Bigger than ever this year, The Stop Community Food Centre has once again brought together the city’s culinary wonders to its sold-out annual fundraiser, The Stop’s Night Market. Featuring inspiring dishes from 70 chefs, 20 beverage vendors, and over 39 one-of-a-kind food carts by local designers, this two-night extravaganza last week displayed the very best of food, art, and music this city has to offer. Held at a spacious vacant lot off Sterling Road on the west end, we had the opportunity to check out one of the nights, and here are our favourite moments.

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Fidel Gastro was kind enough to hand out crispy fried chicken drumsticks to attendees in line outside the venue. The delicious chicken was a tantalizing preview and a brilliant palette warmer for the evening to come.

Kanpai Snack Bar served up the best simple, comfort food I’ve had in a long time. Cheekily named Bones, Thugs ‘N’ Harmony (and cheers to those of you who remember who they were), this flavourful dish was made with good ol’ Red Rooster rice, cooked to perfection with veggies and chicken, and topped with sweet Taiwanese sausage and lotus root chip. I love a home-cooked meal with humble ingredients elevated to gourmet perfection.

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The greenest food cart belonged to Sullivan & Bleeker. Designed by MarkUp, this inventive engineering effort was created by recycled food boxes, and painstakingly cut to assemble the cart. The creation will be donated to a school program after the festival. Kudos to the design team! Oh, and the chocolate-marshmallow cookies from Sullivan weren’t too shabby either.

The hardest working team at The Stop was none other than the “oyster boys” – Adam Colquhoun, the boy behind Oyster Boy, and his sidekick Robin Jenkens. Shucking up briney and buttery goodness for the long line with consistency and determination, the two certainly had their work cut out for the night.

The most original and memorable dish of the night had to have been the Chicken Skin Tacos from Hawthorne. This unique Asian inspired number was served with crispy chicken skin as the taco base, topped with a smooth edamame guacamole, and garnished with the bold flavours of kimchi and pickled carrots. Not only was the fare a feast for your eyes, the punch of audacious flavours was a force to be reckoned with.

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Rasa had won everyone over with its featured vegetarian Truffle Gnudi. The pillowy soft gnudi was surrounded by an array of local mushrooms, portobello soil, pickled shimenji, and walnut pesto. The line to Rasa wrapped around the station, but it was well worth the wait.

By the time we were stuffed with all the savoury goodness The Stop has to offer, it’s time for dessert! The most colourful sweets of the night were presented by Lindsey Bakes. Dubbed the Cookie Ninja, Lindsey Gazel makes some mean but delightfully pretty sugar cookies.

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Stop-BestofToronto-2015-030The most interesting pairing of the night was the Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori Sake from Ontario Spring Water Sake Company and the milk chocolate from its neighbour Soma at the Distillery District. The delicate sweetness of the cloudy nigori sake complimented the sharp sugary taste of the chocolate beautifully, a perfect balance and a refreshing end to a long feast.

What is a festival without entertainment? The world rhythms of jazz band Drumhand paid a visit to the night market, spreading their infectious percussive sounds as they made their way through the crowd.

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An exciting way to kick start the summer, The Stop’s Night Market was once again a success a reason to love this city. All proceeds from the event benefit The Stop’s critical anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. Last year, the Night Market raised an astounding $149,000.

To learn more about The Stop Community Food Centre and to support its cause, please visit: www.thestop.org.

Photos by Nellie Chen

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