To say that the City’s Street Treats Fair was a resounding success would be a huge understatement. That line-up provoked a refrain of “Holy Shit!” from any number of people who entered Nathan Phillips Square from the north-east corner and were confronted with the throngs of people as they rounded the Peace Garden.
Crowds were lining up by noon and booths were selling out shortly thereafter. And sure, some of it was definitely the attraction of getting a meal from Jamie Kennedy or Rain for $5, but I think it’s safe to say that the people of Toronto really do want more than hot dogs and sausages. Another common refrain of the day was “Where did you get THAT??” as people walked past with melon soup or empanadas.
What was meant to be a day of protest became a day of celebration as the Province swooped in this past Saturday and announced the exact changes to the legislation that Councillor John Filion was pushing for. (Apparently he found out about it by reading it in the paper!)
People came out by the thousands anyway and by the official start time of the event, line-ups at some booths were 50 to 60 people long. Colborne Lane disappeared pretty quickly – their bowls of cereal got snapped up right away. Even the Florentine Tripe from Cava sold out by 12:20pm or so.
Because of the crowds, we didn’t get a chance to try everything, but managed to try the Flamishe (sort of like a mini quiche, but different pastry) from Didier, the spicy melon soup from Rain (served cold from a Moet & Chandon punchbowl with dry ice in the bottom to make it bubble), the hopper and curry from Jamie Kennedy and the chicken Tsukune and tofu from Izakaya.
The question now is will individuals step up and create new businesses around a pushcart-type restaurant? The carts themselves must be custom-made and are not cheap.
Today was proof, however, that Torontonians really do want more diverse street food, and the first step in the long road to reach that goal has been taken.