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Specialty Foods

Sweet cakes with honey and berry fruitsBakeries, Delicatessens, Cheese, Spices, Health Foods, Vegetarian Foods, Gluten-free Foods, Teas, Coffees & Cafés, Kosher, Halal, Meat & Seafood, Pet Boutiques

What are "Specialty Foods"

"Specialty Foods" is a category for this website. It refers to those stores and cafes which specialize in particular food not associated with regional cuisines. You will find many of these products in the large grocery stores, but there are also shops that specialize in these foods.

Bakeries and Confectionaries

Bakeries and “confectionaries” (or candy stores or “chocolatiers”) offer breads, cakes, baked goods and sometimes candy and chocolate treats. There are also stores and cafes that specialize in ice cream and desserts. See also “restaurants and cafes”.

Specialty Bakeries and Confectionaries

Some bakeries specialize in desserts and candies that are sugar-free, gluten-free and egg-free. Some also specialize in desserts from various cultures. 

Delicatessen or "Deli"

Another type of food store is a "delicatessen" or "deli". The word, delicatessen, comes from the German word, Delikatessen, meaning delicate or fine foods. The European origin has remained a part of deli culture. Today, the majority of delicatessens sell ready-to-eat foods. Some will also offer packaged foods. Many specialize in the cuisine of a certain culture. 

Cheese Shops

Most large grocery stores, and many specialty shops, off a large selection of cheeses. While cheese shops are rare in Durham, Toronto offers many options. 

Spices [see also “Global Foods” by region]

SpicesThe large grocery stores sell packages of spices. For special spices, please check the “Global Foods” section of this site. In the Durham Region, you will find special spices at many Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Asian stores. Almost any spice can be found at Herma's in Port Hope (County Road 28, Port Hope) or at Toronto's Kensington Market.

Health Food Stores

Durham has many health food stores. These stores offer a selection of vitamins, food supplements, vegetarian and gluten-free foods. You can search the Internet with the phrase “health food” and the name of your town. 

Vegetarian Foods

Vegetarian dishLarge grocery stores now offer foods especially produced for vegetarians. If you cannot find the vegetarian products, just ask the store’s employees to show you where they are. Many Health Food Stores also carry products for vegetarians.

ABC Book and Grocery Store, 95 Clarence Biesenthal Drive, Oshawa, ON L1K 2H5, near Townline and Hwy 2 [905-579-2311] operated by the Seventh Day Adventists in Oshawa, is the only store in the Durham Region offering a large variety of vegetarian specialty foods, including mock meats, spices, dried beans, exotic grains and baking supplies.

Larger markets specializing in vegetarian-friendly foods are in Toronto and Newmarket: The Big Carrot, Whole Foods or Nature's Emporium.

Gluten-free or Wheat-free Foods

Large grocery stores now offer foods which are wheat-free. If you cannot find the wheat-free products, just ask the store’s employees to show you where they are. Many Health Food Stores also carry products which are wheat-free. 

Teas & Coffees & Cafés

A wide variety of tea and coffee, including Fair Trade, is now available at many of the larger grocery stores. However, there are some additional stores and cafés which also offer fresh-roasted beans, or even unroasted beans, loose teas and other products of interest to tea and coffee drinkers. Some of these are actually full-service restaurants while others are gift shops. 

Kosher Foods

The Hebrew word "Kasheir," or "Kosher," means fit or proper. When applied to food, the term indicates that an item is fit for consumption according to Jewish law.

Large grocery stores now offer a large selection of Kosher foods. Health Food Stores and other specialty stores will also have some of these products. Many of these foods could be from other countries and the symbols for indicating Kosher vary from country to country and region to region.

Kosher symbol indicating a Kosher product of Canadian originYou might see products will be marked with the "COR" or any one of the symbols below. If you have difficulty finding these products, or understanding the certification, please contact your community synagogue or ask at the local public library.

Various Kosher symbols

Halal Foods

The word "halal" literally means "permissible" and in translation it is usually used as "lawful".

Halal SymbolsLarge grocery stores now offer a large selection of Halal foods. Health Food Stores and other specialty stores will also have some of these products. These products will be marked with one of the symbols shown at the right. If you have difficulty finding these products, please ask one of the employees to assist you. 

Meat and Butcher Shops

Although these historic shops are more and more rare, they still exist in Durham Region. Some shops will cater to specific cultures as you will see in the list below. A "butcher" is an individual who performs the killing and dismemberment of the animal. An abbatoir is a place where many animals are taken for slaughter and processing.


Although these historic shops used to be a common sight (and smell) on the streets of towns in Durham, they are quite rare now. Some local shops are outlets for fisheries and hatcheries. Sometimes, the public is allowed to go fishing at these sites.

Foods for Pets

Large grocery stores offer a large selection of pet foods, however, there are a few independent stores and boutiques specializing in foods, supplies and services for pets, such as grooming.


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