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Category Archives: CNE

More Than I EXpected

More Than I EXpected

Having looked at the schedule online ahead of time I didn’t really have high hopes for the CNE this year. The vendor list also seemed really short. I pinned all my hopes on food. No mardi gras parade. No aerial acrobatics/ice show. What was going on? Was it just not updated. I held out hope until the day we arrived and got day-of schedules. No luck. On the plus side, we wouldn’t have to rush lunch and we could go to the 4:30pm Super Dogs show instead (as opposed to the 6pm one which was always really busy with the after 5 crowd).

I had a heck of a list of food items to look out for. I had more than I could eat. More than I could eat even with the help of whoever I could rope into it. But every year there are things I can’t find so it makes sense to have a long list.

The day started off relaxed. I stopped in at the Food Building for a red licorice donut from Tim Hortons (every year I leave Timmie’s for alter and every year it is too damn busy). This was actually my first time getting a wacky Timmie’s CNE donut. I tried to order a box of the pink lemonade Timbits but the lady said they only sold them in packs of 20- we had a long day of eating ahead of us and that was way too many Timbits). I passed through the Arts & Crafts building in search of my beloved coffee. It’s ironic, the name of the place is the Wandering Bean yet they are the most stable thing for me at the CNE, they have always been in the same spot.

I cannot believe how hot it was in the little rooms in the Kids Zone. All they had going was a small fan mounted on the wall, no air-conditioning. It was stifling in there. I lasted maybe 10 minutes before I had to get out of there, Camilla Adrian & Alexis would catch up to us later. Plus it was time to go meet my mom and sister by the fountain (the usual). The CNE sign had been moved to the Prince’s Gates and in it’s place, the fountain was surrounded by 12 raccoon sculptures, further cementing Toronto as a raccoon-obsessed city. I was actually glad to not see the ostriches in the Farm Building- they always seem kind of sad in their high-fence pen. The llamas delivered hilarity as per usual. As we finished up, Alexis went to get a pizza from the Food Building, everyone chowed down outside- except me. I was holding out for the Food Building’s more wacky offerings. I was a bit worried that I’d be eating alone.

We worked up an appetite in the Arts & Crafts building, being able to dedicate more time to to it as we were not rushing for the aerial & acrobatics show this year. We hemmed and hawed over at the seafood spread stand, eventually settling on coming back for it at the end of the night so it wouldn’t go bad during the day (plus it would be less to carry). We also visited my favourite CNE vendor, Carmicheal for my yearly purchase of summer sausage. The guy claimed to remember me and that just made me like them even more. They also got shunted to end-of-the-night-purchases, it would be too much to carry.

FINALLY. It was lunch time, my time to shine. I settled on the pho fries for lunch because it seemed like the easiest to share and least wacky of all the items on my list. I was saving the wackier stuff for later when Brent would be joining us. The premise of pho fries was that it was pho, but instead of noodles it was fries with beef and green onions and bean sprouts. It was good. Except towards the end I was getting tired of eating fries so I just ate the rest of the toppings, leaving behind some sad fries. For dessert: deep-fried Ferrero Rocher. It had not been on my list, I just happened across it when I was looking for deep-fried avocado (which got bumped for this).

Satiated and overheated, we piled onto the tram and went over to the At Home and International Pavilions. We had about 2-2.5 hours before it was time for the dog show. Of course we all went for the plant vendor, like moths to a flame. Air plants are so pretty, and every year I swear that THIS is the year. This is the year when I won’t end up killing all my airplants. I also wanted to get some bamboo shoots, but they weren’t even selling them. So instead I got a little cactus to replace the one I had over-watered.

The At Home Pavilion was very underwhelming, way less vendors. It was even worse in the International Pavilion. Pretty much none of our usual go-to’s were there, no Sri Lankan tea, no Polish amber jewelry. The warehouse section was cut in half and there was no Bluenotes or kitchen supply stores. I had my heart set on those two. We finished up in no time. We went to the Colombian coffee place and sat outside on the reduced-size midway and moped. So far this was one of our most disappointing CNE years. After the dog show at 4:30 we would have very little left to do. Camilla left and we lined up for the dogs, except even that was not so busy. We got amazing seats without having to wait for very long so I guess that was a plus? The dog show turned things around, how could it not?

We spent some more time going through the makeup warehouse and the International Pavilion as we waited for Brent. Once he found us we headed over to the Silk Lantern display. On the way we found another plant shop, kind of hidden within the At Home Pavilion. They had bamboo!! I also ended up getting a money tree with the hopes of not killing it. We took a mini detour to look at prize-winning house plants in the horticultural section and it put me to shame. The size and voluminousness of the plant put me to shame.

The lanterns were awesome, as was to be expected, given they were awesome last year as well. We had a pit stop at the Food Building. Lucy was after her traditional corn dog. Brent and I had other plans. After a few failed attempts at finding food (read: every time I asked at the info desk where the vendor was I was told somewhere in the midway) we eventually settled on veal tacos from SanFrancesco. What is a veal taco you may ask? A taco that has for it’s shell a breaded veal cutlet. A+ for creativity BUT it was hard to eat, despite how delicious it was. We also jumped on the bandwagon and had a “beyond meat burger” from Bubs Burgers. For a non-meat burger it was actually pretty good and it was the closest to a real burger we had ever tasted (as opposed to: portobello mushroom, black beans, tofu). From there we slowly made our very tired way over to the Arts & Crafts building for our end of day purchases. Except it wasn’t end of day for Brent and I. We backtracked to the Farm Building so he could see all the animals.

And then it was time to eat again! This time we divvied up the midway stands. Brent stood in line waiting for our deep-fried Kit Kats, I went off in search of R&Js pizza for a slice of dill pickle pizza (it has ranch instead of tomato sauce). Somehow we missed each other on the midway and I had to backtrack to our meeting spot: the bar with the Muskoka chairs (something beach.*). They had a secret menu item: frozen sangria slush. I was all about that! Alas, it was all sold out. I had to settle for a berry vodka slush which was still god. And necessary, between the Kit Kats and the pizza I needed a drink. The pizza was surprisingly good and possibly the best item of the 2019 CNE. The Kit Kat was also pretty damn good. It had thankfully been broken up into the four parts as opposed to being served as a whole.

We ventured further into the midway in search of a Tokyo street dog, and if I couldn’t find that, then a hot Cheetos encrusted corn dog. A guy from a wacky hotdog vendor offered us a sample but as I realized it was not the right place, I asked him if he knew where Street Dogs was. He stared at me blankly, Brent was like he’s a competing hotdog seller!! Turns out Street Dogs was just opposite. Oops. Our last menu item of the night was a tempura battered hotdog with kewpie mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce and strips of seaweed. It was delicious, save for the too-chewy seaweed. Bordering on nauseatingly full, we wandered back towards the streetcars through the midway. I kept shaking my head saying no no nope, at all the roller coasters. I just don’t get it. We stopped at a game where you had to hang from a bar for 1min50s to win a prize. It was hilarious seeing the overly confident guys walk up and be like I got this, only to see their face contort seconds later in agony. It felt like an old-timey fun fair, gawking at people.

*Beach Bar. I was close.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2019 in Adventures of Pinka!, CNE, Fooding

 

Below EXpectations

Once again, that time of year snuck up on me. The CNE was in town and for the first time in years I was not there for opening day. Maybe that is what cursed this year’s two visits? The press releases of sneak previews of fair food failed to impress this year. Of the 20+ items I read about only one caught my attention/was something I had never had before: the deep-fried butter tart. Yes I was excited about the deep-fried cookie dough (who wouldn’t be?) but I had tried it a long time ago while in the States, so it was not new. I was intrigued by the crispy mustard-fried crickets on a hot-dog but I could not get past the fact that they still retained their cricket shape. All I could imagine was their legs getting stuck between my teeth like the straw from corn. *shudders*

I resolved to at least walk by the bug stand and look. I assumed the line would be out the door, thus giving me an excuse to find something else to eat. Not so, there was only one customer. They had a display hot-dog and I couldn’t do it, I chickened out. My sister had wanted a sushi burrito from SU&BU and one of the items on the list had been their take on the fish & chips done sushi style. But somehow it just did not seem all that appetizing, crispy wonton chips with salmon and roe- on a hot afternoon at the CNE? Plus I would be stealing a bite of the sushi burrito (call it a delivery service fee) so why get two things from one vendor? I was down to item three on my list of maybe-trys: The lobster and steak bao sandwich. It was ok when you got a mouthful of both, but at times it was just bun. And the lobster was served cold, while the meat was hot, therefore both ended up lukewarm. It was not a bad sandwich, but it was not amazing nor was it that wacky. We did not have time to grab dessert as it was time to go to the aerial acrobatics and figure skating show. As usual it was incredible and they amped it up again.

I vowed to do a better job for dinner. The plan was to get a poutine corn dog (sliced up hotdog, cubes of cheese and hash browns, all skewered battered and deep-fried) for dinner, followed by a double dessert: deep-fried cookie dough AND a deep-fried butter tart. Alas, it was not happening. I left my other sister in line waiting for the cookie dough (there were at least 10 people in front of her) and went off in search of the poutine dog. I could not find ti listed on the map in the Food Building for the life of me. I resorted to going to the information booth and sheepishly asking about where to find the poutine dog and the deep-fried butter tart. As it turned out the butter tart was all the way back at the midway. It got relegated to next time. The poutine dog was sold out, it too would have to be next time. I walked by Bug Bistro one more time, but still could not muster the courage (?) to order it. Tired, I gave up and just got a corn dog from the midway. The food building was crammed and I was getting hangry. I shouldn’t have been ignoring my phone, it turns out there were three different flavours of cookie dough. I don’t know why no one had mentioned this in the articles? Thankfully my genius sister got one of each. Oddly enough the best one was the red velvet, followed by chocolate chip with brownie coming in a dead last as it was far too rich.

Even though I had walked the 8km to the CNE from my house the previous day, the following day I set back out again. This time we were going to the CNE with our dad. During the planning of our CNE outings it had not occurred to us that going to the CNE two days in a row might be overkill. I had a spending hangover and a combination fomo/disappointment regarding the previous day’s food fails. I was desperately hoping to make it up on round two. This time I would have the poutine dog for lunch and then something wacky for dinner, grabbing the deep-fried butter tart in the afternoon when we pass by the stand.

The poutine dog was a salty, disgusting, nauseating fail. It was epic, but migawd it nearly killed me. And yet I kept eating it. I would take a bite, make a face, pause, sigh… and pick up the stick and start the process over again. Much to the amusement of my sister. It came with a side of gravy that I could not enjoy but that got me thinking: why don’t corn dogs normally come with the side of gravy? And my poutine dog was not exactly complete: it lacked the hash browns! They had been forgotten!! And the cheese was flavourless and all it did was sink into ever crook and cranny of my mouth and stick there. It was unpleasant. We never did find the deep-fried butter tart stand. By the evening I was so tired and my legs ached. I could not stand the thought of waiting in a long line, even though the Japanese-style fried chicken looked amazing. I instead got a hot dog, there was no line.

The actual highlight, despite all the food fails and misses was buying a venus fly trap plant which I am now trying to keep alive.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in CNE, Uncategorized

 

Food in EXcess

Even though I had missed opening day this year at CNE, I was still psyched about going. I had a rather long list of foods I wanted to try. I had to write them down because I kept forgetting. I got to calling it my passport. (Yes, I regret not having actually made up a fake passport to carry around, maybe next year). Before I could start on any of the new contenders there was a bit of housekeeping to take care of. Last year I had missed out on the smores bao from Far East Taco Co., as the line was too long and it was too late in the day for me. I was not even sure if they would have it this year, as the media were all aflutter about the banana split bao (bananas, gross). My sister wanted to get tacos for lunch and lucky day! They still had smores bao on the menu! I needed a snack to hold me over on my walk through the food building to my lunch choice after all. (I know, excuses right?) The smores bao was delicious and the bun was so light and fluffy. The best part was that the bun itself was not sweet, thus the addition of Nutella and marshmallow fluff was perfectly balanced. Had it been a sweet bun, I would probably still be in a food coma right now instead of writing.

My other sister had been planning on getting the spaghetti and meatball burger, but at the last minute she bailed for fear of it being gross and making her sick. I briefly considered bailing on my plans and getting that instead. But the idea of a burger patty, a breaded chicken cutlet, cheese and sauces all between two beef patties proved far too tempting! And so I found myself in line at Bub’s Badass Burgers. The bad boy burger was quite heavy. It had a toothpick holding everything in place. Before I bit in, I noticed that there was a tomato at the bottom. I flipped the burger over, tossed out the tomato and then proceeded to attempt to eat it. The first bite was a difficult one, as I have a normal sized mouth. It was difficult to get everything in one bite, it took a few mini-bites to get all the ingredients. But man was it tasty. It hit so many craving spots. Even sweet, the chicken cutlet had a sweet sauce. It was fun to eat- to a point. Eventually my hands were entirely covered in sauce and grease. The burger had lost any and all structural integrity and was quickly disintegrating into a sopping, greasy mess. I could not finish the last bite, which was mostly a variety of greases.

The smores bao did not count as dessert, as it was had before the main course. It was really more of an appetizer. Dessert proper was from the deep-fried place: red-velvet battered, double-stuff Oreos. Deep-fried of course, and finally topped off with a cream cheese icing. Each bite was a little piece of heaven. I did not think that deep-fried Oreos could become any tastier, but I was soon proven wrong. Looking back, it seems so obvious. Of course double-stuff Oreos would be even better than regular Oreos. The double icing holds up well during deep-frying and is actually discernible in a bite. One was enough however.

I needed a break from eating, so we took to shopping. The shopping was not as good as previous years (and it gets steadily worse each year). After the acrobatic-and-aerial show I was hungry again (it had been almost two hours now!). Up next on my food passport was cake poutine. As it turns out they were set up in the At Home Pavillion. The choice was clear: smores for the win! The concept, so simple, yet so brilliant. The fries in the poutine: chopped up strips of vanilla cake. The gravy: chocolate sauce. And the cheese curds? Marshmallows!!! Another very light dessert, and also easy to share. I’d be lying if I said I ate the whole thing (just like the Oreos, which came in 3s, perfect for three sisters).

After some more shopping and another acrobatic show, I found my stomach gurgling (I assume from hunger). Back to the food building for one last round!!! I found myself in a rather long line (which shortened quickly as 4 people in front of me bailed), that was thankfully moving quickly. I was at Bacon Nation, awaiting a bacon-wrapped grilled cheese. I had high hopes for this dish. Simple and a staple, deep-fried and done to excess (as it should be, we were at the CNE after all). It was everything I had hoped for and more. It was a gooey cheesey mess with bacon in every mouthful. It was only at the last few bites that my bliss turned to “Oh my god, why am I doing this to myself?” and I slowly realized that no human should ingest this much cheese (somehow the amount of bacon was OK) in one sitting. I started dreaming of an ice cold iced tea. The pickle on the side turned out to be a god-send, the perfect end to a gluttonous meal. The only beef I have with them is: why would you include a bag of chips on the side?!

At this point I don’t know what else is left. I did notice a stall in the midway that sells deep-fried Snickers bars. And hopefully they will bring back the spaghetti and meatball burger next year. Alas, this year I was only able to go once to the CNE. I had read that Tim Hortons was going to have two wacky flavours of Timbits: cotton candy and coca-cola. That was a lie. All they had was Timbits poutine, which was just Timbits with their weird version of whipped topping that is borderline icing, and ice cream. What I need is for them to bring back the deep-fried butter and the deep-fried cola, I missed out on those.

 

EXpose

The most wonderful time of year has come and gone. Of course, I am talking about the CNE a festival of gluttinous food and entertaining shows. I was worried about this year, having cleared out a lot of the deep-fried goodies in past years. I was right to be worried. I had caved and decided this was the year of the deep-fried butter, but *gasp*! To my horror (relief?) they had discontinued it. All well and good, given that earlier in the day for breakfast (I got there at opening) I had a maple toast bread box from Fran’s (a newcomer on the CNE food scene). I did not expect it to be so good. The challah bread was like french toast taken to a whole new level, a deep-fried level. It was hollowed out to hold what else, bacon, an egg and a sausage, I was not too happy about the egg yolk.

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No breakfast is complete without coffee. Hula Girl (a relatively new vendor, much needed in the Food Building… some damn good coffee) was serving up a butter latte. Basically in place of milk you had melted butter, in place of sugar you had coconut oil. It did not taste that greasy, or coconutty. Honestly it just tasted like coffee, which can be dangerous, if like me, you need at least two cups to function semi-properly. The real runaway winner was the crobar (also from Hula Girl). Crobar= chocolate bar baked into a croissant. The croissant itself was damn good. Chocolate bar, damn better. I only wish I could have heated it up, but even still, bravo.

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Things soon fell apart. The dog show was now sharing a venue with the acrobatic show. We ended up missing the dog show because we were eating lunch. I wish the lunch had been worth it. All day I was torn between cheeseburger nachos (only because the nachos came courtesy of the guys at Sneaky Dee’s), the Thanksgiving Waffle from Fran’s or bacon-wrapped cola chicken from Bacon Nation. I went with the latter. After a too-long wait I finally got my meal. And quickly wished I hadn’t. The cola sauce itself was really good. The bacon was scarce and the chicken, worst of all, rubbery. I got halfway through it and had to bail. There wasn’t even anything wacky deep-fried for me to drown my sorrows in. I did briefly consider the freeze-dried fruit sorbet, but the idea of paying $7 for something that *might* burn a hole in my stomach… pass.

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Among the wonderful things at the CNE is the shopping.

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A new addition to the CNE, much to my giddy pleasure: a fruit stand where you could drink out of the fruit!!! The one I went ot only had pineapple and coconut. I went with coconut. I wish I had not been too lazy to go to the other stand. They had watermelon there. Real coconut tastes awful!!

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For our evening supper we went back to the Food Building. Camilla is stubborn in her corn-dog tradition. I was hoping to get cocoa chicken while she got her corn-dog, alas the line was way too long to warrant buying one piece of chicken. I did notice that one vendor offered Dutch Frites. Fresh off my vacation from Europe, still battling an addiction to Speculoos I went there eon the off-chance that they would have stroopwafel. they did!! And bonus points for serving it warmed up.

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We could not find any corn-dogs in the building. Back out to the midway! The first place we saw offered Colossal Corn-Dogs. I salivated a little. Camilla noticed that they also sold regular-sized corn-dogs. Too late. I was going to get a Colossal Corn-Dog, and I was going to eat a Colossal Corn-Dog. About halfway through, i.e.: after eating a regular sized corn-dog, my grin started to fade. Disgust set in. My mouth was coated in grease but it was also a bit dry from all the salt. I had eaten way down to the stick and now my meal was a dangerous weapon threatening to pierce my cheek. So much for walking home.

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Round Two

This time we planned it right with a later lunch and we went to see the dog show. On the way we picked up some Tiny Toms Donuts (isn’t it great when you have an inside person who hooks you up with free stuff?). The Super Dogs are just so damn cute and entertaining! It took my sister and I all of 5 seconds to realize that a character in the show was the character Doubting Dave of the wonderful Canadian show Mystery Hunters. We could not decide if a bit part in the Super Dogs show was a step up or down.

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In between my CNE visits I had heard that the Thanksgiving Waffle was amazing. I put my trust in those people and in the people at Fran’s and ponied up $10 and all my hopes of a good lunch. How could it go wrong? I also had a piece of cocoa- fried- chicken with me! Turns out it can go quite wrong. Firstly, while waiting for my food I noticed that they were using tubs of Ocean Spray cranberries *blech*. the real downfall of the Waffle was the waffle itself. I was expecting a regular waffle… NOT a waffle made OF stuffing! How am I supposed to eat around the stuffing?! Yes, I am not a huge fan of stuffing. It is overrated. On to the cocoa-fried-chicken… it just tasted like fried chicken. I was expecting fried chicken with molé sauce.

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Dessert would fix everything. I had discovered that tucked away at the usual deep-fried Mars bar place they (somewhat) secretly had deep-fried cola! At last! After years I would finally get to try it!!! I was expecting little battered blobs that when I bit into them the syrup would pour out. I was not expecting cola syrup to be mixed into funnel cake batter. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious and some part of it tasted like cola. But you cannot call that deep-fried cola!

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. While shopping we found a book that was.. Polish!! We briefly contemplated getting our significant others the books, laughing riotously at the thought of them learning about barnyard animals with stickers.

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We decided to spend our money on skeeball instead.

IMG_20140828_185314 (we both lost, but most importantly we had fun).

For lunch Camilla had been eyeballing deep-fried squid (on a stick, of course) but she hadn’t gotten it. She bitterly regretted it all day which is why that evening we found ourselves sitting outside the food building devouring a superbly greasy squid. The batter that fell off onto the sidewalk left giant grease splotches around it. It was the second/third best food of the CNE (crobar and maybe behind maple toast bread box).

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We had gone to the CNE a second time for one main reason. To fulfill a childhood dream. It may have taken us 13 years but goddammit we finally got see Hanson in concert!

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IMG_20140828_221250-EFFECTS

 

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EXtra EXtra Read All About It!

Local girl survives eating cronut… and returns to that very same place for a different burger, tarnished reputation be damned!

As is tradition, we returned to the CNE once more. I was having a hard time deciding what to eat. I kept changing my mind, contemplating the Behemoth (two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns) from Epic Burger. I was worried that it would be too much bread (4 buns!)- not that I would get poisoned, as the culprit was the bacon jam on the cronut burger (of which I took two bites, and then tossed aside the cronut bun complete with jam and ate just the burger patty with cheese, survival). I was also considering getting poutine from Bouchard’s, they had been at the CNE food building for a while and I still had not gotten around to trying it. It was agony, going over my options in my mind. I had to go to the source.

I left early so I could wander through the food building and look at all my options. I was also set on getting a coffee from Hula Girl, newly opened in the spot where the British food place had been (I never did get to try a haggis pie). For $3 I expected a much better coffee, the light roast was oddly bitter. Maybe I should have opted for a hand-pressed cup of coffee, there were two choices: one was $25 and the other $50. Insane. I love a good cup of coffee and am willing to pay a bit more but $50?! Maybe if it was the coffee wherein the beans are first eaten by a cat, upping the amount of labour involved. But really.

I was a bit peckish still, maybe because I was in the Food Building? As I wandered I wanted a snack. The 99 cent tacos caught my eye, but who wants tacos at 10am?! And besides, if I was getting tacos they would be from the Far East Taco Co. and judging by the price, these tacos were not meant as a post-breakfast snack. I debated getting something to nibble on from the Nutella stand but nothing there stood out, I could easily make most of those things at home (even more of them if I had a panini press). There was a new Swiss waffle and crepe stand (right around the corner from the competion) that had on offer a smore: homemade vanilla marshmallow with chocolate on a graham cracker, toasted. It was the perfect snack! And it was sold out. At 10:30am, they did not have the requisite supplies to make one for me. In the end I walked out with just a coffee and a craving I could not pinpoint. It worked out because as I walked towards the Dufferin Gates I passed by a McCain sample truck handing out free pieces of cake, carrot cake, but cake nonetheless (it was not that good).

Sitting around on a muskoka chair by the entrance, waiting for my family, I noticed a small crowd gathering around behind me. They were getting the birds of prey ready for the show. I was intrigued… and terrified. They were giant and I had watched The Birds way too many times to be comfortable with a giant bird so close to me. Not helping matters was when Lucy told me to pose for a photo and the guy brought the giant turkey vulture right up behind me. I was actually shaking a little.

Aug. 29, 2013- 2nd trip (4)

After wandering the arts & crafts building for what felt like hours we finally breaked for lunch, but not before stopping for some more McCain cake. FYI: their “new” recipe has managed to ruin even their chocolate cake. I am really not sure why I grabbed a coupon. Camilla had to leave and she was not back yet, Lucy was not as keen on sharing a large amount of weird food. It took some convincing but I got her to split chowdah fries from Jake’s with me (of course we left about half of it for Camilla). I queued up next door at Epic Burger for a Behemoth burger, I caved, I had to do it. I ordered it with no lettuce and no tomatoes, added bacon (which they forgot).

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The Behemoth was difficult to bite into (I would really benefit from a snake-inspired jaw modification) but once I got into it, it was rather delicious. It covered cravings for salty and umami and the bread kept it from going overboard. However there were bites where it was just bun and cheese… it was bad. So bad, just dry and horrible. Maybe if it had been an artisinal bun and some fancy-shmancy cheese, but no: it was a bite of Wonderbread and Kraft cheese slices i.e.: a nightmare. Needless to say I did not eat that last little bite where it was bun-cheese-bun-bun-cheese-bun. Plus, I had a mountain of chowdah fries to work on. It was a good idea, pour clam chowder on fries, inspired by poutine no less. Bacon bits on top and actual pieces of clam? Bonus points for that. Alas, there is the disconcerting feeling of “my fries taste kind of fishy” that is hard to get around. These fries would benefit from portion control. If the order had been half the size, it would have been delightful, alas it was too much towards the end. The fries never did get soggy somehow.

Aug. 29, 2013- 2nd trip (6)

On my way back from the bathrooms, I could not resist stopping at a deep-fried stand, partly because the smores situation from before had not changed. It’s just not a trip to the CNE without something deep-fried. I had realized that I never tried the deep-fried Twix, and that was about the only appealing thing this year. Until I had placed my order and was standing there waiting for my Twix bars. I looked over the stall next door and realized: they had deep-fried cola. It was back, alas without its counterpart deep-fried Kool-Aid, and not sold out! Calamity!!! Why had I not been more observant?! Why was I not at the CNE with more people/people who liked deep-fried novelties?! Why do I not have double-stomach capacity?!?!?!? I think I would have been better off with the cola. The Twix was not deep-fried well, as most things I have had at  the CNE (except for corn dogs, hot dogs and cheesecake). They had the oil on too high a temperature (explains the short wait) thus the chocolate and caramel melted into the batter. Biting into it, you got batter, an air pocket and a surprisingly still crispy (making it dangerous, as the first half of the bite is soft & chewy) cookie. It was a dangerous snack. And not just to my heart.

Aug. 29, 2013- 2nd trip (8)

Needless to say I was not hungry for the cheap candy they always have in the At Home Pavilion. However, the satiety did not last that long. In only a few short hours I found myself inexplicably hungry again, it was like I was on vacation. It was time for Far East Taco Co.! I was encouraged by the really long line-up, that meant it had to be good right? At the very least it gave me time to contemplate my choices, but that took no time at all, the choice was clear: two tacos, one spicy pork & kimchi, one beef bulgogi. After about 20 minutes I finally returned to my family, they had all eaten and were eager to try a bite of mine, given how long I had waited for it. The spicy pork & kimchi blew the bulgogi away. In fact it blew just about everything I have ever eaten at the CNE (and others not from the CNE) away. It lived up to its name with a nice spicy kick to it. The bulgogi was bland and almost flavourless, borderline tasting like plain boiled beef.

Aug. 29, 2013- 2nd trip (24)

Alas due to the long wait at the taco stand I had no time to get deep-fried cola for dessert as had been planned before. I had to leave early, as I was to get up at 4am to write my G* exam. Still, I could not leave the CNE without dessert. Turns out self-serve Yogen Fruz is quickly becoming a tradition, unless they are not there next year.

Aug. 29, 2013- 2nd trip (25)

 

*I passed.

 

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Lactose IntolerCNE*

Once again it is that time of year again, when I stuff my face with food and spend an inordinate amount of money on food. Of course I am talking about the CNE. This year was no exception. I had heard about the Nutella stand a while ago but was not intrigued, not even slightly. Fries? With Nutella? It seemed to me they had run out of original ideas and were just throwing odd things together for oddities sake. The day before the Toronto Star had run a story after media day preview. One of the stand out (if you can call it that) items was the cronut burger from Epic Burger. I had tried a bite of the Krispy Kreme burger earlier this year and it was not that bad. Going on this assumption I thought it translated to cronut burgers. I was wrong. It would have been an ok burger… were it not for the icing sugar. Camilla had the Canuck burger from Bacon Nation. Instead of ground beef for burger patties, they replaced it with ground bacon. And then piled strips of bacon and peameal bacon on top. It was good in small amounts, but I had just eaten a burger patty with cheese (I gave up on the cronut and ate just burger). On the side we split an order of bacon cheddar fries, also from Bacon Nation. I watched the guy make my fries and I knew I was in for little bites of heaven. While it might sound gross to watch someone douse your freshly fried fries with nacho cheese sauce and the liberally sprinkle bacon bits on top- I was really hungry. The cheddar fries were the winner thus far. Alas there was no time for dessert as we were off to see the acrobatic show Tic Toc.

Aug. 16, 2013- CNE opening day (1)

Something weird was going on at the CNE. For starters, Stitches actually had a decent amount of decent COTTON clothes! For the first time ever it occurred to me to ask the individual price of items that are usually sold in bulk (4 nail polishes for $10 and 3 books for $10 being the usual deals). I still cannot believe it took me that long to realize it.

Aug. 16, 2013- CNE opening day (4)

Our first break from shopping, a chance to finally sit down, was at the Super Dogs show. Every year I insist on going, and it has yet to disappoint me. I was about to be mad and disappointed (they now advertise during the show for their sponsors- boring) but the Super Dogs dancing to Footloose more than made up for it.

Aug. 16, 2013- CNE opening day (7)

Our next break was not until later in the night at the Food Building. I was finally ready to try deep-fried mac & cheese. I had avoided it for years, because it sounded atrocious. Alas, I was out of super-crazy things to try and this was at the bottom of my list. Turns out I was very wrong for having it at the bottom of my list. It was delicious! Except for the last little bits that were mostly just deep-fried batter, occasionally one deep-fried noodle. It was fun to eat and not at all messy. The problem was that by the end of it I was in desperate need of sweet. No desserts had caught my eye, and Camilla suggested Freshly Squeezed. I wandered around until I found that Yogen Fruz now had self-serve frozen yogurt. Even at the CNE, I cannot resist. I was so full though that I got a teeny tiny amount of lime sorbet. The cashier even made fun of me. It was so refreshing though.

Aug. 16, 2013- CNE opening day (8)

On our way out we cut through the Arts & Crafts building where I discovered a cupcake stand. Never one to turn down a cupcake, I veered right. My eyes settled on a delicious-looking lemon number. I was a tad wary as they all featured buttercream (blech usually). And so it was. Having overeaten, I was not too happy with the too-buttery buttercream. The cupcake part was good though.

Aug. 16, 2013- CNE opening day (10)

Earlier when we wandered around the midway I almost gave in and got deep-fried butter (even now, the thought of it churns my stomach) for lack of anything else deep-fried and new. I feel as though the deep-fried novelty wave has unfortunately waned at the CNE, giving way to odd-ball concoctions like Nutella on sweet potato fries and the like. I am not sure what I will get when I go back. I considered the Behemonth from Epic Burger but now having tasted their burger patties I am not sure. I will definitely be having the chowdah fries from the new food shop Jake’s something or other seafood-y.

* While we were eating the deep-fried mac & cheese I pointed out that I had eaten a LOT of various cheeses that day and joked that I would become lactose-intolerant. Camilla mentioned that Lactose IntolerCNE would be a great title, kudos to her.

 

EDITORS NOTE: As you may (or may not have) heard, there was a food-poisoning outbreak at the CNE a few days later, at where else, but the cronut burger stand Epic Burger. I dodged a bullet my friends.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in CNE, Diary of A Tourist: in Her Own Hometown

 

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I Am Going to EXplode

[I have a deep-fried hangover]

This is the first year ever when I am actually going to be away for the airshow, I have had to put up with it for 25 miserable years (I mean, 20, 20 miserable years) and finally I am getting a break. The only downside to being away during it is that I will also be away for a week of the CNE. I had to condense my multiple visits into a rather small time frame. Actually going within days of each other. I pretty much had enough time to digest and go to the bank. The first time we went for the whole day and saw mostly everything. The little bits I had missed I made up on round 2.

Every year the ice show gets better, they always add on new things. This year they added in a whole bunch of new things: breakdancers, jugglers, and trampoliners. It made me feel old, watching these young kids bouncing on a trampoline and kicking off a wall into a backflip back onto the trampoline and on and on. All I could thing was how bad my knees would hurt. And how scared of injury I would be. I spent most of the show unable to blink. The breakdancers got extra spin whilst on their backs thanks to the ice. The jugglers somehow managed not to fall flat on their faces while walking around in running shoes ON ICE AND JUGGLING AT THE SAME TIME. I could barely look away, let alone blink as one guy suspended himself from the ceiling by just holding ropes… with nothing but cold hard ice below were he to fall. To say that it was insane, would be an understatement. While this was all happening there were ice dancers all over, spinning, twirling and balancing. It was a circus without the animals and no tent. There were times when I literally did not know where to look, there was so much happening all at once. All precariously scary things that I would never dream of doing.

The dog show did not disappoint, how could it, they are Super Dogs! What can I say? We watched dogs run obstacle courses and catch frisbees for a good 40 minutes to a blaring hip hop and top 40 soundtrack. One dog was not having the run-around-barrels part of the obstacle course so he ran into it and knocked it down with his front paws. It was adorable. New this year they had people, by which I mean kids, race the dogs. Nothing is funnier than watching a child race a Chihuahua puppy that is so small at some times you lose sight of it on the course, I swear it was the size of a rabbit. Speaking of rabbits, at the petting zoo this year they had tiny little bunnies, no more than a few weeks old! Probably trying to hit on us, one of the workers, a young guy, came over and took one of the bunnies out to show us. They were sequestered behind a fence, in a pet carrier. It was tiny, it fit in the palm of his hand and the ears were still tiny. There were other baby animals in the petting zoo: horse, donkey, llama.

Walking along through the Arts & Crafts building, past the wonderful dip place (where we spent a good 15 minutes snacking, which only made us hungrier) there is a meat stall. They sell summer sausages, but there is something amiss, something a bit odd. Some of these sausages are made of the very delicious and new thus year: llama and alpaca, in addition to the already-weird kangaroo (which I tried in previous years). You know what else is delicious at the CNE? Deep-fried stuff! So here is a run-down of the two days worth of CNE-specialties:

Pulled pork from Pull’d: Camilla ordered this and I just stole bites when she was not looking. The bun was made of pretzel. which was better than I had expected. The sandwich came with two pan-fried perogies inside of it, good as far as non-home made perogies go, did add to the sandwich. The pulled pork itself was a bit dry, not enough sauce on it and skimpily served, a small amount of meat in the sandwich. Were it not for the perogies or the bun this would have truly been a shabby awful sandwich. It is not a good sign if the pulled pork, the main part of the sandwich. the main thing the vendor is based on, is subpar and dry. It came with a side of beans, beans that no one wanted to eat.

Pizza cone from Just Cone It!: I was set on trying something new, which after last years poor-showing I was afraid I would not find. Fear not! Just Cone It! appeared newly this year to the rescue! Do you ever have the problem of having to eat with two hands, having to sit down to eat? Problem solved: pack the food into a cone. Not an ice cream cone, a bread cone. A bread cone filled with cheese, tomato sauce and pepperonis (albeit there were very few, next time they need more pepperonis) sounds amazing. It is, until you get to the very bottom, after eating mouthful after mouthful of melted cheese with a tiny piece of bread. You start feeling awful, you realize you have eaten about half a brick of cheese. You feel you have just made yourself lactose-intolerant… and yet you keep eating, it is so good, so melty, so cheesy, how could you stop? One of my new favourites at the CNE this year, I really do hope they are back next year.

Deep-fried cheesecake from deep-fried place in Food Building: Keep in mind, I ordered this literally right after wolfing down that pizza cone. I did not know what to expect when I ordered it, would it hold up or disintegrate? Would it sop the oil up like a sponge? Apparently it is a rather difficult one to fry because the guy making mine had to redo it a few times as it kept breaking once he put it in the oil, resulting in a slightly longer wait than usual. While I waited I took to talking to the people around me. In line for deep-fried goodies is the best place to meet people and talk deep-fried. Compare notes, discuss what is good, what is not. It becomes a competition of who ate what. Or dousing peoples dreams and hopes as I did when I told the guy that I had deep-fried Twinkie before and it was disappointing because the creamy-filling had completely melted into the cake, but I saved myself by reminding him that this was in the States, I had not (and still have not) had the one from the CNE. Now down to brass-tax, the deep-fried cheesecake was, wait for it… AMAZING. Of all the deep-fried goodies I have had, it is easily one of my top three. It held up surprisingly well, tructurally, texturally and taste-wise. The cheesecake did not disintegrate. It still looked and felt and tasted like cheesecake. It did not sop up all the oil, it did not even have the flavour of the oil or the batter. The cheesecake was warm and soft and just perfect. Also: it was plain cheesecake without the graham cracker crumb base.
Deep-fried rice krispie square from Sweet Treats: I chanced upon this one by accident, did not even know this was on offer. I found it at the midway stall outside of the Direct Energy Centre, where they have deep-fried butter. I had high hopes for this one, expected to bite into a crunchy and marshmallowy gooey mess. I instead bit into batter and emptiness. The rice krispie square had disintegrated INTO the batter. You would get a bite of batter coating and there would be a tiny crunch of one lone rice krispy. The marshmallow aspect was nowhere to be found. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, as most everything deep-fried is, but it fell short of my expectations. I am surprised about how badly it fell apart though.

Bacon-wrapped beer-battered deep-fried hotdog from Bacon Nation: Bacon is even bigger this year than last at the CNE, thanks in part to one of the Food Building’s new vendors, Bacon Nation. I could not pass up having something with bacon on it at the CNE, I felt like I would be missing out. On my second visit to the CNE, I sucked it up and went to Bacon Nation. What I had really wanted was bacon popcorn. I was so intrigued by it, did it have bacon bits on top? The grease from cooking the bacon? Fake bacon flavour? I had to know! Alas, on my first trip I decided to scope it out and I did not see any bacon popcorn on the menu. When I got home I checked the CNE app and saw that they indeed were slated to serve bacon popcorn, I assumed it must come as a side instead of fries. It was settled, I was going to eat the disgusting-sounding bacon-wrapped hotdog. It was colossal, I thought for sure they would serve me a small dinky hotdog, but nope, this was giant. There was so much meat. The beer-batter was a lot thinner (think fish and chips instead of corn dog) so each bite was a lot meatier. It came with barbeque sauce on the side, but it was better on its own. It was unbelievably satiating, and so greasy, it just dripped with grease. Delicious bacon-y meaty grease. I would not however make it one of my mainstays as I have corn dogs. It is really more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing, just to try it, just for kicks. As for the popcorn, I asked about it and she just abruptly said “no” without an explanation or anything. Just no. This is not over, I am going to look into the matter further.

Deep-fried Jos Louis: This is the only item on the list that was not new. I had tried to eat this last year, but it was sold out. Again, I was not sure what to expect. Would the icing in the middle uphold? What of the chocolate coating? The chocolate coating just disappeared into the mess. The icing, I was shocked to find little remnants of it here and there, I guess the chocolate and cake somehow insulated it? The cake, it was soaked up ALL the oil. It was a greasy soggy mess of delicoiusness. Not outstanding though, the deep-frying did not transform it into a heavenly treat.

There is also a new Lebanese bakery vendor in the Food Building, I had a bite of Camilla’s sesame pita wrap. It was ok, not exactly fair food. But it is one of those foods I can see myself eating outside in the real world, it was not messy, greasy or weird. Just tasty.

If you enjoy shopping at the CNE, be forewarned: this year it is just plain awful. Stitches used to be 50% off the sale price, now the deal is that nothing is over $10, which is to say that most everything is $10. There are maybe two racks with stuff under $5. What happened to the Stitches where you could buy a skirt for $2 or a bikini top for $1?! It is not even worth going. Save your time. Unless you want an awesome shirt that says “Stay Calm and Kill Some Zombies” then maybe you should go. Or the cupcake version.

 

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