The show had a high-tech feel to it with wristbands and hard plastic cards digitally storing your sampling tickets - quite different from what I'm normally used to. You would load up your wristband/card with sampling tickets ($1 per sampling ticket) upon entering the show and vendors would use their device to tap your wristband/card to deduct the appropriate amount of sampling tickets. Most food & wine samples ranged from 1-5 tickets, and if you ran out of sampling tickets, you could always add more at the point of entry.
The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles booth. I was in complete awe as I stared at the fried piece of boneless chicken on a thick, Belgian-style waffle covered with sauce. I knew I wanted to try it and I was very happy I did. It was absolutely delicious! Further conversations with staff at the booth determined that I enjoyed a Mini ODB - a Boneless #NorthernFried 5 oz. Chicken on a Golden Buttered Maple Waffle that was topped with their Tangy In-House "Dirty" Sauce. I am marking this Kensington Market restaurant on my list of places to visit in the near future.
After enjoying the chicken + waffle, I needed something to quench my thirst. Looking at the many booths featuring wine, I quickly realized that the wines being poured were the consumer-friendly type and cautioned me to temper my expectations. Having said that, I did find a few gems that you should discover as well. Full wine reviews and tasting notes of some of the wines I enjoyed are provided below.
Pizzeria Libretto for a spicy (by request) Montanara Deep-Fried Marinara Pizza topped with Mozzarella and Basil. This delicious "pizza" was melt-in-your-mouth light and fluffy, and really tasty. I haven't been to Libretto in a while, but hope they've added this item as an appetizer because it would make a very nice addition to their menu; I could totally foresee a wide range of offerings for this style of "pizza", including dessert options. Pizzeria Libretto did not offer wine with their pairing at the show, but at their restaurants they offer a wide range of wines (mostly from Italy), nearly all of which are available by the glass - something I've loved about this place ever since my first visit many years ago.
There were quite a few opportunities to sample some cheese as well. Free samples of the Upper Canada Niagara Gold - a semi-firm cheese made from cow's milk - were available, and tasted just as good as the first time I tried it. Also at the same cheese booth was a yummy appetizer consisting of dark berry compote and cheese that was deep fried.
Magnum - where I had the opportunity to try one of their delectable mini ice cream bars. Options included Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, and the Classic. I opted for the lusciously sweet Double Caramel that had rich chocolate and caramel flavours complemented by vanilla ice cream. It was quite filling! They even gave me a gift card to redeem for a full box - awesomeness!
Overall, I really enjoyed the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival. This is a show meant for foodies first and foremost, while also providing many complementary beverage options to wash it all down. I hope to attend this event next year on an empty stomach so I can enjoy many more of the food offerings as there were many that looked very appetizing.
Tasting Notes:ADAMO WISMER FOXCROFT VINEYARD RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $19.95
Medium intensity nose of citrus and peach aromas. Fleshy, medium-bodied palate with orange and tropical fruit flavours. Medium-dry sweet (i.e. a little more sweeter than off-dry). Medium length finish. Score: 88 pts
ADAMO LOWREY VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2013 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $33
Inviting earthy, beetroot, cherry and strawberry nose which echoes very nicely on the palate. It has soft, rounded tannins and gentle spice notes mid-palate, balanced acidity and excellent length on the finish. Well-balanced red wine. Score: 91 pts
MUSKOKA LAKES WINERY RED MAPLE CRANBERRY MAPLE 2012 - Product of Canada (#050039) (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
Inviting cranberry-maple, brown sugar liqueur aromas from the glass make you keep coming back for more. It's medium+ bodied with very sweet aroma replays. Finishes long. In VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 90 pts
STONELEIGH LATITUDE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#324228) (XD) - $21.95
Medium-to-high intensity nose with grassy, cat pee, gooseberry and kiwi aromas that echo very nicely on the balanced palate. Good fruit concentration, very good acidity and finishes long. Returned to VINTAGES on October 31. Score: 89 pts
BRANCOTT ESTATE LETTER SERIES B SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#278689) (XD) - $19.95
Interesting smoky, herbally and kiwi aromas that replay on the medium-bodied palate. It has balanced acidity, some mineral notes mid-palate and finishes crisp with medium-to-long length. Score: 88 pts
CARMEN GRAN RESERVA CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011 - Maipo Alto Vineyard, Maipo Valley, Chile (#358309) (D) - $16.45
Medium+ intensity nose featuring blackberry, cassis, dark cherry, sweet spice and a hint of lead. The palate is medium-bodied with soft, dusty tannins, pleasing aroma replays with a hint of sweetness. Also hints of green pepper on the medium length finish. Score: 88 pts
QUINTA DOS MURÇAS RESERVA 2010 - DOC Douro, Portugal (#427229) (XD) - $40
Medium intensity nose consisting of ripe red & black fruits. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with toasty oak spice and more red & black fruits. Simple, dry red wine with very good acidity and lengthy finish. Score: 88 pts
COSME PALACIO RESERVA 2009 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#014662) (XD) - $22.95
Exotic medium+ intensity nose of earth, spice, black and blue fruits that follows through on the medium bodied, subtle oak-spiced palate. Good balance overall with balanced acidity and a medium+ length finish. Score: 89 pts
ROSEHALL RUN THE RIGHTEOUS DUDE RIESLING 2014 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#426486) (M) - $19.95
Elegant citrus, orange, melon and Flintstones vitamin aromas which replay nicely on the balanced, medium-dry palate. It's medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a lingering, minerally finish. Well done! Score: 88 pts
BETWEEN THE LINES LEMBERGER RESERVE 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-to-high intensity aromas of raspberry, red currant, a hint of lavender and some minerality. Gentle tannins on a medium-bodied frame with currant, lavender and some bitterness on the palate. It has good acidity and a medium-to-long finish. Score: 89 pts