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Street Treats Fair - quick report

Just got back to the office a few minutes ago from the Street Treats event, and I gotta say that I'm glad I work close to City Hall and showed up early (11:30), 'cause by 12:00, it was INSANE! First the lines were short, then they got longer (like, 100 people or more at some booths), then the lines just became this mass of people who probably didn't even know or care what line they were in, they just hoped they could get some food, ANY food, before it ran out.

Speaking of which - Colborne Lane ran out of their cereal before 12:00 even rolled around, and Cava ran out of tripe by 12:20, just when I was about to get some as my final dish. Damn! I'm sure a lot of other booths have run out by now, or will be soon.

Here's what the wife and I did manage to get and eat before everyone in Toronto descended on the place:
- Asparagus Quiche & Flamishe (leek quiche) from Didier
- Tsukune (grilled minced chicken balls on a stick) & Grilled Tofu from Izakaya
- 5 Spiced Chinese Melon Soup with Curried Shellfish from Rain
- Curried Vegetables with Rice Hopper & Blueberry Agua Fresca from Jamie Kennedy

The curry and soup were our faves, but the other stuff was pretty good as well. We were hoping to get a crepe at the Viva/Kali's booth for dessert, but the crowd was just getting out of hand, so we hit the road by 12:30.

Hope everyone else who made it down there was able to get something to eat!

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  1. We were only able to get the tripe from Cava. It was pretty good - for only $2 (at around 12:05 pm).

    In the end, we didn't want to line up again, so we had hot dog & fries from the truck.

    1. Got there at 12:20pm and the lines were crazy long. It's too bad because the food looked so good!!! I guess everyone else showed up at 11:30am.

      We ended up having french fries from the truck. :P

      3 Replies
      1. re: saisailup

        I got there at 12:15 p.m. and yup, the lines were crazy long. I was patient and stood in line for Rain which was serving the five melon soup - DIVINE!! Then I stood in line for Jamie Kennedy's booth but was told after 10 minutes that he was running out of food and I should ditch the line. (Which I did). I then decided to leave....went to NY sub for a great burrito on my way home (no line...LOL)!!

        1. re: domesticgodess

          Yes, foolishly got there late (12:15 pm) even though we wanted to get there at 11:45. Rain's soup was amazing, beautiful seafood and spice paired against the fresh chilled soup.

          Ahhh, everyone else was running out of food.

          So as good as things were, what is realistic Toronto Street Food?
          I'm thinking.. tacos, roti, gyros, pretzels, indian corn...

          1. re: domesticgodess

            I must have been right in front of you. I was the last to get served at Jamie Kennedy...quite literally..

        2. I was one of the morons/suckers who stood in line for a dosa from The Indian Rice Factory. Talk about not grasping the concept. I waited 1 hour and 20 minutes, yes, 80 minutes for street food. On average, I'd say it took them 7 minutes per portion to cook. The line up was so long that city organizers were coming over to ask what the problem was. You might ask why I bothered. Well I was lucky enough to have a partner in arms who wizzed through other lines and brought me samples in line. (plus by the time I had invested 45 minutes in this...I just couldn't give up!) Now, I've stood in line for street food before - I waited about 25 minutes for Tony Dragoona's in NYC a couple of months ago. Well worth the wait, but they were hauling ass the whole time. (That, and a line is usually an indication of good food worth waiting for.) Unfortunately for IRF, one guy was doing the work (pouring out the batter and then standing there and watching it cook for 5 minutes) and there were 6 or 7 other people also standing around and watching the batter cook. That was the annoying part! They just weren't prepared. Get those 6 people their own burners so that they could work too - and the line could actually move! When I finally did get the tiny dosa, it was delicious. The filling was very well seasoned and the perfect consistency. The crepe (I know it's not actually a crepe, but lentil batter for lack of a better word, I'm calling it crepe) was crispy and light- but the staff were incredibly oblivious to any kind of problem - which just irked me. Not sure this was the best move for them as everybody who stood in line around me was pretty furious (I know they could have left at any time...) - especially when they were watching the owner schmooze any PR he could instead of actually making any food. I felt really sorry for those on a fixed lunch hour who likely didn't get any food at all. Don't know if I'll be running to IRF anytime soon - and if they end up getting a cart - prepare to wait.
          The booth beside IRF, Pappas Grill - these guys have street food down pat. Guess Taste of the Danforth is a good prep for feeding a crowd. I had chicken souvlaki on a pita I was really surprised at how moist the chicken was. It was really very tasty - tzaziki was perfectly garlicky and the pita was soft and fresh. And to top it off the staff were friendly, fast and seemed to be having a great time.
          Didn't get the chance to make it to JK, Rain or others...damn.
          Can't wait for food carts to get spread out all over the city, so the line ups will disburse and selection will improve. Love the concept and would support food carts.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tochipotle

            3 ppl in front of me and after a 1.5 hour wait... they ran out of the filling. after trying to sell just the dosa shell for $6 people tried to get their money back and they were offering $5 back.

            ridiculous.

            my favourite was the florentine tripe. i found the 5 spice melon soup rather lacking considering that any spice was indescerable. the seafood was overcooked and rubbery. the melon that it was served in was nice and sweet and the presentation was beautiful.. but lacking still. they did pump it up for the crowd a bit with the dry ice smoking from the pots.

            the tripe was beautifully tender and cooked perfectly. the tomato sauce i found slightly underwhelming simply because it could have used more oomph, but potentially it was because of the tripe to sourdough ratio. absolutely spectacular for $2.

            tsukune was a bit disappointing since it was likely one of the more expensive bites but seemed traditional. too salty and saucy for my preferences.

            i've got some photos i'll link to later that i took for torontoist and my blog.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              No! What a rip off! I can't imagine what they were thinking by selling the shell without the filling? To me that just shows a complete lack of respect for the customer, something I can't abide. I'll be hard pressed to go back there again - just can't support that behaviour. I'll buy great food from nice people any day of the week over fantastic food from *******.

            2. re: tochipotle

              pappas grill good food?????? must have been an impostor. First and lat time i went there the tzaziki was plain yogurt and the waiter were insulting. and that was the good part. and that is the good things i can say about them. (shall i tell you that three of the people i was with sent their food back at least twice etc.)

              Macdonalds has better food.

              1. re: galambo

                I've never been to their restaurant - but the souvlaki I had last Fri was really pretty good.

            3. The crepe place only had one crepe maker going as well. Just crazy.

              1. I fervently hope we have proper street food in Toronto, but this event seemed a little off-target to me. Don't these chefs have enough opportunities to show off? I would have preferred to see realistic street food on display - tacos, pupusas, okonomiyaki, kebabs, pad thai, dosas, etc. Street food that is served every day in great cities around the world.

                Putting on a demonstration that results in hour-long waits is not the best way to show the big brains at City Hall that delicious and safe food can be served quickly to the masses.

                4 Replies
                1. re: childofthestorm

                  i think the one thing that it did prove is that people want more options than that 5 minute wait for the fry truck on queen west just infront of nathan phillips. 1.5 hour waits.... i did it but that was because like other hounds i had other people bringing me food in the meantime.

                  but regardless of the event, there's a move to have corn, non-dairy smoothies, samosas, pizza, salad and a couple other things on the streets by aug 1. well at least allowed on the streets. i'm not sure how long it will actually take.

                  the thing is...crepes are a regular street food in paris and do require a bit of patience... a dosa really wasn't that much different but the servers seemed indifferent to the gigantic line up they had and took their sweet sweet time.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    True, and I am glad there was such a massive show of support. I guess having JK doing hoppers and the Rubinos making frog legs helped get the press and the crowds, however non-realistic these dishes were.

                    To your point of crepes, my brain has been trying to remember a crepe-like thing I used to eat regularly on the street, I think it was when I lived in Japan, but it could have been somewhere else in the world. With condensed milk and chocolate drizzled on the top. Those used to be a good 10-minute wait but really, really worth it.

                    1. re: childofthestorm

                      Mmmmm.... sounds like the banana pancakes found in Laos, Thailand and other SE Asian countries. Love those! If a banana pancake vendor came to our streets I'd be very happy indeed!

                      1. re: Delish

                        Yeah, you're right, it's SOMEWHERE in SE Asia and I forgot about the banana aspect (my memory is pathetic). And how they cut it up into squares and stick a toothpick in each square? I would probably pay $20 for one right now. Or lined up for an hour in Nathan Philips Square...

                2. Glad to hear some of you managed to eat. The descriptions sound so lovely! Arrived around 12:30 and there was no way we could wait in any of the unbelieveably long lines. I am a pretty line averse person, so even if it wasn't a workday for me I probably would not have waited. The line for Jumbo Empanadas must have been 500 people! It was like the opening scene to Manufactured Landscapes where you see the camera pan the giant factory and think "Whoa, does it EVER end?" It would have been faster for us to walk to Kensington to and get one from the store itself! We ended up going to the cafe in the church behind the Eaton's Centre.

                  We tried to get a crepe from Viva after but the line was still crazy, and we also noticed that there was only one crepe maker, which I found a little strange. Perhaps they didn't realize how popular the event would be.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: basileater

                    jumbo empanadas taxied in a few crates of empanadas a couple times due to the demand.

                    here's my flickr photo set of the days take: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonguean...

                  2. Oh, may the day come when I can grab a dhal puri roti filled with channa and a good dash of hot sauce from a street vendor while heading home.

                    1. This is one of the times I wish I still worked at First Canadian Place.

                      Despite my lunch hour being somewhat flexible, I just couldn't justify the time it would've taken to get down there, wait in line for a couple of dishes, and then head back up to the office... and that's BEFORE I heard how long the lineups were.

                      I'm wallowing in jealousy. :(

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tartiflette

                        Thanks for posting the pics... they are about as close to the good stuff as we got. We managed to get the last of the veggie empanadas that were there, I am very sorry that I did. Bland, bland, bland, it is possible the salsa would have helped but after watching person after person bite into theirs and then stick the spoon of salsa into the hole they had bitten I was a little off put. It did look like some great food was to be had, I guess that teaches me the next time something starts at noon show up at 11:00.

                        1. re: books

                          I need to stick up for Jumbo Empanadas. I'm not a huge fan of the veggie ones either but the beef ones are very good (with or without salsa). If you visit the restaurant in Kensington be sure to check out the Chilean salad as well. Green leaf lettuce, lots of tomato, avocado, onion and cilantro with a lemony vinaigrette.

                      2. We made the mistake of thinking 12 start we have lots of time...left the office at 12 and by the time we got there the lines were insane. We viewed all the yummy looking items so many people were eating and then proceeded off to try and find some lunch since we couldnt wait for those line to diminish. We ended up at the mexican place next door to burrito boyz due to the line at BB...let down i must say the 1 minute burrito was more like the 45 minute burrito. We should have just stuck with the BB line up as everyone who went in as we were walking by got their lunch way before us....hopefully they have the NPS street event again soon.

                        1. I thought this whole thing was kinda a waste of time, because of the insane line-ups, and i didn't think the food was worth the wait. I'd buy some of it on the street, but the prices and lines were pretty unappealing.
                          Had the Rain soup, didn't think it was that great, found the soup to be refreshing but it just tasted like bland melon, and the seafood was way over cooked. Foodshare had good prices, but apparently the corn didn't taste like chili lime at all. Izakaya meatball things were ok, but expensive for a ball covered in overwhelming pasty sauce.
                          Thought the quiches were the best part, and the tripe was good... but like other people, we ended up at a truck for hotdogs and poutine cause we were starving!