Read into this what you will, but I’m in love with a honey ball. Specifically a honey ball the size of a timbit but oval shaped, dripping with syrup-y honey and dusted with cinnamon. Yep, that’s the one. Fresh out of the deep fryer, these tasty little morsels grabbed my heart by the taste buds and forced me to eat an undisclosed amount, although I will say it was a big enough number that I’ve felt the need to up the number of 10-minute trainer workouts this week in order to stay on track with the post-pregnancy weight-loss initiative. But enough about pesky exercise….now back to the balls.
This past Wednesday morning, little Felix suggests that since the weather was so cooperative, it may be nice to take a stroll up to the Danforth to check out a couple of bakeries in Greek town. Eager to please my adorable 5-month-old son (who obviously cannot talk but I’m adept at reading suggestive baby eye movements) I package him into the stroller and we’re off on another bakery adventure. OPA!
Since I do happen to swing through Greek town on a somewhat regular basis, I have an idea of the two bakeries I want to visit: Athens Pastries & Athena Bakery. About 45 mins into our walk, Felix and I have made it to the west end of the Danforth and are standing outside the very Greek-looking window of Athena:
Inside, the place is FULL of cookies, cakes, mousses, and hundreds of Easter candles are hanging over my head, ready for the upcoming holiday. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, this place may seem severely overwhelming, and I hate to say it, but the woman behind the counter is not interested in helping me find my feet. I tell her about my blog project, and that I have a couple of questions, but she says she’s too busy and promptly walks away (I’m the only person in the shop at the time). Double OPA!!
Luckily, I had been tipped off in advance that the chocolate-covered baklava was an Akropolis specialty, and I see a mountain of almond cookies (kourabiethes) which I know are a common Greek goody, so these are the two things I choose to try.
This is a pick-up-and-go type bakery, so I collect my goodies and head out the door. On my way out, an older woman holds the door for me and as we both step onto the street she waves her hand at the shop and declares “too much expense” before hurrying off down the sidewalk. I had thought the $4.95 just spent on two baklava and several almond cookies seemed reasonable, but maybe there are better deals to be had in town – I’ll have to look into it.
Next stop is Athens Pastries:
I have a feeling it’s going to be good as soon as I step through the door, because this place is hopping! Athens is more a café-style bakery, with several tables in the back and bar stools along one wall. The selection is small – only three or four items.
The girl behind the counter is super helpful, and tells me that people come from all over for their spinach pie (spanakopita), so I order one spinach pie ($3.40) to stay.
She says the honey balls (loukoumades) are also quite popular, so I order a bag to go ($3.00 per dozen). I forego the offer of a Greek–style coffee, knowing Felix won’t appreciate any dilly-dallies, and take the last seat available in the shop for a quick bite. It is a bit heavy on the onion and light on the dill for me, but nevertheless, it is delicious. The phyllo pastry is soft and chewy as opposed to the usual brittle, flaky variety that I’ve more commonly experienced. I’m told by the helpful counter girl that this is because the owner rolls his phyllo pastry by hand every morning – and that he’s been doing this since the shop first opened 32 years ago:
Back at home that evening, the hubbie and I sit down to sample the baklava, almond cookies and honey balls, and this is where the trouble really starts. I’ve never been a huge baklava fan, but cover these babies in chocolate, and I’m sold. The nuts, honey and pastry are a natural fit with the chocolate and the hubbie agrees – yum.
The toasted almond cookies….they’re alright. Crunchy, not too sweet, but not much flavor either. Probably wouldn’t order them again, at least not from Athena.
And then I made the mistake of trying the little darling honey love balls from Athens Pastries. OPA! And then I had another…and another….OPA! OPA! And then the hubbie and I may have politely fought over the last one (I won). They went so fast in fact, that sadly, I did not even take the time to photograph even one before they had disappeared. (Please insert your imagination’s image here). They really are the best donut-like sweet treat I’ve had in recent memory, and I will definitely be going back for seconds, thirds, fourths…..and if you’re anywhere near the Danforth anytime soon, you should give these little wonders a shot.
I somewhat justified my honey ball eating frenzy with the fact I’d taken a wrong turn on my walk home from Greek Town that day and ended up having to push “little” Felix up many levels of a very steep overpass in order to cross the GO Train tracks. That had to be at least………one honey balls worth of calories?? OPA!?
598 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 1R1
509 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 1P5