A monthly tradition for some, the latest edition of the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) proved yet again to quite the culinary adventure. Some 30 vendors set up shop at Evergreen Brickworks for one evening, all showcasing their creativity and passion for food.
Last Saturday’s TUM took place under a blue sky (My first two visits were under rainy and cool climes). Let’s just say that having Mother Nature on TUM’s side added to success of the event. It was great to see some of the action roll out of the building. The scene was perfect: visitors savouring their snacks outdoors, vendors teasing everyone with the aroma of grilled meats and other treats, folks grabbing a quick drink before plunging back into the TUM core.
This was my third time at TUM. Needless to say some lessons have been learned during my previous visits in order to make the most of this flavourful rendez-vous.
- Arriving early ensures that you spend less time queuing and more time tasting.
- Pace and teamwork: once you arrive it’s easy to excited by all the delicious possibilities. Think about one kiosk at a time. Also when going with friends, it’s easier to sample a vendor’s full menu by swapping dishes.
- Water is a wonderful thing. Bring your own bottles to take advantage of the Water on Wheels refill stations.
With that in mind, I ventured into TUM. Here’s my take on some noteworthy dishes sampled.
Lobster tacos from Rock Lobster Food Co.
Located in what was usually La Carnita’s spot, Rock Lobster Food Co. definitely delivered. People quickly lined up to get a taste of some of their lobster rolls, lobster poutine and lobster tacos. The tacos were delicious. The flaky lobster pieces combined with fresh cilantro, lime and guacamole made for a refreshing snack.
Oyster trio from Neptuno
More gifts from the sea, this time from New Brunswick in the form of oysters – French Kiss oysters to be more precise. These delicate oysters were served with a variety of dressings. I opted for cucumber, red wine vinegar and banana pepper dressings. Omnomnom.
Fidel Gastro’s Sgt Slather
The Rebel without a kitchen serves up the most excellent sandwiches. I indulged in a Sgt Slather, a bun filled with pulled pork with tortilla with a sweet and smoky sauce. I also had a chance to taste El Capitan Belly, a sandwich with tomato juice braised pork belly with a tomato cabbage slaw. I want more!
Perkedel Jagung from Babi & Co.
Babi & Co.’s take on Indonesian street food packs loads of flavour in every bite! The perkedel jagung, a.k.a. corn and shrimp fritters with garlic and chilli sauce were warm and fluffy with just a bit of heat from the sauce. Simply delish. My friend tried the Indonesian popcorn that surprised with its spiciness. The grilled pork skewers and noodle salad were also attracting the masses.
Samyoza trio from Nomad Food Creations
It must be said, I have a soft spot for dumplings either steamed or fried. Needless to say Nomad Food Creations caught my attention. The samyoza trio including tofu and chai yogurt, scallops with coriander and mint chutney and finally duck and orange chutney were wonderful. The tofu and duck ones were especially packed with flavour.
Delicious doughnuts from Dough by Rachelle
Pastry chef Rachelle Cadwell impresses with her take on the doughnut. On display this time at TUM: maple bacon, apple fritter, double chocolate and my personal fave: the fluffernutter, a doughnut filled with peanut butter and topped with a roasted marshmallow, a perfect mix of sweet and savoury.
Fried serves up Divine diples
My stop at Fried was a completely impulsive one. I was drawn in by their logo and especially the cheery demeanour of Tracey Dye and then discovered the joys of the diples. These thin pieces of fried dough dipped in a honey citrus syrup were a sure hit. This simple dessert was one of my pleasant TUM surprises.
Chocolate dipped bacon from Leonard Pig Candy
I probably anticipated this one the most. Bacon and dark chocolate… What is there not to love? But I must admit that, it fell a little short. It tasted great, it really did, but the chocolate covered bacon would have benefited from being chilled preventing a mess. With that being said, I was glad to also taste the candied bacon, which I thoroughly enjoyed and would indulge in much more.
Cannelé from SnackeryTO
The Cannelé (also spelled canelé), is a specialty from the Bordeaux region. It is small pastry with a tender center and a dark, thick crust. SnackeryTO served them up in Earl Grey and Vanilla. Heavenly. The rediscovery of this pastry will perhaps soon prompt a baking session with one of my French friends. To be continued…
Who else was at TUM? What were your favourite dishes?