Friday Feature: 2014 CNE Food Building

Every August, the Canadian National Exhibition signals the end of summer, and the Food Building is the palace of gluttony that will tide attendees over until Thanksgiving.

The Food Building of the Canadian National Exhibition has always been the place for attendees to try out exotic foods, and to be as naughty as possible. For vendors, it has become an arms race to see who can create the most disturbing concoction for diners to clog their arteries with. Vendors have become more trendy in recent years, following the formula of putting a new spin on classic comfort food.

Cocoa Fried Chicken ★ ★ ★ ★ Take buttermilk fried chicken, add cocoa to the batter, and what do you get? Surprisingly, not a hot mess. The chocolate gave a dark colour to the skin, and infused it with a hint of the flavour, but none of the sweetness. Thus, the Cocoa Fried Chicken remained savoury. In the end, it was a good, classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken – Coco’s Fried Chicken.

Spicy Pork and Kimchi Bao, Beef Bulgogi Bao ★ ★ ★ ★ A tasty international dish, featuring Korean flavoured meats with Mexican taco toppings on Chinese bao. The addition of cheese and sour cream to the spicy pork and bulgogi beef was surprisingly delicious, if not earth-shattering. The only downer was that this was a mess to eat. – Far East Taco

Thanksgiving Waffle ★ ★ ★ ★ This is the way to serve tryptophan to the whole family! Stuffing mixed in with waffle batter is put through a waffle maker then loaded with turkey, gravy and cranberries. Each waffle is made fresh to order, the turkey was juicy, and the gravy was not overly salty. It was hard to stop shovelling multiple helpings of this heavy Thanksgiving goodness into our mouths. – Fran’s Restaurant

Nasi Kroket ★ ★ ★  Too full for a Patatje Oorlog (mayo, satay sauce, raw onions over fries), we opted to try out a Nasi Kroket, basically fried rice in a croquette. This nutritious concoction tasted reasonably fresh, but was a bit on the flavourless side (for extra authenticity). Luckily it was saved by the tasty peanut satay sauce on the side. This is the only place I’ve seen selling krokets in Toronto, so if you have a craving for deep-friend Dutch classics, hurry to the CNE. – Dutch Frites

Spicy Peanut Butter Sriracha Bites ★ ★ ★ Texas toast are slathered with creamy peanut butter then flattened, rolled and deep fried. Sriracha sauce is blended into the peanut butter, but only the heat of the sauce, and not the taste, remains in the finished product. The heat builds in your mouth with each bite. It was as delicious as a deep fried peanut butter sandwich can be. – Fran’s Restaurant
Bowtie ★ ★.5 A deep fried pretzel with Nutella and peanuts smothered on top, and a few dollops of whipped cream. Like a funnel cake, but heavier. It could have used some lighter elements like ice cream or another type of dough to balance it out. – Spread Nutellerie

Food Building, Canadian National Exhibition, August 15 – September 1, 2014, Toronto – Junggugeo Kaenada and Only

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