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We attended the first-ever Taste of Toronto which ran from July 24–27 on the grounds of Fort York. You needed to make a selection of the particular session that you wished to attend. We chose the Friday 12:00–4:00 session in the hopes that it wouldn’t be too crowded. Sometimes these events are so popular that the lineups for food are often outrageous — this was not the case on Friday afternoon. We never stood in line for more than a few minutes to receive our food selection. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

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We were given complimentary tickets to this event, but we still needed to purchase “crowns.” Crowns could be purchased at the rate of one crown for a dollar. Sample dishes ranged anywhere from six to 10 crowns for a tapas-sized tasting. We loaded up the crown card and it was lucky that we had cash with us since their credit card system was down. For people arriving at this event without cash this situation would certainly have presented a problem. There were ATM machines on the property at some crown bank locations.

Our first stop was at Barque Smokehouse. Each restaurant was offering a choice of three dishes and some had vegetarian and gluten-free options. For six crowns we ordered a smoked duck taco from Barque. The serving was on the small side, but it was delicious, with a hoisin barbecue sauce and served on a flour tortilla. In hindsight we should have ordered the smoked baby back ribs for 10 crowns. The serving size was much more generous.

Barque Smokehouse smoked duck taco

Barque Smokehouse smoked duck taco

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Next up was a crispy rice salad from Khao San Road. It contained rice, ginger, cilantro, sour pork sausage, lime leaf and fresh roasted peanuts. The sample size was perfect and it cost eight crowns.

Khao San Road crispy rice salad

Khao San Road crispy rice salad

Three dish options from Khao San Road

Three dish options from Khao San Road

Metro grocery stores were a major sponsor of this event. They were offering a Master Class of hands-on cooking demonstrations. Leading one of the classes was Chef Scott from The Culinary Adventure Company.

Chef Scott Savoie

Chef Scott Savoie

In addition to the restaurants that were serving tasting dishes, there were numerous other vendors at this event that were giving away many free samples. The folks at Sanpellegrino were giving away samples of their newest beverage called Clementina. It was a refreshing and not-too-sweet combination of mandarin juice, orange juice and clementine juice.

Sanpellegrino Clementina

Sanpellegrino Clementina

We visited the booth of our friend Michael Malleau of Louise Prete. Michael, Sauha and Jordan were offering samples of Louise Prete’s wonderful sauces, which were available for purchase as well.

Jordan, Sauha and Michael from Louise Prete

Jordan, Sauha and Michael from Louise Prete

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Jordan from Louise Prete

Jordan from Louise Prete

Sauha from Louise Prete

Sauha from Louise Prete

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It was getting fairly warm as we wandered the grounds, so it was time for a beer. Mill Street Brewery was offering both their Original Organic and their new 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager. I had the Amber Lager and it was perfect!July_25_TasteOfToronto_70_2014-07-25_13-29-01_1PV_6759

 

Also refreshing were the free Life Smart sorbet and yoghurt bars from Metro. Along with the free bar they were handing out $2-off coupons.July_25_TasteOfToronto_74_2014-07-25_13-30-19_1PV_6763

There is some bold marketing going on with this company and their brand name, Holy Crap.July_25_TasteOfToronto_79_2014-07-25_13-36-49_1PV_6768

 

Next up was a stop to see our friends at Richmond Station. Chef Ryan Donovan came out to say hello and Stephanie took our order for their signature station burger, which was well worth ten crowns. Unfortunately my wife ate it before I could grab a photo!

Right next door to Richmond Station was The McEwan Group. Mark McEwan was offering a dish from three of his restaurants: Fabbrica had a lamb Bolognese crostini, One had fried chicken with a buttermilk biscuit, and Bymark was serving lobster poutine. I opted for the lobster poutine, which was truly outstanding!

Lobster poutine from Bymark

Lobster poutine from Bymark

Mark McEwan

Mark McEwan

Patria was serving up seafood paella, which looked amazing but we didn’t sample it.

Seafood paella from Patria

Seafood paella from Patria

The folks at Nespresso had a massive booth and were offering any kind of coffee you desired, individually freshly brewed from their amazing machines.

Nespresso cappuccino

Nespresso cappuccino

We stopped by the Uber booth to say hello. Uber is a private car/taxi service. I downloaded the Uber app a couple of months ago but had never used their service. They had a special promo code for $25 off your first Uber use, which they input directly to my iPhone. We actually used the service that night and the app worked flawlessly. As soon as you launch the app, a map shows the nearest drivers to your location. You order a driver and in seconds the driver acknowledges you and a timer shows how long until he arrives. In our case it was three minutes and he arrived right on time. Tax and tip are all calculated and your trip is automatically charged to your credit card. Flawless, secure and so simple. A big thumbs up to Uber!July_25_TasteOfToronto_133_2014-07-25_14-08-14_1PV_6822

Our last dish of the day was from Hudson Kitchen. For six crowns we chose their zucchini salad with buffalo ricotta, mint and almond. Very crisp and refreshing.

Zucchini salad from Hudson Kitchen

Zucchini salad from Hudson Kitchen

Taste of Toronto certainly has a successful hit on their hands. This will be a must-attend event next year, and the ability to avoid the crowds by going on Friday afternoon was a bonus.

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