Canadian National Exhibition: Summer 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
My friends and I made our annual trip to The Ex a couple weeks ago but I totally forgot to post about our food adventures, so here it is, better late than never (because it is a tradition, damn it). We actually couldn't care less about the midway rides or games there, or even the actual exhibitions themselves. We just care about food. So we went straight to the Food Building and just stayed there until we had satisfied our gluttonous foodie dreams (which, as it turns out, is when they closed).

"Duece Pigalow" from Porkies

This year, we were more focused on procuring truly delicious eats rather than bordering-on-gross food finds (especially since insects were the buzzworthy food at The Ex this year — I'm not paying to eat bugs, thanks). We started at Porkies, who specializes in authentic porchetta sandwiches. We shared a Duece Pigalow sandwich, which features both porchetta and pork belly, topped with crackle, caramelized onions, arugula, salsa verde, and provolone in between a crusty roll. As far as The Ex goes, this was a pretty basic choice, but it actually ended up being one of our favourites.

Canadian Bacon Tacos from Bacon Nation

Next stop was Bacon Nation, which has now become a staple at The Ex. We decided to get the Canadian bacon tacos, which features BBQ pulled pork piled high on two tender pieces of Canadian bacon, topped with mango salsa and burrito sauce. They were actually very tasty and all the flavours worked really well together, but I only wished that they had used tortillas or taco shells to hold all of ingredients together. With Canadian bacon as the "holders," they just seemed too flimsy and messy, making them seem too deconstructed to be called tacos. I'd be more inclined to get the classic Bacon Wrapped Grilled Cheese next year.

Thanksgiving Waffle from Fran's

Orange Creamsicle Float from Fran's

Of course, we had to stop by Fran's. There were a couple new items this year, but we ultimately decided to indulge in the famous Thanksgiving Waffle, which debuted a couple years ago. It was actually our first time trying it because the line-ups were far too long in previous years, but I think it ended up being the unanimous favourite between the three of us. If you've never had it, it's roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and thick housemade gravy stuffed into a savoury, aromatic waffle that is made of classic bread dressing. It's incredibly heavy, so sharing is recommended, but it is epic. I mean, we all know that Thanksgiving foods are great on their own, but if you've ever wondered whether Thanksgiving foods are still tasty when mixed together, the answer is: yes. Yes, they really, really are. And because we're fatties, we washed that calorie-laden waffle down with Creamsicle floats. And it was absolutely glorious.

Churro Cheeseburger from Epic Burgers & Waffles

Deep Fried Mac 'n' Cheese Curds from Mac & Cheesery

A trip to The Ex wouldn't be complete without a stop at Epic Burgers. After their grilled cheese sandwich burger put them on the scene, their doughnut cheeseburger started a craze, and their big cronut food poisoning fiasco last year made them newsworthy, they decided to collaborate with I Love Churros this year to create a Churro Cheeseburger. It's exactly as it sounds: a burger patty topped with cheese in between two churro "buns." It is good in concept, but not so great in execution. The cinnamon sweetness works well with the smoky-salty flavour of the meat and it almost tastes like a McGriddle, but the churros get hardened so fast that your jaw literally starts hurting from the amount of chewing it takes to get through the dough. I've always loved everything I've tried from Epic Burgers, but the Churro Cheeseburger was a flop. We couldn't end the night like that, though, so we got ourselves some deep fried mac 'n' cheese curds from Mac & Cheesery. Balls of mac 'n' cheese rolled in breadcrumbs and then deep fried. You really can't go wrong.

My fellow Torontonians, did you go to The Ex this year? Did you win any prizes or go on any rides? Did you see any of the actual exhibitions? Or did you just go for the eats like us? And if so, what'd you get?

Canadian National Exhibition
200 Princes' Boulevard
Toronto, ON M6K 3C3
(416) 393-6300
4 comments on "Canadian National Exhibition: Summer 2016"
  1. you def need to go with friends if you're gonna eat the food. i never really partook in it and feel like it was miss opportunity. now that im' back in vancouver, we have the PNE, and people go for the food there too, but...its hard to convince my bf to go with me

    1. Lol, the best part of the CNE is the food. The rides, I can do without. And the midway games are really a money waster. The food is what makes the CNE different and memorable, IMO! And I find that you gotta bring more than one person. A group of three to four is ideal 'cause you can try a good amount of items. :)

  2. I've realized that I'm not really a CNE person... not really interested in the food, games, or rides. But it's always fun to see your annual round-up post. :)

    1. I have no interest in the games or rides but the food is what brings me back every year. I wouldn't go more than once a year, but I do think it's worth going just to see what's new to eat, lol. You just can't get that kind of experience anywhere else!


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