My adventure to the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival started in Hamilton. Before I left, I checked the website for directions and parking. Since it was hosted at the Evergreen Brickworks, parking was very limited. The festival offered free off-site parking and free shuttle to the venue! As someone who loves to drive everywhere, I really appreciated their shuttle service, props to the planning team. The rain came pouring down as I left Hamilton and it miraculously ended when I arrived at the parking lot. The weather just wanted to ruin my drive and delay me from getting to all the food! It took me more than 1.5 hours to get there.
I picked up my badge in the VIP/Media Lounge and was ready to stuff my face. The festival had about 130 vendors in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, you can see that it was bustling! They also hosted Q&A’s, cooking demos, and cookbook signing events.
The Grand Tasting Pavilion was buzzing with foodies and food enthusiasts. It was packed and more crowded compared to last year’s Delicious Show, which was held at the Direct Energy Centre (now known as, Enercare Centre).
My first stop was at The Dirty Bird. The serving size was perfect for $5. A juicy and delicious piece of fried chicken thigh sat on a puffy waffle. It soaked up all the delicious oil, syrup, and hot sauce that made its way down. The dish was heavenly and was a great start to my food adventures.
I met up with Alice (@arsyparsy, @meetandeats) and Arthur at Tito Ron’s booth. For $6 we got everything on their menu: Lumpia Trinidad, Lumpia Kingston, Coconut Bae Lumpia, and Biko Balls. We also tried the “More”-Chata – their take on harchata. The Lumpia Trinidad and Kingston were both savoury and deep in spiced flavours. The Coconut Bae Lumpia was stuffed with yummy cheesecake filling and the Biko Balls reminded me of the Chinese glutinous rice balls. The first bite into the Biko Balls was an intense ginger flavour, then it slowly mixed into the rest of the rice ball. Sticky rice desserts are one of my favourite desserts and these Biko Balls were delicious. They weren’t overly sweet and the texture was just right. I’ve only had Horchata once at La Carnita and it was light and refreshing. Tito Ron’s twist was using coconut milk and lime. It was sweet but also thicker than I expected. I’m so glad I got to sample their delicious treats! They’re fun, bubbly, and love to explore food. I’d love to see more on the menu!
We made our way to Carver and someone mentioned we HAD to try their Porchetta Sandwich. It’s rosemary and lemon slow roasted pork with Ontario peach mostarda on a fresh pain au lait. It looked magnificent and it tasted even better. The thin slices of heavenly porchetta was tender, juicy, and bursting with flavour. The buns soaked up all the meaty goodness and it still held up nicely. Rob Bragagnolo (Marben‘s executive chef) is planning to open Carver later this year somewhere in downtown Toronto. The menu will be focusing on sandwiches stacked with slow roasted meats. Can’t wait!
We moved up the aisle and stopped at Magnum to pick up free ice cream, a tote bag and a gift card! They were so generous. I nommed the double caramel and it was sooo yummy. The ice cream was dipped in chocolate, then caramel, then another layer of chocolate. Definitely something to try if you love chocolate and ice cream!
Right across from Magnum’s booth was 3/4 Oz Tonic Maison. We sampled their two items, tonic water and cola. To our surprise, the tonic water was a translucent brown and it tasted really herby and earthy. Their cola was interesting as well. The bast flavour tasted like Coke or Pepsi but something else about it tasted even better. I don’t know what it was, but it tasted sweet and bold.
Beside 3/4 Oz. Tonic Maison, Beast was serving up doubles – flat bread topped with curried chickpeas topped with a cucumber salad and tamarind sauce. I loved the texture of the flat bread. It also held up nicely to the juices and sauce the chickpeas were sitting in. The cucumber added lots of texture to an overall soft and chewy dish. Curry adds so much flavour to anything it touches, so good! We stopped at a couple booths serving wine before realizing the vendors were packing up. The show was ending at 7pm that day! I should’ve checked the hours. I stopped at Hawthorne Food & Drink and picked up their green beans with popcorn and cheese. Because it was at the end of the day, the popcorn was very stale. The dish would’ve been fine without it. The green beans were perfectly cooked and deliciously crisp. It was a refreshing snack to crunch on after having so many savoury dishes.
I led the gang to Lola & Miguel because I wanted to take home some cured meats. I ended up buying 2 packages of dry chorizo sausage (Fermin and Palacios). Lastly, we visited Farmhouse Tavern and The Daughter. They served foie gras on crisps, topped with diced tomatoes. A fancy finish to my day. The foir gras was creamy and the texture of the crisp cut the dense texture. The little pops of tomatoes were a nice touch. I wonder how it would’ve tasted if they pan fried the foie gras. Tastier?
I was sad to leave the festival so soon because I was having so much fun! Next year, I’ll remember to stay over in Toronto so I can attend two full days 😀 Other than being able to sample from local restaurants, wineries, and breweries in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, there were a lot of other activities going on. Chef’s talks, epic dinners, live cooking demos, cookbook signings, and cooking classes just to name a few. If you love to eat, discover, and experience Toronto’s food culture, be sure to check out the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival next year!!
Even tickets were provided by Toronto Food & Wine, opinions expressed are my own.