My blog has been trucking along since the Spring of 2007 and most of you are familiar with my travels to Greece and love of my native cuisine, Greek food.
Being a Greek who lives abroad (Diaspora), I feel lucky that my parents chose Canada as the country of choice to start a new life and family. I feel particularly fortunate to live in the vibrant, culturally diverse and tolerant city of Toronto. This is the first installment of a regular series I will tag as “Talk Toronto”. Join me as I introduce this fair city to you, it’s people and the food that feeds this city.
Toronto is just 90 minutes from Niagara Falls and the Canada/US border. It’s located on Lake Ontario and it’s geographically located in a strategic area for commerce. Commerce equals work, work equals opportunity, opportunity equals population expolosion and population explosion equals diversity. Toronto has one of the most diverse populations in the world, everyone getting along pretty well.
Within this multicultural mosaic, peoples from different lands brought and shared the foods from their homeland. Every ethnicity has pitched in to offer it’s citizens an international pantry that rivals the larger “foodie” cities.
My goal is to also share and show you what a remarkable city Toronto is and in particular, show you where I shop for my ingredients, attain some of my cooking inspiration and showcase the people and shops that cater to the diverse and sometimes fickle tastes of this international city.
First stop, The Cheese Boutique. Don’t let the store’s name deceive you, there’s more to the Cheese Boutique than just cheese. A walkabout around the store will take you through the produce section, you’ll gawk at the display of cakes and desserts, peruse the hundreds of varieties of cheeses, become intoxicated with the aroma of cheeses aging in their very own aging room, salivate at the meats that hang and dry-age in their exclusive aging room, sip an espresso and contemplate which olive oil to try, which balsamic vinegar to pair it with, choose from an array of quality pastas, sauces and pestos, travel the world with coffees and teas, be tantalized with the row upon row of charcuterie and finally, pick up some artisan bread just as your about to say “farewell” until your next visit.
Almost 40 years ago, the Cheese Boutique began from the humble beginnings of a ma & pa corner store (Beckers) and as time marched on, this corner store quickly became a family business that included the involvement of three generations of the Pristine family. The Cheese Boutique is currently located in the South Kingsway area of Toronto (west end) and despite my living in the northest end of the city, the quality, attention to the customer and a passion for their products still makes it an easy “foodie” destination for me.
As a Greek, I’m delighted that the Cheese Boutique sells barrel-aged Dodoni Feta, Manouri, Kasseri and Kefalograviera cheeses. Greek olive oils,olives coffee, vinegars, honey and oregano are all “must haves” in the Greek pantry.
Enough with all the chit-chat, let’s explore the store together…one gets the feeling that you’re walking through a playground built especially for foodies. Take your time, chat up the staff, ask to sample a cheese before you buy it, try out the olives, check out the every nook and crannie of the Cheese Boutique.
Each time I go back, I discover something new…hope you will too!
When you first enter the Cheese Boutique, you’ll be met by the finest produce the markets have to offer.
Fancy some cakes and dessrts from the patisserie?
I know I always need olive oil in my cooking, do you have Greek extra-virgin olive oil?
Fancy some Serrano ham from Espana? I sure do!
Be sure to ask where the aging room for the cheeses are…the smell is intoxicating!
Only the staff may enter the aging room for the beef but here’s some of their “choice cuts”.
Here’s a birds-eye view of the main service island.
Sampling of the array of olives is actually encouraged!
A large display featuring many of the deli meats from around the world.
Some more charcuterie.
I don’t think the store would be complete without some prosciutto di Parma
Some earthernware and other cooking vessels are available for purchase.
Quality homemade sausages for all tastes, be it mild or spicy.
What would the Cheese Boutique be without cheese?
Bread should always be present at the family table.
An assortment of balsamic vinegars, for all budgets.
Those cheese wheels are real…they sell that much cheese!
Protect the store, staff and patrons from the “evil eye”.
A young gent behind the counter was brushing the truffles…this one weighed in at $370!
It’s never a “slow time” at the Cheese Boutique.
The province of Quebec produces some of Canada’s best cheeses.
The Cheese Boutique is located at 45 Ripley Ave., near the South Kingsway, in the southwest end of Toronto.
You may visit the Cheese Boutique’s site here.
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