintage pennyfarthing bike carrying French baguettes. Daniel et Daniel is a foodie’s gourmet dream. With walls of gourmet jams, jellies, mustards, antipasto, and chocolates, along with glass displays featuring mouth-watering picnic salads and fresh baked desserts, it would take a lifetime to feast on everything the shop has to offer. So, consider this post as a little intro into my exploration of Cabbagetown and its good eats as well as a teaser to tomorrow’s thorough Daniel et Daniel post, complete with scrapbook layout and food porn of tarts, chocolate bark, and lemon luscious desserts. It’s going to be good 😉
Daniel et Daniel is a gourmet food shop in Cabbagetown that does event catering. They are located at 248 Carlton St. near the intersection of Carlton and Parliament St.