It’s that time of the year again!! Every year, Torontonians (plus a whole bunch of other peeps) descend on the Exhibition grounds past the Princess Gates for the annual CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) (@LetsGoToTheEx) fair. It’s the perfect send off to summer before school hits us again.
Who doesn’t love midway rides, carnie games and greasy concoctions that you wouldn’t dare to eat anywhere else?! (Thanks epic meal time for making bacon the name of the game this year…)
Yesterday, I went to hit it up with fellow foodie Brian (from @theurbancraze) and one of his friends. This year is a bit “more” special than previous ones since not only is there the craptastic-artery-clogging food inside the food building, but there’s also ribfest and a food trucks rally (which last only thurs til yesterday)!
First stop: the Food Building! Dun dun dun!!! The sun was blazing when we arrived (past 1pm) so we ducked inside the giant warehouse where two to three dozen vendors offer up for the most part, very gluttinous foods. You’re greeted by this:
PULL’D (@PulldToronto). From the name and the piggy to the side, you can already tell what this place is serving up.
I’m really liking the menu layout… :) And the names as well of course! Time to try JACK’D I guess.
JACK’D: pull’d pork + three thick red velvet pancakes + jack daniels infused syrup. Those pancakes could be THICKER! I mean, if disgusting goodness is the name of the game, then gimme more.
I thought this looked pretty blegh though. Not too appetizing. I tried a few bites, not bad actually. I mean we’re mixing a lot more savoury and sweet nowadays so I can see where the idea stemmed from. More syrup please?! (you don’t taste the Jack Daniels at all).
Here was last year’s big-time vendor, Epic Burgers & Waffles. The line-ups here were long! How horrible is it that we can now say that such a burger as their “Donut Burger”—burger using a Krispy Kreme donut as the buns, is old news? “Oh, that artery-clogging burger that’s a snack, a meal and a dessert all rolled up in one? Meh. Been there, done that!” D:
Josh, Brian’s friend grabbed some Chicken & Waffles from there. He liked it. Start with good ingredients first, then go batshit wild. That seems to be the trend now at these “out there” food vendors at the Ex.
There are two main eating areas, with what seems to be a sufficient number of benches. But nope, come with several friends and you’ll have a fun time searching for free seats.
Here’s a little glimpse into what else lies between the four walls of the food building!
Coca-Cola is a new vendor this year, with their “100+ drink choices” machines. There’s one at the Scotiabank Theatre as well. It looks so cool! Maybe I’ll try it tonight with the team :D
BACON NATION. It seems that this is the place where the line ups are the longest. Surprisingly, we didn’t grab anything from here. Again, I’m sure when I go with my dragonboat team tonight we’ll be all over it. (and I shudder at that thought…)
Northwest Fudge Factory. I believe these guys have two stalls in the building.
They’ve got so much!! It’s nice to look at but I’m guessing it’s really sweet, which ain’t gonna float my boat. Sorry.
Far East Taco. Another new vendor. Tacos are definitely the name of the game this year with la carnita dominating the trend (if you haven’t gone, you best go asap before I make you. Yes, I love it there and you will too!).
Josh got the Fish and the Bulgogi tacos with everything on them. At 2 fror $8, it ain’t that bad. The photos look much better than what you get though haha
DutchFrites. I thought the idea of trying to make this stall look like a food truck was so cute! It smartly disguises what’s going on behind-the-scenes! ;)
Here’s their menu. I love dutch fries!! In Holland, they like it with mayo (sometimes ketchup too). So thick and yummy. :D Also, they’re normally served in these paper cones.
Chicken croquette from Dutch Frites. Nothing too special.
Brian and I shared a small ($5.95). It’s deceivingly huge. Oh, and be careful because chances are, the fries are HOT!!
Avocado mayo to dip! :D They've got several choices for "toppings" including fried onions, mayo, garlic mayo, Armeggedon (spicy), etc.
Mini deep fryer basket. So cute!
VIE raw food. No way. Health food, here at the Ex?! Unheard of…but the option’s there!
A zip line station!!! Whao so awesome!?
Or is it? It’s not that high, or far. The cable cars look more exciting than this haha.
FOOD TRUCKS RALLY!! The food trucks have been out in full force pretty here in front of the Princess Gates since Thursday. Yesterday was their last day there! Now it’s back to the streets. ;)
If you enter from the Princess Gates (top), this is your first view of the CNE! :D
Priscilla! Fidel Gastro recently unleashed their own food truck on the streets of Toronto. It’s great stuff!! Olé!
Aside from all the noshing and midway games, there are shows and demonstrations happening here. This is a far cry from the little “sandcastles” that we’ve all built before on the beach.
Food Network Celebrity Stage. Words cannot describe how excited I was to see Chuck Hughes’ demo (@chucksdayoff). Ask Brian, I was calm for all of 2 minutes, it’s really embarrassing how stoked I was.
He was a great speaker! (You should check out his show, Chuck’s Day Off. You’ll love it I promise you!).
Very funny, always kept the audience engaged and fully answered questions thoughtfully rather then giving generic answers. He came from Montreal with one of his sous, Kevin (sporting the Leafs cap!! Brap! But not really…). We chatted with him afterwards, he’s a very cool guy!
Serenading the audience. :D I’m kidding. He’s actually talking about his upcoming new show, Chuck’s Week Off. Specifically, his week in Mexico where a grandma showed him the proper way to cook clams over fire.
Chef Hughes repeatedly made references to his fellow Food Network chefs. This is him as he was saying “ricotta!” in Giada De Laurentiis’ (from Everyday Italian) voice.
Post-demo, the lineup for autographs/photos quickly stretched beyond the seating area. I “met” the man before at another of his cookbook signings at the Bayview Village Chapters. Still, very exciting! Especially since I nabbed reservations for Garde Manger next week!! :D:D
This was the first time I played any of the carnival games!! :D I played Whack-a-mole, dominated, and won a minion! Yeah, that smile ain’t sitting right on my face, it’s just so…wide. Haha
The cable cars! During the day, it’d be torture to go on because of the sun beating down on you. But in the evening and at night…I wanna go!
Ribfest time! There really is so much going on this year at the CNE, food-wise. We quickly chose Gator BBQ.
The pulled pork here is supposedly really good but this time around, it looked a bit dry. We only had ribs on our minds so this wasn’t even on our radar.
The FARMBOY Special. Good ribs are good ribs. That’s all there is to it.
Here were the other stalls. There’s only 4 but that’s quite enough I’d say. ;)
Snow cones. That one light in the dark…there were several sort of snapshots that really reminded me of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. This one reminds me of the bar that lured the alcoholic inside. Right?!
Ferris wheel! I’ve never been on one. Wow…there are so many things at the CNE that I haven’t done or tried! Time to get out of my shell!
I love going to the CNE. It’s one of those traditions that we’ve got here in Toronto that allows us to be silly and carefree for 18 days, and we embrace it! The fair is a part of our childhood that somehow stood the test of time. Can’t wait to go back! (I’m serious…aka why I’m going again in a few hours haha) :D See y’all there!