I was so excited to receive tickets from Liz (aka. @StayGorgeousLC) to attend the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo VIP Preview night taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I love trying new food (I’ll try anything once) and I’ve gotten more into wine recently after some encouragement from my fiancé.
The event is taking place from November 16th to the 19th for foodies and winos to enjoy. (Also, don’t forget the beer and cider, my personal favourite) The expo offers more than 1,500 wines, beers, spirits and gourmet food to try, so be sure to stock up on vouchers upon arrival!
Some highlights you can expect to see this weekend include Tutored wine tastings from some top industry experts, The Chef Stage for complimentary cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs and talented Toronto locals, #TrendCentral stage for interactive tastings of cutting edge wines, beers and spirits (that’s where you’ll find me) and the Spiritology Pavilion to check out what Toronto’s exciting cocktail scene has to offer! Are you a fan of Caesars? Then be sure to attend on Sunday the 19th for ’The Best Caesar in Town’ national final where top mixologists from across Canada compete with their own versions of the Caesar to take home top honours from the judges.
We just happened to be attending on Pride social night which included a Lady Gaga impersonator (Yas queen!)
I started off the event at the bar (naturally) where I sampled Chic Choc spiced rum. I’m a huge rum fan and was surprised I hadn’t tried this out yet. I was told the rum was made in the Carribean but the spices were sourced from Chic Choc, Quebec. It had a lightly sweet and spiced taste to it and was also pretty dry. It went very well in the dark and stormy cocktail it was stirred into.
Next drink I tried was an IPA from Laugunitas, who I went out of my way to sample because they seem to sponsor every podcast I listen to (they put the pub in public radio!) It was pretty hoppy, crisp and dry. I was happy to finally be able to try it for myself. While cruising the beer tents, I also found time to test out Caledon Hills lager ( bitter with hints of honey and nuts), Brickwork’s cider’s new Hawaii Five Eh (cider and pineapple juice and I loved it) and a alcohol free beer called Partake which was easy drinking and only 10 calories, yes please!
A drink that I tried that really stood out to me was from Pelee Island Winery called Mousseux De Pomme. It was apple wine! It’s the first wine of its kind at Pelee Island Winery that isn’t made with grapes but with braeburn apples from Ontario. It tasted like a crisp, clean cider but with more alcohol content. Unfortunately, its only launched online and not yet available in the LCBO. I was hoping to buy a bottle right there on the spot but was directed to Shop.PeleeIsland.com , saving grace is they offer free shipping in Ontario! Really hope it will be made available in LCBO’s and Wine Rack’s soon as I could see myself being a regular customer.
After a few drinks I was starting to become a bit peckish. I decided to grab some snacks and couldn’t say no when I walked past maple syrup cotton candy from Dare 2 Dream farm. It was so sweet and light and I was told by the workers I was getting some good minerals from it too. That made me feel a little less guilty for indulging.
A few tables down I saw something that I thought was pretty new to the scene. It was toffee that was infused with cannabis flavour called Altavie. They just launched and this was their first big event. The toffee contains no TCH and only flavouring (for now) and their plan was to market it to the public to familiarize them with the taste of cannabis before it all becomes legal next summer. The taste was pretty strong, and the toffee was sweet and pleasant. It’s something I would probably have to try a few more times. They’re currently being distributed through Purity Life and more info can be found about them here : Altavie.ca
The last sweet of the night came from Cannoli Queens from Vaughan. I had a delicate little vanilla cannoli that really hit the spot. The cream filling was fresh and a little tart, all in all a perfect vote from me.
When I was looking for something a little more filling, I saw (or smelled, rather) some beautiful organic pasta sauce being cooked. It came in sweet, mild and hot with ghost peppers. I’m no hero, so I stuck to mild and it was so good I was scraping my plate to make sure I got to eat all of it. It really tasted like someone’s Grandma was in the back kitchen whipping it up. The sauce is 100% organic, gluten free and vegan! Talk about a triple threat. It was created by Mangia Cake Organic’s in Guelph. I would strongly suggest you try them out if you’re ever at the Guelph farmers market. Learn more and order online at Manigacakeorganics.com
Next stop was a delicious Kinton Bun from Kinton Ramen. I’ve eaten at their restaurant downtown but it looked too good not to order again. The bun was filled with pork belly, cucumber and Asian BBQ sauce. I could have eaten about 5 if you let me. They also were serving a tiny ramen dish that was flying off the table, I didn’t try it but the happy customers slurping away told me it with worthwhile. They have locations in Toronto, Markham and Montreal if you want to try for yourself.
Last, and most exciting for me was the seared seal tartar, beet cured salmon and smoked rainbow trout on bannock bread. This would be a dish that I wouldn’t usually order ( I hate fish) but I’ve seen so many Indigenous restaurants popping up recently and have been very curious. This restaurant was called Ku Kum Indigenous Kitchen, located on Mount Pleasant Road. The chef told me the seals were hunted in Quebec, and they were given special license to do so due to over population and it’s monitored by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The seal reminded me a little of eating liver but with less of an iron taste. It was delicate but I sort of lost the seal taste in the salmon. Glad I tried something new and traditional. I’ll have to visit to see what the full menu has in store and maybe you can too. (kukum-kitchen.com)
There were so many other options to try but an hour and a half and 20 vouchers later, I was spent. If you think you can do better than me and hit up a few more options, I would encourage you to check out the GFWE! If you need to take a food break there are musicians hitting the stage and wine tastings available for only 4 vouchers (aka $4) so you could really make an evening of it! Let me know how you like the seal!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.