Toronto Underground Market has done a number of great things for Toronto, including launching the careers of a number of aspiring chefs. It has also inspired others, such as TO Food Fest, to create neighbourhood festivals that promote neighbourhood chefs, bakers, restaurants and caterers. TO Food Fest was held on July 29 in Scarborough and, while not prolific among the Twitterazi, it had many interested Scarborough and Markham residents attending.
TO Food Fest had a mix of established vendors and vendors that were new to the food scene. One of the exciting new vendors was How ‘Bout Those Meatballs?! Meatballs made from a mix of pork and beef, slow cooked in his Nona’s sauce and then served on a charcoal-grilled bun? Yes please! The meatballs were incredibly simple and they tasted just as if they were served from a grandmother’s kitchen. Juicy and tender and very meat forward, they were incredible. The spices were simple and it was all about the meat, the sauce and the technique. I could have eaten twenty of these, but we had other booths to sample.
Bake’n was sampling their bacon-laden desserts, like bacon caramel popcorn, bacon cheesecake and sticky toffee bacon cake. The winner was the sticky toffee cake, which wasn’t overly heavy or cloyingly sweet. It was warm, tasty, gooey and delicious and didn’t leave you with a sugar hangover after you finished it.
Fruitysplendour were more or less the definition of eye candy. Their designs were beautiful and skillful. We had to get close before we could believe that they were actually made from fruit and vegetables!
Comida Del Pueblo is a TUM favourite and makes one hell of a grilled cheese sandwich. Their take on grilled cheese is made with a homemade jalapeño cornbread, refried beans and cheese, then covered with guacamole and sour cream.
I’ve sworn off Indian food for over 5 years. I find that the over-use of ghee spoils a lot of otherwise delicious meals for me. I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to Pavitra Restaurant. Their chef believes in letting the spices and meats do the talking and either minimizes or eliminates the use of ghee in his dishes. I decided to put a halt to my Indian food boycott and tried his samosas with chicken tiki masala. He was true to his word; the tiki masala gravy didn’t have that greasy heaviness that I’m unfortunately accustomed to, and was rich only in seasoning and flavour. We’ll definitely be taking the trip to Guildwood to eat at Pavita!
Tacocat was another newcomer to the food festival scene. Imagine 20 friends – all university grads – wearing Nyan Cat-esque purple t-shirts and offering Asian-style tacos. Robin tried the squid taco and was instantly in love with it. The pineapple mayo and salsa with the deep-fried squid was surprisingly refreshing and not a combination that is tasted often, which is a shame!
With limited time and stomach space, we weren’t able to cover some of the other booths, including Filipino food, beef-cheek buns, pulled pork kimchee sandwiches, macarons and cupcakes. It was great to see strong food options coming out of Scarborough and we can’t wait until next year’s festival.