I had the pleasure to be invited to the 3rd Annual Coconut Festival & Marketplace this year by Mark to sample various foods and products from this popular coconut festival.
“Coconut Festival Canada produces the event to connect all communities to learn about the coconuts’ various health benefits & diverse addictive delicious culinary and lifestyle uses with the addition of a Book Drive for an orphanage partner in the Philippines.” (Quoted from their website.)
This year, the Coconut Festival was held on August 27, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto. I attended the event last year and had a great time enjoying various coconut, vegan, and healthy products too.
Mandy and I arrived at 1 p.m. to join the festivities. There were over 70 vendors this year and there were a lot more people in attendance than last year. I noticed that in addition to food vendors, make-up, jewelry, health products, there were also a lot of products from network marketing companies. I found that very interesting.
After we checked in at the front reception with Mark and received our media passes, Mark gave us a short introduction to this year’s festival and pointed out various vendors for us to check out.
First, we visited Silkeny, a booth that was promoting a certified organic virgin coconut oil product. Nalin and another staff did a great job explaining where their coconut oil comes from and they were even hosting a free trip to Sri Lanka where the trip would include a visit to the plantations where the coconuts were grown.
I was grateful to receive a full jar of the certified organic virgin coconut oil to use at home — to eat, to wear, to do whatever I wanted with it since coconut oil has so many uses and benefits.
I also tried eating coconut oil for the first time. It was served on a cracker and both Mandy and I were impressed with how refreshing it tasted. It wasn’t oily at all and was very pure. Yummy!
Vita Coco was a very generous vendor and gave away full-sizes of their coconut water, in regular and pineapple versions. I’m a huge fan of coconut water and swear by it for hydration purposes. I had never tried the pineapple one before. It tasted refreshing with just a hint of the pineapple.
For our first food item of the festival, we stopped by Pai Toronto. I’ve had a growing appreciation of Pai Toronto ever since I tasted their food for the first time at the Destination Thailand media preview event last month. Their Thai food is amazing and it’s authentic Thai too!
The staff manning the booth was very friendly and offered us their Khao Soi with Chicken to us (they were selling it for $5). This dish contained fresh egg noodles in a golden curry topped with crispy noodles, coriander, green onions, and chicken (contains shrimp paste). This was a great portion and I appreciated how it was served in a paper cup with wooden fork and spoons (environmentally friendly).
Mandy and I sat at one of the many benches around David Pecaut Square to enjoy this noodle dish. (David Pecaut Square is a beautiful space to host food festivals — lots of space, greenery, and spaces to sit under the shade.) I really enjoyed the creamy golden curry that wasn’t too spicy, the fresh egg noodles, tender chicken pieces, and the fresh coriander, green onions, and lime. The entire dish was a great start to our coconut festival experience! 😀
I had tried the coconut spreads from Coco Vie last year (they even gave me a full jar). This time, I was reminded of its rich and dense coconut spread mixture by trying the mango flavoured spread. It’s great for people who like to spread flavoured coconut on their bread or to use in their cooking.
Cocobliss Naturals was selling really cute and well-made soap cupcakes! These were all handmade by Patricia and were so beautiful. I couldn’t help but take photos of them. Don’t they look just like real cupcakes? 🙂 They smelled amazing too.
Beekeeper’s Naturals was selling organic honey and offering samples. They were occupied with another guest though so I didn’t get to try any of their product (and forgot to go back afterwards). 😄 (I’m a huge supporter of bees because we, humans, have driven a lot of them away due to climate change, taking away their natural habitats to build homes, and more… research this if you are curious about why bee populations are declining and how its repercussions are dangerous for humanity.)
Next, we tried some Plantain Chips which were quite good!
Pur Tropix offered some of their pomegranate juice for us to try and their spring rolls. Both were pretty good.
We ate these while enjoying the traditional Hawaiian dances on the stage. It was such a beautiful day to be attending an outdoor festival. The sun was out, there was a nice breeze, and no humidity. 🙂
Real Freshing is a company specializing in real fruit smoothie pops which are vegan, containing no added sugars or water, and 100% natural. You can find them at Whole Foods Market, Nature’s Emporium, and whenever they set up their pop-up shops.
They had five flavours available: Blueberry blackberry, mango, raspberry kiwi, strawberry, and strawberry banana. I tried the mango fruit smoothie pop and liked how it was all natural with no added sugar or water. It was almost like eating an actual mango on a stick except that it wasn’t too sweet. I found it fascinating that the Popsicle barely melted as I walked around with it and eating it slowly. (That no water addition thing is real!) It was so authentic that as I was eating the smoothie pop, I could see and taste all of the mango strands. You can also see the individual mango strands in the photo. 😄 This was so enjoyable. Keep up the great work, Real Freshing! 🙂
We tried some granola and grains from Kind Fruit & Nut, a company that specializes in making granola bars and such with ‘ingredients that you can actually recognize and pronounce’. The almond and coconut granola bar was chewy and full of coconut. The grains were super crunchy!
We tried the “Cacao Bliss Smoothie” and “Touch of Mint Iced Tea” from Avazera. It was really good. The Cacao Bliss Smoothie was chocolaty while the Touch of Mint Iced Tea was very refreshing and was said to be a great “detox tea” to drink after a meal for digesting.
I have always wanted to try a Spam Musubi from Liko’s Hawaiian Barbecue. I was so excited to be able to try one! A Spam Musubi is “a popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii made with a slice of grilled Spam atop of a block of rice, wrapped together with nori dried seaweed in the tradition of Japanese omusubi”.
It took a couple of seconds for the chef to prepare one for us and cut it in half for us to enjoy. It tasted as good as it looked — salty Spam on a block of rice with some nori seaweed wrapping it together. Who doesn’t like Spam though? It was very tasty even though the rice was a bit mushy. I would eat this again in the future… just not too often though because Spam is not good for you lol. 😛 Thanks, Liko’s in any case for serving it to us! 🙂
We tried some Coconut Milk from “Tru by Vegan Rev”. It was made with fresh cracked coconut, no carrageean, no gum or thickeners, and no refined sugar. In addition, it was vegan, raw, and natural. It tasted like what it’s supposed to be — coconut and milk.
I tried some cold-brew matcha from Matcha Ninja. It was definitely real matcha with a strong hint of bitterness in the tea.
I had a jerk chicken poutine from King Catering last year. I tried their jerk chicken with coleslaw this year. (I opted out of the rice since I was already getting full.) King Catering serves “Caribbean cuisine with a Northern American twist”.
The chicken itself was a little dry but it wasn’t terrible. It was a little spicy too. The coleslaw was typical coleslaw.
I stopped by Big E’s Hawaiian Grinds. They were serving up some Hawaiian specialties. (As they say, Hawaii doesn’t just serve poke bowls! :P) They served a Luau Slider, Kona Coffee Chicken & Rice, and a Haupia Pie.
The staff here were very friendly and nice. They served us the Kona Coffee Chicken & Rice and Haupia Pie. The Kona Coffee Chicken & Rice had Kona coffee spiced rubbed chicken over Maui Gold Rice with cucumber slaw and “Haole” white sauce and sriracha. This was quite good. The cucumber slaw was very fresh, the Maui Gold Rice was firm and delicious, and the chicken was tender too. The sriracha gave it all a great kick of spice.
The Haupia Pie ended up to be one of my favourite eats at the Coconut Festival! It was simply a coconut chocolate pie, but it definitely tasted way better than it sounds. The top of the palm-sized pie contained whipped cream with coconut shavings and it was layered with coconut and chocolate sitting in a thin crust. It was absolutely delicious! The fresh coconut and the sweetness of the chocolate was an amazing combination. I could have eaten up another one very quickly! I loved this! 😀
We watched another Hawaiian dance performance as we enjoyed these Hawaiian eats. It was great! There were more people now enjoying the performances too. We also listened to a wellness information session where they gave out coconut soap samples and coconut lip balm. Thank you, Coco Vie! 🙂
We tried some coconut chips from Coco Vie and I really liked how yummy they were. Mandy bought three bags of these to take home. 🙂
We were nearing the end of our amazing day at the Coconut Festival. But first, we wanted some more desserts.
I got the Coconut & Mango Parfait from Young Animal. It was pretty decent!
Before leaving, we stopped by Fressy Bessie Healthy Food for a mint ice lolly which was 100% fruit. Like Real Freshing, these were also made with no added sweeteners or water. Unlike Real Freshing though, Fresh Bessie Healthy Food was unwilling to give us samples to try. I also got an earful from the lady manning the vendor who informed me something along the lines of “only buying the product ensures objective food critiques”. She was not pleasant at all.
It’s too bad that we weren’t able to try her fruit lollies because I would have been able to help her promote her product…. I’m also objective in all of my reviews lol. So many food bloggers and instagramers do it nowadays to help companies boost their business. It’s the newest method of advertising and highly effective too. I’m not sure if she realizes what the food trends are these days.
Anyway, other than that one last encounter, the day at the 3rd Annual Coconut Festival was incredible. We tried so many foods, received samples to take home, watched some great performances, and had a fun day at David Pecaut Square. I hope the festival grows more and more, maybe perhaps to even spread over two days as not many people know about it or once they do find out about it, it is already over.
Thank you again to Coco Vie for sponsoring the event, Mark for inviting me and allowing us to be apart of the media crew, and all of the vendors who allowed us to sample their food. I really appreciated it! It was a great day and I got to try a lot of food I otherwise wouldn’t have tried.
Until next year! 🙂
FTC Disclaimer: Although Mark reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to showcase the food and vendors at the Coconut Festival, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the organizations.