Tastefully Tasty

Greg said it best on Twitter: “sweet merciful crap, there’s more food inside!”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Second Harvest’s Toronto Taste fund raiser upped its game substantially this year, doubling the number of chefs involved (from 30 to 60) and taking over part of the Royal Ontario Museum and Queen’s Park (the street, not the park itself). With tickets going for $250 (half of which garnered a receipt for tax purposes), it wasn’t an event for everybody – a fact that won Toronto Taste the teeniest bit of flack over on Torontoist, where they pointed out the irony of having a fancy food event in order to help raise funds to feed the hungry. Especially one where some people would take a bite of something and then pitch it. Yikes! (Next year I’m going with a doggy bag to bring people’s half-eaten leftovers home to my dogs! Can I get away with that at the swankest food event of the year?)

But the fact is that every $250 ticket will buy 250 meals, and Second Harvest delivers over 15,000 meals every day (that’s 6 million pounds of food each year!), mostly from donated perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants and cafeterias.

And while the following photos are most definitely food porn, we’d like to encourage you to consider the bigger picture. Second Harvest will happily accept your donations – in any amount – even though the big event is over. The Toronto Taste online auction, which runs until June 23rd, includes cool items at every price point. As well, please consider supporting the participating restaurants if you possibly can – they all worked incredibly hard and donated their time and food to the cause.

We’d also like to offer hearty congratulations for a job well done to everyone at Second Harvest – and that amazing army of volunteers. You guys rock.

Shown above: Ontario perch with chorizo, pickled heirloom tomatoes and fava bean puree from Chef Andrea Nicholson of Great Cooks on 8.

Gorgeous cherry tarts from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky.

Malena offered smoked halibut cheek cakes topped with horta (dandelion) salad.

A smiling face and a delightful porcini tart with a really interesting pastry (sweet and cheesy) from Oro.

This lobster roll with apple tarragon remoulade from Tundra was one of the last things I ate, and I was too full to really enjoy it, but it was so amazing.

Beef and noodles from Spice Route.

This young man was offering up slices of the most beautiful smoked salmon from Kristapsons.

Chef Keith Froggett of Scaramouche always seems to show up at these events with gorgeous egg dishes. These quail eggs with smoked bacon and beurre blanc were a huge hit.

Sassafraz offered up a selection of tasty terrines.

The brightest display of the evening – all kinds of fruit from Sanci’s Tropical Fruits.

Wee lemon meringue tarts from Pauline’s Pastries.

At the Pangaea booth, chef de cuisine Derek Bendig was in charge for the day, with a beautiful display (plates were arranged on tumbled rocks) and a beautiful dish of octopus salad atop olives, peppers, capers and artichokes.

Beef brisket sandwiches on artisanal bread from Oliver & Bonacini.

All the tasty animals made it to Toronto Taste. This roast pig with a variety of house-made condiments is courtesy of Noce.

L’Unita offered two types of cannoli. This chocolate version and a regular one laced with orange. One of my favourites of the evening.

The now-infamous cricket on a cracker. Ostrich egg custard with “fossilized cricket brulee” from Harvest Kitchen. Honestly – if I’d eaten it without looking, I’d have thought it was an almond.

This strawberry mojito with black bass ceviche from C5 sounds like it won’t work, but it was a really fun flavour combination.

Grano was serving panini, but this plate of cannoli squares were what really caught my eye. (Yeah, I dig the cannoli.) Plus they were amazingly good.

Kevin McKenna from Globe and Earth made this chilled asparagus and sorrel soup with smoked Lake Erie whitefish. I love sorrel so this was a favourite.

Nota Bene is known for their burger and this one made with beef brisket and Stilton was pretty awesome.

This pretty item is actually poached chicken in jelly topped with fresh peas from George Brown Chef’s School.

From George, mustard tarragon sausage.

Healthy juices from Fresh.

Anne Yarymowich of FRANK offered this gorgeous dish of lemon basil chicken salad en gelee with micro salad green and crispy chicken skin. I passed on this because I was too full, but day-um, I should have indulged.

Posh dogs from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.

Chef Matt Rosen from Four sells me on his healthy fish dish.

We didn’t see many restaurants teaming up, but this pairing by Greg Argent of Forte Bistro and Hiro Yoshida of Hiro Sushi was a beautiful combination.

Vichyssoise with truffle oil from Didier.

From Corner House Restaurant – a fish quenelle (possibly trout or maybe salmon – hey, you try to juggle a camera, a wine glass a plate *and* a notepad).

Chef Jo Castrinos and his team from Cinq o1.

Again, not sure exactly what this is, but it’s from Centro.

Re-purposing a cigarette tray with chocolate from Xococava.

These little tuna crostini from McEwan were like the best tuna sandwiches ever.

Although I’ve mostly concentrated on the food, there were plenty of beverages on offer, like this good stuff from Amsterdam.

Looks innocuous enough, doesn’t it? This is actually zombie food – lamb’s brain wrapped in prosciutto and deep-fried. Greg liked it; I didn’t. But it made Buca the most talked about participant of the evening.

This dish from Brassaii wins the award for pretty – the ravioli was stuffed with what we think was spinach, and it’s hiding a seared sea scallop.

These folks were out of grub by the time I got to this display, but who doesn’t enjoy looking at a big morel and wishing it was theirs to eat?

The pulled pork sandwiches from beerbistro are always a favourite.

Chef Brad Long of Veritas slows down long enough to have his picture taken.

And those who lasted longer than we did got to take home parts of the bread display from Oliver & Bonacini artisan. What a great way to end an amazing evening.