Taste of Toronto was back for its second year from July 2–5, 2015. Fort York was transformed into a foodie wonderland for four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. We attended the Saturday evening session and the weather was perfect. Sunny, warm, light breeze and low humidity, you could not ask for more perfect conditions for an outdoor event or a more perfect location.
Fort York is an awesome historical site, hidden in the core of our city, only a 10 minute walk from the nearest GO station and there was also plenty of reasonably priced parking in the area.
The festival concept began 10 years ago in London, and now runs in 20 cities around the world. It brings together top chefs from a variety of restaurants to showcase samplings of their signature dishes for the masses to taste.
Along with the many restaurants participating, there were plenty of other vendors offering a selection of condiments, preserves, cheese, meats and wine from a variety of vineyards throughout southern Ontario.
The idea is wonderful and many of the vendors (aside from the restaurants) were very friendly and eager to share their stories and products. However, only a few were offering any samplings for free, so the evening turned out to be pretty expensive. Between the ticket price just to enter ($25) and the crowns needed to sample the foods and drinks ($6, $8, & $10 per item), the money added up quickly.
The organizers need to find a way to make the entry fee more reasonably priced and I’d also suggest the majority of the tastings be lowered to between 4–6 crowns on average. The music was nice and the special free workshops are a good idea; however, they do not have enough space to accommodate the masses that would like to participate in these sessions. Time is limited since you get only one session per entry that lasts only four hours. This may seem like a lot of time, but when you have over 70 booths to visit (and the long, long line ups for each including purchasing of your crowns) plus time to relax and enjoy your sip of wine or savour your sampling of food, the time goes by before you know it.
My girlfriend and I did enjoy ourselves, but we make it a point to make the best of any day or situation and the many samplings of spirits certainly helped our mood I am sure. I would probably not attend this event next year, especially when you have so many wonderful free events going on throughout the city on the same weekend. I am glad I did give it a try, but unfortunately it was not an experience that would bring me back.
However, I must give a shout out to a few of my favorite vendors.
Westcott Vineyards is a fairly new family-run vineyard in Jordan. They were very friendly, knowledgeable and the wine samplings were fabulous!
Top Shelf Preserves MMX111 is owned by Sara Pishva. Pishva’s preserves were unique explosions of flavour!! I ended up purchasing a few jars of jams.
Ninutik (Maple Sugar) presents SASSeh!, a spectacular pairing of sweet and savory. Using snow, yes snow, to cool down a ribbon of maple syrup, they then wrap the strip of maple syrup around a cube of Upper Canada Cheese. OMG, it was so good! We went back for seconds. The artisan cheese of my choice was Niagara Gold. This tasted so good I made my way to the Upper Canada Cheese Co. booth to purchase 250 grams of their Niagara Gold and ended up with 300 grams of their Maple-Smoked Comfort cream too.
A big shout out to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and KitchenAid COOK for the CURE booth where I had the pleasure of meeting Ayshia Degia, Community Events Development Officer for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario. Ayshia and her co-worker were promoting their upcoming collaborative event, The Culinary Showdown, to be held at the Westin Harbour Castle on November 14, 2015. This will be an amazing experience you do not want to miss. Get involved, be a top fundraiser to participate by registering online.
My final shout out goes to Cheryl Dilisi, the Museum Store Coordinator for Fort York National Historical Site. It was a pleasure speaking with her and hearing about all the events they run throughout the year at Fort York including their Foodways Programme. Through dedicated volunteers and staff, they are able to offer unique programs that promote culinary history through period foods and recipes.
I am completely enjoying my Marmalade of Apricots preserve purchase.