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