Toronto Has A Gaming Street

Another winter weekend. Sure, you can avoid the cold and hibernate with Netflix, but getting out is what will beat those winter blues. But will  consuming drink after drink while checking your phone notifications and listening to friends complain about their work week really do that?

Doing-things-while-drinking” is on the rise in Toronto, and College Street is where “anyone can play” indoor gaming is at. Get out of your home, get out of the cold, and game the blues away while swigging back a few.

4 College Street Gaming Bars:

#1 Track and Field: 860 College Street.

Toronto’s first “lawn games bar” is just west of Ossington. They give you the chance to sip on local brews (tip: Sweetgrass Golden Ale), as you battle out Bocce Ball, Shuffle Board and Crokinole. Wing it or play by the House Rules.

#2 Nightowl: 647 College Street.

nightowl_0488 (1)

Get off your bar seat to try your hands at Pinball, Foosball or Big Buck Hunter in the middle of Little Italy. BONUS: All you can eat tacos on Thursdays ($16).

#3 BLND Tiger: 559 College Street.

blnd

When entering what seems like a Little Italy dance cave, you may never guess games lurk about the dark. Take a break from bumpin’ and grindin’ to find the pool and foosball tables.

#4 Snakes and Lattes:  489 College Street.

s&l

Board games are back in a big way. 7,500 square feet big, in the old Andy Pool Hall nightclub space close to Bathurst. With over 1,200 board games to choose from, tap into staff knowledge to find the perfect game for your group. BONUS: $5 craft beers every Wednesday.

Get out of your home, get out of the cold. Game on winter blues, game on.

6 top gifts for the foodie in your life

As connoisseurs of quality and interesting food, “The Foodie” is hard to impress and expectations are high, which can make finding that perfect gift a daunting task.

Top 6 Gifts for The Toronto Foodie:

  1. Indoor Grown Your Own Herb Kit

herb

The Foodie dreads the site of a generic dried spice rack. Only fresh herbs will do! This kit grows Parsley, Thyme, Cilantro, Lemon Basil, Dill, Oregano, Marjoram, Chives, Savory, Garlic Chives, Mustard and Sage.

2. Automatic Espresso Maker

espreesss

Nothing irks The Foodie more than pre-packaged unfresh goods. With the push of a button, this maker grinds the beans right before brewing the freshest espresso possible. You can also make a frothy cappuccino.

3. Beer Jelly from Niagara on the Lake

beerJelly

Cherry pilsner jelly will surely start foodie conversations when The Foodie spreads it on crackers or serves it with a cheese platter.

4. The Beer and Food Companion by Toronto author Stephen Beaumont

beerfoodbook

Tracing the history of beer and food pairing, this book will allow The Foodie to cook, pair and appreciate ale at a whole new level!

5. Turn Plain Water Into Craft Soda Maker

sodastream-650x650

No longer will The Foodie have to lug cases of pop home and figure out where to store them. The Foodie can treat guests to whatever flavour of drink they may crave- sparkling lime basil? Sure. diet root beer.You got it!

6. King Cube Ice Tray

Web_Portfolio_v3_2of4_Category-Item

Toronto cocktail bars drop one massive ice cube in their drinks. It decreases drink dilution and will look cool in The Foodie’s soda stream creation… or something more merry. Buy this silicone tray so The Foodie can create giant cubes no other home has.

6 ways Food Truck Fest Ontario has improved

Enduring long lines for mouthgasmic food truck creations at last year’s Food Truck Fest Ontario while intoxicating aromas filled the air, resulted in your pallet moistening and your stomach sending the signal to your brain “I am hangry!”

FTFO has added 10 more trucks (31 in total) and implemented $6 sample menus so you can try more dishes with shorter lines.

fooddudes_fishtacos

 Try a “Captain Crunch Fish Taco” from The Food Dudes for $6 at Food Truck Fest Ontario

6 ways FTFO has improved:

1. New Venue: Moving from Ontario Places’ asphalt to the bigger grass fields of Downsview Park will make for a more comfortable day. You will have the ability to lay down your own blanket to have a picnic with your foodie crew. Downsview Park is easily accessible by TTC and car. Parking is a steal at $10 compared to $25 at Ontario Place.

Known as a prominent festival venue, Downsview Park hosted AC/DC earlier this summer, and is world famous for hosting The Rolling Stones headlined SARSstock. FTFO will be at the same spot, so imagine FTFO as Foodchella- a Coachcella for food!

2. Live Entertainment: Keep an eye and an ear for buskers!

Maracatall

MaracaTall marching stilt band

3. More Food options: Vegans got snubbed last year. This year there will be a plentiful amount  of Rawesome options!

4. Be a Foodie Judge: A new Golden Fork champion is guaranteed, as last year’s winner Southern Smoke will not be at this year’s FTFO. Your vote will decide who goes home with this conspicuous trophy!

golden

 The Golden Fork Trophy awarded to the peoples favourite food truck

 

5.  Sunday Funday… WINE NOT? In addition to a cold beer, you will have the option to pair your food with an organic red blend that is also gluten free, or a white blend.

6. Shop the Artisan Market: You will leave FTFO with a full belly no doubt, but why not arrive home with some fresh produce for your fridge? In addition to some farmer stalls, there will also be artisans selling custom art pieces, postcards and more!

farmers

Go home with fresh local produce form the Artisan Market

10 Tips for Food Truck Fest Ontario

With the Pan Am games over, Summer 2015 has already been a memorable one in the 6ix. Sadly, all good things must end. However, don’t fret quite yet- The second edition of Food Truck Festival Ontario is still upon us.

 

To prepare you and your foodstar friends for the food truck event of the year, here’s our tips to make the most of this summer ending festival at Downsview Park:

1. Pace yourself: With 30+ food trucks at your disposal, you don’t want to be in a food coma after visiting only two trucks. Share your dishes with friends or stick to the $6 sample sizes. View menus.

2. Come Prepared: FTFO is your chance to share memories with those you spent the summer with. Make the most of it by bringing a blanket to enjoy the lush grass fields of Downsview Park and have one last summer picnic with your foodie crew.

Downsview parkGrass

Enjoy the lush grass fields of Downsview Park with your foodie crew

3. Enrol in an Eating Contest: Or at least enrol a friend.  All you can eat Funnel Cake for 5 minutes! Enrol at the Funnel Cake Express truck. Contest starts at 3pm.

4. Be a Foodie Judge: The conspicuous Golden Fork Trophy can’t be awarded without your vote. Vote for your favourite truck to help decide which one becomes the peoples champion!

goldfor

The Golden Fork Trophy awarded to the peoples favourite food truck

5.  Dolla-Dolla Bills: Food Trucks and the Drinks Garden accept cash only. Come with cash to save time lining up at the ATM, and their pesky service fees.

6. #HashTagIt: Share your shots on Instagram and see what everyone else is eating! Official hashtags: #FTFO  #FoodPornON

7.  Mouthgasmic Lines: Foodies like you will clamour around select trucks for much sought after dishes. The mouthgasm will be worth the wait, so grab a friend and share your best summer stories while you wait.

naan

Tdots Naansense’s chipotle chicken on garlic naan: $6 at Food Truck Fest Ontario

8.  Kidzone kids are free! They will have fun with the corn maze, chalk wall and hula hoop workshop.

9.  Getting there: Driving and TTC directions here. Onsite parking is free!

10. Funday: With a host of side activities, be on the lookout for a stilt marching band!

Becoming a Foodie

Seems that each week, a new friend becomes a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’. Talking about the latest greatest food creation or restaurant.

They romance the idea of culinary adventure, making deep fried squid ink infused beef cheek ravioli topped with currywurst sound irresistible. Tagging along with this friend to a new resto gets expensive when you add in a $14 craft cocktail, tax and tip. So how to explore new cuisine without committing a full evening and a $100 credit card transaction to something you’re not sure you will enjoy?

im_with_foodie_tshirt-rf045079f183446ae8939143a380ef7ce_8nhma_324

Because of the lesser amount of time and money required to indulge in food truck offerings, they offer a practical and economical way to explore different dishes and new tastes. Authenticity and creativity at an affordable price is what they offer. Menus are not as extensive as a restaurant’s, but when you bring 31 trucks together, as there will be at Food Truck Fest Ontario, the options for new tastes becomes endless!

 

naanTdot’s  Naansense’s Chipotle Chicken (diced tomatoes, cilantro, chipotle sour cream drizzle, garlic naan)

 

wickedCowboyX-poutineWickedly Sinful’s: CowboyX Poutine (steak, bacon, deep fried maple cookie, fried egg, hot sauce)

.

Asian fried rice ballsMe.n.u.’s Angry Birds (deep fried riceballs stuffed with singaporean chicken, caramelized onion, shitaki mushrooms and mozzarella, dressed with spicy pineapple relish and hoisin sauce)

 

SMOKED CHICKEN WINGSFit to Grill’s Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings

Maybe the culinary adventure of a food truck festival will turn you into a foodie, maybe it won’t, either way you’re going to have fun eating your way into a food coma at an affordable price, as all trucks will have $6 sample menus! Grab your ticket to Food Truck Festival Ontario 2015 here.

RAWESOME options at food truck fest ontario

The first rule of joining Vegan Club is to tell everyone.

I’m sure your Vegan friend has told you on more than one occasion, that they are, in fact, a Vegan.

When thinking about the limited options of where you can bring that friend to eat, you probably don’t think of food trucks, but that’s where the options are growing. Of the 31 unique food trucks going to Food Truck Festival Ontario,  8 will have “rawesome” vegan options, including the new ALL vegan truck Raw On Location.

 

rawonlocation

all vegan food truck “Raw On Location”

If you’re curious to try the vibrant flavours of their mouthgasmic wild mushroom with eggplant bacon burger, don’t worry, they’re not going to try to covert you to Veganism in the processs. “We are not trying to convert anyone; we are just providing another gastronomic option for people in Toronto,” says owner Claudia Gaviria.

eggplantbacon+2

eggplant bacon

Claudia started her Vegan journey at St. Lawrence Market with CrudaCafé before launching Raw on Location. “It is nice to be outside and be in the open. Having the freedom of reaching more people,” says Claudia about being a food truck owner.

Raw On Location’s Vegan menu for Food Truck Fest Ontario

-Raw tacos with guacamole, chipotle, salsa and refried beans.

-Wild mushroom Canadian burger with eggplant bacon.

-Strawberry vegan cheesecake, using fermented cashews and lemon.

 

Other Vegan Options at Food Truck Fest Ontario

Blazin Cajun: Vegan gumbo over rice.

Koi: Thai sweet chili fried tofu wrap.

CORNehCOPIA:  Hand dipped vegan corn dogs and corn in a cup.

cornehcopiacup

TdotsNaansence: Spinach and chickpea on naan.

NaanVegan

Chimney Stax: Sweet Stax.

Chimney Stax

Sweet Spot: Assorted sorbets.

Dolcella Gelato: sorbetto truffle with fresh strawberry compote filling.

gelato3

So gather your friends, Vegan or not, there will be something for everyone, including an all local farmers market. Not only do you get to fill up your belly with delicious food truck eats all day, but also your fridge!

WHICH FOOD TRUCK WILL GET YOUR VOTE AT FTFO?

Standing at over three feet tall, its presence commands attention. No, it is not Justin Bieber, or Dr. Evil’s mini-me. It is the Golden Fork Trophy. The award for the people’s favourite food truck at Food Truck Fest Ontario. That’s right- You, the food fan, get to vote the winner of this precious trophy!

IMG_8408

The inspiration for the design comes from the plastic fork synonymous with food truck eating. The trophy gives food truck vendors additional motivation to put forth their very best food creations, some of which are debuted at FTFO for the very first time.

Introduced last year-at the inaugural FTFO, Hamilton’s Southern Smoke took home the trophy as the people’s choice champion by offering mouth-watering Beef Brisket Melt, Fastest Chicken in the South and Redneck Poutine (which was birthed at FTFO).

mikeSST

 

Owner Mike Pitton described winning the Golden Fork Trophy as an “Amazing feeling”. “A little truck from Hamilton winning a competition against bigger food trucks from Toronto”.

 

 

 

 

Armed with a 800 pound cooker, Mike takes pride not using gas to make any of their food items. “What sets us apart from other food truck is our cooking process. We use split wood on our competition cooker as opposed to using gas and propane. This gives our meals the natural smoky taste our consumers love”.

Mike also praised Food Truck Festival Ontario saying that moving forward, FTFO set a benchmark for our expectations participating in food events”.

 

Other food truck owners echo Mike’s view:

Bryanme.nu blog

 

“What sets FTFO apart from other food festivals is the way they promote the festival. They do activations with food trucks around Toronto and are very active on social media. They treat it like it’s a music festival, which fuels our anticipation”, says Bryan Siu-Chong, Co-owner of Me.n.u Food Truck.

 

 

 

Rubenluchador

 

Reuben Salonga, Co-owner of Luchador Food Truck says  There are higher expectations that comes with FTFO because it attracts some of the best food trucks in Ontario, which are usually the best situations because it pushes us to make great food stuff”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has Southern Smoke done with the trophy?

Mike tells the story of bringing the trophy on the truck for five weeks after FTFO. He even thought of turning it into an emblem. However, since they have a new restaurant (Southern Smoke Barbeque House), they decided to display the trophy there.

With Southern Smoke missing this year’s festival due to a prior commitment, the battle for the Golden Fork Trophy will be an interesting one.

 

Who will win this year’s Golden Fork?

Last year, FTFO hosted 21 food trucks. This year, there will be 31. With increased competition, trucks are already implementing their plans to win:

 

“Last year, we weren’t fully prepared for the amount of people that attended the festival. We ran out of food quickly and as a result, we had to turn away a number of food lovers. But this year, we know what to expect and we plan to introduce some new food items. Me.n.u wants to win the Golden Fork Trophy”, says Bryan.

 

Reuben says Luchador is already prepared with a new menu item: “We have made preparations to adapt to the requirements of FTFO by serving smaller portions prized at $6. In addition, we are going to introduce new food items for the food lovers, one of them is Dragon Shrimp Tacos, tantalized in orange ginger sauce”.

 

—–>Which food truck do you think will lift the Golden Fork Trophy on September 27, 2015?

Poutine is changing Toronto’s brunch game

Tired of ordering the same old egg dish for brunch? Looking to try something new to make brunch exciting again? Move over eggs benny, breakfast poutine is on the menu!

 

Top 3 breakfast poutines:

1. Come and Get It:  676 Queen Street West.

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm.

comegetit

Maple bacon, poached egg, hollandaise sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese curds on top of crispy fries. This poutine will bring you back to life after last night and power you through the rest of your day.

 

2. Bacon Nation: 170 Spadina Ave and Food Truck around the GTA.

Restaurant opens 9am daily.

bacon-nation-toronto-

This large portioned poutine comes with a sunny side up egg so you can break the yolk and mix it into breakfast poutine heaven for only $7.99. Look for the Bacon Nation Truck at Food Truck Festival Ontario this September.

 

3. The Egg Man Food Truck: Downtown Toronto.

Breakfast: Service starts at 7am. Find them here.

eggma

This poutine is filled with all of your breakfast favs: tater tots, bacon, sausage AND peameal bacon topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and fresh herbs. Look for The Egg Man serving breakfast all day at Food Truck Festival Ontario this September.

Combining your favourite weekend activity with your favourite guilty pleasure (Boozy Brunch ideas) makes for a winning weekend. Leave your winning breakfast poutine stories below.

Boozy Brunch: Best 3 Spots

It’s Friday- you made it through the work week! Your weekends are precious, only 2 days of wondrous free bliss, so how to best make it count- Seeing friends for brunch or drinks? We say brunch AND booze!
3 best spots for boozy brunch in Toronto:

1. The Federal: 1438 Dundas Street West.
Boozy Brunch: Sat & Sun 9am-3pm.

fed

With 8 different brunch cocktails to choose from, The Federal is the perfect place to get that well deserved Saturday morning buzz.

 

2. Wish: 3 Charles Street East.
Boozy Brunch: Sat & Sun 11am-4pm.

wish

Besides the fact that they have the most adorable little patio, Wish also offers a brunch martini made with Earl Grey infused Gin, Cointreau, simple syrup, lemon and marmalade for a classy buzz!

 

3. Hunters Landing: 82 Fort York Blvd.
Boozy Brunch: Sat & Sun 10am – 3pm.

hunters

The Landing Cure Caesar will completely change the way you look at brunch. Not only does this drink consist of everything you expect in a Caesar, but it includes brunch: lobster tail, pizza wedge and smoked mozzarella!

Top 5 Food Events of Summer

5. THE STOP NIGHT MARKET: June 16-17, 181 Sterling Road.

stopMarketOverall01-536x40s2
Going into its 4th year, ticket prices have doubled to $100 a pop since its inaugural year. Unlimited amounts of quality food and drinks from the likes of Dailo, Branca, ToritoBeau’s, Rosewood and Dilllon’s included. Book the next day off to nurse your food coma and hangover.

4. TASTE OF TORONTO: July 2-5, Fort York.

tastetoabout_us
Coming to Toronto for the second time, Taste gathers the local restaurant community in one place. They’re from England and do this in 16 different cities. At $27.80 just for entry (no food included), it is pricey, but goes beyond eating with classes and demonstrations for your inner chef. 25 restaurants will be on hand.

3. TASTE OF THE DANFORTH: Augst 7-9, Danforth Ave.

taste of the danforth
Claiming to be Canada’s biggest street festival, be prepared for an ocean of people and snaking lineups. Taste is going into its third decade of turning Danforth into a smoky lamb spit. Your hands will get greasy, and it’s worth it.

2. T & T WATERFRONT NIGHT MARKET: August 14-16, 222 Cherry Street.

tt
Experience a full-on Asian outdoor night market – aromas of stinky tofu and rotting garbage included. Try all the specialty Asian dishes you’re afraid to order at a restaurant because you’re not sure what will arrive. See it all cooked before your eyes, all your senses will be stimulated.

1. FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL ONTARIO: September 27, Downsview Park.

foodtrucks
Be ready to eat like a Foodstar: Over 30 of Ontario’s most mouthgasmic food trucks will have numerous menu items at $6 or less. Divide, conquer, try all then cast your vote for the Golden Fork Trophy.

—>Join the Facebook Event for updates on all these events!