Deep fried. On a stick. Stuffed between buns.
Yes, if you didn’t already suspect it, I am alluding to some of the outrageously glorious foods at the CNE this year. It is one of the few places I know whose food conjure equal amounts of disgust and intrigue from.
So, throw caution to the wind (or arm yourself with an antacid), give in and try something you’ll undoubtedly tell your friends about.
As your willing guinea-pig, I sampled and devoured all the fare on offer with my thoughts.
Corrado’s S&M Burger ( Corrado’s Authentic Italian, Midway)
It’s a homemade meatball patty topped with a crispy spaghetti round–akin to a fried latke. It’s slathered with marinara sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. It reminds me of a hefty meatloaf-style sandwich. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can ask for your sammy to be made ‘Kinky’- with jalapeno peppers, or the ‘Triple XXX’ version- with scotch bonnet peppers.
Fran’s Restaurant ( Fran’s, Food Building)
They’re offering a couple a indulgent goodies this year. One of them is Chicken, Waffles & Ice Cream. While you may be tempted to ring the ‘diabetes alarm’, fortunately– the sweetness is tempered with the popcorn chicken. These bites are clucking delightful. They’re doused with the perfect amount of Tabasco sauce to temper all the sugar in the dish. Wash it all down with their thick Coffee & Donuts Milkshake.
Poutine Balls (by Vienna, Food Building)
Chubby potato lozenges get rammed with authentic squeaky Quebec cheese curds, a toss and tumble in breading, then deep fried. They’re mounded up and ladled with silky Bavarian style gravy and MOAR(!) cheese curds.
Frosted Flake Battered Chicken on a Stick ( Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips, Food Building)
They’re Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!! But seriously, the white meat is moist and supple–not an easy feat–especially when you’re making these in massive batches. This was one of my favourites and Tony the Tiger approved (apparently)! There’s a sweet crispy, craggy coating with a touch of heat from the dredging. Best of all, it makes a great portable snack because– it’s on a stick.
Bacon-wrapped Grilled Cheese (Bacon Nation, Food Building)
I always admire a great bacon weave, and this one doesn’t fail to please. Six sexy strips envelop a grilled cheese sandwich that oozes with aged cheddar and mozzarella.
Deep Fried Red Velvet Oreos (The Funnel Cake Shop, Food Building)
We’ve always had a fascination for that fire engine, red-hued cake, so why not combine it with everyone’s favourite snack? It’s a double stuf Oreo with lush padding a la Red Velvet Cake batter. And, it’s finished with cream cheese icing. They’re red as sin but a guilt-free going down the hatch (promise!).
Bub’s Bad Boy Burger ( Bud’s Bad @ss Burgers, Food Building)
The talk of the town will most assuredly be this burger. And no, one animal isn’t enough for Bub. A spicy cheeseburger AND a honey garlic fried chicken are the dynamic duos featured in this massive meaty eat.
It’s layered with pepper jack cheese, wasabi cucumber, hickory sticks, sriracha mayo and buttermilk coleslaw. The towering wonder is sandwiched between Jamaican Beef patties because brioche buns are so last year.
Garlic Snow Crab Fries (Jake’s Lobster, Food Building)
This is one of the more ‘elegant’ looking dishes featured at the CNE. Fresh cut fries are topped with garlic aioli and a showering of fresh, sweet snow crab morsels. It’s finished with parsley and dill. It’s not overly filling, so you’ll have room for more indulgent fare (yay!).
Cold Brew Coffee Tonic (Hula Girl Espresso, Food Building)
From the folks who brought you Butter Coffee last year, this year’s offering is more tame but refreshing, nonetheless.
They’re featuring a coffee cocktail brew using their Medium Roast, White Label beans. It’s a fizz-tastic drink that’s made with tonic water and espresso, served over ice.
Chicken Waffle on a Stick ( Chicken Waffled on a Stick, West of CNE grounds near Press Building)
Another food graciously offered on a stick because plates are so annoying, amirite? In all seriousness, this cluck-worthy protein is first deep fried then sandwiched in waffle batter. Each fluffy bite has a taste of maple syrup and Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Par-tay in your mouth? Yes.
Timbits Poutine (Tim Hortons, Food Building)
In addition to offering two exclusive flavours found ONLY at the CNE ( Cotton Candy and Cola), the donut folks at Tim Hortons offer us several varieties of ‘sweet poutine’. Essentially an excuse to eat copious amounts of sugar, it’s their cake-y timbits (choose between Chocolate Lovers, Cinnamon French Toast, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Oreo, and Birthday Cake) topped with fudge or caramel sauces, sprinkles (wheeee), and whipped cream. If you fear a case of #diabeetus, share with friends and family – that’s what they’re there for.
And fear not, staples such as deep fried cheesecake, the famous Ice Cream Waffle (which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year), and caramel apples are all still available at the CNE. And if you’re wondering what drink you can wash all of this food down with, stop on by the Craft Beer Fest between August 28th- August 30th.
The fun all starts this Friday August 21st with a kickoff celebration featuring Chef Michael Smith and Toronto Mayor John Tory!
Which foods will you be trying this year?
Photos by Tiffany Leigh