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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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.
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)!!
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...
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.
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.
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.
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 *******.
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.