Thank you TO Food Fest and Acorn Communication for inviting me to see and taste the sights of the TO Food Fest 2015! TO Food Fest is an annual summer festival that started in 2012 where a number of food vendors such as restaurants or food trucks showcase their food specialties at the parking lot and gym of the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto. This is now their 4th year of hosting this foodie event. There is free admission but they recommend a $2 donation or a non-perishable food item for Second Harvest.
I was happy to be invited to be part of the media brigade and to have a media tour around with of the vendors before the actual event started at 1 p.m. that day.
My guest and I (I was able to bring along one friend) arrived a little before noon and got our media passes at the Information Table inside the gym. I also met some food bloggers again (that I had met at previous foodie events) and some new ones! It was cool to put the names to the faces since I notice them on social media often.
We started the media tour outside where it was a hot muggy day. It was a little humid but luckily the sun was hiding behind dispersed clouds so we weren’t in direct sunlight. The plan of the tour was to bring us around to different vendors to hear about their story and try a few samples here and there. As you would expect, all of the foodie bloggers and instagramers had their phones and cameras out to capture some delicious food.
We walked by Liko’s Hawaiian BBQ after they told us a little bit about their story since their pork and chicken skewers weren’t ready yet — they looked so good though!
We stopped by Premium Near Beer where we listened to some beer explanations and some took pictures.
We also walked by Penny Lou Lou‘s Sweets and Treats. We were told that they were just getting ready as the food festival hadn’t started yet. Still no food sampling yet!
Next up, the TO Food Fest staff led us to FeasTOronto, a new food truck in Toronto where we finally got some samples to try. Yay! Foodies rejoice. They are the only dumplings food truck in Toronto and had some very uniquely prepared dumplings and snacks — Pho Beef Dumplings, Shrimp Wontons with tomyum sauce, Lemongrass Popcorn Chicken, and Nori “Shake Shake” Fries.
Among the nine of us bloggers, we were able to share their offerings. The Pho Beef Dumplings are actually like taking a eating a bowl of Vietnamese pho on the spot since the dumpling was packed a flavour and juice. It was so good!
I really, really enjoyed the Lemongrass Popcorn Chicken dumpling the most. I love popcorn chicken in general so this creation was out of this world! It was a dumpling but it also tasted like popcorn chicken at the same time. It was crunchy and seasoned very well. Delicious!
The Shrimp Wontons came with tomyum sauce and chives. The shrimp inside the wonton was very smooth but I couldn’t taste too much of the tomyum. I’d have to try this one again to make a more fair judgment.
The Nori “Shake Shake” Fries were cool since they came in a bag and you had to actually SHAKE the bag (for fun) so that the nori pieces would stick to the fries even more in the paper bag. The fries were quite tasty and actually had a big nori flavour to it. Yum!
Next up, Penny Lou Lou was true to their word and gave us some samples of their most popular creations. We got to try the “Penny & Leonard” which was a bubble cake with Lou Lou sauce (dulce de leche with citrus), market fresh berries, and vanilla ice cream. Penny Lou Lou features ice cream dessert paired with Hong Kong style egg waffles, fruits, and sweet sauces.
I tried their Penny & Leonard dish and really enjoyed the cold and sweet vanilla ice cream in the heat. I liked the Lou Lou sauce since it was thick and had some good flavour. I also liked the fresh berries.
They only offered us three Waffle Dogs to try. Did they not see that there were more than 15 people in our group? I got to take a picture but didn’t get to try this. Maybe they could have cut it up for us if they didn’t want to make individual portions for us at least. It sounded really interesting since it was an “all beef hot dog that is coated in their signature crispy Bubble Cake batter”. I really would have liked to try this salty and sweet creation.
Anyway, Premium Near Beer actually served us some sample drinks when they saw us coming around again. It’s funny how we didn’t get to try the drinks when we had a lot of time beforehand but once they saw other vendors giving us samples, the guy at the stall immediately whipped up some samples for us.
The drinks we tried here were pretty good! It was a unique taste.
Che, an authentic Argentinian food truck, told us a little bit about their story but we didn’t get to try their food.
The next vendor, Tito Ron’s, was very smart. Once they saw the group of bloggers rounding the corner, they had already pre-prepared some samples for us and whipped them out. Nice! They cut up some lumpia for us with three different types of sauce: spicy pineapple sauce, taramind sauce, and cola sauce (pretty sure I got this wrong).
I liked both of the lumpia, the Lumpia Trinidad and Lumpia Kingston. However, what I loved the most was the Coconut Bae Lumpia which was a Deep Fried Coconut Caramel Cheesecake. It was so good! It was basically like lumpia, long and skinny, but it was a bite of deliciousness. I appreciated that Tito Ron’s already had these samples prepared for us a head of time so we didn’t have to waste time waiting for the food.
Pomme de Terre was right next door and we were able to try two of their offerings! They feature spiral chips (I’ve always seen them at food festivals but this is my first time trying it!) made with different types of potatoes, taro, beets, zucchini, and even banana (wow, so cool!). In addition to that, you can also choose the type of seasoning that you want on top of the spiral chips. You can get anything from All Dressed, Bacon & Cheese, BBQ, Dill Pickle, Wasabi, White Cheddar, Pizza, Salt & Vinegar (lots of traditional chip flavours here), and lots more! We chose the Instant Noodle seasoning. So, so cool! 😀
We got a purple potato spiral chip and a beet spiral chip. It was a great food item to photograph as always since it looks so good! We had to wait a couple of minutes for it to be freshly made in front of us but it was worth it. We took lots of pictures when it was done.
I really liked the purple potato spiral chip because it was a little flaky but the isn’t noodle seasoning was strong here. It was so tasty!
I liked the beet spiral chip too since it was so fresh and steaming hot! Beets are not cheap and the fact that this spiral chip contained an entire whole beet was quite impressive! Each part of the spiral chip was carved so perfectly too. How do they do it?
Pomme De Terre also serves a watermelon chia seed and lychee chia seed drink. It’s very healthy for you and perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day! We got samples of each and it was an interesting texture when drinking it down because the chia seeds floated and were very small and easily swallowable.
After this last food item, we travelled inside to the gym for our last couple of samples before the media tour ended. It was prime time too because it was getting quite hot outside and the event had started at 1 p.m. — lots of people were lining up for food at each of the vendors.
The first indoor vendor we visited was “Baker Siu“, one of the top 5 Masterchef Canada winners. I have to admit that I have never watched this TV cooking show so I couldn’t exclaim same amount of excitement as some of my food blogger counterparts did (sorry, homegirl doesn’t watch TV). Nevertheless, we spent a good 5 minutes here oogling this young Chinese superstar and watched him prepare his well-known matcha crepe cake too. No samples were eaten here, but I wanted to try his crepe cake before I left (especially since I had just recently had an amazing one at Mille Crepe for the first time).
Next up, we visited DF Catering’s booth but they told us that they were too busy with customers to offer us any samples or speech. Okay then. On to the next vendor!
Klink Coffee is a social responsible coffee that provides training and jobs for people returning home from prison and their coffee beans are grown on 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Cool! Thank you for explaining your mission and purpose to us. 🙂 They were also very generous and offered each of us a full-sized drink.
I got an iced coffee. Look at how big the portion is! The coffee bean flavour was strong in this and I liked it quite a bit. I also had some vanilla extract in it. 🙂
Next up, we went to Kaboom Chicken, one of my favorite vendors of the event. The reason is that the girl who represented the vendor was very enthusiastic about their wings and was considerate enough to ask our group how many bloggers there were so that they could help prepare enough morsels for each person to share. Yay, so awesome!
Kaboom Chicken is a Korean Fried Chicken shop that also served tacos and galbi with potatoes. It all looked so good and I liked how they had some already made for people to see what the dish would look like before buying.
We got to try their “Kaboom Wings” and “Pork Bone Stew” Tacos. Like I mentioned, they were very considerate and generous with their samples and each person got a full wing to snack on and a taco to share between the blogger and their guest. Thank you!
Wow, I loved the Kaboom Wings! They serve them with either Tangy Spicy, Sweet Chilli, or Dry. I got to try both the Tangy Spicy and Sweet Chili. I really enjoyed the Tangy Spicy one because of the kick of the slight spice. I liked the Sweet Chilli too regardless! What I loved the most of their wings was that it was crunchy and crispy on the outside and really moist and tender on the inside. That matters the most for any chicken wing!
The “Pork Bone Stew” Tacos were made with pulled pork, Asian pear, and kimchi slaw. I think that the pulled pork was pretty good as well as the kimchi slaw. However, I thought that the taco skin was a bit coarse and flavourless. If the taco skin could be more floury and soft, I would have really enjoyed it more! My suggestions. 🙂
Next up, we got the desserts again! We tried the strawberry cannolis at Holy Cannoli. They served their cannolis in vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate filling that day. I found the shell to be very crunchy and the strawberry filling to be soft and creamy. It was pretty good.
Last but not least, we tried our final vendor for the media tour. We tried the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Ice Volcano! They had three ice cream flavours: Malted Milk, Nutella, and Earl Grey. After a brief explanation of their product, we saw the liquid nitrogen ice cream being made in front of our eyes! It was pretty cool and a lot of us took videos of the ‘steam’ coming out in addition to pictures. It was pretty awesome.
They use fresh ingredients, organic fruits, and 100% Canadian dairy. Because of this, when the ice cream was done, it was super smooth and definitely cold. Yum! We took a lot of pictures before we consumed it too. I really liked the Nutella one. The Earl Grey was a little faint in flavour, I thought.
Just like I mentioned before, before I left the venue, I did go back to Baker Siu’s booth to try his crepe cake. I really wanted to compare it to the Millie Crepe one. The slice looked very similar, but you can notice subtle coarseness in the crepe layers. Compare. The first bite was pretty good as I could taste the soft cream between the layers but it definitely tasted like its look — the layers were not as soft as the Mille Crepe one. The layers in this one were thicker and not smooth. I wasn’t a fan. Sorry.
And with that, we wrapped up the one-hour media tour of the TO Food Fest 2015. Wow. What a privilege to be part of the media tour and to sample this year’s vendors before everyone else got a chance to buy their food and meet several of Toronto’s prominent bloggers! I really had a good time and loved the experience. I can’t wait for more of these! A great fun day to meet, eat, and chat about food. Thank you TO Food Fest team and volunteers! 🙂