The food game was strong at Taste of Toronto 2017. The annual festival attracts over 25,000 people each year and doesn’t disappoint. No matter what your taste, from sushi, to BBQ chicken, to pizza pockets, you’ll find something that you’ll want to try. Along with the featured restaurants, Taste of Toronto welcomed exhibitors from wineries, bakeries and other food brands alike providing samples and free tasty giveaways.
I’ve been to Taste of Toronto for the past three years and always find something different each time I’ve attended. What was I looking for this year? I was on the hunt for the perfect savoury snacks! My taste buds brought me to these top three picks:
3. Momofuku Noodle Bar: Ginger Scallion Noodles
Momofuku Noodle Bar showcases a wide variety of items from ramen noodles to fried chicken. Chef Hans Vogels’ signature features were the Pork Bun, Ginger Scallion Noodles, Sichuan Chicken Noodle & the Seven Spice Sour Slushi.
All the items fit the bill in terms of savoury but I was sold by the Ginger Scallion Noodles just for my love of ginger scallion sauce alone. To be honest, I could just eat the ginger scallion sauce on its own because it’s just so addictive! The noodles really absorbed the delicious flavour the sauce and the dish was elevated with the sour kick from the pickled shitake mushroom, scallion seasoned cabbage & cured cucumber.
Overall, the noodle bowl was a standout dish from Momofuku Noodle Bar. I was definitely on the verge of going back in for seconds but needed to keep my appetite for something a little different and on the fresher side.
2. Bar Raval: Cucumber Salad
Internationally renowned chef, Grant van Gameren is the co-owner of Bar Raval, Bar Isabel, El Rey Mezcal, Pretty Ugly & Vic Dries Events & Catering. This year, van Gameren won the top spot for Best In Taste for his signature dishes. He offered a feature spread that included a Cucumber Salad, Nordic Shrimp Cocktail, Piri Piri Chicken, Champion Platter (grilled octopus, island pork secretto, chorizo verde, cucumber salad) and a Tequila cocktail call “El Destino”.
To beat the heatwave that hit the city, my eyes were set on trying the freshest item on the menu – the Cucumber Salad. The salad features bright and bold flavours that screamed summer – crisp cucumbers, crunchy pomegranates, creamy feta, sumac and dill. These playful flavours really complemented one another and took this salad to a whole other level.
This dish was a knockout and is truly the perfect salad to kick-off the summer season.
1. Pray Tell: Pizza Pocket
Pray Tell’s head chef & co-owner Sonia Mondino is one of the youngest of the all-star chefs at this year’s event. She opened her restaurant just last year at 25 after starting her career at Nota Bene, Porchetta & Co., Patios & Home of the Brave. Pray Tell was the Taste Daily Friday featured restaurant.
This nostalgic dish reminded me of being a kid getting home after school and warming up a frozen pizza snack in the microwave to eat while watching TV. But while this dish drummed up fond childhood memories, the flavours of this pizza pocket were far more sophisticated than when I was young.
The first bite I took was magic – the Bolognese sauce and melty mozzarella brought out the intensely delicious Italian flavours. The tomato sauce was perfectly seasoned and spiced with fresh herbs. The pizza pocket was topped off with a lemon herb oil that was seriously out of this world. With every bite, you needed to have enough Bolognese sauce and lemon herb oil to bring all the delightful flavours together.
The pizza pocket was by far my favourite snack I’ve ever had at Taste. So much so that I’ve already planned my next visit to Pray Tell. If anyone at Pray Tell is reading this…it’s too late. I’ve already stolen all of your pizza pockets