Last year, I attended the Taste of Toronto 2016 festival for free because I had won tickets to it from Raymond. Even at the close of last year’s event, I had said that if I happened to win tickets again for 2017, I would attend. I previously had absolutely no plans to attend the festival this year because I had attended last year already and kind of knew what it was like and thus I wasn’t as curious about it than if I had never attended before.
It just so happened that I entered a contest on Instagram by Basil Box in which the prize would be a pair of tickets to Taste of Toronto 2017 as well as two lunch boxes from them. I didn’t expect to win but I was luckily chosen to claim the prize! Thus, I was glad that I was able to shelve our strawberry picking plans to attend the Taste of Toronto instead. (Thanks boo for switching in my favour.)
The Taste of Toronto ran from June 15 to 18 in 2017 and the tickets that I had won as part of the prize were for the Saturday evening session from 5:30 to 10 p.m. I picked up my pair of tickets from Basil Box on Friday which worked out well since I was downtown already.
On Saturday, just as we were able to take transit to Fort York where the festival was going to be held, the rain clouds had gathered and the skies were unleashing flashes of lightning and thunder. Because the weather looked so bad and it was an outdoor event (although operating rain or shine), we actually decided to forego the event due to weather.
However, after two hours or so, the skies completely cleared up and thus we decided to head downtown to the festival.
I’m glad that we ended up going because the weather by then was perfect. Clear blue skies and scattered clouds, calm wind, and cloudy skies. It wasn’t too hot either!
By the time we got to the venue (which was the same as last year), there actually weren’t too many people there. I think the earlier bad weather had drove out some people. This worked to our advantage because it meant that there weren’t that many crowds or people. It made for a much more comfortable walk through the venue grounds.
Taste of Toronto 2017 changed up their grounds set up a bit this year. I actually liked it more this way. There were more spaces to walk around and many more tables and seating for people to relax and lounge at than last year. Last year, I remember there were only a few standing tables for people to gather to eat and sometimes there wasn’t even space for you to squeeze into to get a spot. This year had a more relaxed atmosphere. There were also some games and live music being played too.
Upon entering at 6:30 p.m., I was very thirsty and wanted some beverages. We saw the Uniqlo tent which featured a free AIRism shirt and a drink. This was perfect! We lined up (there was practically no line) to get the raffle tickets for the shirt and then the drink. The Hibiscus Garden drink was made with hibiscus syrup, strawberry syrup, ginger beer, and lemon soda. It was perfectly thirst-quenching! 😀
Next up, we tried the Green Glow cold pressed fruit and vegetable juice from Pulp & Press Juice Co. We admired their use of an eco-friendly cup. If my memory serves me right, I believe the cup was made from bamboo… The Green Glow juice was quite good!
We tried the Elderflower and also Ginger & Lemongrass sparkling juices from Bottle Green. The Elderflower one smelled amazing! The Ginger one had a really strong ginger taste to it which was great. Both of them were sparkling and had large bubbles in them.
ACE Bakery was again giving out complimentary tastings of their fresh baked goods. I thought this was genius because they were so generous and this definitely gave me a good memory and impression of their company. Last year, they served bread with various spreads and smears. This year, they went above and beyond and prepared mini Grilled Cheese S’mores on ACE Bakery Gourmet Buns for everyone! For free! As they said on their sign, these were “free as air”. (When things are free, I tend to remember them better… :P)
Anyway, there was barely any line when we got ours and this was served fresh and hot from their grills! There were dedicated staff to prepare each one and grill them and then one person to serve them to us on a clean napkin. It was brie cheese that was used inside the bun. This was such a unique combination. I’ve never had anything like this before! 😀
We tried the sap water from Croxall Foods Inc. There was a still version and a sparkling version. We both liked the sparkling version more.
Nepresso had a huge site set up with a cute photo op area. We took some shots here. 😀 They gave us the hats and iced coffee to pose with as well!
We tried three types of Greek honey from Melia Fresh. I tried the Thyme Honey, which very fragrant. I tried their honey product with pine honey and Chios Mastic and another one too. These were very uniquely textured honey that I’ve never tried before. They were really affordable too at $12-ish.
Another festival and Vita Coco was giving out free coconut water again. I love these guys. They always give out free coconut water at nearly every festival that they are at! ❤
We tried some dairy-free cashew cheese on thin crackers from Zengarry which was pretty good. They’re GMO-free, vegan, all natural, raw, and fermented. I tried the Brie and Jalapeno flavoured cashew cheeses.
I saw Blue Goose again (they sell all-natural meats) and was reminded of the delicious samples that they gave out last year. This year, they prepared a Deconstructed Asian Lettuce Wrap. While I thought that the chicken morsels were all right, I thought there was too much teriyaki sauce smeared on the sample. I also absolutely loved their little wooden fork!
We passed by the Ristorante truck that also decorated itself as an outdoor restaurant too! It was so special! First, we greeted the “host” who let us select the pizzas that we wanted to try. We each could choose one flavour and then get one slice each to try it out. We were also entered into a draw.
Next, our “server” led us to a table where we were served water. We could also order wine too. I loved how it was like a romantic Italian restaurant setting. Even the napkins were fitted with a huge gold ring like how some of the upscale restaurants do it. XD
We waited a while before our pizzas arrived. We had ordered the new Ultra Thin Crust Kale, Bacon, and Ricotta pizza and also the Ultra Thin Crust Roasted Mushroom and Garlic pizza. This was served on a wooden platter like a full pizza would be. It was hot and fresh from the oven. I liked how crispy and definitely thin the crust was.
I ended up liking the Roasted Mushroom and Garlic pizza more than the Kale one (surprisingly). I thought that the Roasted Mushroom and Garlic pizza had more juicy tomato sauce and the mushrooms were so moist and delicious. The Kale one had some big pieces of bacon on it though.
As we were finished our sampling of these pizza slices, our server once again came over and presented us with the “bill” which was a voucher for a free cake in a mug and $1 off their new pizzas. I love how they played everything up to pretend like we were in a restaurant but it was really a intricate sampling of their pizzas. Well done, Ristorante. 😀
Ken tried some raspberry tea from Gold Peak Tea Time. I tried a sip and it was strong in raspberry flavour yet refreshing. I was more intrigued by their mini house actually. It was so cute!
As we were walking by, we noticed someone carrying a dessert that looked so familiar a la Wooffles & Cream! It was true! They were at the festival too! We visited them immediately and I chatted with Mabel for a bit. It had been a while since I had seen her last!
I can’t rave about Wooffles & Cream enough. I think they truly outdid themselves by preparing such a creative dessert this time for the Taste of Toronto festival! They didn’t serve their regular matcha or black sesame soft serve ice creams but instead did an ACTIVATED CHARCOAL soft serve and also their recent IRON GODDESS OOLONG TEA soft serve! As well, they didn’t serve their regular Wooffles as a big flat sheet but assembled it as a skewer and presented it next to the soft serve. The soft serves were sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles or matcha green tea crumble. And to really gave it even more flair, they put caramelized wheat puffs at the bottom of the cup! Wow. I was so impressed!!
Needless to say, we ordered one of each to try (Activated Charcoal Vanilla Soft Serve, Rainbow Sprinkles, Cookies ‘n’ Cream Wooffle Skewer & Caramelized Wheat Puffs + Iron Goddess Oolong Tea Soft Serve, Matcha Green Tea Crumble, Black ‘n’ White Sesame Wooffle Skewer & Caramelized Wheat Puffs) and also to support my friends. They had a near constant line-up and I’m not surprised because Wooffless & Cream really does do a great job at creating creative desserts. They were one of the first to do matcha soft serve ice cream in Toronto.
Anyway, the activated charcoal soft serve ice cream was really smooth and tasted like black sesame to me. I’m not sure what activated charcoal is really supposed to taste like lol. The iron goddess oolong tea soft serve was pretty strong in tea flavour but Ken thought it wasn’t strong enough for him. I liked the caramelized wheat puffs at the bottom of the cup. It was like a surprise.
It was my first time having their Cookies ‘n’ Cream Wooffles. It was sweet and tasted like chocolate to me. The Black ‘n’ White Wooffless were also new to me.
Ultimately, I loved this and couldn’t stop raving (still can’t stop) about their ingenuity and creativity in making this dessert for the festival. (And it was perfect as festival food.)
After this, we had to grab the free cup of iced coffee from Nepresso after having sat in their makeshift boat and seeing people carrying the pretty plastic cup around the grounds. Again, the line was barely there and we got to go inside their station to custom make a cup of iced coffee. I don’t drink coffee, but Ken got to enjoy his. The plastic cup was a great keepsake too!
After this, we grabbed another Grilled Cheese S’mores and enjoyed it on one of the lounge chairs on the grass. By this point, we were getting full and the sky was getting dark. I feared that it was going to rain and pour again so we decided to look around once more before leaving the festival. We had been at the festival for two hours by that point.
We saw the huge deer being roasted openly in the open at Antler.
The last vendor we visited before leaving was MoxTea. They attracted me to their booth because they had a cute character cut-out photo op. Cute photo opportunities are another great way to attract customers and potentially have them advertise your stuff too! Here we are as Vikings. 😀
Mox Tea is “a 100 percent natural tea that boosts energy and lowers anxiety”. The man in charge also explained to us its nine traditional ingredients and gave us a sample to try too.
Alas, it was the end of the night and we left promptly at 9 p.m. I have to say that this was a great way to see Taste of Toronto again. I’m really happy that I got to attend with the free tickets because I wouldn’t have attended this year otherwise. You can also see that we actually didn’t pay for anything other than the Wooffles dessert on this visit. There were enough free items to try and drinks to somewhat fill us up. We also took a look at the booklet and weren’t remotely interested in what they were serving anyway. A lot of the items were priced at $6, $8, or $10 and we didn’t think some of the items justified the $6-10 price tag. If we want to try the restaurant, we plan on going directly to the restaurant to try out their food that way. 🙂
Thanks again, Basil Box, for providing me with this pair of tickets to attend Taste of Toronto 2017! Maybe if I get free tickets again for 2018 (that will make me lucky three years in a row), then I will be posting another recap of the event. 😛
Some photos of the grounds:
I noticed that unlike last year, there was the absence of “Crowns”. These were currencies of a $1 to a ticket that had to be bought in exchange of a food item. However, the vendors seem to accept cash or credit this year. I think that is a much easier way to buy items.
Last year, the line-up for food vendors stretched so long into the open green spaces (especially as the clock struck closer into the evening — Priscilla and I waited for up to 30 minutes for one dish last year!). This year, there were barely any lines. I wonder why?
FTC Disclaimer: Although I received the admission tickets free of charge via an online contest hosted by Basil Box, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the company or companies at the festival.