Food Adventures at CNE
Canadian National Exhibition
210 Princes’ Blvd, Toronto, ON
Maybe I’m getting old or becoming more of a food snob but most of the food I tried at CNE today was pretty underwhelming. I’ve been reading about all the bizarre flavour combinations and seeing them on the news for weeks leading up to CNE’s opening weekend: deep fried everything – cheesecakes, Oreos and rice pudding, and poutine everything, cake, timbits, poutine balls so I was pretty excited. Also, I’ve never been to the CNE. I grew up in Vancouver and spent childhood summers attending the PNE, the smaller, west coast version of CNE.
As soon as we arrived I had to get some Tiny Tom donuts. There’s nothing like steaming hot, freshly fried mini donuts covered in cinnamon sugar. There was a spinning wheel in front of the stand where you could spin for free donuts, we ended up winning a buy 2 dozen, get 1 free ticket. We just settled for a dozen donuts though. It was our first stop and we had to pace ourselves.
Next up, we visited the chicken waffle on a stick stand. I’ve been seeing this item on the news repeatedly so I had to try it. We ordered the chicken waffle with maple syrup drizzled on top which in retrospect, I realize was a big mistake because an aggressive bee chased us as we were trying to quickly gobble down the sticky and sweet waffle wrapped chicken. The waffle was nice and fluffy but the chicken inside was pretty flavourless and dry. My husband is still appalled that the item was a whopping $8. “For a chicken waffle on a stick?! Are you serious?” he kept asking.
We hopped on the sky ride so we could see the entire fair and pick out spots we wanted to visit. My goal was obviously to get to the food building.
The food building was crowded and bustling. We arrived right before lunch so the lineups were getting long. Our first stop was for deep fried red velvet Oreos, the item that I was the most excited about. Again, this item was $8 but just for 3 cookies. My hubby kept pointing out that you could buy a whole box of Oreos for $8. Disappointingly, the deep fried red velvet Oreos were gross. Soggy and overly sweet, it’s as if someone melted an Oreo and covered it in a globby red sugar coating. I could only eat one and my husband rolled his eyes and begrudgingly ate the other two.
An item that my husband was excited about was the Jamaican beef patty burger at Bub’s Badass Burgers. He loves Jamaican beef patties, he even throws them on the barbecue. Listed as one of the 10 most outrageous foods in Blog To, Bub’s uses Jamaican beef patties as buns for their burgers. Bub’s had one of the longest lineups in the food building, and the line continued to grow after we got in queue. The menu lists the burger as featuring a beef burger with pepper jack cheese, pesto, fried onion and lettuce stacked between Jamaican beef patties. One would think there are two Jamaican beef patties used as buns but it turns out the bun is one single Jamaican beef patty sliced in half. I’m not sure why it’s listed in plural on the menu. The burger was alright, the meat was on the dry side and I’m still wondering where the filling from the Jamaican beef patty went.
So after 3 epic fails of supposedly outrageous fair food, we decided to go on a hunt for something we thought would actually taste good, something that hasn’t gotten lots of media coverage. And we found it! At a stand next to the highly advertised garlic snow crab fries is a place called Pull’d serving up pulled pork everything. We ordered the red velvet pancakes with pulled pork. There was no lineup and the fluffy and sweet pancakes coupled up with the succulent and smokey pulled pork totally hit the spot for us. This was the best thing we ate all day.
All in all, we had fun at the Ex. I’m not sure I would indulge in the food next year but I could definitely spend hours wandering the exhibits and watching the food demo shows. A great way to end the summer!