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On a brisk and sunny Saturday, Cindy and I dropped by the Good Food & Drink Festival at the Direct Energy Centre at Exibition Place. We arrived shortly after noon, just when the event was starting to get underway.
100 Princes’ Blvd
We wandered around, sampled some food and took some picture as people slowly started trickling in. General admission was $11 online and $14 at the door. The event itself was relatively small compared to many other Toronto food festivals and overall pretty modest.
The event itself was advertised as a very gourmet food and wine sort of event or, at least, that was what I had garnered from the advertisements. Interesting, when we arrived at the event, we found that it was actually more of an eclectic mix of booths.
There were some interesting food items, lots of products such as PAM and Red Path sugar, and some good drinks booths as well. There was a aisle of travel and tourism booths, a police booth and kitchen gadgets. We didn’t spend a lot of time at these booths and actually found them to be a bit jarring. The coolest aisle, in my opinion, was undoubtedly the food truck aisle.
Here is a quick snapshot of some of the things we saw:
This cereal was pretty neat and contained little yogurt drops with probiotics. Quite tasty! Mad Mexican was quite nice as well. They sell a host of fresh, preservative-free and gluten-free nachos, salsa and other dips. I quite liked the dips though I found the chips to be a bit oily. You can pick these up at gourmet grocery stores likes Pusateri.
We couldn’t resist the fresh mac n cheese booth. You could add your own seasoning, bacon, onions…Mmm. The company was actually a seasoning company called Fire In The Kitchen and my favourite seasoning was called the Smoke Eater.
This cracked flax seed was quite tasty in the maple flavour. It went really well with the greek yogurt we had. Think sweet rolled oats except it’s in smaller pieces. How much of the omega-3s you actuall absorb, well, that’s another blog all together. It’s tasty though!
There were some interesting stands that we didn’t get to try cause we were too full. All sorts of meat pie and other types of British goodies. They even had a good selection of gluten-free goods too!
In the drinks aisle we grabbed some Granville Island Pale ale. It was a light ale with some banana notes. I’m not a fan of banana flavoured anything but Cindy liked it.
We also dropped by one of my favourites of the show the Matt Steve’s Extreme Bean. It was like a little pickle… cept it was a bean. They had it served with a Caesar and boy was it tasty – tangy, sour, salty, spicy! Loving those flavours. Would definitely recommend you try sticking one in your Caesar next time.
Okay, for a host of health and quality reasons, I’m not usually a fan of canned and jarred things but this was pretty interesting. Sherni’s, a Canadian company, worked with the U of Guelph to develop this line of gluten-free South Asian sauces. I tried the Butter Chicken and it was indeed quite tasty! They also claimed to be low sodium, no fillers, colours or additives but I didn’t really have time to check out the labels to confirm.
Before we knew it we were in the food truck aisle. I love food trucks. While I can’t say it’s a particularly healthy relationship *ahem* I was very happy not to have to run around to find the trucks. There was Curbside Bliss Cupcakes, Buster Sea Cove, Mike’s Dog House, the Food Dudes, Crazy Cravings, Blue Donkey Streatery, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Gourmet Gringos, and Rome and Chariot. Unfortunately, this was one of the last aisles we reached so we were completely stuffed! We opted for the lightest option – the cupcake. I had the tiramisu and Cindy had the coconut. Unfortunately, while nice and moist, we both thought the cupcakes really lacked any depth of flavour. Mostly just sweet really. I’m going to have to hunt down some of the other trucks on the street to try them…
We wandered around a bit and saw some people praising Fonda Lola, a couple wine booths, and my favourite Filipino restaurant, Casa Manila. I’ve tried some other Filipino foods before but I really love the passion, presentation and attention to detail that this particular restaurant brings. They’re pretty new on the block so I would definitely recommend a try.
This was my favourite drink of the show – Pommies alcoholic apple cider. Yes, I know, I’m a girl, and this is a “girly” drink but if being girl means that I prefer not to drink drinks that taste like rubbing alcohol, then so be it! This is a sweet, fragrant, light beverage. It tastes like white wine except it has the freshness of an apple in it. I think it is quite lovely and would gladly have some over dinner with friends.
Next we had some lemon grass skewers and some almond milk. Cindy really liked the coconut flavoured almond milk. I thought the chocolate was okay too. It was lightly nutty. Quite nice.
It seems like there is simple no gourmet food show in the GTA that Anna Olson is NOT in, not that I’m complaining. I really loved hearing her speak. She’s quite knowledgeable in the food science arena and there’s always something new to learn with her. This afternoon, she was doing spring recipes and we stayed for the meringue nest. Baking secret of the day? Cornstarch, add it in your baked goods to keep the outside crunchy and the inside moisty – chewy chocolate chip cookies here I come!
Overall it was nice but I think the event would have greatly benefited from more of a clear focus. While there were some interesting booths here and there and a great food truck aisle, the event lacked cohesiveness and a clear audience. You almost never knew what to expect when you got to the next aisle. Regardless, there were lots of yummy things scattered here and there to be found so if you’re patient, drop by next year!
The Damage: $11 to $14 for admission and about $5 a serving