Markham Rotary Ribfest is held every summer at the Markham Civic Centre at 101 Town Centre Boulevard in Markham. This is every meat-lover’s dream and a definite mark of the summer months of barbecue season.
This was actually my first time attending the Markham Rotary Ribfest thanks to Sweven Media for inviting me as part of the media tasting tour. Thank you so much! 🙂
This year’s Markham Rotary Ribfest was held on July 8 through 10 and began on 5 p.m. on the Friday. We all gathered around the “Food Soulmates in the 6ix” (newly launched meetup group by Sweven Media) tent where Yvonne warmly welcomed me, introduced me to the team once more, and then led me to grab a drink from CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice to start off the evening.
CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice specializes in Taiwanese drinks and you guessed it – bubble tea! I’m a little ashamed to say that this was actually my very first time having a CoCo drink – I am not a huge bubble tea fan (are you shocked?). Since it was a summer day, I decided to get the Passion Fruit Green Tea with Tapioca (I usually don’t ordered tapioca unless it is a new bubble tea shop because I want to try out their tapioca).
My order came through in a jiffy and I enjoyed the refreshing passion fruit green tea. It didn’t have a strong taste of passion fruit or green tea actually. I found the small tapioca balls very chewy – exactly how they should be made. Yay!
Our media tasting was slated to start at 6 p.m., but we waited for some of the media crew to show up first. In the meantime, we nabbed a free board game. It was a Markham version of Monopoly!
I hope I get to play this soon. I love board games. 🙂
Once all the food bloggers, instagramers, and influencers had arrived, the informal media tasting began. Yay! This was awesome. 🙂
There were 6 rib stations this year at the Markham Rotary Ribfest, each of which proudly showed their awards and winning titles on their booths. All the ribfests I’ve been to always show huge signs for their winning titles and awards. It’s quite the display! As well, there were very long line-ups in front of each of the rib stations. I wonder how long each person had to wait in line for…?
We visited each rib station in order from left to right. The first one we went to was Billy Bones BBQ. They boasted “best sauce runner up” in 2015 and “best ribs runner” in 2014. It was really nice that one of the guys there gave us a short spiel on how their pork ribs are simply the best.
Out of the ribs I tried that day, I really enjoyed the ones from Billy Bones BBQ the most.
The second rib station was the Crazy Canuck Smokers which were “Canada’s #1 Rib Team” and the “saucy ones”.
As part of the media team, we didn’t have to wait as long as the people in line to get a rack of ribs to photograph and then to eat.
These ribs from Crazy Canuck Smokers were very lean and not very saucy.
The third rib station was “Gator BBQ – Original Deep South BBQ since 1983”. This one also boasted “best ribs” and “best sauce”.
For this one, we received the ribs and pulled pork for sampling. I only tried the pulled pork (they didn’t gave us enough ribs to share) and the pulled pork was absolutely fantastic! It was so moist, saucy, and perfectly done. I would love to have this pulled pork again in a sandwich!
The fourth rib station was Kansas City’s Barbecue Cooking Team which featured a huge turning rack of meat.
The fifth rib station was Tennessee Fatbacks. They also boasted of the best ribs and best sauce.
Last but not least in terms of the rib stations, we visited Brickyard BBQ which was a Jamaican chef featuring in jerk chicken. It was impressive watching him work the grill and the jerk chicken on the grill looked incredibly moist and delicious.
We got to try the jerk chicken with rice and it was absolutely amazing! The jerk chicken was fall-off-the bone tender, moist, and flavourful. The sauce that topped the chicken and the rice was perfectly spicy too. This was so good!
Next up, in our media tour of Markham Rotary Ribfest, we also got to try the rest of the vendors. I didn’t expect this at all because I thought we were just going to try all the ribs and that was it, but we ended up trying something from every single vendor that was at Markham Rotary Ribfest. Sweven Media, you are amazing!
First up, in our non-rib-media tasting, we tried the stinky tofu from Utopia Bubble Tea & Café. They had a “smelly tofu Hong Kong style” for sale but this one wasn’t your typical smelly tofu. The reason was that it actually wasn’t smelly at all. The owner was very passion about his products and came to talk to us, explaining that if they prepared it the traditional “smelly” style, they would get kicked out. Thus, this smelly tofu that they served at the Ribfest was a different version than usual.
It was definitely different. It was served in a tin container with the fried smelly tofu arranged within cut up canned corn, preserved vegetables, and some large shrimp crackers. The smelly tofu itself was very fried and dry and you could only taste a little bit of the smelly flavour in the corn and preserved vegetables. Not many people would enjoy this, I think, because of its unusual pairing.
We also got to try their “black pig kebabs”. These were very unique and out of ordinary for a food market. These were meat from black pigs, a well-known delicacy in Korea, and pickled so that they were a little bit sour. I actually really enjoyed these kebabs. The pickling made the meat not taste heavy at all. It was like a sausage but slightly sour; it tasted good!
Up next, we got to try three types of fries from Pappas Greek on Wheels.
The “Opa” Fries had feta, tzatziki, and a selection of fresh and pickled vegetables. This was very refreshing and most healthy out of the three fries.
The “Athens” Fries was a Greek Poutine which had feta, gravy, and tzatziki. This was like a regular poutine with gravy except that the cheese curds were replaced with feta cheese and there were tzatziki sauce on it. The feta was an interesting choice for a poutine.
The “Florina” Fries were the Athens Fries with gyro meat and tzatziki. The gyro meat was thin and pretty good.
Next, we got to try the Brisket Sammy and Brisket Poutine from the Urban Smoke Fusion BBQ food truck.
The Brisket Sammy was a slow smoked beef brisket in a homemade BBQ sauce on a warm bun finished with a house sweet red pepper mayo.
The Brisket Poutine had magic fries topped with cheese curds, beef gravy, BBQ sauce, and green onions. I found that the Brisket Poutine had ample brisket in it and tasted quite heavy. It’s great if you really like brisket and beef gravy. 🙂
We tried the poutine and burger from Moustache Burger and I was so impressed with both! Thanks to Sweven Media for running around to get all the food for us; we didn’t even have to visit the food truck to get these two amazing items! The poutine had melted cheese, bacon bits, green onions, and some other things in it and it was absolutely delicious! I couldn’t stop eating this. The burger was nicely cut up into four for us to enjoy and I really enjoyed this one too! It had beef and something crispy in it like chicken. It was one of my favourites all night. 🙂
We also got drinks from Summer Time Lemonade to cool off and quench our thirst. I tried the lemonade and liked how it was natural-tasting; of lemon, and not sweet at all! It was like drinking from a watered down lemon – in a really good way! It was very refreshing.
The Koi Gourmet Food Inc. served us a Koizy Wrap, a Nee-Nee Pork Belly that was braised with five spices, tea infused, and had soya sauce, and the Fish and Chips which was an Asahi beer battered Basa served with daikon radish tartar sauce and Ponzu vinegar spritzer.
The Asahi beer battered Basa was phenomenal! The fried basa didn’t have a heavy batter and was so tender and soft. I absolutely loved this one! Not many places do fish and chips well, but I can say that Koi Gourmet Food Inc. food truck absolutely nailed the fish and chips. 😀
We stopped by Coconut Island to view their fresh coconuts and mini watermelons.
The funnel cake from the Funnel Cake Express food truck was really good! I thought that the vanilla ice cream that was on top of the funnel cake was so creamy and a “perfect” vanilla ice cream. The funnel cake was also nicely battered and not too sweet. Yum!
The French fries from the Fresh Cut French Fries food truck were thick and very dry. I didn’t like these. I appreciated that they were freshly cut fries though.
Almost every food festival in Toronto features a Beavertails food truck or stand nowadays! I remember the days when you could only get Beavertails at Blue Mountain or Wonderland. Now they are quite ubiquitous. 😛 We tried the Skor Cheesecake Beavertail. It was a really nice-looking one with the Skor cheesecake pieces scattered all around the beavertail pastry. However, I thought it was overly sweet. I only tried one bite!
I tried the roasted corn that was dusted with some chili powder. This was so good! The corn kernels were fresh and pop-y while the powder on the corn added a definite punch! Yum. It was so juicy too.
Our very last food item was the blooming onion from Blooming Onion. I haven’t had this since I first tried at a CNE back in 2012. I really liked the blooming onion and the sauce that came with it too. You definitely have to share this one with friends as if you finish this by yourself… then either you are a huge fried onion lover or you were starving that day lol. The fried onion was really well done and crispy too. Yum.
Wow, we ate sooooo many things! It was incredible how many selections were at Markham Rotary Ribfest actually. I felt so blessed and grateful to be able to go on the media tour with Sweven Media with so many fellow foodies to taste and eat the Markham Rotary Ribfest.
Thank you again, Yvonne, Closs, and the rest of the team at Sweven Media for hosting a very thorough tasting for us. They really did an amazing job running around to each of the food vendors to get us a sample to try. Now that I know what the Markham Rotary Ribfest has, I can definitely recommend friends and family to go. It’s not just about ribs; there are other many amazing food vendors there too!
Also, I found that parking was a breeze. I arrived ten minutes before 7 p.m. on the Friday that the event started and I was at first a little fearful that parking would be a nightmare. However, as I drove down from 16th on Woodbine and took Apple Creek Blvd to the event, I saw many large signs from the fellow buildings and shops that welcomed the event goers to use their parking for the event. That was so nice of them!
I didn’t end up needing to use the parking from the neighboring businesses since I was early to the event and there were several empty spots already at the main parking lot. I can imagine though that for the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, those parking spots at the nearby businesses will definitely be of use.
FTC Disclaimer: Although Sweven Media reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to showcase the food and vendors at the Markham Rotary Ribfest, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the organizations.