The first festival we went to this summer was Luminato’s 1000 Tastes of Toronto, an annual event that has moved from Harbourfront to Queens Park, King West, and finally to the Distillery District this year. The Distillery has been the best location so far, with areas for the booths, lines, and even tables to eat at! For the first time, seating was provided at long tables with blue tablecloths. The tickets were $5 each, and one ticket was needed for most dishes or drinks.
Vertical Restaurant’s Pasta malloreddus
P is a huge fan of pasta, so we started of with Vertical Restaurant’s malloreddus with nduja, ontario asparagus and Parmesan. The pasta reminded us of gnocchi, with a refreshing lemony taste that went well with the flavourful sausage. Although delicious, the salty and spicy sausage pasta was quite oily, and a large puddle of oil had seeped through the paper container onto the table by the time we finished.
Edo’s Kobe Beef Hot Dog
A favourite we get every year is Edo’s Kobe beef hot dog, topped with as much curry and wasabi mayo as possible. This year they brought back the fried shallots, which we added liberally for extra flavour and crunch.
Milagro’s Lamb and Pork Tacos
One of our favourites this year were the tacos from Milagro. The tacos on offer were Cochinita Pibil, a pulled pork taco, and Barbacoa de Borrego, with lamb marinated in beer. We preferred the juicy lamb taco, and were surprised that the tortilla actually tasted like it was made from corn, a rarity in Toronto.
Southern Accent’s Blackened Chicken, Cornbread and Potato Salad
Next we tried Southern Accent’s combo of blackened chicken, cornbread, and Cajun potato salad. Although the chicken was well seasoned, it had an unfortunate dry and slightly mushy texture. The sides followed suit, as the cornbread was on the dry side, and the potatoes were hard and undercooked.
Tappo Wine Bar’s Arancini
Continuing the trend for good Italian food was Tappo Wine Bar’s Arancini ai Funghi. Deep fried upon order, the arancini was crispy without being greasy, and served with fresh tomato basil sauce. This was another of our favourite dishes.
Rodney’s Oyster House’s Oysters
Moving on to Rodney’s Oyster House, we tried their freshly shucked oysters, as well as their clams strips and fries. The deep-fried items, accompanied with a dollop of tartar sauce, were decently executed, but neither dish was particularly memorable.
President’s Choice Lamp Chops and Quinoa Salad
Next, the offerings from Presidents Choice were probably the best deal for a ticket. Their dish consisted of a tender marinated grilled lamb chop, served with a Mediterranean quinoa salad. The lamb was wonderfully juicy, with the quinoa salad being a refreshing and well-seasoned accompaniment. We enjoyed this dish enough to get seconds to avoid having to share.
President’s Choice Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Included in the same ticket was a peanut butter ice cream sandwich, a new flavour of President’s Choice’s ice cream sandwich line. Definitely for peanut butter fans, the ice cream captured the nutty and slightly savoury taste of peanut butter. However the cookie was not particularly special, and crumbled apart as we ate it.
President’s Choice Sausages
President’s Choice also had their usual “Wall of Taste” of plates where visitors are invited to write down their favourite dishes. However, they also periodically bring out samples – this year’s were fizzy drinks and sausages on ciabatta with corn relish. Unfortunately the sausages were dry even with the corn relish, and we ended up tossing them out.
Ontario Spring Water Sake Company’s Sake Ice Cream
Although we were pretty full, a trip to the Distillery without enjoying some of the Distillery’s offerings would be a waste. One of the unique desserts is the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company’s take on ice cream. Their sake ice cream is not boozy as may be expected, but rather a frozen dessert made from sake-kasu, a byproduct of the sake making process. We tasted the black sesame version, which was denser and richer than regular ice cream.
Soma’s Strawberry and Lemon Gelato
However our favourite dessert (and shop in general) is from Soma. My personal favourite is any of the chocolates, and the strawberry mint sorbet they no longer seem to make. Another signature flavour is their blueberry basil sorbet, which was available, but we ended up choosing to go with strawberry and lemon gelato.
Sweet Escape Patisserie’s Earl Grey Shortbread
Though two desserts is probably enough, we still had an extra ticket left so we purchased some Earl Grey shortbread cookies from Sweet Escape Patisserie. Sweet Escape has a permanent store in the Distillery but has always been overshadowed by Soma’s nearby presence. These shortbread cookies were delicious with a good balance of sweetness, tea, and buttery shortbread flavour.
Saturday afternoon, June 13, 2012.
1000 Tastes of Toronto
Luminato 2012 – Distillery District, Toronto
Soma Chocolate (Distillery District)
55 Mill St, Toronto
Sweet Escape Patisserie
55 Mill St, Toronto