One of the best things about a city like Toronto is the history everywhere you look, layers upon layers of it! Available for you to take in at any moment. Walking down one street in Toronto you can find brand new and modern restaurants mixed in with some of the oldest antique shops, or hidden away cafe's and specialty stores. I love this aspect of it, because I always feel that there is more to learn, explore and discover ( I felt like a huge dork writing that - but I meant it!, so).
I think, It's common to find hidden gems when you aren't even looking and that was the case for us when we stumbled upon Frank Correnti Cigars on the corner of King and Portland. We were looking for somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat when we happened to see a sign for cuban cigars down an alleyway.
We were intrigued by the location, and since it was broad daylight we thought we would check it out - we walked down the alley to find a metal doorway and a set of wooden-paneled stairs that lead to a second floor cigar shop. It was so concealed, I felt as if we were entering a secret club, or that I'd have to know some secret code or knock to get in
When we walked in we walked down a long corridor that felt like a museum - it's lined with antiques, and photos on the wall (many with celebrities that apparently frequent the shop such as Bill Cosby, Gene Hackman, The Blue Jays etc). The walls are stacked with cigar boxes, and labels -It definitely felt as if we had stepped into another time.
The shop had a sweet, sort of earthy scent of the tobacco, which I really like. In the back of the shop is where the cigars themselves are made - the process was fascinating! It was done significantly faster than I had expected - but these guys are experts.
At the time we were unaware - but we later discovered that this shop has been around for over 100 years. Correnti's is Canada's last handmade cigar factory, and the man who currently runs it, Kris, is a fourth-generation cigar-maker.
Kris was really friendly, he told us that he had just dropped by the shop to pick some things up (he's typically closed Sunday's) but he had stayed to make our cigars anyway! and for a few other people that had dropped in.
I don't really know that much about cigars, but I do appreciate great craftsmanship and Kris was obviously passionate about his job and his product. Everything in the cigars (leaves and tobacco) are sourced and brought in from Cuba - The interesting thing is that they are legal in the U.S because they are MADE in Canada, so they are considered a Canadian product!
This was a really interesting experience, we haven't tried the cigars yet - but Correnti's has received acclaim all over the world, and so far my experience with them as a company has been great. Anyone looking for cigars for a special occasion - or just because, I recommend checking this place out. Here is a video of Kris talking a little bit about the shop.