With a feast for your eyes, a banquet to fill your belly, and a cause to warm your heart, the food and beverage purveyors at The Stop’s Night Market showcased their best last week, in support of The Stop Community Food Centre.

Held at the iconic Honest Ed’s Alley, the two-night whirlwind of street food and drink festivity brought out a flock of culinary talents from the Toronto area to rally around the Stop’s Community Food Centre. The Stop is dedicated to end hunger and poverty in our community through various programs, and proceeds from The Night Market strengthens this mission. For $65 a ticket, patrons not only enjoyed an unlimited selection of delicious dishes from the very of best of the city, they also gave back to their community through The Stop.

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From Snakes and Lagers’ Beef Corn Dogs to Table 17’s Ham Hock Terrine, my head was spinning from all the available fares. As I made my way through the bustling market, there were long lines everywhere for each booth. Even the rain didn’t deter anyone from waiting.

This is no ordinary street food, as vendors amped up their flavours and presentation, like La Carnita’s Mexican Chorizo Tacos or Small Town Food Co.’s Pork Belly with Watermelon.

Moving away from the traditional barbeque meats, I was surprised by the selection of seafood dishes this year. My favourite included the Momofuku Shoto’s Seafood Ball, Farmhouse Tavern’s Cured Trout, and Hawthorne’s sophisticated Ajo Blanco Gazpacho with Seafood Garnish. This complex yet tasty soup was a refreshing reminder of summer in the midst of the dreary weather. The Stop’s own dish, Trini Bake ‘N’ Trout (pan-fried fish cake) was down-to-earth and scrumptious. Along with the fish cakes they were handing out, The Stop also encouraged guests to take home packets of seeds and potted herbs.

Vegetarian winners go to Gusto 101’s Kale Salad and The Grove’s Ricotta with Sweet Pea. Garnished with a light Meyer lemon meringue that melted immediately in your mouth, the ricotta dish was an explosion of warm season flavours.

For the sweet-tooth visitors, desserts were all the rage at Torito as patrons waited in an endless line for their crispy chocolate dipped churros.

What is all this food without some libation to wash it all down? Microbreweries such as Junction Craft Brewing and Great Lakes Brewery were there to rescue the thirsty. Still Waters Whiskey and Rosehall Run’s VQA selections also offered some variety to the mix. My personal favourite was Tipicular Fixin’s‘ Old-fashioned Southern Snowball (in strawberry basil) – the perfect summer fair fix.

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Food and drinks were not the only highlight at the night market. Various music acts, such as the Sephardic-Balkan-Flamenco ensemble, Ventanas, performed throughout the night. We watched in awe as Rambunctious, a rowdy 10-piece jazz band complete with a drummer, marched through the buzzing crowd. Improvising songs as they took ideas from the audience, the band entertained everyone with their cleverly crafted “food” tunes. The group even climbed up a fire escape during a performance, drawing more spectators to their boisterous presence.

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The Stop’s Night Market was truly an unforgettable event with eateries pulling out all the stops. One by one, each booth quickly sold out from the waves of hungry foodies. The incredible turnout and the persistence of everyone exemplify the power of food and our community’s awareness of this beloved program. Congratulations to The Stop and all the participants on another year of success!

Check out this great animated video about The Stop Community Food Centre:

For more information about The Stop, please visit: www.thestop.org

Twitter: @TheStopCFC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheStopCFC

Photos by Nellie Chen

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