If you looked at that picture and thought, “Is she at a Mexican-themed bachelorette party?” I wouldn’t blame you, but it’s actually a group shot of some of the country’s top food bloggers before we headed off on a #TasteSafari around the city with Taste of Toronto.
From July 24-27th, Taste Festivals will be making its North American debut, featuring 17 of Toronto’s top restaurants. That’s right, this is going to be like Glastonbury for food freaks. Don’t believe me? Some of this year’s headliners include David Chang (in the flesh!) of Momofuku, Richmond Station (where I had the best burger of my life), Rose & Sons, Khao San Road (on of my go-to spots), and many more. And if you can believe it, all of this food tasting and mingling with top chefs can be done at Fort York with tickets starting at only $30.
To get ready for Taste of Toronto, the big sombrero-clad group hopped on a bus and went on the #TasteSafari to get a preview of what 5 out of the 17 featured restaurants would be serving up at the big event. In one word? Delicious! Here’s where we went, at what we ate:
First Stop: El Caballito on King West
The evening was kicked off at El Caballito on King West with their wonderfully strong margaritas, and these tasty mini pulled chicken sliders.
And look how cute their cocktail napkins are! I wish I had taken a stack home with me.
Second Stop: Yours Truly on Ossington
This was my first time visiting Yours Truly on Ossington (hard to believe since I’ve wanted to go for so long) and I have to say, it was definitely one of my favourite stops of the night, the food was AMAZING.
Our tasting began with their Boxer Julep to get us settled in and ready for the food to come.
Our first snack was their Salt Cod Inari (salt fish, sushi rice, horseradish) which will be available at Taste of Toronto for $6/6 Crowns. Rice-stuffed tofu pockets are something that my mom used to make us when we were kids, so of course this was a comforting hit to me.
Next arrived the Charred Octopus (sous vide/charred BC octopus, chorizo, green mango) that will be on site for $10/10 Crowns. This dish in particular instantly sent me straight back to my time spent in Spain where in octopus is one of my favourite pastimes.
Third Stop: Hopgoods Foodliner on Roncesvalles
Not only was it my first time visiting Hopgoods Foodliner on Roncesvalles, but it was my first time hearing about the restaurant too. Up entering, I was instantly smitten with it’s quaint seaside decor, especially in the natural light-filled private back room where we were lucky enough to dine.
I mean, anywhere that proudly hangs lobster bibs on their walls (that are for actual use) is a real winner in my books.
Even their simple lighting is cool!
Chef Geoffrey Hopgood came out to welcome us to his restaurant. He even sent us home with some homemade hot sauce which I thought was a very sweet gesture.
To eat, Hopgood made us fresh Albacore tuna with preserved tomatoes, basil and crispy shallots. I can’t event begin to tell you how good this was! It was comforting and refreshing all at once. It will be perfect on a hot July day and will be available at Taste of Toronto for $8/8 Crowns.
And there’s Daniel Desforges of Do The Daniel having a bit of a fashion moment in his #TasteSafari best.
Fourth Stop: Barque on Roncesvalles
Barque Smokehouse: another first for me! Can you believe it? I’ve wanted to try it for ages, but I guess I don’t get out to Roncesvalles often enough.
Clearly Barque and Foodliner (which are almost next door to each other on Roncies) had a similar idea going on with the party favours they offered us guests. Barque had these cute little boxes waiting for us filled with their seasoned popcorn and house-made pork rub.
From their Taste of Toronto menu we were able to try their Smoked Duck Tacos with pickled radish, carrots with crispy fried chicken skin and a hoisin sauce, which will be a must-try for taco lovers at the festival. It will be available for $6/6 Crowns.
Fifth Stop: Weslodge on King West
Last but not least we found ourselves at Weslodge on King West! You know that place just west of Spadina with the big yellow doors.
Although by this time it was hard to eat or drink any more, they spoiled us with their tasty iced sweet tea and Wagyu Hot Dog which were not easy to refuse.
The house-made hot dog bun white, sweet and fluffy — it’s meant to be their best imitation of Wonder Bread, but its so much better. Their homemade hot dogs are then topped with beet mustard and beef cheek marmalade — wowza! It will be available at Taste of Toronto for $8/8 crowns.
And now for the best news of all…
I’ve got 2 Taste of Toronto passes to giveaway to one lucky reader!
To enter to WIN please…
COMMENT: Below once complete and please be sure to leave a relevant email address (in private) so we can contact you if you win!
Contest closes on July 11th at 11:59pm EST. Open to Canadian residents only.
Good luck and see you there!