This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my first Gourmet Food & Wine Expo with Ken! I had never been there before but had always heard about it in the media so I was extra excited to attend and check out what it was going to be like.
This year in 2016, the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo was held at the Metro Convention Centre in the North Building from November 17 to 20, Friday evening into Sunday. We were there for the Saturday expo (you buy the tickets online or on-site). We arrived early just after noon and were one of the first handful to arrive. I was really glad that we arrived early because we were able to walk around freely and sample lots of food and drinks before the crowds started to come in. It was especially crowded after 5 p.m. and difficult to walk through the masses of people at that point.
The Expo had so many types of food and drinks, previews of food and drinks not yet available in the public yet or only at trade shows, and also pop-ups from existing restaurants in the city. Since there were so many exhibitors, it was easy to find something appealing to any palate.
We sampled a LOT of free food and drinks that day. It was a ton of fun and I couldn’t believe that we spent over 7 hours just walking around eating and drinking. True foodies. 😀
In total, there were over 100 exhibitors and vendors there probably. We used our tickets to purchase food and drinks too. Each ticket was worth $1 and items ranged from 1 ticket to 6 tickets or more. You definitely had to pick and choose to see what was the best “value” for your money. Since we were choosy about what we wanted to spend our tickets on, we actually got to dine on a really great selection without spending too much money. Yay! (Also, we found that some of the free samples tasted better than the ones where you had to pay. XD)
First off, we tried these sauces and marinades with nachos from Cool Running. We were hungry and they were generous and allowed us to try as many flavours as we wanted to. It just so happened that I liked the green-coloured marinates the best.
This cheese and honey on a cracker from Hot Mamas was actually REALLY good! We had seconds. 😀
This was our first use of two tickets! The Chef Georges Pate Platter. We were able to choose three flavours (goose & cranberries, wild boar, and duck & green peppercorns). Unfortunately, because the cracker they used to put the pate on was so thick, it completely overwhelmed the flavour of the pate and you couldn’t taste it very well at all… hmm.
Persimons from Spain to cleanse the palate! We had several rounds of this throughout the night. They were really good and juicy and also were more firm than the usual persimmons I eat. 🙂
Our first cheese of the day! These were cheese from Spain. One was the Manchego and the other one was the Murcia Al Vino. Both of them were pretty good.
Espresso for Ken. I liked how the little cup had a handle attached to it. So cute!
Cottage Country Dips; three flavours! They were generous and let us try each dip. I really liked the Bacon & Kale one. The Habanero & Lime definitely had a hint of lime in it. Really yummy. 🙂
This was a treat. We were able to try so many types of salami from Vince’s Euro Deli! The salami was really, really good too! Like the guy said, one of the spicier ones would be perfect on pizza. :9
This was a surprise favourite of the night! Matt & Steve’s Tasty Beverage Co. served different types of pickled items like pickled beans, pickled asparagus, olives, and clamato drinks. It was really delicious and I especially liked the uniqueness of the pickled asparagus called “The Asparagoos”. 😀
Three types of USA Pears: Starkrimson, Bosc, Comice — free samples! These were really juicy and sweet pears and I especially liked the Comice one. These were also really good palette cleansers.
After all that food, we finally enjoyed our first glass of wine for the day. 😀 We had some red wine from Robert Mondavi. It was actually really good solid red wine. But you had to drink it quickly because after a few minutes, it didn’t taste as good with the air exposed to it.
I didn’t take a photo of the piece of ChocoMe Original Artisan Chocolate but I had one with raspberry in it and another one that was a bit nutty. It was really good chocolate!
We tried all four types of pork and beef jerky from Krave (Sweet Chipotle Beef Jerky, Chili Lime Beef Jerky, Grilled Sweet Teriyaki Pork Jerky, Black Cherry Barbecue Pork Jerky). I wasn’t a fan of it. The Black Cherry Barbecue Pork Jerky was especially hard and rough to chew through. Maybe it was just that piece I got, but it wasn’t good. The other ones carried a bit of the flavour labelled on the packaging, but overall I didn’t think it was very good jerky — too dry.
We tried two really good beers from Double Trouble Brewing Co.! I liked the packaging too and they gave away free coasters. 😀 The French Press Vanilla Stout was a dark beer that I really liked. Ken thought it tasted like coffee. 😛 Ken got the Grow A Pear Cider (not pictured) and I liked how refreshing and sweet it was.
After watching the cooking demo, we continued sampling. 😀 This Chopped Mushrooms and Ground Meat in a tortilla chip from The Blend was pretty good.
We tried two more jerky from Lorissa’s Kitchen and I actually really liked this one! The Korean Barbecue jerky was quite good and much more tender. However, I had had enough jerky that day and didn’t try the other two flavours despite it being free samples. 😀 (Also, their jerky is all organic and healthy with no MSG too.)
Assorted cheese for 2 tickets for a plate. 😀
Of course we needed a glass of wine to go with the plate of cheese.
Bubble waffles and ice cream from Golden Waffles! It was Ken’s first time trying this combination.
We got the Matcha PoppySeed bubble waffle paired with Baileys Irish Cream ice cream. They gave me the choice to put chocolate sauce or strawberry sauce as well as whatever toppings I wanted like chocolate, sprinkles, or chocolate sticks. I stuck with chocolate sauce and a chocolate stick.
Unfortunately, the bubble waffle barely had any matcha flavour in it; it was only slightly green inside. (I also didn’t remember tasting any poppy seeds either…) However, the Baileys Irish Cream ice cream was really good! Overall though, if they want to keep succeeding, then they need to improve the batter and recipe of their bubble waffle. The two layers of bubble waffle also fell apart as we tore it out to eat..
After watching the Canadian Cheese Counter show, we continued sampling (again!) :D. We tried the herbal cordials from County Yum Club and I really liked the lavender one. It was really refreshing and resembled a soda.
We tried thin crust pizzas from the Ristorante brand! It was fresh out of the oven and really hot.
This German apple liquor immediately caught my eye when I saw it so I had to try it. It smelled AMAZING, like fresh apples! You can ask Ken how many times I smelled this to admire its fragrance lol. It tasted very strong though so I liked how it smelled more than its taste. Ken had the Sangria and it was really good!
My foodie friend who went to the preview of the expo told me about the caviar tasting so I definitely wanted to try it. We tried the Wild Caviar and I really liked it! They gave us a small palate cleanser too to start. Ken thought it was too salty though. He liked the pate on a cracker that they gave us afterwards. 😛
We were at the right place at the right time and got to try three soups from Campbell’s! I really liked the Tomato Basil Bisque, followed by the Thai Tomato Coconut, and then the Golden Butternut Squash soups. Yum.
At this point, we were winding down for the night and left with three tickets! We spent them on whatever we found fit the bill. This Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada was decent.
We returned to the vendor that had this really delicious chocolate cookie (didn’t take a photo of it) and tried their Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar. It was SO good! We definitely saved the best for last. The cheese was crumbly and so full of flavour. I should have savoured mine instead of eating it all in one bite. 😄
Lastly, we also tried pate from the Three Little Pigs and loved it! This was much better than the earlier one we tried lol. They knew to use a thin cracker so that the pate flavour was focused. This was really good pate.
In addition to eating and drinking items from the vendors, we also participated in two demo shows that day. The Chef & The Dish show was at 2 p.m. and we stopped in just in time to sample the curry chicken dish from the previous show too. The chicken was very smooth and tasted good.
The Chef & The Dish show was featured around the idea that you could cook in your own home and have a real live chef from anywhere in the world get Skyped in and teach you how to cook! There were two guest cooks that day who learned how to cook a pesto pasta recipe from a chef in Northern Italy. This was all done live and it was pretty interesting to watch them replicate the chef’s dish and follow instructions via live Skype. At the end, they also announced a winner who would be able to receive a free Chef & The Dish class from the chef. It just so happened that I had a “golden ticket” in the free mason jar that they were handing out as tickets so I won! Let’s see when I can redeem this class to cook up a storm at home. 😄
The second show was the Canadian Cheese Counter that we stopped in on. There were a lot of tables and chairs set up with trivia questions and info on it about Canadian cheese. We got the chance to sample about five or six cheeses while the host explained each cheese in detail. In the end, this was fun to sit and listen in on cheese and nibble on cheese, but I think it was a little underwhelming considering the fun we had had at the other show and all the other delicious cheese we had been sampling throughout the night.
Other cheese that we sampled that night: Boursin Cranberry & Pepper cheese. Ken loved this one.
We partook in a mini cheese tour where we got to try four cheeses with one ticket. I don’t have the names of all of these cheeses except for whatever photos I took but these four cheeses were one of my favourite of the night. The cheeses were just so rich and decadent. No wonder they were at a higher price point! The first cheese was so smooth and rich (it was triple cream cheese). The last one, a blue cheese, was also really delicious too!
There was a touch-screen game that you could play to see what kind of cheese you are. Apparently, I am The Entertainer cheese, a Canadian Blue. 😄
We left with the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo wine glasses — they look so nice! — a bunch of food info around 7 p.m. just as the crowds were getting really difficult to navigate through. What a great event! If you haven’t been to the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo before, I highly recommend it. Make sure you go with a fellow foodie because it’s extra fun that way. 🙂