IMG’s Taste of Toronto made its debut last year to some mixed responses. As a food lover, the idea of going to one place and having access to some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants is a no-brainer.
Taste of Toronto worked out a lot of its growing pains from last year; the line-ups were shorter both for food and loading up on Crowns (the official currency at the festival); the restaurants brought more staff; and the chefs were not M.I.A. in their booths.
While I missed out on the likes of Iron Chef Morimoto, I did spot Michael Bonacini (Oliver & Bonacini), Carl Heinrich (Richmond Station), Eric Chong and Alvin Leung (R+D) just to name a few.
I was especially happy that San Pellegrino water kept me hydrated (provided I chose the right dishes to get as they were giving out complimentary sparkling water with certain menu items). The other alternative and crowd favorite was Nespresso as they doled out both hot and cold caffeinated beverages alike.
AMEX cardholders were give priority access and there was a lounge area where you could catch a bit of shade. Extra member perks? I tweeted @AMEXcanada and they gave me $20 in Crowns. Yay me!
What I liked about Taste of Toronto is that most of their food is not fillers (e.g. bread, batter etc). You got real-deal protein. Most dishes ranged from $6-$10 which, for some may seem pricey given that you also have to pay admission to get in, but then the beverage options were a lot less (between $2-$4).
I don’t know about you, but getting to sample from all these wonderful restaurants without having to pay a tip, pay a minimum of 2X markup on booze justifies the price tag. Not to mention, I got a free tan in the process from the gorgeous weather this weekend.
The stand-out dishes for me were Richmond Station‘s Stn Burger (because sometimes the best things in life are simple), Morimoto‘s Uni Carbonara (even if the uni was on the scant side), Little Sister‘s Babi Panggang (aka pork belly with hot sauce) and the dessert winner was definitely Bosk‘s Peaches & Cream dish with Darjeeling cream.
The most refreshing pairing was found in OK Friday’s market area. OK Friday is a farmer’s market that takes place at Burl’s Creek which is a massive event space that will host the Wayhome music festival July 24-26 (I can’t wait to see Sam Smith!). The Rock Lobster lobster roll and Thomas Lavers‘ Ginger Beer went together like bread and butter. I think it might just be my new go-to summer pairing. Most ginger beers shy away from ginger but this one lit a fire in my esophagus and I loved it!
Don’t forget that if you have any unused crowns, you have sixty (60) days to get a refund. You just have to register your card here first.