July 5, 2010

HLFD in TO: President's Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto

After a lovely trip out to San Francisco, I was once again on a plane out to Toronto.  This time, I was attending a conference, catching up with family and friends, and attending a wedding.  But I managed to check out a few foodie haunts in this vibrant, multi-cultural city.

During my stay, I was lucky to be in town for the President's Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto.  With my husband in NYC, my brother (to his chagrin) got to be both my hand model and comrade in food tasting. Little did he realize that he had big shoes (or stomach?) to fill as I attempted to try as many of the local restaurant fare as I could.

The 2-day President's Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto is part of Luminato, a festival of arts and creativity.  Every food stand (which represents local restaurants, caterers, and food stores) offers a plate of food in exchange for a ticket (each food ticket is $5).  
We started off with a Lamb roll with Raita dressed greens from caterer Presidential Gourmet (it was crunchy and light).  One of the longest lines was for another caterer's Chicken/Rice and Angus Steak/Salad combos (the chicken was juicy, while the skirt steak was just okay).  Our meaty lunch continued with this complimentary Montreal smoked meat bite from title sponsor President's Choice.
After eating lamb, cow, and chicken, we had to complete our meat-tasting with some pig.  We knew we spotted our next dish when we saw the Cumbrae slow roast pork belly on grilled flatbread with wild leek yogurt offered by the Earth / Globe Bistro stand.  Cumbrae farms raises livestock (selected from small family farms) both locally and naturally so we knew the pork belly would be top-notch.  The roll was delicious with its juicy pork belly.

(The other eats we didn't have were the Moroccan fare from The Sultan's Tent and the classic poutine from Poutini's House of Poutine)
By now, my poor brother stomach couldn't take much more food (and truthfully, I was getting full too).  It's so hard when (as my mom would say) our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.  We decided to wait in the other two longest lines at the Saturday tasting in the hopes that we would get slightly more hungry again:  Rodney's Oyster House and the PC Ice-Cream truck.

Rodney's was offering 3 freshly shucked raw oysters for our $5 ticket and we both enjoyed the incredibly briny Maritime offerings.  The PC Ice-Cream truck was giving away free ice cream , which was perfect for an incredibly hot and sunny day.  We ended up getting a mini-cone of the PC Mango Ice Cream (the staff favourite) and the PC Marshmallow Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream.  I preferred the mango flavor between the two because it was clean, lighter, and I liked the mango puree.
With just one ticket left, we headed to the Susur Lee table for our final dish.  Growing up in Toronto, I've always been a fan of Chef Susur Lee's Asian fusion dishes.  And after recently rooting for him during the second season of Top Chef Masters, I knew I had to have one of his dishes.  My brother and I debated between his Cheeseburger Spring Roll and his famous Singapore Slaw.  After over-hearing numerous people comment on the slaw, our decision was easily made.  
Chef Lee's 19-ingredient Singapore Slaw (which he serves at NYC's Shang and DC's Zentan) was a beautifully crisp and fresh dish.  The contained crunchy taro root, bright edible flowers, quick-fried rice vermicelli, pickled red onion, julienned carrots, jicama, and cucumbers, tons of herbs, and much more!  I found the recipe online, so I might try this at home (or even easier, just take my hubby to Shang).
The President's Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto was a fun, family-friendly event.  And I loved that there were multiple portable sinks to clean ourselves up after each taste.

For another take on this event, check out my friend Mardi's post about her Sunday eating adventure.


  1. Ok Andrea - you were at that??? I thought you are leaving on the Saturday??? I could have met up with you - we could have combined posts LOL! Funny - we sampled some of the same foods and some of our pics nearly identical!!! :-) SO MUCH FOOD!!!

  2. @Mardi - When I read your post, I was thinking the same thing about our similar photos! I left on Sunday and for some reason thought you were busy on Sat, but regardless, glad we both got over-stuffed with all that food!

  3. @Mardi - Sorry we missed each other! For some reason I thought you were busy on Sat. Glad to see we both had a good time though!

  4. This is my kind of event! I didn't get to the PC event, but am a fan of their new ice cream.


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