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On blistering (literally) hot Sunday, my family and I headed over to the always fun TO Food Fest at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto in Scarborough. As some of you might remember from last year, TO Food Fest debuted in 2012 when a group of passionate young entrepreneurs called Youth In Business decided to help give local chefs a boost and for us eaters, a gastronomical adventure. For a nominal fee, $125 – 200, vendors can sell their delicious creations to all the attendees (who come in for free btw) and can keep all their profits – now THAT, is beautiful.
|TO Food Fest
Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto
5183 Sheppard Avenue East
Canada M1B 5Z5
I arrived a little earlier with my boyfriend (and his big camera) for the media portion of the event and had a chance to chat with all that passionate vendors at the event. That’s the thing I really love about attending theses (relatively) smaller food events – the opportunity to really see each vendor’s face light up as they speak passionately about their dishes. It’s beautiful! Too bad they cut out the samples this year!
This year, TO Food Fest 2013 featured over 40 talented vendors that included everything from liquid nitrogen ice cream to rice dogs. The place was jamming, the food was rad and the AC was working indoors (thank you!). Here is a small snapshot of what we saw that day:
A very full house!
Bakin Bits - Scrumptious looking cakes and cupcakes. Mmm. Chocolate cupcakes with marshmellow frosting and a graham cracker on top. Too cute!
Guess who else I saw there? My Nom Nom Nom Crepes buddy from the food stalls at Bathurst and Dundas! I used his “Heaven in a cup” (lives up to its name) to cheer up my old boss. Come to think of it, I used it on myself pretty often too… Today, he featured fried crepes!!
Marathon Milk Tea – love it! Duck Confit from the Urban Acorn and Kanga’s Australian meat pies. I didn’t know that pies are common handheld “snack” foods in Australia!
I also saw an array of sandwiches and snacks. The most creative award has to go to the pineapple bun hamburger with the taro fries.
We ran into my friend Melissa from my undergraduate program there! She has an Indonesian food stall called Kecapi! Both dishes were really tasty. The first one was a poutine inspired puff pastry sticks and smothered in saucy marinated meat with 20+ spices. It had a really interesting 15 second delayed kick at the back of the throat. The second dish was a fish grilled in a banana leaf. It was a bouncy texture and had a really nice light taste!
One of my last year’s favourites – How ‘Bout Those Meatballs was back!
These were pretty cool – Rice Dogs! A roll of steamed sticky rice cut in half with a little sausage in it! They’re gluten-free! The flavour was a little bland for my tastes and the rice was so slippery with the sauce on it, my sausage kept squirting out completely. I nearly hit someone on the forehead several times! Overall, still pretty cool though.
Some Japanese snacks from Gushi. Looked really cool but they didn’t have the firepower or manpower for a food festival of this scale. Food was cold
This was the winner of the day! Liko’s Hawaiian BBQ! We had to line up for at least 40 minutes in the scorching heat with no shade to grab a taste of these babies… so succulent… so flavourful… so tasty mmm.
I really liked Ice Volcano’s liquid nitrogen ice cream. No, not for the smoke show, though that was really cool, but the ice cream was so incredibly fresh and light and the real mango flavour was just so perfect for a hot summer day. Loved it. They do parties and corporate events too! Can you please come to MY workplace?
Next we had the Filipino dessert Halo Halo t Lamesa. It’s made up of shaved ice, coconut, red bean, sweet and white beans, palm fruit, jack fruit, lecheflan, and carnation milk (I may have missed an ingredient or 2 in there). My boyfriend is Filipino and I haven’t seen him so excited about food in quite a while, in fact, he bought 1 and 10 minutes later, went back for a second.
Then we had the mochies – my sister’s favourite dessert. The ones at this particular stall called Moshi King weren’t that great quite frankly, no bounce, the flavours were dim or ill matched, presentation was sloppy at best. But, I have to say the flavours were super interesting – curry, durian, red bean, black sesame, wasabi ganache, fresh strawberries and a couple other options. We tried most of those flavours. I wouldn’t recommend the curry…
And look who I ran into, my buddy, Amy from Amy’s Food Adventures! I took a picture with this celebrity
The most important point of all, this year, I made it home with 2 beautiful bags of kennel corn. If you read last year’s post you’ll know what I mean. I slept soundly with a full belly that night!
Overall, 2013 TO Food Fest was a fun-filled, packed experience full of familiar faces. I really liked the variety and the size of this food festival and I also love the fact that vendors actually get to keep their revenue here! It’s such a great start for many passionate foodies. Food selection was good this year, very diverse. I would, however, recommend you go as early as possible as the most popular stalls had lines well over 30 minutes several hours into the event. Given there is no entrance fee, it’s not in the TO core, the cost per serving is relatively low, I think this is a great option for foodies out there who are more into trying new foods than the DT atmosphere.
The Damage: Average of $3 to $5 a serving