Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Let's Go to the Ex -- A Left Chapter look at some of the sights and food of the 2019 CNE!

This year's edition of the Toronto end-of-summer institution the Canadian National Exhibition (otherwise known as "The Ex") kicked off today and runs until Labour Day as always.

Just as we did annually from 2015-2017, The Left Chapter paid a visit to track down some new food items, sights and sounds, as well as to return to some old favourites! (The Left Chapter honoured the union boycott of 2018 and did not attend.)

One of the best deals to be found at the Ex this year has to be the delicious doubles at the Randy's Roti and Doubles truck at the southeast end of the midway ride area. Doubles, for those unfamiliar with them, are curried chickpeas wrapped in a fried flatbread.

At Randy's truck they are only $5 for two and they are terrific. You can get some extra house hot sauce on the side if you like and you should. It is very good. You can also get Jerk Chicken Poutine ($9) and classics like Oxtail with Rice ($12). Randy's has a year round location at 876 Yonge St.

New at the Ex..Lolly Waffles...only $5!

Located by the midway this booth offers a wild variety of corn dog variations -- many with pickles -- in addition to the tradition one. There is the Snickle Dog and the Flaming Cheetos Footlong Dog ($9) among others. They won awards for their fare at the 2018 Calgary Stampede. 

Philthy Philly's food truck -- which is related to the west end restaurant chain -- is at the Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest by the Princes' Gate. This only runs until August 26. They have a sandwich billed as the CodFather that, you guessed it, is a cheesesteak with breaded cod, coleslaw and a special sauce ($13.50).

The feasTO gourmet dumpling truck is also there with their excellent fare. We had the Crispy Shrimp Dumplings ($12) which are very satisfying and topped with a Sriracha-Mayo sauce. 

Just beside the Food Truck Fest is a stall selling various varieties of the intensely spicy Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen noodles that many consider some of the spiciest commercially available. I have had their main flavour before and it is great, though very hot. Here there is their 2X spicy flavour (can't even imagine) as well as their cheese flavours. I bought the Korean Black Bean Sauce pack of 5 for $8 and look forward to making some later!

In the Home and Garden Pavilion this year is the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Exhibit. Here you can learn about their culture and history with displays and an informative history corner. Free timelines and booklets provide an important backdrop to present struggles for treaty rights and against the continued racism and colonialism of our governments of all levels.  

Butter sculptures at the Home and Garden Pavilion

Had to include the Darth Vader flower!

Giant Gnomes! Why not?

At the western tip of the midway just south of BMO Field is a booth with lots of fun veggie dishes. Deep Fried Pickles ($8 - 13) are always good but we tried the Buffalo Cauliflower Wings ($10-15) which are battered and deep fried cauliflower pieces topped with a spicy traditional Buffalo wing sauce. They were great and the portion was quite large. 

A Cotton Candy Taco...cotton candy in a crispy Belgian style waffle sprinkled with chocolate! ($8.50)

In addition to some of the new ones we featured here many of our old favourites like Ali's, the Tokyo Hot and Nashville Hot Fried Chicken booth (which has a banner Nashville Hot Sandwich for $9),  San Francesco Italian Sandwiches, etc., are back again. You can see our past write-ups from 20172016 and 2015.  

See you next year!

Please note that by the Food Pavilion we saw some very disturbing displays aimed at children by the Canadian Armed Forces. We have posted about this at: Heavy weapons displays for small children have no place at the CNE or anywhere else

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