taste_drake_clams

Toronto may not be included in the Michelin guide, but we’re the only North American city to be part of the Taste Festival series, which visits 22 cities each year, bringing together some of the best local food businesses and restaurants for a weekend-long celebration of cuisine.

A well-curated selection of small food businesses (Mad Mexican, Mary Mcleod’s Shortbread), innovative products (Ninutik Maple Sugar, hisbicus tea from Nuba Tisane), local restaurants both small and large, and some larger corporate exhibitors (Pilsner Urquell, San Pellegrino) along with a variety of stages featuring chefs both local and international (Mark McEwan, Jonathan Waxman, Masaharu Morimoto, who is opening a restaurant in Toronto soon), make the Taste of Toronto festival accessible and interesting to everyone.

Admission ranges from $19 – $30, then attendees fill cards with “crowns” (one dollar = one crown) which are the currency of the event. Participating restaurants offer two or three dishes at different prices, all 10 crowns or under to make it easy to try as much as possible.

Spread across the scenic grounds of Fort York, Taste of Toronto is an exceptionally well-run event; nicely laid out, very organized, for the most part carefully curated (I get the need for corporate sponsors, but I have an issue with Nescafe as the only coffee exhibitor, not only because there are great local coffee companies, but I don’t want to support “water is not a human right” Nestle in any way). And since many of the restaurants taking part are sampling dishes from their menu, it’s a great way for people to try out various things before committing to a full restaurant visit.

I really enjoyed this year’s Taste of Toronto and look forward to next year’s event. With thanks to Fatima Reyes of Rock-It Promotions for the media pass.

The Taste of Toronto festival runs until Sunday July 5th at Fort York.

Top: East coast fish fry from The Drake Hotel – with fried clams, Jail Island Haddock and tartar sauce.

Grilled lamb ribs with Harissa yogurt and pea tendrils from The Drake Hotel.
Grilled lamb ribs with Harissa yogurt and pea tendrils from The Drake Hotel.
Beautifully fresh ceviche with cod, pico de gallo, serrano and lime from the El Caballito & Los Colibres stand.
Beautifully fresh ceviche with cod, pico de gallo, serrano and lime from the El Caballito & Los Colibris stand.
Montecito meatballs, creamy polenta and tomato sugo. (Possibly our favourite dish - it has provoked the desire to check out the restaurant's full menu).
Montecito meatballs, creamy polenta and tomato sugo. (Possibly our favourite dish – it has provoked the desire to check out the restaurant’s full menu).
Ahi tuna poke cocktail with pineapple, macadamia, coffee and coconut from America.
Ahi tuna poke cocktail with pineapple, macadamia, coffee and coconut from America.
Rasa's truffle gnudi with local mushrooms, portobello soil, pickled shimenji and walnut pesto.
Rasa‘s truffle gnudi with local mushrooms, portobello soil, pickled shimenji and walnut pesto.
R&D's shrimp toast with side stripe prawn, black truffle, cauliflower, preserved duck egg and English mustard.
R&D‘s shrimp toast with side stripe prawn, black truffle, cauliflower, preserved duck egg and English mustard.
The burning sky orb melted the ice cream but this rhubarb, strawberry and pistachio upside down cake with mint ice cream and preserved strawberries was still mighty delicious.
The burning sky orb melted the ice cream but this rhubarb, strawberry and pistachio upside down cake with mint ice cream and preserved strawberries from The Harbord Room was still mighty delicious.
Cookie trailer!!! Makes me love Mary Macleod's Shortbread even more.
Cookie trailer!!! Makes me love Mary Macleod’s Shortbread even more.
The Ungava gin and tonic - weirdly coloured, smells like Grandpa's soap (that's actually a good thing), tastes delicious. Cheers!
The Ungava gin and tonic – weirdly coloured, smells like Grandpa’s soap (that’s actually a good thing), tastes delicious. Cheers!