Happy September! Starting the Month Off on a Sweet Note: Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville, Part I

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Happy first day of September everyone!  I know summer is far from over, but I have to say, I am SO excited for the upcoming fall and harvest season!  I am in conniptions at the thought of fall tea and drinks, baking apple desserts (because of my allergies, I can’t eat apples raw anyway so it’s win-win here), scoping out the best places to buy canned pumpkin, and indulging in those awesome traditional foods and dishes I love so much for Thanksgiving.  You know, the turkey, the gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, the whole North American bit.  I’m a total sucker for all of it, but I also know it’s not exactly the easiest foodie occasion for vegetarians and vegans to get around so I’m determined to find some delicious veggie Thanksgiving stuff for myself and my friends to enjoy in and around the city.  I actually started a bit of research on that last fall and I’m excited to see what options there are this time around. 

Oh!  And the farmers’ markets.  My camera is raring to go and I am so looking forward to snapping photos of squash and pumpkins and apples (thankfully it’s not lethal to touch or look!) and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to visit an apple orchard, just for fun.  September also marks a month filled with foodie events and festivals around the city and you can bet the whole city will be out for the Vegetarian Food Festival and Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show, among many others, later on this month.  I have so much planned for the blog for the upcoming fall season and I hope you all like what I have in store.

I want to start the month off on a sweet note, so let me ask you a question: if you could create your very own sweet tooth world, what would your ideal dessert haven consist of?  Would you have candies and chocolates?  Enough fudge to put you in a blissful sugar coma?  How about ice cream with a gazillion different types of cones and flavours and styles of regular ice cream and soft serve?  Or maybe your dessert universe would be filled with frosted cupcakes?  Oh, and of course we can’t forget the luxurious sweet nibbles such as macarons and truffles. 

Now that I have you daydreaming and drooling (and possibly wanting to run out the door to the nearest dessert-whatever), you can stop.  Because your dreams have come true.  What if I told you that this sugary utopia existed right under your nose (or at the very least in the GTA) and that EVERYTHING I just dangled in front of you exists under one roof?  Oh yes.  It’s a candy store, chocolatier, ice cream parlour, and cupcakery, and patisserie all in one amazing world of happiness.  Located in one of my favourite neighbourhoods and especially a favourite for me during the fall, I paid my first visit this summer and if I could, I would live here.  Assume your mouth in the position of jaw-dropping awe.  I present to you, Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville in Markham:

Where are the macarons and cupcakes, you ask?  Oh, they’re there.  That’s what Part II and Part III are for 😉  Enjoy!

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Old Firehall Confectionery is located at 170 Main Street in the historic Main Street Unionville neighbourhood between Carlton Rd. and Hwy 7.  The dessert haven is located between Carlton Rd. and Fred Varley Drive.  Main Street is located just east of Kennedy Rd.

Enough Fudge to Put You in a Sugar Coma! The Nutty Chocolatier on Queen St. East in the Beaches, Part II

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I adore this beautiful art outside The Nutty Chocolatier’s front door.  I think I have four or five pictures of this pretty mural alone.  It’s eye-catching, it’s colourful, and so happy-go-lucky.  You have chocolate bars hugging, truffles skipping about, and some very smiley lollipops.  It’s such a cute way of exemplifying how much fun candy shops can be and how everyone has a soft spot for candies and chocolates in same way.  When I visit candy stores, I don’t buy a lot.  To me, less is more because otherwise, it becomes overwhelming and it ends up spoiling when it gets to be too much.  I love walking away with one special treat, something to enjoy on the ride back home or something to savour later.   

I do enjoy my Fuzzy Peaches as well as peach and green apple gummy rings, but what I look forward to the most is finding special imports, and limited edition collectibles and novelty items!  Things like adorable tin lunch boxes, imported candies, different flavours of old classics, that sort of thing.  This is what sets each and every candy shop apart from each other.  For example, I know a handful of places where you can get the special coconut M&Ms, but can you always get them at lower prices?  Nope.  Which is why I still stand by my top two picks on where to get them for cheap: Yonge Market ($1) and Uncle John’s Candy Shack ($1.39).  What appeals to me the most is the stuff that you can’t get anywhere else, and that same great stuff for really good prices.

What threw me for a loop the very first time I came here was their ridiculously huge selection of potato chips!  You know, those little snack-size bags of Ruffles or Lays that we, in North America, are so accustomed to seeing?  Imagine those, but instead of Ruffles or Lays, they’re Walkers and they come in flavours like roasted chicken, pickled onion, and prawn cocktail!  And you sooo know these are from the UK because, as my English friend Alex once said, “we say prawn, not shrimp!”  Ha! 😀  The little baggies of potato chips are in boxes closer to the back of the candy shop and there are at least ten flavours to choose from.  The little baggies are $1 each, but I’m almost positive that if you buy several, there’s a deal.  If you love unexpected flavours and potato chips, or if you’re just plain curious, I totally recommend their selection!

At the Nutty Chocolatier, their standouts are their fudge, truffles, and their imported candies, chocolates, and savoury snacks which, for the most part, come from the UK.  Their selection varies over time, but if you love fudge and if you like finding different flavours of certain chocolates, you will love it here!  Their selection of fresh fudge is out of this world.  Slabs and slabs of it sit on their cutting boards in a bazillion different flavours and the girls who work here are happy to slice you a piece to sample!  They have flavours like chocolate cheesecake chip, banana chocolate, chocolate orange, peanut butter cup, rocky road, Turtles fudge, chewy praline, and watermelon!  I know, watermelon fudge!  The slab is white, pink, and green with chocolate chips in it to resemble seeds and I grabbed a sample to try and it tasted really fruit and chocolatey!  Kind of like watermelon mixed with white chocolate. 

The fudge looked so good, especially the chocolate cheesecake chip and the chocolate orange, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish whatever I bought so I settled for a rich, sweet sample.  The prices differ based on flavour, but the prices are calculated by weight (per 100g) and there are prepackaged slabs of fudge for you to choose from too.

The Nutty Chocolatier has a HUGE selection of candies, but to be honest, I’d pass on the candy and focus more on the chocolate products (if you can eat them) or their savoury snacks (like the UK imported chips), just because I find that the candy prices are a little more expensive than other places and it’s just not necessary, in my opinion, to pay more for candies that you could get elsewhere for less. 

But!  For those who like flavoured Kit Kats and who loooove mint chocolate, you’re in luck!  The candy shop has a special mint chocolate Kit Kat UK import!  They’re mini Kit Kats and you can either buy them individually near the cash, or you can pick up party packs with 9 mini packs inside.  Each mini has two chocolate wafers.  Even though I’m still warming up to mint chocolate, I was pretty excited to find these!  I adore flavoured Kit Kats and although I haven’t tried every flavour under the sun, my favourite over the years has been the orange Kit Kat and I was so giddy when I found special mini orange Kit Kats from the UK at Uncle John’s Candy Shack almost two months ago.

The candy and chocolate shop also serves ice cream and gelato and they have plenty of novelty items like mugs and tin lunch boxes.  It’s a big shop and it’s so much fun to look at everything.  If you’re ever in the Beaches area, drop in and take a look because it’s one of those novelty stores that you just have to visit and roam around in because of their sheer volume of stock.  And who knows, maybe the next time I’m there I’ll succumb to temptation and pick up some fudge after all.

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The Nutty Chocolatier is located in the Beaches neighbourhood at 2179 Queen Street East, east of Woodbine Ave. and in between Lee and Hambly Ave.

Skipping Down Chocolate & Candy Lane – The Nutty Chocolatier on Queen St. East in the Beaches, Part I

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My trip to The Nutty Chocolatier in the Beaches area on Queen St. East was well worth the wait.  I waited A YEAR to come back to this sweet morsel of confectionary to finally take the photos I wanted to take.  You all know how anal I am about my photos.  If I don’t like them, I retake until I’m satisfied.  And if it takes me a year to go back to a place, I will mumble and grumble but patiently wait till the day I get to come back.  I know it sounds so silly considering that all it takes is a subway and streetcar ride.  But the weather doesn’t always cooperate when you make plans to go, sometimes you just feel like exploring another neighbourhood, and other times you run out of bus tokens and tickets and feel too cheap to buy more, and thus the trip is prolonged for another chunk of time.  Sigh.  Tis the life of a foodie. 

I went to the Beaches area for the first time last summer and I was so, so excited to go back to revisit some places and to explore a bit more this past month.  The Beaches area is beautiful.  It’s quaint, it’s peaceful, and it has that lovely mom-and-pop feel.  Added bonus?  It’s just a hop, skip, step away from Woodbine beach!  When you walk along Queen St. E, it feels so nice because you can feel the balmy air coming in from the shore.  When I spend a day in the Beaches, my plan of action involves getting off the Queen streetcar at Woodbine Ave. and walking east till I’m too tired to keep walking, ha! 

Even though I may not buy things in every candy shop I go into (what self-control I have!), I looove looking and The Nutty Chocolatier is a BIG shop that offers candy, chocolate, British imports and memorabilia (there were plenty of William and Kate mugs among other things when I was there this past month, haha), gelato and icecream, imported chips and savoury snacks, and lots and lots of fudge!  So here’s a teaser post with photos of The Nutty Chocolatier, the resident neighbourhood candy store, fudge shop, and cavity-inducing sugar emporium with plenty of local and imported sweets and treats 😀

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The Nutty Chocolatier is located in the Beaches neighbourhood at 2179 Queen Street East, east of Woodbine Ave. and in between Lee and Hambly Ave.