talking chocolate in Kingston, Ontario

I had the great pleasure of giving a chocolate talk on Chocolatour and my chocolate travels at Sugar Swan, what was locally known as ‘Kingston’s Best Candy Store.’ You might wonder what Chocolatour would be doing in a candy store, but I assure you. In addition to a wide assortment of candy and confections, Sugar Swan offered terrific handcrafted artisan chocolate provided by Ridgway Confections, (With regard to the packaged candy, I particularly enjoyed the GooGoo Cluster made by the Standard Candy Company of Nashville, Tennessee.) If you like peanut butter, this one’s a winner!

The waterfront in Kingston is situated at the south end of the Rideau Canal at the mouth of the Cataraqui River.

Kingston is situated at the south end of the Rideau Canal at the mouth of the Cataraqui River.

St. Marks Anglican Church

A visit to St. Marks Anglican Church was a highlight of our stop in Kingston, where we met an art restoration expert who was restoring a mural in the church. (We were asked not to take a photograph of that, but were permitted to photograph the beautiful stained glass.)

I’d never been to Kingston, Ontario, before and wasn’t sure what to expect. From what I saw, they have a lovely waterfront park–which I’m sure is most inviting spring through fall. But I happened to be (un)fortunate enough to have hit Kingston the night of a snowstorm, and so the turnout to our chocolate event was much smaller than anticipated.

The wild weather didn’t dampen our spirits! It gave me more time to get to know Ken Suitor and his wife Tanya, who are the proud owners of Sugar Swan. The big smiles of these two young chocolate lovers is reason enough to visit the store.

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great chocolate in kingston ontario area

But for adamant chocolate connoisseurs, there’s an even better reason. Sugar Swan carried the delicious chocolate creations of Ridgway Confections, a company headed by chocolatier Derek Ouellet and his wife Cindy Healy, who looks after marketing for the company and is also the genius when it comes to blending spices.

ridgway confections makes great chocolate in kingston ontario

“I love playing with spices,” says Cindy, who created the 12-spice Madras ganache made from cardamom seeds, curry, mustard seeds, and coconut cream mixed with white chocolate and 72% dark chocolate. The Madras chocolate cream offers an unforgettable blend of flavours, a mild heat, and artful appearance. Definitely my favourite in the Ridgway product line.

Derek uses maple syrup to sweeten his chocolate and confections, and plans to transition from making his chocolates out of  processed cocoa nibs to making it right from whole cocoa beans. I have no doubt that will take Ridgway to a whole new level.

The creativity and artistry already found in Ridgway’s offerings include macadamia nuts covered in powered sugar, dark chocolate bars topped with sour cherries, and the aromatic Wendy Bar made from cocoa grown in Ghana–all handcrafted in a chocolate workshop attached to the 1896 house in nearby Seeley’s Bay where Derek and Cindy live.

Since my initial visit to Kingston, Sugar Swan has closed, and Ridgway Confections has opened its own shop at the front of 159 Main Street in Seeley’s Bay. At present, it is only open to the public on weekends as it is also the residence of Derek and Cindy.

Their future plans are to transform their historic residence into a chocolate-focused Bed & Breakfast. What a delicious experience that would be!

Thanks to my friend and Chocolatouring companion Christine Peets of Napanee, Ontario, for introducing me to Ridgway Confections, which she discovered at a local craft fair.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

26 Responses

  1. Doreen — I think I finally figured out that Kingston is in Canada! How do you find the stores/places you visit? Just curious — through word of mouth, chocolate makers, directories?
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Have You Refreshed Your Social Media Accounts Lately?My Profile

  2. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love visiting old churches while traveling. The picture of the stained glass is beautiful. I’m sure that’s not nearly as much fun as visiting all the chocolate growers and tasting all the delicious chocolate creations you come across though. 🙂

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Susan: It’s fun visiting old churches, isn’t it? We were driving by this one and I quickly asked my friend to stop the car so that we could see if it was open. We lucked out, as the restoration expert was at work and had left the door open. It was fascinating to hear her speak of her work. Plus … she bought a copy of my book! What could be better? 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…the importance of a good night’s sleepMy Profile

  3. Rachel
    Twitter:
    says:

    As usual, I’m totally jealous that you can taste so many of the best chocolates in the world, and it’s okay because it’s for work! And to combine that with travel … Chocolate and travel: my two favorite things!

  4. Natalie Deduck
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen…
    I´m still not sure if I love your blog posts or if I hate them…hahaha
    Everything you describe is so delicious and unique that I want to try them straight way, but then I remember that I´m miles way from you, sometimes is a tiny island where it´s hard to find a simple milk chocolate bar… Well that´s why I read you, you fill up my chocolate desires… Best of Luck to your Chocolatour!
    Cheers, 😀
    Nat
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…5 Reasons Why Langkawi, Malaysia is The Perfect Romantic GetawayMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Natalie and thx for stopping by. Yes, sometimes you happen to visit a place when chocolate isn’t really ‘on the menu’ so to speak. I’ve definitely found that in warmer places where I suspect chocolate melts too quickly to make it a feasible product. I admire Caribeans Chocolate in Costa Rica who sell their chocolate in a slightly chilled room. Keeps it nice and fresh!
      Doreen recently posted…the importance of a good night’s sleepMy Profile

  5. Leigh says:

    I went to Queens but no signs of chocolate stores when I lived there. I love all the exotic combos – and it looks like you made the most of your visit.
    Leigh recently posted…Bison & Snowshoes – A Winter Combo in Elk Island National ParkMy Profile

  6. Josie says:

    Hi Doreen,

    A cold wintery night seems the perfect time to devour chocolate. And with the low attendance you got all the attention and good eats. Lucky you.
    Would love to have been there to taste some, especially those spicy ones with cardamom seeds, curry, mustard seeds, and coconut cream.
    You have such a fun quest!
    Josie
    Josie recently posted…What’s Your Angle? Travel Photo Roulette #98My Profile

  7. What a lovely church. I adore those windows! Of course, I have a thing for churches…and chocolate….
    Renee Johnson recently posted…My Monastic Writing Experience in Orvieto, ItalyMy Profile

  8. Thx for your comment, Renee. Yes, churches often provide an insight into the persona of a community, don’t they? I’m not a religious person, but still enjoy visiting.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…the importance of a good night’s sleepMy Profile

  9. Love the idea of adding spice to chocolate, whether its hot chocolate or truffles, so delicious. Kingston isn’t far from Ottawa and we’ll pop over for the day or a weekend periodically, but I will admit, we tend to wait until the summer. 🙂

  10. Chris
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for showing us a little more of Canada through your eyes (I loved the stormy pic to kick things off).

    Such weather is perfect for chocolate methinks, especially with a little Red Wine as well 😉

    Those spice blends sound delicious!
    Chris recently posted…Take me out to the ballgame!My Profile

  11. Cheryl
    Twitter:
    says:

    Not only do I have an ongoing love affair with chocolate, but I also love architecture. Great photos as always! Thanks for taking us along on your travels.
    Cheryl recently posted…Forget No More: Timer For Your MedicationMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Me, too, Cheryl! I love the architecture in places I visit as it really gives you a sense of place. I think Spain has got to be one of the most amazing countries when it comes to architecture. Every city I’ve visited in Spain has been entirely different because of its architecture. I think that’s why I really want to get to Valencia. I hear its architecture is stunning. I wonder if they have any good chocolate there? 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…the importance of a good night’s sleepMy Profile

  12. Tracie Howe
    Twitter:
    says:

    I can’t say I’ve been to Kingston before, but I’m sure a candy store would be a fun way to pass some time. No doubt chocolate is always nice to cozy up with during a snowstorm!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…The unexpected delights of our Cajun Encounters Swamp TourMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Tracie and thx for your comment.

      I’ve found the chocolate and confections of any given place to be a reflection on the culture and personality of the region. For instance, the chocolate in the tropics has a really jungle-like quality to it. Really fresh, vibrant, and intense! Whereas, the chocolate and confections of Paris are much more refined and sophisticated. It’s really quite interesting. Cheers, and enjoy your travels.
      Doreen recently posted…talking chocolate in Kingston, OntarioMy Profile

  13. Naomi Teeter says:

    Such beautiful chocolate lovelies!!
    Naomi Teeter recently posted…Product Review: Redstrap CBD by Dose of NatureMy Profile

  14. Doreen, my apologies for coming late to this chocolate party!
    It was sheer serendipity meeting Cindy and Derek at that farm market, and finding out she also was at Queen’s bookstore. So it made sense for both of us for you to do a book event in Kingston. How wonderful to have it at Sugar Swan. Ken and Tanya are such a lovely couple. I really wish nothing but the best for them.
    Researching and writing this book, and its subsequent volumes, has taken you to so many places. I am thrilled you got to come here!

  15. An update to everyone subscribed to the comment thread of this post. I’ve updated the original post to reflect the current information that Sugar Swan has closed its doors and Ridgway Confections are now being sold at 159 Main Street in Seeley’s Bay, the same location where the chocolate is being made. Stay tuned for a future B&B to open at this same location, which will carry the chocolate theme. How exciting for visitors to this beautiful part of southern Ontario.

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