Month: August 2016

The Canadian National Exhibition Experience

1.Front entrance

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my family to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. It was the “annual fair” that came to town filled with rides, games, food and entertainment. I always had fond memories of our visits to the CNE.

I remember my parents buying strings of small coupon stubs so that I could ride the merry-go-round or brave the kids swing set. It was one of those special days when we could eat whatever candy or junk food we want. My dad would have this obsession to win the big prize by shooting pellets around a red star printed on a small piece of paper hanging at the end of a long wire. He would never win but we would always be happy that he tried his very best.

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Kiddie Ride
3.Popcorn
Candy Stand
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Caramel Apples
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My Dad Used To Spend A Lot Of Money On This Game

They still kept some things the same such as the “midway” where all the food and games are just an arm’s length away. The all famous Food Building still has over a hundred food vendors just footsteps away from the GO Train entrance. Of course, the annual Canadian International Air Show is always ready to perform if you are lucky to find a seat.

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The Midway
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Prizes And Games On The Midway

We always like to see what’s new and upcoming at the CNE. Since we’re a lot older now, they added a lot more entertainment. Today, there are rock bands entertaining the beer thirsty and pork-hungry Ribfesters, a casino open to the experienced and amateur poker player, a large shopping building full of international goods available for sale, and several updated shows and current events to entertain people of all ages. Two of those shows we wanted to see was the ice skating and SuperDogs show.

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SuperDogs Show
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Aerial Acrobatics

The ice skating shows always try to feature a Canadian celebrity skater. In the past they have had Olympians Elvis Stojko and skating duo, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.

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Scott Moir And Tessa Virtue During Their 2012 Show At The CNE

This year we had the pleasure of watching Joannie Rochette, Canadian Bronze Medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Canada Winter Olympics.

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Joannie Rochette

After the ice skating show, we decided to take our time doing a lot of shopping inside the Enercare Building. Items for sale ranged from clothes to food, and everything in between. My sister was generous to buy us 1kg of unpasteurized honey. We didn’t realize how heavy it was to carry it around while shopping, we felt like dragging our bag on the ground!

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Indoor Shopping

At one time, we were very thirsty so I decided to buy something a little different than the usual bottle of water. It wasn’t a lot but it helped hydrate ourselves from carrying around the honey and other free samples we picked up along the way.

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Fresh Coconut

The biggest highlight of our day was the long line of food trucks near the Princes’ Gates entrance. One of my favourites is a truck called Fidel Gastro’s. They own a restaurant on Queen Street, Toronto but has extended their express service to a food truck. We ordered the Porknado sandwich with the owner, Matt. Within minutes, out came this huge sandwich filled with Korean pulled pork topped with two crispy pork dumplings, green onions, and crema.ย The flavours are unreal compared to any sandwich I have ever tasted. With each bite, the pulled pork melted in my mouth and the dumplings added another flavor of pork. The fusion of Asian and Latin spices gave that extra kick while the crema just tied everything in.

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Fidel Gastro’s Porknado Sandwich

Matt was very generous to come back out and give us a free sample of their CNE Specialty called the Cubano. What a treat! This was a deep fried sandwich filled with pork brisket, onions cheese and pickles. Oh boy, the calories! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Cheese and pickles are my favourite toppings so I could not hold back on having that extra bite. This sandwich did not disappoint and it was an instant hit in my books.

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Fidel Gastro’s CNE Special – Cubano Sandwich

We were so impressed with Fidel Gastro’s that I wanted to take my picture with him. I even asked him to promote his food truck for me to post on my blog.

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Matt From Fidel Gastro’s

Some time later, we had to treat ourselves to something sweet. It just so happens there was a food truck that sold Churros. Nothing better than eating a sweet, deep fried pastry sprinkled with sugar and injected with caramel syrup.

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Snacking On Churros

At the end of the day, we were exhausted from all the shopping and pigging out on food. If you can make the trip to Toronto while the CNE is opened, you must try the experience of walking throughout the entire grounds. Make a second day trip if you can’t finish it all. Even as I get a little older, it makes me feel like a little kid all over again.

Remembering Spain: The Simple Lunch

Recently I had this craving for a sandwich. But not any ordinary sandwich like a BLT or a Subway. I wanted something that would please my cravings but I couldn’t put my finger on what I really had the appetite for.

So I ran out to the grocery store and walked around the deli aisle. Batches of ham, roast beef and turkey all lined up in the showcase staring at me. Then I had a flash memory of the trip I took with my wife to Spain.

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A View Of Toledo, Spain

Two hours before our tour bus drove into Toledo, we stopped in a small town that had a deli with all these cured meats hanging from the ceiling. As appetizing as it looked, we wanted to sit down and enjoy our meal rather than taking it away.

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Cured Meats Hanging From A Local Deli

Then we stopped at this small cafe where I decided to order a sandwich combo with 2 bottles of 7up. Just 10 minutes later, out came our soft drinks along with a small dish of olives, a tapas plate of “Pa amb tomaquet” which is a bread with tomato, and a few chicken croquettes otherwise known to us as deep fried mashed potatoes stuffed with chicken and cheese.

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Chicken Croquettes

Soon after a large, crusty bread glazed with olive oil, filled with a few slices of prosciutto landed right in front of me. My eyes lit up! I remember how the sound of crunchy bread was music to my ears; the salty taste of prosciutto melting in my mouth. It was the best sandwich I had ever eaten.

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Prosciutto Sandwich With Olives And “Pa Amb Tomaquet”

So guess what I made at home? I modified that sandwich a little to the ingredients sold here in Canada. Fresh crusty toasted bread lined with margarine, filled with two pieces of dry prosciutto and a slice of swiss melted cheese. Yes, I must have the cheese! My wife reminded me that we paid 25 euros for that meal which was about $40.00 at that time. This sandwich just cost me $1.50.ย 

Anyways this is how it looks. My lunch made me smile not only because it tasted great but also that it came with such a great memory. I hope one day my wife and I will have a chance to go back again.

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The Final Result – Simple Yet Satisfying

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Try it for yourself and tell me what you think!

Heart Sushi – AYCE Sushi and Sashimi

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Heart Sushi
Unit 2, 815 Britannia Road West, Mississauga, Ontario

Want to get your sushi on? If you feel the need to satisfy your appetite for Japanese food then I know the place.

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In one of the west buildings in Mississauga’s Heartland area is an AYCE (All You Can Eat) restaurant named “Heart Sushi”. They share the building with a few other tenants but if you find the Heart logo you can see they are placed at the very end. Grab a parking spot as quickly as possible because spaces are very limited on the weekends.

 

Like most AYCE sushi places today, their pen and paper ordering system is replaced with the iPad menu. Make your choices from a range of edamame beans to red dragon rolls or Korean kalbi slices to Chinese fried rice.

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Fancy iPad menu. It’s the way to order.

What I like about this place is the sushi and sashimi are fresh. For lunchtime sushi, they don’t stuff each piece with a fistful of rice. The same can be said for all of their maki rolls. At dinner, the thickness of each sashimi is cut just right. The best part is the presentation. When your appetizers arrive one dish at a time, you can’t wait to sink your teeth into some sashimi. But when it arrives in an illuminated bowl of ice with some fancy decor, it totally makes the experience so much more enjoyable. I used think “meh, just feed me the sashimi on a plate and serve it to me as quickly as I order it” but my outlook changed when you see all your sashimi light up! And when you sink your teeth into a cold fresh piece of fish doused with soy sauce and wasabi? Whoa!!! You cannot help but order more!

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Various sashimi of salmon, white tuna, octopus, and clam on an illuminated bowl of ice.

Like many other asian restaurants, there are some minor downsides. Sitting down in the booth seats often leaves feeling the impact of the person moving around behind you. Some of the Chinese dishes are a little bland. Besides, why would I stuff myself with rice or noodles when I’m there to eat sushi??? For the most part your dishes come quickly, but even the iPad system might leave one or two items lagging behind.

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Appetizer Seaweed
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Korean Kalbi
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Shrimp Tempura – lightly battered
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Red Dragon Roll – Bits of cucumber, avocado, some shrimp topped with salmon

There are a few unexpected dishes I particularly like. Available during lunch and dinner, order up the Tom Yum soup. It has a piece of simulated crab, slices of mushroom and one shrimp swimming in a slightly tangy soup base with a small garnish. No coconut milk, so it will never taste like the original in Thailand. White tuna for sushi or sashimi melts in your mouth and tastes far better than other types of fish. Available for dinner only, you must try the chopped spicy salmon sashimi on top of a Pringle chip! I ordered it thinking how crazy it was to eat but surprisingly it was really good! Just think, fish and chips right?

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Tom Yum Soup
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White Tuna Sushi
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Clam and Salmon Sushi

I’ve eaten at several sushi restaurants but this one surpasses a lot of them. Some have their own unique features, much like Heart Sushi, that makes them different from other places like their service or their decor.ย 

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Cleanse your palette with a scoop or two of red bean ice cream

So after eating here, I have a pretty good idea how to satisfy my cravings. Stay tuned for my next blog about the DO’s and DON’Ts on eating at AYCE sushi restaurants.