Attracting crowds for over 130 years now the Ex is a much loved summer to-do that everyone has memories of visiting when they were a kid. Staples include soft-server ice-cream, Tiny Tom Donuts and rickety midway rides.
Every August The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) lights up Exhibition Place during the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day Monday. Approximately 5.3 million people visit every year making it Canada’s largest fair and the seventh largest in North America.
Originally the focus of the fair was on agriculture and technology, featuring such events as the Butter Churning Competition in the Dairy Amphitheater. These days though, the focus is much more on the food.
You can get just about anything deep fired, even butter and an enjoy a hamburger in between doughnuts or two grilled cheese sandwiched (my favorite!) There are also as many options when it comes to pulled pork… basically, if you can dream it, you will find it in the food building.
While these days you’ll find the rides on the expensive side, about 5 bucks a pop, and the betting games stacked against you, the nostalgia is wonderful! I had not been in years and I think, probably in another decade, I’ll be hankering for go on the gravitron again.
I would be needing to go back sooner but now, I hear you can get a burger between two grilled cheese sammys in Kensington Market at the Burgernator, so I think I’ll be saving up calories for that.
You can say that buying organic is a fad if you like but once you’ve had fresh-off-the-farm food that has been lovingly grown and harvested, you suddenly remember what “real food” tastes like. Take a look at these Ontario Strawberries! Remember? With long stems and a delicate green fringe of leaves, they are nothing like those big watery ones you get at the grocery store you have to cut the top off of. Since these were the first pick they were a little on the sour side but so tasty! Next week a basket should be going for $5 and you can return the basket from your previous week’s purchase. If fruits and veg are not you main priority there is plenty more at…
If you not familiar with the European Christmas Market concept, it’s basically a really fun outdoor experience in which friends get together to sip hot mulled wine while they try to keep warm.
European Christmas Markets traditionally pop up in city squares around the beginning of December. They’re a great place to get local handcrafts as well as backed goods and meats from small businesses that set up shop in little huts.
The coolest handcrafts the Toronto Christmas Market were at Handcrafted Coinart by Cordo & Emily. They take antique coins and turn them into pendants for a necklaces by carving out the images in them so they’re free floating.
The highlight though, at least for me, is the mulled wine. It goes by many names in Europe. For the Austrians it’s Glühwein, the Scandinavians call is Glögg and the variations continue. The base of the drink though is all the same. Hot red wine simmered with various warm spices like cinnamon and some added sugar.
Recently markets in Europe have started experimenting with mixtures adding rum and other flavors but the mulled wine served at the Toronto Christmas Market is closer to the traditional recipe.
If you’re interested in making it yourself it’s a great touch at a Holiday party and there’s a really easy ‘cheat’ to making it. Most people in Europe buy “mulled wine teabags” full of all the right spice that you drop into a pot of simmering red wine on the stove top. Luckily, you can pick up these teabags at the Reithers Fine Food International booth. For a liter of wine you just need to use two bags and you should use a red wine you would actually drink on its own (don’t go too cheap). Once the teabags have steeped for about 15 minutes, add sugar to taste. One cup should be plenty. Too much sugar and you’ll feel it in the morning.
Make sure you checke this Christmas Market out, it’s all over on the 18th December and makes a great change of pace!