As a chocolate junkie and a former chocolate store employee, I used to assume that I knew everything there was to know about this delicious confection. After paying a visit to Kakayo Chocolate, I realize just how wrong I was.
Walking into owner Colleen Wong-Sala's shop is akin to finding an oasis in the desert - if that oasis was filled entirely with chocolate. Colleen first offers me samples of her homemade chocolates, including the popular lavender truffle, made with lavender flower and vanilla bean. Later, when I choose four to bring home with me, Colleen packs them in an adorable container (it looks like a tiny takeout carton) and hands me a slip of paper listing what is in every chocolate and when they were made - the day before my visit.
Completely fresh, organic and fair-trade chocolates. At $2 each, the truffles are worth every penny.
One of Kakayo's best offerings is chocolate made for people with dietary restrictions, like diabetics and vegans. This is where Kakayo shines, carving a niche in Toronto's chocolate market that opens up the enjoyment of chocolate to people who might not usually be able to eat these tasty treats. The vegan chai masala truffle is a delicious blend of ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. If not for the sign informing me this truffle is in fact vegan, I would not be able to tell.
Colleen flirted with the idea of opening a chocolate shop while working in the corporate world. She spent five years researching before opening Kakayo on Queen East in October 2007. For fellow chocolate lovers, Colleen plans to start on and offsite chocolate making classes this year.
I also hear she makes a mean gelato in the warmer months - something I'll anxiously be waiting to try for myself.
Writing by Laura Stricker and photos by Dara Skolnick.