Torontonicity was invited to attend the first ever Taste of Toronto festival held annually at Garrison Common at historic Fort York. The main difference is at Tastemaker, guests simply pay the entrance fee, and then put their wallets away and enjoy the session exploring all the delicious flavours! No need to worry about buying tickets or lining up to pay for each item you’re interested in.
The main feature of the event is the Tastemaker Kitchen, where guests can lineup and sample the collaboration dishes. I immediately went for the dishes made by Alo’s Patrick Kriss, and Enoteca’s Rob Gentile, and grabbed a lamb tartare with pine nuts, roasted eggplant, and cerignola olives. The meat was cut into slightly larger pieces than expected, but the pine nuts complemented the full lamb flavour perfectly…a great full-flavoured dish for any tartare lover!
Chefs Kriss and Gentile were also serving up a Pasta alla Boudin Noir with ‘nduja, which was clearly a crowd favourite! The pasta was cooked perfectly, with a slight firmness at its core, while the sauce had garlic notes that energized the light crème fraiche drizzle. I absolutely adored the Ora King Salmon though: gala apples, wasabi, and hajikami. Despite the expected strength of wasabi and sweetness of the apples, this dish was all about the quality of the salmon, and it was amazing!
I then went exploring about and discover an unagi bao from Saku sushi bar on Queen Street West, in collaboration with The Haam located on Adelaide. The bun was slightly sweet, and housed a perfectly cooked BBQ eel, guac, pickled ginger, and cucumber kimchi. This mouthful took me by surprise and in the most delicious way possible! The cucumber kimchi was spicy, but mild on the fermented notes and much more vibrant than the traditional cabbage kind. The pickled ginger contributed a strong burst of freshness that cleansed the palette, allowing for new flavours to be discovered with following bites. Wow! Definitely going to check out Saku and The Haam to see what their teams are doing regularly!
Grabbed a refreshing Georgian Bay Gin Smash and continued the delicious adventure!
I then checked out the new AltaVie Cannabis Crunch chocolates in the cinnamon and peach flavour. I learned that AltaVie is focusing on premium quality products for consumers who want a more refined experience, and their chocolates match that description. The chocolate was smooth and creamy, with subtle fruit notes rounded out by the cinnamon.
Paderno was hosting a demo kitchen with Chefs Elia Herrera (King Street’s El Caballito) and Alida Solomon (Tutti Matti), where anyone was welcomed to ask them questions about their experience in the restaurant business, cooking tips and tricks, as well as just enjoying some laughs! Paderno was also giving away quality cookware items to guests who entered their raffle.
I then made my way back to the Tastemaker kitchen to check out what Chefs Van Gameren and Barry were offering guests: chorizo verde, and a Spanish octopus. The chorizo verde came with tomatillo salsa, pea shoots, and cucumber crema. A mild dish with lovely spring flavors!
The Spanish Octopus was by far my absolute favourite dish of the entire event: chermoula (marinade or relish made with coriander, lemon juice, and regional spices found most commonly in Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian cooking), crisp potatoes, and smoked paprika. Not only was the octopus tender and cooked to perfection, but the chermoula enhanced the freshness of all the ingredients. The dish came with sugared grapes that were a total surprise for the taste buds, as the sweetness broke up the stronger coriander. Absolutely beautiful flavours!
I went on the Saturday afternoon, but there was also a Friday, and Saturday evening session. Each one came with a different group of chefs serving up their own collaborative delicious dishes! Tastemaker at Evergreen Brick Works focused on bringing only Canada’s top names to the event including Afrim Printine from Cheese Boutique, Chef Michael Hunter from Antler, and B.C.’s own Vikram Vij! If you missed out on this round, and happen to be in Chicago this August, you can attend their second Tastemaker series held at the Revel Fulton Market. You could also just keep an eye out and jump on tickets as soon as they’re announced for 2019, as I’m sure it’ll be another delicious adventure! Enjoy!