August 13, 2017: Sweetery Toronto 2017 is the third year that this “all things sweet” food festival was hosted in Toronto. I still remember the first inaugural year that I went when I had a really enjoyable time being led by Vivien with the other foodies to taste nearly all of the vendors at the food festival. Last year’s event was self-guided and not as fun since it didn’t seem like many of the vendors were receptive to the media influencers during the media tasting.
This year, since I arrived on the second day of the Sweetery Toronto event, there was a smaller group of media influencers (since most of the others had participated on the first day). Similar to last year, we were invited to arrive an hour before the official festival opening time so that we could go around to the vendors to try out the food. The media tasting was held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This year, Sweetery Toronto was also located at David Pecaut Square on King Street West next to Roy Thompson Hall. They set out the same Sweetery blocks as the previous year and used the same red and white umbrellas. However, it seemed as if the area was a lot smaller than last year and there were definitely fewer vendors than the previous year too. The grass on David Pecaut Square also wasn’t maintained very well and thus the ground looked very yellow and brown.
I arrived before 11 a.m. and checked in. It was cute that the name tags were stickers that were essentially “chalkboards”. We used chalk to write our names on the name tags.
Since we were a small group, Sally ended up leading us around the vendors. I loved it this way because we as influencers didn’t have to approach each vendor and ask for food. Not every vendor is receptive, so when you have an actual Sweetery volunteer guide you to each vendor, the vendors are more friendly and receptive — it probably seems more “legitimate” that way.
Although the media tour was slated to begin at 11 a.m., the majority of the vendors were not ready at all for us. They were still setting up for their 12 p.m. start time. We had to wait around until 11:15 a.m. before the first vendor was ready to receive us with samples.
The first vendor that received us was Camellia Milk Tea. They had four types of teas in which they made their milk tea from. The one that we sampled was the Assam black milk tea. I actually can’t take caffeine very well these days, but I tried it anyway. I really liked it! It wasn’t too sweet and the milk tea was incredibly smooth. It was a really good milk tea!
They also did a really good job explaining their tea and were very friendly.
After this first sample from Camellia, we had to wait another 20 minutes before the next vendor was ready for us. This was a lot of time wasted in my opinion. It was already 11:40 a.m. by this point — originally if we had stuck to the schedule, we would have been nearly done the media tour. I’m half complaining and half stating the facts.
The second vendor that we tried was Daan Go Cake Lab, a new shop to be opened this fall by Christopher Siu (of Masterchef Canada fame). He was selling Cheese Tarts (Cheese n’ Honey and Mango), Character Macarons, and Charcoal Sesame Crepe Cakes. We watched him torch the Cheese Tarts. Chris Siu was very generous this year and provided lots of Cheese Tarts for us to try. I thought that the Mango Cheese Tart was very strong in mango flavour. I only got a small slice of the Cheese n’ Honey Cheese Tart so it was hard for me to discern whether it was actually good or not.
The Character Macarons were very well done and cute too! This was definitely a highlight food item that was photographed often and shared on social media that day.
Next to them, a vendor called Makniku was debuting “the world’s first macaron burger”. This was a creative take on a macaron shell as the burger buns with a meat patty in the centre. In particular, it was made with homemade macaron sesame bun, nori, secret sauce #1, AAA sirloin burger, and secret sauce #2. It cost $5 each.
They cut up one into quarters for us to try. It was a very interesting type of sweet and savory snack.
@mengbakes, a local baker, was selling panda cookies and panda cupcakes at her stall. We were provided the panda cookies to sample. I thought that while the cupcakes and cookies were very cute, the strawberry white chocolate panda cookie that I tried wasn’t too outstanding. I should have tried the dark chocolate bacon panda cookie instead! However, I think there weren’t too many of those ones. I wish Meng all the best with her cupcake business!
Next, we tried some savory food from La Fiesta (although it was interesting that they didn’t have a sign for their tent at all).
I appreciated that they served up a platter of Pulled Pork and Llapingachos (fried potato cakes) with a peanut sauce for us to try. The Pulled Pork tasted more like chicken to me and was decent along with the Llapingachos.
Starbucks Teavana served up a Peach Citrus White Tea Infusion at their booth. They had a really cute highly photogenic area for people to take photos and tag them in. In this day and age of heavy Instagram use, it is a smart idea for free promotions from the public.
After this, our last stop for sampling was at the Wafel Bar food truck. Unfortunately, they were still warming up their grills and weren’t ready for us yet. At this point, it was 12:20 p.m., already past the intended media tour hour.
While we waited around, Nic, the founder of Sweetery Toronto came over to welcome us and explain a little bit about the food festival now in its third year.
I also took a look at the George Brown College Chef School‘s booth where they served up their culinary baked goods in support of Second Harvest.
At this time also, since we were still waiting for Wafel Bar’s grill to open, Sally suggested that we go play the Taste Challenges which supported Second Harvest. This was my first time actually taking a thorough look at the taste challenges and I’m glad that I stayed for this even though I had originally planned to leave right at 12 p.m.
It cost $5 to play all six challenges. The first challenge was a tea taste challenge where you had to guess three teas. The second challenge was a popcorn taste challenge. This was a difficult one. We tried the blueberry one after Devon had played and realized that the blueberry popcorn didn’t even taste like blueberries. XD
The third challenge was a crumbs one. The fourth challenge was jellies. The fifth challenge was dried fruit (probably the easiest one since the flavours weren’t artificial). Finally, the last challenge was “middle” as in the middle part of a cookie like Oreo or Fudgee-o fillings.
We played collectively as a group but didn’t win the ultimate prize. We still got a small chocolate snack though. It was a fun series of challenges!
Finally, by 1:20 p.m. Wafel Bar was ready for us. We were welcome to order anything off of their menu to share and try. Yay for generous vendors who give out full-sized portions!!! Wafel Bar was the only vendor who gave out full-sized portions for sampling this year at Sweetery.
We had the S’Mores Ice Cream Wafel which was a Sweetery Special. I really appreciated that they created a dessert just for the Sweetery Festival. This is something that all vendors should consider doing! It makes them tie into the event more and makes them stand out too. This was a really yummy S’Mores Ice Cream Wafel!
We also had the Wafel Bites which were liege wafel bites coated in cinnamon sugar and served with a dipping sauce of our choice — we chose white chocolate. This was quite good too! The wafel bites were soft yet crunchy and coated with cinnamon sugar.
I remember having the chicken and waffles from Wafel Bar last year at OktoberFEAST in Markham and really enjoying their waffles. I’m glad to see that their quality and taste is consistent. They are now a favourite in my books! 🙂
Finally, by 1:30 p.m., our media event was complete. I could have left early, but I did want to stay and see the rest of the media tour. I’m glad that I stayed. I enjoyed this year’s media tour for the fact that Sally led and guided us around to each vendor so that we could receive the samples to try. However, I think that timeliness was an issue. I really hope that for next year, the vendors respect the media tour’s wishes (media helps them advertise!!) and preps their station and samples early so that the influencers can try out the food in the allotted media tour hour — it gives us a chance to actually post our pictures/videos to share with our followers in order to promote the food. I also thought it was unfortunate that some vendors flat-out said “no” to the media tour; they didn’t want to provide samples. Perhaps they don’t think that the social media sharing helps their business?
Sweetery Toronto was markedly smaller in size than previous years. I really hope they take note of their shortfalls so that they find ways to grow next year instead of shrink. I noticed that they had more well-known vendors during their first year. There weren’t many big names this year. (In fact, one side of the tents were the activity tents. Last year, they had put the activity tents near the media sign-in spot. This means that without the activity tents this year, their venue would have looked even smaller. :/)
I want to thank Sweetery Toronto for inviting me for a third year to the media tour to taste the food. I’m looking forward to experiencing their fourth year (if there is one). 🙂
FTC Disclaimer: Although Sweetery Toronto reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to showcase the food and vendors at the Sweetery Toronto Food Festival, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the organization.