What’d you get when you close your eyes and pray to the food fairies? Taste of Toronto – a four-day, all-out splurge fest where you get to feast on dishes from some of the city’s top restaurants such as Barque Smokehouse, Hopgood’s Foodliner and Yours Truly at Fort York.
The Taste Festivals held its inaugural foodie bonanza in London, UK ten years ago and will be making its debut in Toronto from July 24 – 27. The event will feature 14 of the city’s yummiest restaurants as well as some 50+ producers and beverage options to make for a “bountiful food market!”
In order to transact, you will need to purchase “crowns” as that will be the currency of choice. $1 = 1 crown. That’s just the price you gotta pay to eat like royalty Offerings will range between 4 to 10 crowns.
A few media outlets were invited to get a “Taste of Taste (of Toronto)” and from what we’ve seen so far – it’s going to be yummy!
Our Taste Safari began at El Caballito (sombreros included), where we knocked back some refreshing margaritas while mingling with “Manny the Mixologist” who offers up tutored tastings in the tequila bar. I’ve personally done a tequila tasting with Manny, and he has helped me overcome my fear of Buckley’s-face-inducing, hung-over college tequila experiences. He is serious about tequila.
Our luxury Mercedes van then dropped us off on the west side of the city at none other than Yours Truly (pun intended) where we were welcomed with a Boxcar Julep as well as two dishes, which will be available at Taste of Toronto – their famed Salt Cod Inari (6 crowns) which is a compact package of salt fish, sushi rice and horseradish as well as Charred Octopus (10 crowns) which is sous-vided, then charred and served with chorizo and green mango. Earlier this year, Yours Truly nixed their tasting menu-only service and is now offering à la carte. I’m definitely going to be back!
Over in Parkdale, we made a stop at Hopgood’s Foodliner where Geoff Hopgood served up Albacore Tuna (8 crowns) with preserved summer tomatoes, basil and crispy shallots. The restaurant is actually named after the family’s chain of grocery stores in Nova Scotia. While I wouldn’t call it a seafood restaurant, you can be sure to get a healthy douse of sea creatures here. Top it off with a Radler and you won’t even need the A/C to cool you down.
A short jaunt away is one of my favorite places to get my BBQ on – Barque Smokehouse where David Neinstein served up some of his addictive popcorn (who needs a bread basket when you can have this good stuff?) and a Smoked Duck Taco (6 crowns) which was reminiscent of a Peking duck wrap. Did you know that Neinstein personally makes his own rubs? He’s as secretive about his recipes as Coca Cola is about theirs.
Our last and final stop through yellow, shiny doors was Weslodge on King West where executive chef Stuart Cameron oversees the kitchens of Charles Khabouth’s empire. Earlier this month at a Campo Viejo wines pop-up dinner, Cameron told us another is in the works. At Weslodge, best known for its $29 Cutting Boards (served Sundays and Mondays from 5pm onwards) and free-flowing cocktails, we tasted some “haute” dogs (6 crowns) made with Wagyu beef in a buttery housemade bun, beet mustard and beef cheek marmalade. It was delicious and Cameron snuck in a bit of his Aussie heritage with the beet mustard.
With all this yummy food – I’m going to need to devise a serious eating strategy, though Taste of Toronto already has a plan. When you need a break from eating you can head over to the Electrolux Taste Theatre where some of these fine chefs will be showing off their cooking skills or into the Tasting Room you go to quench your thirst and mingle with sommeliers, winemakers and experts.
But in all my years’ experience as a foodie, if you want to sample, you have to bring a posse. Luckily, I’m going to hook you up! For th3hungrycat fans, you can purchase 2 premium tickets + 60 in crowns for just $90 by clicking here. Included is also a $20 voucher new Uber (or $5 for existing) users. This offer is only valid until July 10 so act quickly!
With crowns in hand, you better arrive ready to shop, sip and sample! All this talk about food is making me hungry – is it lunch time yet?!