- When I attended: Friday Nov 15th, 2013 from 5:30-10:00pm. Busiest times were 6:30-9:00pm.
- Location: Metro Toronto Convention Centre
- Cost: $20 admission, more for Thursday’s VIP night and Saturday. 20 or 40 drink tickets for $20/$40. Additional cost for tutored tastings.
- What to wear: Comfortable shoes and your best Friday night outfit. I wore a lacy black dress with bright accessories.
- Best part of the show: Celebrity food network stage, freebees and samples, and large number of vendors serving wine, beer, spirits/liquor, as well as specialty items including macarons, olive oil and cheese.
- Improvements: More food vendors, more gourmet food, and variety of food options at each vendor.
- Overall verdict: It is definitely worth going. Toronto was buzzin’ on a Friday night.
My first time attending The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo was in 2011 and the vendors and crowd seemed to have grown since. The vendor booths were set up in a typical convention manner, with booths placed row after row. The atmosphere was like being at a convention with a large bar inside.
On the food front, some highlights included a complimentary tasting table sponsored by Buick. They served smoked oyster with a potato chip, and sweet guacamole with pomegranate-delicious. The other complimentary tasting table was at the “all you need is cheese” stage, where there were scheduled times for cheese tastings. I also attended the food network stage to watch and meet celebrity chef and recording artist Roger Mooking.
Food items totally worth my tickets were the scallop sashimi appetizer from Guu Izakaya and a lobster roll from Rock Lobster. The best cheese I tried was from “the tete de Moine, fromage de Bellany” as it was light, sweet and fresh. I want to get my hands on this cheese to eat at home!
Other notable mentions that were worth eating but are not considered gourmet in my eyes, was the grilled chorizo on a bun, and the pulled pork sandwich from Hudson’s Kitchen. The chicken paella was a disappointment as the rice was not flavourful and the chicken still had lots of hair on it. I still ate it, because I was hungry. I did have some great bites but I hope there will be more variety of items at each food vendor next year and serving more gourmet food.
My top 5 drinks at the expo were the following:
1. Yuku Sake from Kodakara-This is a sake made with yuzu juice, which is a Japanese citris fruit. It tasted like a refreshing orange cocktail with a sweet and sour zing to it. My sister recommended this to me as she frequently drank this when she lived in Australia. It made it on my list since they do not sell it in Canada. I wonder why the vendor even showcased this at the show?
2. Pistonhead Lagar-They made their Canadian debut at the show and it will be available at the Beer Store in December 2013. This beer was the best bang for buck at the show. For 2 tickets ($2), I got a full can of beer, which was equivalent to 2 and a half wine glasses (based on the wine glasses they provided at the show). Let’s drink to that!
3. Luksusowavodka-The vodka is made from potatoes and was actually really smooth. For only 2 tickets, the booth served cocktails infused with fresh fruit, as well as classic martinis. And the best part of the drink is that the vodka is gluten free. That means I should have more right? They also provided an onsite photographer for keepsake photos.
4. D’raenberg the Footbolt Shiraz 2010-Priced at $23.95 from Australia, this vintage wine (score 94) is medium to full-bodied with a great balance of dark chocolate oak and tannins.
5. Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Hawks Bay 2012-Priced at $16.45 from New Zealand. It has a mix of grapes and has rich berry notes.
The show does appeal to the wine sommeliers, the foodie, and those who have limited knowledge about wine and want to have a fun night out. I will definitely be back in the future. If you attended, I want to hear what your favourite things were to eat and drink at the expo.
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