Friday, October 03, 2014

Taste of Toronto

This Summer I got a chance to visit Toronto and to attend the Taste of Toronto food festival. Lucky me! Quite a few years ago I attended Taste of London so I had a sense of what it would be like. The Taste food festivals are not your typical free for all food event, because the restaurants are really consistently high quality and included by invitation only.

This event is a particularly good one if you want to familiarize yourself with the Toronto restaurant scene. Here were some of my favorite dishes and the restaurants I would surely like to visit, on my next trip.

One of the first things I tried was a gazpacho like soup from The Harbord Room. The crushed heirloom tomato soup with spicy wild watercress, creamy buffalo mozzarella, crunchy toasted sourdough crumbs and a refreshing dollop of tomato and white balsamic sorbet was perfect on a fairly steamy evening. Truly a winner.

Khao San Road was the one booth where I tried all three offerings, starting with the cooling iced Thai shake. The crispy rice salad with ginger, cilantro, sour pork sausage, lime leaf and peanuts was the knock out dish for me, it was just an explosion of flavors and cooked to order so fresh and crunchy.

The final dish I tried from Khao San Road was the spicy shrimp salad with onion, red pepper, fish sauce, chili, garlic and cilantro. It was cool and perfectly cooked, but a tad too spicy.

I was curious to try something from Anthony Rose, the chef and restaurateur with three successful spots in Toronto. From Rose & Sons came a BLT with Dr. Pepper bacon (more like pork belly) fresh tomatoes, lettuce and a feta and herb mayonnaise. It was extremely succulent and I could understand why this nice Jewish boy is revered for his sandwiches, and the BLT in particular.

Two of my favorite dishes came from Yours Truly a cutting edge restaurant which sadly just closed. Needless to say I will keeping my eyes peeled for the next venture with chef Lachlan Culjak. The first dish was a creamy fresh made "queso" with early Summer garnishes and an orange blossom vinaigrette. It was bright and had layers of texture. The freshness of the produce including ramps, fiddle heard ferns, mushrooms and berries shone brightly. And the plating was gorgeous.

The other dish from Yours Truly was charred sous vide BC octopus with chorizo and green mango.

While I didn't necessarily think of maple syrup and Toronto before, I do now. Thats's because I got to try the maple products from Ninutik. They were serving a variety of cheese wrapped in maple taffy, thanks a bed of fluffy snow. The thick maple syrup is usually poured over fresh snow to make a chewy candy, but in this case, a popsicle stick with a piece of cheddar or blue cheese (yes!) was wrapped in ensconced in maple. It was divine! 

So too were the little buttons of maple sugar that melt in your mouth, nothing like the dry crusty maple sugar candy I was used to eating. They can also be used in cocktails. 

And best of all? Maple Supreme, something I've seen elsewhere before and which I have had in other parts of Canada too. But it never quite as good. It looks white and creamy but it really has the consistency of butter, and the flavor of maple. Divine! Wonderful on buttered toast, but also over ice cream or oatmeal. 

Toronto, you sure are a delicious town. And Taste of Toronto was only the tip of the iceberg... 

Disclaimer: My thanks to Tourism Toronto for hosting me on this trip.