Just this last Saturday I went to one of the best food festivals in Toronto organized by my amiga, Mary Luz Mejia. Every June Luminato comes to Toronto to enrich our city with everything culture has to offer; music, dance, theatre and of course FOOD! In various location around the city you will find an event that suits your taste and interest. Being an Arts enthusiast, I try to take in at least one event of this unique cultural festival that runs from June 6th to June 15th. This year my focus is on food and what other chefs are offering our fair city.
Together with a Foodie Friend, Suzanne Cowan we made our way down to the David Pecaut Square in the heart of Theatre Town to take in all the food it the Taste of Beach Food Festival. Of course the highlight of the afternoon was the food served up by some of Toronto’s finest showcasing food from around the world. To create a beach atmosphere, the Cuban artist collective, Los Carpinteros made a Cardboard Beach to set the mood for fun in the sun. To accommodate all the people who came out to the event on Saturday these artists made beach lounge chairs, umbrellas and these interesting sculptures out of cardboard. Suzanne and I debated lightly what these sculpture might be. I suggested perhaps they were huge bongos. Whatever they were supposed to be they were definitely eye-catching and a conversation piece for many.
Throughout the afternoon, I had a chance to sample almost all the dishes that were offered at the Taste of The Beach Food Fetival. There were 10 vendors offering beach inspired dishes such as Fish Tacos and Lamb Burgers. Within minutes of entering the festival grounds we navigated towards the ticket booth and purchased 4 tickets each for $20. Each vendor was serving their speciality for only $5. Between the two of us, Suzanne and I ate well. We started off the Cod Tacos from Mad Mexican. This was one of our favourite dishes hands down. The tender cod was well marinated in achiote and served with a roasted pineapple salsa and habanero sauce on traditional corn taco shells.
We were impressed with the chef’s cool demeanor as he dressed each taco with care. When we first got to the Mad Mexican Kiosk the line was short and we were able to get our grub quickly; however an hour later the line for the Mad Mexican Cod Tacos was super long and we were happy to get our food earlier. Glad to see that Mad Mexican was a big hit. We’ll be visiting Mad Mexican on Jane Street for more delicioso Mexican food.
Since Suzanne also had 4 tickets of her own we decided to tag team the food kiosks and double our sampling. While I waited for our Cod Tacos, Suzanne lined up for the Paella from Station #5 Carmen Cocina Espanola. The Paella was well flavoured and not too fishy. The Chorizo was perfect and the seafood completed the dish. The next two dishes we sampled were the Mediterranean Lamb Burger at Station #1 and Windup’s Chicken Tsukune, a classic Japanese Chicken Balls. Although I am a proud Greek-Canadian I have to confess that I don’t eat lamb. That’s right! I don’t eat lamb because I don’t enjoy the gamey taste of the meat, however at the Luminato Taste of the Beach I must admit that the Mediterranean Lamb Burger by Tom Filippou was delicious and well dressed with a Spice Tomato Condiment, grilled eggplant and soft goat cheese all in a thin pita bun. The Chicken Tsukune was good also. The chicken balls were well seasoned with traditional Japanese flavours; leek, green onion, garlic and ginger and were served with a choice of four dipping sauces. Since we were not sure which to try we tried them all; figgy sauce, hot sauce, teriyaki and jerk. Our favourite was the hot sauce.
After we found a spot to relax and some refreshing beverages we were ready for another sampling. This time we headed over to Santo Pecado Catering for some Ceviche. Station #9 was by far the most attractive from their set up to the plating of their dish. The Ceviche was a bit different from the Peruvian Ceviche I know and have made. The concept was the same; seafood cured in lemon and a spicy sauce but the flavour was sweet and fresh as opposed to zesty and tangy. The octopus was my favourite of all the seafood that was in the Ceviche and has inspired me to use octopus the next time I make Ceviche. Our last dish before diving into dessert was Cardinal Rules’ Chicken Sandwich on a Johnny Cake. This was my favourite from all the dishes I sampled. The Bourbon Chicken was perfectly barbecued and dressed with grilled poblano and pineapple while finished off with a spicy aioli. The soft and buttery Johnny Cake was the perfect bun that captured soul food leaving me wanting more. Finally, we finished our culinary experience with Mata’s Coconut Gelato topped with a pink pepper sauce and grilled pineapple. Unfortunately we forgot to take a photo of our refreshing and muy rico dessert however we have a photo of the man who created this incredibly delicious gelato, Felipe Faccioli.