Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Taste of Toronto 2014

Fifty dishes of all sorts, and all in one place – this is what Toronto’s first ever Taste of Toronto promised. Held at Fort York in Toronto during the last July weekend, this event follows the tradition of similar ‘Taste Festivals’ that are held in almost twenty cities around the globe.
I visited the ToT for the first session on Saturday. Fortunately, it was a warm day.
The use of ‘crowns’ as the event’s currency (one dollar bought one crown) is a good idea, but I am not sure what happens if you have unspent crowns.
The festival was made up basically of stands promoting anything from spicy sauces to tourism and healthy juices, food stands, well-known chefs’ sessions and wine tasting sessions.

The Dishes at Taste of Toronto

 My first try was the Fresh Oyster, Apple and Jalapeno. From the Splendido. The oyster was cut in my presence and was fresh. So was the apple and the jalapeno.

Tamarind-Cod Ceviche

Tamarind Ceviche with cod, mango and coriander on jicama tacos. From the El Caballito Los Calibris combined stand. The tacos were fresh, and the mango had the perfect mixture of sweet and sourness. The cod was also fresh and the coriander almost freshly plucked.


Takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce, karashi mayo with bonito flakes). From Guu Izakaya, which had a combined stand with JaBistro and Kinto Ramen.
They were freshly fried, though slightly on the heavier side. Somehow I have come to associate Japanese food with being light on the stomach. But it does not mean they compromised on the taste. It was fabulous.
The Patria Tent

The Making of Paella

The Paella

Seafood Paella with bacalao, mussels, shrimps, bay scallops. Fish, pea and crisp serrano. From the Patria/Westlodge and Byblos groups.
As you can see from the photos, this was one of the most popular places because of the visual excitement the stand provided. The food was great, though on the salty side, but this is not the first time paellas have tasted more on the salty side.

Crispy Rice Salad

Crispy Rice Salad, with rice, ginger, cilantro, sour pork sausage, lime leaf, and fresh roasted peanuts. From Khao San Road restaurant.
This was my ‘last’ main meal. I had to wait for a few hours as the place was always crowded. The dish’s ingredients, particularly ginger, cilantro, peanuts and sausage, have strong flavours, and that was evident in the dish. I am not a big fan of crispy rice (prefer the softer version, and the stand did not have anything with steamed rice or noodles) but on the whole, it was a great full meal.

However, I was not done with the meals yet. There were samplers; kind of amuse-bouche.
Butter Chicken Bison

In fact, the first dish to taste at the event was the ‘butter chicken’ bison, promoted by the bison farmers. The meat was juicy and succulent.

Mahi Mahi Ceviche
The second dish came from the Barbados tent: mahi mahi ceviche, on a breadfruit and coconut tacos (I think). Another tasty dish, though I think I would need a couple of them to define its taste.

Summer Roll
The last dish was perhaps the most elegant; the cold summer roll. Tastily done, this rice paper roll was done by Recipieces, which is a Toronto-based company that delivers you all the ingredients you need to make your special meals. The logic is that you save time by not having to visit too many stores when you want to create different types of dishes in a multicultural city like Toronto.
The roll was delivered in small, plastic spoons. The roll itself was fresh (it took them some time making them) and strong in flavour.
I did not try the wine tasting events, and could not taste the Pilsner Urquell stuff because could not understand how their system worked at the Festival.

Green Coconut
However, the perfect way to end a few hours of good food on a warm day was to have coconut water, fresh off a chilled green coconut.

American Express Tent
A special thanks to American Express-Canada, which had set up a tent for its members. There was water and light snacks, but one could also buy wine or Italian champagne. It was an oasis in a desert.
On the whole, a memorable event.

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