Joh vs. Food – CNE Chronicles 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

I hope you sang that line…you know… like that Xmas song and the Staples jingle?  No? Yes? Ok. Moving on…I’m not talking Xmas or back to school.  I’m talking about my favourite time of the year…CNE time!!

The news broke about the new food items at the CNE a few days before opening.  I was quite impressed with this year’s offerings and of course was very excited to try as many of them as my stomach could handle.

The day began early, just after the opening.  Always best to get there early and avoid the food line ups. The first meal of the day was from Far East Taco.  I selected the kalbi and bulgogi bao, both items I have eaten in previous years.  I’ve always enjoyed them, but this year I definitely noticed a difference.  The bao was much bigger, fluffier, but I found that it overwhelmed the filling.  Still made a good breakfast however. IMG_3385

Now it was time to start trying the new food offerings.  First up was Bub’s Bad @SS Burgers and the beef patty cheeseburger.  Yes, you heard me, a cheeseburger with a split beef patty as the bun.  Quite a tasty burger.  Seasoned well.  A nice change to the typical cheeseburger.

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Next up, Jake’s Lobster for some garlic snow crab fries.  My FAVE of the day.  The fries were perfectly crispy and never got soggy.  The garlic aioli was delish, though there could have been a bit more of it.  The feathery shredded crab generously covered the fries like snow.  I’m craving this right now.

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Always time for some drinks.  Some vodka lemonade at the beach bar and then a nice glass of cab merlot at the wine bar near the shopping area.

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After all the savoury, it was time for some sweet.  Out to the midway to find some deep-fried cheesecake.  Creamy vanilla cheesecake, dipped in batter and fried perfectly.  Then back to the food building for some deep-fried red velvet Oreos.  I expected them to have a redder hue, but no matter, they still tasted great.  I am a sucker for Oreos.

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Time for deep-fried gnocchi.  Pillowy potato nuggets with a slight crisp dipped in some tangy marinara sauce.  A good snack.

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Chicken waffle on a stick was something new this year too.  Isn’t everything better on a stick?  Enjoyable.  Some fruity sherbet as a palate cleanser.

Eating at the CNE may have ended, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t continue to eat at home.  Had to get some Jamaican oxtail with rice and peas.  I was disappointed last year (they sold out), so I was determined to get some this year (tears would have been shed if I didn’t).  Craving satisfied.

Lastly, I needed some Filipino snacks.  Banana Turon – plantain banana, rolled in brown sugar, wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried to a golden colour.  When I see this anywhere (including my parents house), it always comes home with me and I can eat a ton of it.  FAVE!  And then there was ukoy – a shrimp fritter made with thinly sliced potatoes, some bean sprouts, dipped in batter then fried and eaten dipped in garlic vinegar.  I rarely eat this outside of the CNE, so it is definitely a nice treat for me.

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Yet another successful CNE eating event.  Was able to eat all the new food items I wanted to try.  Threw in some shopping and laughs on top.  It was a fantastic time. =)

Joh vs. Food : CNE Food Fest – Part One Cont’d

CNE visit número uno is complete. Eight hours of food truck frenzy fun times with my buds C, baby K and E with a little shopping thrown in. The goal today was to hit up all the Food Trucks set up on the CNE fairgrounds. This 3 day gathering of street food vendors is a first and hopefully a newly adopted tradition of my beloved CNE.

The line up of food trucks along Princess Blvd.

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We wandered up and down the lineup to get a feel for the menus as some were unknown to us. We were starving for lunch so the first visit was to Stuft Gourmet Sausages.

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Their specialty is homemade sausages “Stuft” into some soft bread. The choice today was spinach feta lamb/beef sausage with the 4 cheese sauce.

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Flavourful sausage and the bread was similar to a French baguette, super soft. A little weird looking but it was a good start.

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Per Se Mobile was next.

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The big seller was the shrimp tacos.

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Corn tortilla, lime, tomatoes, red onions, green onions and of course shrimp. Fresh and light.

Dessert time now. Pretty Sweet Cupcake Truck for a cupcake. Apple caramel and chocolate hazelnut.

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Cream cheese icing on both. Moist and decadent cupcakes. Really good.

Snack time. Meat empanada and beer battered mahi mahi fish tacos at Gourmet Gringos

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Both with a bit of kick. Chipotle mayo complements the fish which isn’t greasy at all.

Next door is Fidel Gastros not Castros…GASTROS.

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I decided to get my pulled pork fix but not with an ordinary pulled pork sandwich, but with the Gorgeous Jorge – peanut butter pulled pork with bacon jam.

20120825-011457.jpg If you’re thinking sweet, stop. So not sweet at all. Actually more on the salty side with some crispness from the bacon and toasted bun.

Taking a break from the trucks. Walking around the International Pavillion, picked up some lemonade

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Yummy hazelnut coffee for a pick me up.

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And tried these British chips…not really my fave…my pal C liked them lots…it’s an acquired taste…

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Let’s get back to the trucks. Cupcake time, round two at Sweetness Bakery. I went for the creamsicle.

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20120825-012303.jpgButtercream orange icing on a vanilla cupcake. Great colour.

Still not down for the count yet…Gourmet Bitches …you’re up.

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Gluten free food for those concerned with that.

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Pork taco time.

20120825-013107.jpg Super fresh and light as well, juicy pork.

It’s the home stretch…the best food truck item of the night and probably one of the best things I have ever tasted. Blue Donkey Streatery is the winner of the night

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Ouzo mayo calamari in a pita

20120825-013703.jpg Soft pita stuffed with fresh thick tomato slices, fries, breaded calamari rings and a garlic mayo ouzo sauce. Perfectly cooked calamari, soft not chewy. Crispy fries. And let’s talk sauce…omg ouzo garlic mayo…OMG…so garlicky, so rich…SOOOOO GOOD!!!! Try it!!!!

Not quite done yet, although nothing could top that calamari pita, no night is complete without ice cream

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Sweet endings.

My new little friend agrees…

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Support the food trucks when you see them. The food is new, tasty and inventive. There is more to street eating than just hot dogs. The people who run these trucks are super nice and it’s amazing to see their take on food.

Bring on the food building next week =)

Joh vs. Food : CNE

Every year I anticipate the last two weeks of August when the Canadian National Exhibition opens up – http://www.theex.com/.  While many go there to play games or get dizzy on rides, I am there to eat. 

The CNE food building is my happy place and I have been known to spend an entire day or two sampling all that it has to offer. 

This year’s visit was short and sweet, but still just as fun.  Thanks to my “photographer” for taking the pics.  =)

Now, every year, there is always hoopla about some new food item at the CNE.  One year it was deep-fried Mars Bars, another it was deep-fried butter.  This year, the Krispy Kreme Burger made its debut.  I was intrigued. 

Timestamp: Approx 6:30PM.  Mission Krispy Kreme Burger.  Mission: Incomplete – the line up was too long.  Instead, picked up some fried clams, perogies and a cabbage roll.  These items are generally main staples in my CNE diet.  A must have every time. 

Timestamp: Approx 7:30. Mission: Krispy Kreme Burger. Mission: Incomplete – Lineup was even longer than before.  D’oh!!! Instead, picked up a swiss waffle with ice cream, “original” Philly cheese steak sandwich and some fries. 

Timestamp: approx 8:15.  Mission: Something deep-fried.  Mission: Complete.  Behold a deep-fried Twinkie, deep-fried Oreos and heck, let’s throw in some strawberry and mint chocolate chip ice cream too!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will now take a moment to let you know that aside from the Krispy Kreme burger, I was also on the hunt for deep friend peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a stick.  How elusive this item turned out to be.  Did I end up getting it?  Keep reading…..

Timestamp: approx 9:30 Mission: Krispy Kreme Burger.  Mission: Complete.  The line up had died down by this point and I was ready and excited to get my burger.  For those not sure what a Krispy Kreme burger is, allow me to explain.  It is a hamburger, with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, sandwiched between a Krispy Kreme glazed donut.  I asked for bacon because let’s face it, everything is better with bacon…or so I thought.   I waited in line, anxious to get my burger.  I was all smiles as they handed it to me. 

 

I unwrapped my burger, looked it over and took a bite.  The meat was juicy, the vegetables crisp and the donut fresh.  I was thinking there would be a nice contrast of salty from the burger and bacon against the sweetness of the donut.  I won’t lie, I was wrong.  It was GROSS!!!  The donut glaze was overpowering and with each bite, I really felt like spitting it back up.  Overall opinion of the Krispy Kreme burger…

Timestamp: Approx 1030.  Food building is closed.  I am disappointed in my Krispy Kreme burger experience and looking for redemption.  Walking around the CNE grounds, it is very easy to be distracted by the bright lights and shouting people.  When searching for food, it is very important to read the signs on every booth passed.  Did I read correctly?  Is it? Yes!! Deep fried peanut butter and jelly!!

 

Now, my CNE food exploits did not stop there.  I did end up having a chance to go again.  By this point my body was quite upset with me for feeding it so much junk the visit prior, I thought I would take it easy.  My goal that day was to try The Behemoth.  I won’t lie however, I also had some more perogies, cabbage rolls, one more Twinkie, an Oreo and some Tiny Toms Donuts but I swear I only wanted the Behemoth.  I just can’t control myself. 

The Behemoth, also made by the same people who brought us the Krispy Kreme Burger, consists of a hamburger with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  Yes, of course, I asked for bacon.  Was there really any doubt?  Can I tell you, this burger totally made up for the Krispy Kreme debacle.  Mmmmmm, Behemoth….

 

Only 333 days until the CNE opens up next year.  I guarantee I’ll be there to try the next new thing!!