Food Fest: Toronto Underground Market

It’s Foodie Tuesday

A little less than a year ago, just after writing my first post for this blog, I was standing in line at the pop-up (now permanent) resto La Carnita. To pass the time, I started chatting with the woman in front of me and she mentioned that she worked for the Toronto Underground Market.

The Toronto Underground Market(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had heard about the first event, held at the Evergreen Brick Works, which allowed guests to sample tasty treats created by both amateur cooks and chefs without established restaurants. Given Ontario’s Draconian food-service laws, I was impressed with this daring venture and was pleased to hear that it would be a monthly happening. And I planned to go. Really, I did.

Evergreen Brickworks plays host to the market

(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

But it never happened. Either I was out of town when TUM came around or I would miss getting tickets (which sell out at lightning speed). Fortunately, I got my chance a few weeks ago, just shy of its one year anniversary. It was an amazing experience but I do think that the organizers will have to change the name at some point; so many people attend that I’m not sure “underground” is applicable anymore!

Project Food Fight's Roast Pork(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

It’s no wonder that the crowds gather, with succulent dishes like the roast pork sandwich prepared by Project Food Fight. I loved the sandwich but would have been just as happy with a slab of this delicious pig.

homemade mozzarella(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had hardly finished my first morsel when I was stopped in my tracks by an enormous bowl of fresh, home-made mozzarella. I didn’t care what it came with, I wanted some.

Meatball sandwich by Little Tomato Catering(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

While the cheese looked good, I was blown away by the final product: a masterpiece of a meatball sandwich by Little Tomato Catering. Laced with a lovely, bright pesto and accompanied by crunchy julienned zucchini, this one was a winner.

pineapple baaus by Grub(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

While there was a wide range of dishes offered by the thirty-odd food vendors, my unofficial theme seemed to be several variations of pork on a bun. The most exotic by far was the pineapple baaus by Grub: braised and then grilled pork belly served on a pineapple bun with arugula and spicy pineapple salsa. Yum!

Kolch by Hogtown Brewers(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

All this eating was thirsty work. Several local libations were on offer, including a delightfully hoppy kölsch by Hogtown Brewers. It is the new kid on the (beer) block but if you come across it, give it a try. I doubt that you will be disappointed.

Swine Shrine root-beer glazed ribs(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

Luckily I had my beer to keep me company while I waited in my longest line of the night, the one for the Swine Shrine. I was originally enticed by the slabs of root beer-glazed ribs but when I got to the front of the line I discovered that they were offering a trifecta of pork: the ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, and a candied bacon butter tart. I simply couldn’t choose, so I got them all!

Swine Shrine bacon butter tart(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I think bacon has become a little over-played in the dessert world but not with these tarts. Swine Shrine’s butter tart wasn’t as gooey as I usually prefer (though I was grateful for this when I didn’t end up with the contents on my shirt) but it was damn tasty, with a flawlessly flaky crust. And the salty bacon balanced out the sugary sweetness perfectly.

Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

What is a summer night without a popsicle? Especially when it’s a grapefruit, lime, and ginger popsicle from Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops. These frosty treats really pack a punch with their fresh fruit flavours.

SmashCake Desserts(Photo: Tracey Eckersley)

I had already eaten way too much when I came across this little disc of decadence: a frozen peanut butter cheesecake cookie sandwich from SmashCake Desserts. The one thing this mouthful of a title doesn’t mention is the luscious chocolate ganache spread on the cookies. As delicious as it was, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I forced myself to waddle home without sampling any more of the treats on offer. But you can bet that I will be back to enjoy more underground delights in the future.

TUM’s anniversary event will be held at the Evergreen Brick Works on September 30. Tickets are $10 and will be available through its website starting September 14.

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