For the past few weeks I have been anxiously awaiting to attend the Taste of Toronto event in Fort York, Toronto, Ontario. If you haven't already realized, I consider myself to be somewhat of a foodie – ok, maybe a HUGE foodie. Taste of Toronto is a four-day foodie wonderland featuring 14 of the city's hottest restaurants serving up some of their most popular dishes. It also included an outdoor market area with over 50 food and beverage vendors.
If your idea of a fun Saturday afternoon includes stuffing your face with the most delicious food and drink in the city for four hours straight and then laying in a food coma for the rest of the night, then this is the festival for you! Four dinners, two desserts and countless samples later, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the festival from beginning to end.
As I entered the festival grounds, I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of vendors. Where to start? What to try first? It was essential to map out a plan of attack. I was especially surprised by the amount of vendors handing out FREE food. What’s better then getting a bunch of free food? Nothing! I tried everything from aged cheese to ginger beer, jerky and green juice. I was stuffed and slightly buzzed before dinner had even begun.
Some of my favorites included:
Fever-Tree's All-Natural Ginger Beer
Anne Payne's Caveman Foods Ltd. Raw Tibicos Black Pepper Flavour
Krave's Black Cherry Barbecue Pork Jerky
Belvoir Fruit Farm's Elderflower Presse
Blue Goose's Spinach & Raclette Cheese Chicken Sausage
After we made our way around the vendors, it was finally time to eat! Wait, what had we just been doing for the past hour? Shhhhh.... those were appetizers.
After a thorough glance through each vendor's menu, it was pretty much impossible to pick only one dinner and one dessert – so we didn't. Might as well go all-in, right? Here's what we tried:
Barque Smokehouse's Rack O'Bama Baby Back Ribs (rubbed, smoked, and basted) and served with a potato, corn, and candied smoked bacon salad. These ribs were AH-mazing. That being said, I could have done without the potato salad. I'm not really a 'drenched-in-grainy-mustard' type. Needless to say, the ribs pulled through and made this dish my favorite of the night!
Weslodge's Wagyu Hot Dog with a house bun, beet mustard, beef cheek marmalade. Mmmm beet mustard, I think I need to try making this!
The Harbord Room's Pistachio and Olive Oil Cake, served with preserved Ontario strawberries, strawberry ice cream and crumbled meringue. Fresh strawberries and homemade ice cream, who doesn't like that? This was my first experience with olive oil cake and it was quite good. Not to sweet and paired with the pistachios it had the perfect crunch.
Patria's Seafood Paella with bacalao mussels, shrimp, bay scallops, fish, peas, crispy Serrano. As someone who has never really been keen on seafood until recently I was a little unsure of what to expect, however this dish turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise! A little cold by the time we received our dish, but the staff at Patria were doing their best to keep up with a very large crowd.
Barque Smokehouse's Chicken Wings. Smoked dry rub chicken wings served with pickled watermelon. Unfortunately, next to the ribs these wings just didn't quite do it for me. A little too dry and spicy, but of course I still gobbled them up!
Other honorable mentions from the festival: