A Food Tour of Toronto Urban Roots Festival

Last weekend was the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Festival. If you’re interested in the music portion of the festival, you can check out my reviews here. This, however, is a look at some of the delicious food options that were available.
Collective Concerts did a great job organizing the event. They hired mom and pop restaurants instead of chains like Pizza Pizza. Environmental Defence was a sponsor providing free filtered water via Event Water. Nestea and Vitamin Water were also on-site giving people an unlimited amount of free drinks. I have to say this was one festival where I hardly saw any garbage on the ground. All the patrons were very courteous and thoughtful of the environment.
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Per Se Mobile
I ordered their Short Rib Sandwich ($9). There was a generous portion of meat with cheese, arugula, pickled red onions on a fluffy bun. There a chipotle-esque flavour in the sauce. Kettle-chips were included with the sandwich.

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Feng’s Dumplings
This place shares my last name, so it only seemed fitting to try them. I had 6 dumplings ($8) and told them to mix it up. Vinegar was sprinkled on them. I’m not sure what kinds I had, but they were all moist and delicious. Pricing wise, I thought it was a little expensive at more than $1 a dumpling.

Manual Labour Coffee
I had seen the adorable Manual Labour truck on the grounds on Thursday and Friday night. I was really excited to have them Saturday morning since the festival started bright and early that day. However, they were not set up until 3:30pm that day. What a missed out business opportunity! Anyways, they seemed to learn their mistake because on Sunday they came much earlier.
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A popular option was the Coffee Pop. ($2.75) It was a carbonated expresso drink. I added some liquid honey in mine to taste. It was a bit weird. One sip would be bitter than the next sweet and tingly with carbonation. It was definitely something unique!
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I also tried their Ice Break (not on the same day). They described it as a take on an Australian frappuchino. It was sweet so no additional sugar needed and cold enough for the hot day.

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As per a security guard’s suggestion, I ordered their Smoked Meat Sandwich ($8). It came with a pickle and there was a variety of mustards to choose from at the truck. I went with a simple honey mustard. I thought I may have been lacking vegetables during the festival so I had a small order of potato salad ($1).

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Bacon Nation
My favourite food item at TURF was probably Bacon Nation’s Porkfection ($8). It was a spectacular sandwich with pemeal bacon, pulled pork and crispy bacon strips that were actually crispy. It was worth the messy fingers.

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Summertime Lemonade
To limit my amount of caffeinated and vitamin filled drinks, I decided to buy a classic lemonade.

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Bonfire Catering
For $5 I had a slice of their Mexican pizza. It was just okay that day. It was a little dry from sitting out in the sun.

On Sunday it started raining really hard during dinner time so I forgot to take photos of food. But I did have Kanga’s delicious meat pie and blueberry iced tea!

Overall, I thought there was a fantastic food selection at TURF. There was a very homey and family atmosphere to the entire festival and I quite miss it already!

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Ate My Way Through the Harbourfront Centre

Pigeons Having A Conversation

Two pigeons having a conversation at Union Station

To celebrate Canada’s birth I headed down to the Harbourfront Centre, mainly to eat bacon.
For $7, Barque Smokehouse offered a plate of bacon samplers. There was a mini smoked pork belly with pineapple skewer, peameal bacon taco, a smoked tofu with lettuce, bacon wrapped sausage, nachos and lastly a root beer float with candied bacon. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed. It was too bite size to really give you a bacony kick. I think I would have preferred to pay more to have a full-sized version of each of these things made in less of a rush.


Does anybody else find this sign hilarious?

Luckily, there was plenty to eat at The Harbourfront Centre. There were many vendors around and some worldly offerings at the World Cafe. Maybe since it was Canada’s Day, two corners were occupied by our country.


Beaver Tail!

A beaver tail felt like an obvious choice considering it was Canada’s birthday. In case my American readers don’t know, it is deep fried dough (sort of like a churro or fountain cake) in the shape of a beaver tail and served with a variety of yummy toppings. They are usually quite rare in city and are mainly found out East or at ski resorts. Anyway we chose a light offering of apple cinnamon.


Does not actually contain any Kool-Aid

To wash it down, I had a fruity alcoholic drink called Krazy Kool-Aid. It was sweet and refreshing despite not having any actual Kool-Aid. We enjoyed some tunes from The Toronto Mambo Project as we enjoyed our drinks.

IMG_8814We returned a little later to the World Cafe to sample the other Canadian offering Portobello Burger which had various vegetarian dishes on the menu. We ordered the Tasty Tacos and the Portobello Burger. The tacos had black beans & garbanzo beans, sauteed in onions and cooked in a tomato sauce. It was served in hard corn tostados with a traditional Mexican salsa and topped off with an old cheddar cheese. The cilantro was generous and even though it was a hard shell taco, it wasn’t messy at all. The portobello burger was served on a whole grain Ciabatta bun. It contained chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, sweet red peppers, and goat cheese melted into a portobello mushroom cap. For a vegetarian burger, we ate it before remembering to take a photo of it.

When we were not eating, we explored some of what Harbourfront Centre had to offer. We were quite entertained by some hilarious karaoke rap. I totally should have busted out some Eminem but I thought that was not clean enough for the diverse audience. We ventured into the buildings to see what was in them and discovered an Architectural gallery as well as another with Inuit art. At Paws Way they celebrated Canada’s Day with a presentation of Canadian dogs and cats. Here are some random photos:

Harbourfront Centre’s fireworks had happened on Sunday so I headed home to see some with dad at Mississauga Celebration Square.

Fireworks @ Celebration Square

Fireworks @ Celebration Square



Hogtown Smoke at a Jager Party

Found my old NXNE friend Jessica Stuart!

Found my old NXNE friend Jessica Stuart!

Last week during NXNE there were plenty of day parties. The one I ended up staying the longest in was the Exclaim! and Jagermeister BBQ.

party4Everybody in the Toronto music industry was around so it was nice to catch up and relax amidst a hectic week. To drink, there was free Jager shots, Monster energy drinks and Pabst. Attendees were given punch cards for food and drink.

Me and Nash with patties from the mysterious snack truck.

Me and Nash with patties from the mysterious snack truck.

There was a snack truck full of everybody’s guilty pleasures: chips, chocolate, candies, cookies and more. Everything free. The guy seemed lonely so I visited the truck multiple times. Apparently he was doing market research, so his data is going to have some weird Asian girl eating one of everything.

Brisket sandwich

Brisket sandwich

The cards entitled us to one small sandwich (or poutine) from onsite food truck Hogtown Smoke. I ordered the brisket sandwich and there was tons of meat sandwiched between the little bun! There wasn’t too much to it (no slaw), but it was tasty on its own. There was also a huge selection of hot sauce by the truck from mild to adventurous for those looking to tickle their tongue.

party6Nash got the pulled mushroom sandwich, mostly because while in line we were wondering what that would be like. He’s also a mushroom fan. I liked the smokey flavour they were able to injected in it.

Eating burgers with The Almighty Rhombus

Eating burgers with The Almighty Rhombus

It was a lovely day of sun, music, friends and food!

Party photos by @plafleur and Jagermeister Canada
Hogtown Smoke on Urbanspoon

Soupstock 2012

Yesterday I attended Soupstock at Woodbine Park. There were over 40,000 people in attendance trying out soups from 85 different booths. Bands also played in support of their land. The festival existed to raise funds to stop and raise awareness for the high-land mega-quarry. To put it shortly, the Highland companies want to blast a pit deeper than the Niagara falls in more than 2300 acres of farm land in Ontario. It would also require tons of water to be removed from the pit every day, water that people who live downstream from it need. All this just for some limestone. Though many people (including myself) originally came just for the soup, most learnt about and supported the cause.

Nash signing a giant petition.

Soup tickets were $10 for 3 and me and Nash bought 6 altogether. I brought my own bowls from home. I brought these old ugly ones because we chucked them away before heading off to a concert for the night. The first soup we had was a Pumpkin, squash and pear soup.

Pumpkin, squash and pear soup

The booth was in a corner, and lines were non-existent, but it was actually one of my favourites. I generally love butternut squash soup but this was perfect in texture. It was bursting with flavour and the hint of pear was lovely. It wasn’t something we immediately tasted, but when thought about, it was definitely there.

Next we braved a line at the Rock Lobster soup tent.

disappointing lobster soup

We both unanimously decided that it was definitely not worth the wait. The broth was too thin, and almost water-like. It was also pretty flavourless, or rather had a strange after taste that felt like spicy, but was definitely not spicy. There were a handful of mini lobster pieces, but not enough for it to have been worth the long line.



After that thin soup, I wanted something with more substance so we tried the chili. It wasn’t spicy, but they had plenty of hot sauce at their station to add whatever amount of heat was desired. We dabbed quite a bit and enjoyed the filling beans, meat and cheese combo.

Susur Lee serving me soup

Up until this point we were just wandering about looking at the stands without a map, but while in line for chili, I heard one of my favourite food network chefs Susur Lee was serving soup! I haven’t been to his restaurant yet (not in my budget) but I have tried a couple of his items at various other food festivals. Sunday he was serving hot and sour soup!

Hot and sour soup

To be honest, I’m not regularly a fan of hot and sour soup. I always thought it was one of those fake Asian foods made for white folk. However Susur’s was delicious! There were a ton of flavours going on including a mouthful of flowery coriander. The ingredients in his soup reminded me of shark fin soup (which I have had plenty as a kid), without the shark fin.

Since the lobster soup was a fail, we decided not to judge a soup by its line. Instead for the last two, we went to booths with virtually no line at all. The first was the Fraser Cafe which had a lemongrass noodle soup.

Lemongrass noodle soup

There was a strong flavour of lemongrass, and pieces of it were visible in the soup. The noodles were thin and soaked up the flavour. Strangely, it almost kind of reminded me of the pumpkin soup in aftertaste.
Lastly, we got a potato leek soup with sweet breads in it.

Potato leek w/ sweetbreads

Sweetbreads, just as a reminder is weird organ meat. We’ve tried it once before at last year’s Food and Wine festival. The potato leek soup was perfectly thick. The sweetbreads were thick and this time, we didn’t mind the texture at all. In this soup it was a soft meaty delicacy.

Though I hope the mega-quarry doesn’t happen, I hope another Soupstock does, even if to raise support for another cause. It was a lovely Sunday, with a lovely mixture of happy people, food and music.

Bacon Nation at CNE

The food building was hilariously close to the farm.

One of the reasons I went to the CNE was to eat copious amounts of bacon. Of course we had to check out this so called Bacon Nation that was getting all the rage. We opted for the bacon wrapped hot dog with extra bacon as well as the Ba-conic Sandwich Explosion. To be honest, they were a little bit anti-climactic.

The bacon wrapped hot dog with bacon was literally a bacon wrapped hot dog with more bacon. It was good, but for almost $10, I half expected it to be huge.

The sandwich was bacon wrapped and stuffed sausage with lettuce, tomato and Jack Daniel’s sauce on a bun. The sausage bacon had a nice crunch to it that was nice. While it was delicious, it was nowhere near an explosion. I’ve eaten gourmet burgers bigger than it for the same (if not cheaper price). You can’t name something an explosion if it isn’t gigantic or at least super messy to eat!

We left the desert bacon things alone, mostly because we didn’t want to spend more money to be disappointed. I’m glad I tried them though, it was good but didn’t live up to my expectations.