If you told me 10 years ago that my answer for where to shop in Toronto for the best food in the city on an unremarkable strip of road in Scarborough, I’d laugh and tell you that I never leave the downtown core. Now I have 10 years of eating to make up for my ridiculous attitude and a great deal of that will be happening at Arz Bakery and Fine Foods.
It’s Always About Dessert
I first heard of Arz when my brother in-law brought a tray of their baklawa to a family dinner. In case you don’t know, baklawa is a phyllo pastry made with a variety of nuts and honey. I have lived in Greektown. I have eaten its Greek cousin, baklava, and thought it was okay but couldn’t hold a candle to chocolate. This stuff was different. This was transcendent baklawa. This was eat most of the tray and try to blame it on someone else baklawa. Right there and then, I knew I had to add Arz to my list of where to shop in Toronto.
Last week, I finally made the trip and was not disappointed. Right inside the door, I was already transfixed by a display of fresh dates, still attached to the branch. I had never even seen those before, much less eaten them. There were still more treasures to behold further into the bright and airy store: pomegranate molasses, shelves stacked high with all sorts of Turkish delight, fresh pita straight out of the oven, cases of olives from exotic locations, all sorts of spices I have never tasted and of course, the baklawa.
Friendly, Helpful Staff
As I wandered around, looking at tons of foods I had never eaten or seen before, my husband hung around the bakery counter where the friendly staff plied him with free samples. You can feel a bit alienated in a store where you aren’t familiar with the foods or what to do with them, but everyone at Arz was happy to explain what everything was.
A lot of the fun, too, though is just loading up your cart with a variety of new things to try at home. We took home the pita – best I’ve ever eaten, the babaganoush – also the best I’ve ever eaten, a bottle of pomegranate molasses, lebneh which is a yogurt garlic dip, a variety of salads from the fresh deli counter, zaatar pizzas, Turkish delight and the fabulous baklawa.
Where to Shop in Toronto for Great Food
I am going back to get those fresh dates, sample every olive, eat the homemade lentil soup and pick up some Armenian tahini bread. I suppose I’ll have to get more baklawa too. I mean, if I am going all the way to Scarborough, I really should…