I emailed the CNE about the deep-fried nanaimo bars debacle and they informed me that the plans to sell them fell through at the last moment. So it is not that I was inept at finding food at the CNE, they screwed up! YAY! Well not yay, I would’ve like to eat them, but still: not my fault! Although I did miss the boat on one poorly advertised dessert: deep-fried fudge. But that may have been too much for someone who is new to the deep-fried scene. And the deep-fried eating is not necessarily over for the season. The location has just shifted. There is a bar in Toronto, the Cloak & Dagger, that serves deep-fried Mars bars. And I think I read of another place that deep-fries pieces of apple. What a great way to get a serving of fruit!
Category Archives: CNE
As the title insinuates, here is my deep-fried roundup. Well, really more so a recap of my last visit to the CNE this year. We met a creepy talking tree that directed us where to stand when posing for a photograph, which thankfully did not end with nightmares that night. Things started out great, we finally got around to checking out the Arts, Crafts & Hobbies building. While there I nibbled on some camel meat, got my mom to buy a whole summer sausage of it. It is not 100% camel though, there is some pork mixed in. It is surprisingly palatable to say the least, it had a bit of a spice to it, but that is because of how it was prepared, not because it is camel. While there I also teased my palate by trying the hottest hot sauce at the dip booth (not the diehard BBQ one). It is awesome that I can now handle the spicy, back in the day I would never have dreamed of it, and my sister keeps calling me on my increasing love of spicy by reminding me that I “am Polish”, as in intolerant of anything spicier than mild. Every trip to the A,C&H warrants a quick trip over to the Wandering Bean stall for my usual fix, the raspberry mocha (just as good with half the syrup, a new twist). And who could possibly resist fudge?! Thankfully it is sold in small 1/4lb squares, and a 1/4lb split between 4 people is just enough fudge for this gal. And if it’s not enough, it is a much easier way to sample more flavours.
As with every trip to the CNE, we got through one exhibit/pavilion before it was time… to eat. Of course. Having spent the week eating as if I were on vacation, I opted to follow in my sisters’ footsteps and go for something healthy, I did after all have plans to eat a deep-fried nanaimo bar that evening (or a smore if that were to be the case). And of course we had that fudge for dessert. What happened to be the first thing I saw when I entered the Food Building? Why it was corn dogs wearing hats. What did my sisters notice? The dog with an ear of corn for a body. Each surprised the other.
Now for me to backtrack a little, when we first came in to the CNE grounds I grabbed a map from a guy at the front gate, opened it and promptly asked him to show me where I could find deep-fried nanaimo bars. He instead pointed at the information booth (one that I had yet to go to last time). So I sauntered over and asked where I could find my beloved. While he was looking (and commenting that I am so lucky that I can still each such things) I noticed a sign on the wall that had a number you could text for information/help (lost child, lost stuff etc…) and I saved it in my phone. The info guy scratched his head bewildered, browsing through an entire binder, he was just about to give up, started telling me to check out the food building when he chanced upon that same chart I had seen twice before. It said: Deep Fried Nanaimo Bars- Princes Gate North. He said that was near the food building and a light bulb went off in my head! Of course! There is that small stretch of vendors between the Food Building and the Horse Palace! I hadn’t looked there!
Fast forward: I just finished eating my healthy pita sandwich (this is important, healthy) that was mostly veggies, a bit of grilled chicken drowning in lettuce really. I took the opportunity to go back into the Food Building to “go to the bathroom” while instead hurriedly walking through the building to exit the other side for a quick scour of that midway stretch. To no avail, surprise surprise. So I went back in and went up to every deep-fried vendor, including the Krispy Kreme burger place and looked to see if they had nanaimos. Nope. I had had high hopes that the place with the smores would have it, alas they didn’t. Went to look at the map to see if I had missed any, and oh look! Another information booth! This time I was told to go to the northern corner of the midway where the Direct Energy Centre starts, and check either that stretch of midway or the patio bar. My eyes lit up, the patio bar serves deep-fried pb & j sandwiches! Maybe they would have it!
I hurried back to my family with the great news! I was so excited! We got up and started heading to the International Pavilion and I branched off to go over and see for sure that they had the deep-fried nanaimo. I was met with confused looks. When I asked if they knew where I could find it (it’s worth a shot to ask, even if it does not get me any closer) and was told that the patio bar is run independently of the CNE, so they really had no clue. Saddened, I slumped my shoulders in defeat and headed back to find the rest of my crew. They had not even made it through the flower displays. See? I leave for less than 5 minutes and they fall apart and become inefficient (something they like to remind me of every once in a while). At this point I was starting to feel a bit sore.
I had made the (dumb) mistake of bringing a book with me to read in transit and it was now starting to weigh me down. We went to Stitches, I really just wanted a bag to put my book in to take the strain off my neck & shoulder. Of course, I also left with a pair of sweatpants. At this point I was also starting to get really really dehydrated, my head had started pounding so I left in search of water. Which was nowhere to be found. You would think that outside of the bathroom there would be a drinking fountain, nope. (I did find one later out in the hallway, half hidden). So I resorted to paying for an overpriced bottle of water. It was too late. My headache was kicking into full gear and my stomach was starting to hurt. I changed into the aforementioned sweatpants and was now doomed to wandering the International Pavilion with TIGERS written on my butt and my head throbbing. I did not last very long. I ended up sitting outside leaning against the window half asleep waiting for my family to come to me. No way in hell was I going looking for them. I thought I was not going to make it when the Mardi Gras parade barreled through, and then some guy near the Automotive Building was playing his lungs out on the bagpipes. How he managed to play for that long, it is a miracle. A really bad irritating miracle.
Eventually they came and found me, bringing me a giant green tea (they know me so well ♥ ) to try and make me feel better. I tried to drink it, but it was too hot. At that point my head further started throbbing. It was becoming a full blown migraine. And migraines generally do not end well for me. They end with me being pale, shaky and nauseous. So I got up and left. I made it to about the Food Building before the nauseous part of the migraine really took hold. Long story short, it seems that eating healthy (at least at the CNE) is not such a good idea after all. Who would’ve thunk it. I had thought for sure that the pizza on a stick (coupled with the bike ride home) would be what does me in. Nope, a nice healthy pita full of veggies.
Feeling much better, I turned tail and headed back to my family. I had about 30minutes to get back in time to see the Strong Man Show. But not before Lucy dragged us both out for a test drive. AT least I got to sit down in relative quiet and comfort. We got back just in time for the show. After circling the place we each found lookout spots. They went to watch from the top (just outside the DEC) while I staked out a nice spot between the two bleachers. The Strong Man looked mildly familiar but that I had thought I had seen him on our first trip to the CNE, so I thought that was it. He started out the show by introducing himself and giving some background info, from which I learned that he had been on America’s Got Talent 2010! He is the guy who rolled up the frying pan and made Piers Morgan look like a fool. So I enjoyed that quite a bit. Afterwards he stuck around and sold stuff that he had bent and posed for pictures. Me and Lucy had our picture taken with him, but at the last second he said he would lift us up and we were like “Nah, it’s ok” and he was like “Nah, come on!” and so he did. He lifted each of us with his bicep (we sat on one each really). The child inside of me shone through. I was giddy as a schoolgirl. One of the best moments of any years at the CNE.
With all that we barely managed to make it to the Food Building for a late night dinner (in Polish it is kolacja, I have no idea what the Canadian equivalent is, it’s like an evening meal of sorts). They went off to get hotdogs, I was not having any of that. My heart (despite having been sick) was still very set on the runner-up for the deep-fried finale. A deep-fried smore. Which, the more I thought about it the more appealing it seemed, not that it never was, I simply did not have enough slots to fill it in (as in days at the CNE, I refuse to eat two deep-fried things in the same day, I am only one person!) and so I ventured over. With 5 minutes to go there was quite the (desperate?) line forming at the deep-fried booth. Finally! It was my turn to order, I looked at her with hopeful eyes and asked for a smore. She looked at me with tired eyes and said they were sold out. I cursed quietly under my breath and ordered the first thing that popped into my head: PopTart. I was not happy. But I felt I had made the right choice, for an Ah Caramel or a Jos. Louis would have been too similar to the brownie and as for the cola? I found out that it is just the syrup that gets deep-fried, my teeth hurt at just the thought of it. I would like to point out that the PopTart was strawberry flavour. Why am I pointing this out? Because over in the At Home Pavillion they are selling jumbo boxes (16 count) of strawberry PopTarts for $2, what a profit this vendor must be making! $2 for 16 PopTarts, sell them each at $6 a pop! Even when counting in the added expenses of the batter and oil and employees, what a profit! Albeit they won’t have much of a customer base left for next year, due mostly to coronary heart disease and diabetes.
The PopTart was OK. The first few bites were mostly just batter and the outer part of the PopTart (read: no strawberry goo or icing). Once you got into the middle though, it started to disintegrate into a gooey red-oozing mess, barely on a stick. The icing had melted and expanded and reminded me of fake cream cheese a-la Toaster Strudels and the like. It was OK, it was fun to eat and did not taste too bad. It reminded me of donuts a little bit. But it was just not as good as the Oreos. The Oreos were the best deep-fried thing I ate at the CNE. They had the least amount of batter, had the best crispy-to-mushy ratio and were the most fun to eat. They are also one of the few deep-fried desserts that did not come on a stick.
As if this had not been enough food and enough of a day for me. I was swayed by Lucy’s friend’s offer of some Tiny Tom’s donuts. I opted for the cinnamon apple flavour because we never have them. They were not as bad as I had anticipated, but still it was very obviously fake apple flavour. It was like eating a hot greasy Jolly Rancher.
NOTE (this seems to be a common theme now): I texted the CNE number. OK, so I did not lose anything like a child, but I wanted to know where to find those nanaimo bars. No response. It’s like Where’s Waldo except I never had the fun of eventually finding him… it. Them?
The CNE has a deal wherein if you go after 5pm on Mon-Thurs you get in at a discounted rate, $5. So we took advantage of it. Camilla and Lucy had wanted to go to a ghost lecture and tour. Alex wanted to meet the UFC fighters. And I wanted to stuff my face with food. How could we lose?! We decided to bike there, which in retrospect was a dumb idea, but more on that later. So we got there a little bit after 5pm and split up. Me and Camilla headed to the lecture, Lucy and Alex to stand in line for the meet & greet. We were to reconvene at the lecture. That did not happen. It was full. Apparently a lot of people want to hear about paranormal “research” so we instead went to look at the exhibit associated with it. As a photographer I had quite the point of contention with their “spirit” photographs. For one thing, the researcher discounted a visitor’s photo (taken on the previous years ghost tour) as a double exposure. Yet the researcher’s photo of a “mysterious mist” that arose was a ghost, not a “camera malfunction”. And the photo of “energy exiting the medium” as she did a seance, was just that, nope, it was not light refracting in the lens. No, it was a ghost. My favourite ghost story had to be the ringing telephone. A phone in the old stadium kept ringing, so the security guards went to investigate, only to find it was unplugged! Oh no! What were they to do? Well of course, stick it in a closet. I almost choked on my coffee laughing.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally got to go on the tour (Alex and Lucy met us along the way). It was about an hour long and we had not packed snacks. But hey, that was fine, it only made us hungrier for our late dinner plans: pizza on a stick. An already convenient, easy to eat, hand-held food made all the more so by cramming a stick into it. Initially I was the only one who had wanted it, but after talking everyone’s ears off about it, I had managed to convert both Camilla and Lucy to it. After the tour we walked back to the midway in search of the pizza and dessert as well, deep-fried nanaimo bars. We went through the whole midway and came up empty handed. We found an information booth and asked of the whereabouts of our sought after food. The woman pulled out a binder that had a detailed and chart filled guide to where everything was. I admit, I really felt like stealing it. After some searching we were told that the pizza was in the food building and that the nanaimo bars were outside the Direct Energy Centre in that part of the midway (which is where some soldiers died during the Battle of York in the War of 1812 as I found out on the tour).
The pizza on a stick was from Mamma’s Pizza… it was colossal. And this is no word-play understatement. It was literally bigger than my head. The pizza was on a paint stirring stick. Not a popsicle stick as I had thought. We each, in a moment of lost judgement, ordered one. As we walked and attempted to eat it (the large size kind of defeats the portability and ease of eating) we got more than a few sideways glances and some people even asked us where we got it and promptly went and stood in line. Not soon after had we started, Lucy’s pizza broke under it’s own weight and started coming off the stick. It was hilarious. None of us managed to get more than halfway through before the moaning began. Portion control was thrown right out the window with this meal. We wrapped up the rest and are now munching on it throughout the day, it is just as good cold. The pizza itself was just a regular pepperoni slice. Nothing outstanding. Albeit it was a rather thick crust (sturdy, so it would stay on the stick). For the novelty factor it was definitely worth it. Hands-down most fun pizza I have ever eaten. Would I ever do it again? Yes. Except I would split it with at least one other person.
Full of pizza, we slowly made our way back to the midway outside DEC to find the nanaimo’s and to also get some free slushies (thank to Lucy’s friend who works there, free coupons). Here we split up again. Lucy took Alex to the International Pavilion to the Columbian coffee stand (the coffee I almost spit-took with earlier during the ghost phone story was from there) for what she claims to be the best hot chocolate ever (they actually steam milk for it, instead of just adding hot water to it like most other places). Camilla stood in line for deep-fried brownies because we had gone up and down the midway and not seen any signs with nanaimo bars on them. The brownies were our back up alternate, but I was not ready to admit defeat. The line was long (it was to Sweet Treats, aka the deep-fried butter people) so I ventured off in (desperate) search of the nanaimos. I chanced upon another information booth and asked. She told me it was at Sweet Treats, in the middle of the midway. It is not in the middle of the midway, I almost lost our place in line by telling Camilla it was at another booth (thankfully I got hold of her before she left the line). We got to the front of the line and I ordered and the woman was like “What? You mean deep-fried chocolate bar?” and I was like “What? No! Nanaimo bar” and she said they did not sell that there. I sighed and settled for the brownie.
Settled is the right word. It was not nearly as good as the other deep-fried stuff I have had. For one it was brownie batter in corn dog batter and on a stick, making it hard for 3 people to share. The brownie part itself was really good, owing to the fact that it was melty and like eating batter. But I could have done without the corndog batter, it was too thick. The Oreos only had a thin coating of it, making for a semi-crunchy outer layer. The deep-fried brownie was also much messier to eat, partly because it was on a stick and partly because of the consistency. Or, it could have been the squirt of chocolate sauce and sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. It is not that I had my heart set on nanaimo, for if you remember that is what I wanted the first time, Oreos were also a backup.
The free slushie was no better. Nothing compares to the quality of a Slurpee. It got icy and hard to drink really fast. I pretty much sucked out the syrup. I threw most of it out for lack of being able to even ingest it. And after ingesting all of that, ooh man my stomach. A market niche that has not been taken advantage of at the CNE thus far would be selling antacids and Pepto-Bismol and peppermint tea. If you set up such a stall in the food building, or just outside, or anywhere on the grounds really, you would be rich so fast. Feeling sick I still had to bike home, in the dark, on my crappy bike, along the poorly lit bike path. I barely made it home.
For the next trip, yep I am going once more to the CNE I have some very specific foods in mind that I would like to eat. Given that this will be my last trip there, until next year when I inevitably go back. I am going to find those damn nanaimo bars, in the event that I do not I will go for the smores (which had been my back up last time, and also were nowhere to be found). Why am I going after something I could not find in the course of two trips? Because I did some internet searching (thanks Google!) and found out where they are hiding. The smores are in the food building at the stall that sells deep-fried Cola and Pop-tarts, even though by my recollection I saw no such thing on the menu. But it was in an interview with the stall owner, so how could it possibly be wrong?! Obviously I cannot subsist simply on deep-fried dessert and still feeling sick, I doubt I will go for the Krispy Kreme burger. So what is left? Haggis pies from the British food stall. Because we all know how delicious (!!) British cuisine is. I figure it is going to be a long, long time before I manage to make my way across the ocean to try some real proper haggis (and for that matter, a deep-fried Mars bar, but on that I can hold out) I may as well try it. That, or a foot long hot dog. But the foot long I would like to eat at Coney Island and a New York trip is more likely to happen sooner than the UK one.
Having now made myself really hungry, I am going to go eat more cold pizza while moaning about the fact that Thank God the CNE only comes once a year. Maybe I will call them and ask about the nanaimos? This isn’t over.