Let’s Go to the Ex-treme!

CNE Entrance arrWhere do the deliciously good – but, bad for you – and hungry meet? The EX! Also referred to as the Canadian National Exhibition, this 18-day stream of fun carnival rides, games, competitions, and shopping is Toronto’s annual gathering spot for the latest finds – including, fair fare.CNE Ferris Wheel arr

Carrying a no holds bar approach to all that is blissfully sweet and fried, satisfying your need to feed is by no means difficult. Here, walk and feast your way to a surplus of guilty pleasures. Sugar shack or hot potato stand, food caddies are not so far nor away. Already bagged or cooked to order, merry-go-round your way to a vast selection of artery-clogging classics – cotton candy, popcorn, hamburgers, corndogs, and more.CNE Cotton Candy arrCNE Corn arr

Topping the list, however, of fried ‘show-offs’ remains one intact batter-dipped reveal – the “Colossal Onion.” Move aside “spiral spuds,” this novel take on the onion ring is an atypical festive blossom. Deep-fried entirely whole – in all its fist-size splendour – there’s minimal chance of losing any fly-away pieces of this golden bulb. Inherently, the only disappearing act is the devouring of this layered vegetable aromatic – one crispy strip at a time.CNE Colossal Onion arr

The CNE, undoubtedly, is known for its grand spectacle of unusual eats. Just follow the arrow-route road, and enter an enclosed snack-attack compound – the “Food Building.” CNE Spice Cream arrAlso, home of the infamous “Cronut Burger,” weird-food aficionados can easily exchange one missed tasting opportunity for another. Taking taste buds on a flavour ride, Just Cone It puts a spin on the common crêpe cone by making theirs “dirty” – with a smear of Nutella. Fans of edible geometry can even get their hands on the “Spice Cream” cone. Combination of hot and cold, this fully-loaded handheld comes equipped with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate hazelnut spread, bacon bits, and chilli peppers. Evidently, the math is simple – sweet plus savoury equals an irresistibly refreshing piquant treat. CNE Sand Sculpture arr

Aside from the collaboratively entertaining dinner and dessert duo – “dinnert” wrap – the sand sculpting competition and garden show are worth a look as well. CNE Chuck arrBut, on my day off, I had my eyes set on one specific site – the Food Network Celebrity Stage. If it sounds, looks, and cooks like Chuck, can it be? ‘Absolument!’ Yes, indeed, I was in the presence of Chef Hughes, doing was he does best – sharing his passion for food – live on stage! Accompanied by Danny Smiles, former Top Chef Canada competitor, the tag-team prepared a storm of dishes for two fortunate audience members. Still happy-go-lucky – post the hour-long demonstration – I received my share of attention from the Montréal natives with a brief, yet memorable, encounter. Delightful to watch, both on and off-screen, these masters of the trade are kind, skilled and clearly hardworking – above all, the ‘exhibiting talents’ at this year’s fair.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.