Toronto Food Truck Festival

I’m not completely sure where I heard about the Toronto Food Truck Festival, but it immediately grabbed my attention.

What is it?

Canadian Food Truck Festivals is the not-for-profit organization that hosts Toronto Food Truck Festivals, one of the premier culinary arts and cultural music festivals in Canada.

August 2nd & 3rd, 2014 marked the inaugural Toronto Food Truck Festival located in the heart of the Beach at Woodbine Park.

The organization and event are dedicated to creating a public awareness and opportunity to sample some of the amazing culinary diversity that the City of Toronto’s Food Truck community has to offer.

What’s not to love? Live music, a bunch of really well known Torontonian food trucks and it’s right next to the Beaches! The location’s so easy to get to and it was a great day to go out to sample some delicious food.

Toronto Food Truck Festival 2014

As well as about a dozen food trucks on site, there were some stalls selling primarily cold drinks and a large stage for live music, sponsored by Indie 88.

I went with Chris on Sunday the 3rd (which also shows you how bad I am with posting) and we got there just around 3:15pm, thinking that it would be kind of slow by that time.

It was still really, really busy! But, most of the park was actually just people standing around, waiting in line to either order or to pick up their food! We looked around at each food truck (there was a lot of variety, so that was great to see), but we finally settled down on Buster’s Sea Cove.

Chris got the Lobster Roll:

Food Truck Lobster Roll

And, I got their Ahi Tuna Taco:

Food Truck Ahi Tuna TacoChris was really happy with her lobster roll ($13 with chips!), but my tacos’ tortilla shells turned out to be really soggy and stale tasting. It’s pretty bad when I paid $10 for the both of them.

The filling itself was pretty good, but I felt like it could’ve used a bit more seasoning or some other layer of flavour just to ramp up the profile more.

Even though there was some pretty good music in the background since the stage was between sets, the entire festival still felt really lackluster. The “Beverage Garden” outlined in the festival map turned out to be a single stall from Mill St. The Children’s Village was a couple of bouncy castles that stood out like a sore thumb against the trendy food trucks.

Once the live band came on, the awkward atmosphere didn’t change at all. You could practically taste the embarrassment as the lead singer led a round of “Happy Birthday” to a fellow band member and then immediately made a sex joke in front of the young families in the crowd.

Maybe it was different on Saturday, but the energy was rock bottom on the second day and I hope, for the sake of all food trucks in the GTA, that this isn’t a sign of what’s to come.

xoxo,

B.elle

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Taste of Toronto 2014

I won a pair of tickets from a Twitter contest that Pommies Dry Cider held a while ago and it was such a fantastic evening! Thank you so much, Pommies!!

Taste of Toronto features a huge array of artisan vendors, top ranked restaurants and live music from all around Toronto and beyond. Instead of money, restaurants and bars will only accept Crowns, which are bought at $1 a piece.

This year, it was held at Fort York at the south end of Bathurst Street and Thursday was the perfect evening to go!

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I went with the monsieur and we first loaded up our Crowns card with $40, thinking that it would be enough for a few dishes and a couple of drinks. We actually had to go back and top it off with $20 because there was just so much to try!

The first dish that we tried was a smoked pulled duck taco from Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) that was absolutely divine. The duck was succulent and soft, but perfectly seasoned with just enough of their special barbeque sauce. It was contrasted with some lightly pickled radishes, crispy fried onion and fresh green onions.

It was all gone before I could take a picture!

We tried a couple beers (100th Meridian is surprisingly refreshing but crisp), a Pommies each (delicious as always!), a sampling of a Canadian gin distiller called 66 Gilead Distillery (Black Dragon Sochu and Canadian Pine are both very tasty), and some tequila to round the night out (Tequila Tromba has a delicious cilantro, lime and jalapeno chaser for a hard night of partying).

In between all the drinks, we went and had some more of the finest food Toronto has to offer!

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From the famous Splendido (88 Harbord St.) comes pieces of sashimi salmon on a block of crisped rice with some avocado, pickled jalapenos and roasted sesame seeds on top. Something in the dish really made the salmon flavours pop and the whole dish was very well balanced.

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The monsieur got the fresh agnolotti with ricotta, mushrooms and truffles from Splendido. I thought 10 crowns would have gotten him two agnolotti but I’m guessing that the black truffles really raised the price! The agnolotti wasn’t overpowered by the truffles at all and the ricotta was decadently creamy with such a wonderful aroma.

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Lastly, we made a stop at the LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM (aka Ice Volcano)!

They didn’t accept crowns, so the monsieur bought some Nutella ice cream for us because he’s a total sweetie. I didn’t expect it to have dry ice at the bottom! And, it was one of the smoothest ice creams I’ve ever had!

As a pair of scientists, we were both VERY impressed.

Everything at the Taste of Toronto was luxurious, classy and it seemed like everyone was having a good time! I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing it again next year.

Thank you again to Pommies Dry Cider for the tickets! You can find their delicious Ontario cider at the LCBO.

Xoxo,

B.Elle

Food Trends 2014

According to Jennifer Water’s article from Market Watch, we’re going to see some major price changes in the market.

Beef will get a major price hike since drought hit many US pastures and cow herds suffered in population; canned tuna will keep increasing since bluefin tuna is still being over-fished despite being on the verge of extinction and sushi is still ever popular; and chocolate prices will still keep going up because of increased international demand.

She also sees a rising trend with (rich) chefs investing in personal farms to extend the rooftop garden concept to harvesting their own vegetables for service, more nose-to-tail and root-to-stalk dishes, cronuts, a return to more basic drinks and food, and a stronger indie market in 2014.

What does this mean? Food trends are becoming more and more localized to your own region or even your own city area.

And that, my friends, means that we are going to be seeing more emphasis on simple, homey dishes in both restaurants and magazines.

Here’s my predictions for 2014:

1. Local Meats and Fish

With beef and conventional canned fish prices to go up, people are going to gravitate more towards chicken, pork and seafood. I’ll get to you vegetarians and vegans in a second.

I live in Toronto, where it’s almost landlocked with a fantastic port that brings in food from around the world. Even though I love that I can easily find great fish like marlin, pacific salmon and shrimp, they’re not exactly the freshest proteins I can eat! So, I’ll be sticking mostly to Ontario chicken and pork.

2. Eggs, eggs and more eggs!

EGGS! I love eggs, so it’s my pleasure to announce that eggs are going to be VERY trendy this year. The chicken market is getting stronger and there’s more and more oh-so-nutritious eggs to go around for all those quiches and egg bennies we’ll be making.

That’s great news for vegetarians since restaurants are positioned to pick up this trend very easily. Let’s hope they don’t put ham in it.

3. Meatless dishes

Now, I’m not saying that there’s going to be more vegetarians and vegans because that’s what  a lot of people think when they see or hear about dishes without any meat. Anybody who knows me well enough that I’d never be able to become a vegetarian myself. (Carmelized pork is a sultry temptress.)

I’m not even talking about the vegetarian options that try to be meat but really aren’t like meatless, vegetarian hot dogs with ingredient decks a mile long.

I’m actually talking about dishes like spiced sweet potato fries,  baked beans, roasted vegetable and lentil soups, mushroom risotto and red bean pudding. Those dishes don’t have any meat, but they’re packed with protein and there’s a certain heartiness that’s similar to that feel you get when you tuck into a good steak.

Of course, you can always add a bit of meat as garnish to any of those dishes and I think that’s okay. The meat turns into something more of an afterthought, not the main feature.

4. Ready-to-cook convenience

Face it, the economy’s still a bit in the shits even though a lot of places have relatively low unemployment rates. People are working longer hours during the week and finding less time to prepare their meals. What do they do? Grab some chicken from the market, go home, fry up the chicken, cook some pasta and sauce, mix and then tuck in.

This trend of semi-cooking has been rising in the past decade or so, but I don’t think it’s showing any signs of stopping anytime soon, compared to the downward trend of using fully ready-to-eat dishes where you simply put it in the oven or the microwave.

5. Healthier, simpler beverages

We all know that Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and basically all the high-fructose carbonated beverages out there are terrible for us and we shouldn’t drink them, but they always show up in the office meeting, barbecues, parties and somehow in your hand. It’s most likely here to stay for a few more decades at this rate.

But, people are looking for convenient, healthier drinks on the market with low sugar, no preservatives and some sort of health benefit that makes it different from plain water.

It’s been a rising trend in the past few years with teas and flavoured waters becoming more and more readily available and I don’t think it shows any sign of slowing down.

We’ll see what happens this year since Nature is a finicky thing and anything can happen!

What do you want to see as a food trend? Share your thoughts!

xoxo,
B.elle