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CNE Snacks 2013: we try bacon milkshakes, chocolate-covered franks and more at this year’s culinary freak show

CNE Fried Foods 2013

We thought last year’s CNE fat-fest was bacon-centric, but this summer’s rendition reveals new levels of porcine depravity: salt-cured pig is pulled, pulverized, crumbled, batter-encased and stacked into teetering towers of meaty extravagance.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Wild boar and tofu bacon at Baconfest 2013

Baconfest

(Image: Jackson)

Toronto’s enduring fascination with cured pork products finds yet another expression in Baconfest, a daylong food fair devoted entirely to the salty strips. This year’s Battle Royale–themed event, which takes place on August 18 at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market in Jonathan Ashbridge Park, has east-end restaurants Le Papillon on the Park, Skin and Bones and Glas Wine Bar and pop-up T.O. Ceviche Bar competing for porcine supremacy. Last year’s vendors lured attendees with bacon waffles, bacon dumplings and open-faced steak and bacon sandwiches. On this year’s snack roster: wild boar bacon, tofu bacon and fish escabeche with bacon purée.

Baconfest, August 18, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Leslieville Farmers’ Market, Jonathan Ashbridge Park, facebook.com  

The Dish

Food Events

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Sideshow Snacks: cronut burgers, Nutella fries and bacon-covered everything at the CNE

Cronut Burger

The much-hyped Cronut Burger (Image: Epic Burgers and Waffles)

The CNE food tent has devolved into a culinary freak show: a place where ordinary snacks—like ice cream cones and hamburgers—are jacked into unrecognizable fat-bombs, most of which are crammed with bacon and crisped in a deep-fryer. This year’s lineup is no exception with items ranging from playful (Nutella-dipped popcorn) to alarming (pork-infused milkshakes). Here, a few observations to get you prepped for next week’s grand opening.

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The Dish

Features

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A brief history of bacon: charting Toronto’s enduring fascination with the glorious, salty stuff


A brief history of bacon

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Rashers, the new Leslieville shop devoted to the bacon sandwich

Memories of the bacon butties of England and Ireland inspired industrial designer Richard Mulley and aviation CEO John Clark to open what they’re billing as North America’s first all-bacon sandwich shop. A tiny four-seater in Leslieville, Rashers has seven sandwiches on the menu, all made with bacon custom brined and smoked by Perth Pork Products and served on Fred’s Bread.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Nine Toronto Halloween costumes, from Kevin O’Leary to a condo tower

Since Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year, most of the revelry will be this coming weekend—which means there’s only a few days left to get a costume together. We’ve dreamed up a few Toronto-centric ideas to get you started.


Rob and Doug Ford: the two-headed mayor
What you’ll need: A papier mâché head of Doug (or Rob, depending on who you think is really in charge) to stick onto your shoulder. For the rest of the outfit, you’ll need a suit or some football coach gear (a Don Bosco varsity jacket would be perfect.)
Extra credit: A second papier mâché head of Adam Vaughan, for something well and truly unholy.


Bacon-Cupcake-Taco
What you’ll need: It’s every major food trend  to hit Toronto this year in a (potentially very scary) costume, and there are a number of ways to pull it off. Do you go as a taco stuffed with little bacon-covered cupcakes? Do you wrap yourself up in pork, cover yourself in icing and add taco-shell shoulder pads? The possibilities are endless. Endless and awful.
Extra credit: You also manage to integrate the current ramen trend (you’re on your own for that).

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Is a global bacon shortage imminent? 

Sure, at The Dish we like salty-smoky rashers of bacon as much as the next guy, but the bacon-everything trend, which has been taken to absurd extremes, gives us cause to wonder whether it might be nice to see a little less of the stuff on local menus. It seems the universe agrees: according to Britain’s National Pig Association, a worldwide shortage of pork and bacon “is now unavoidable” due to high feed costs caused by poor corn and soybean harvests following this year’s droughts. Soon enough, bacon-laced cocktails and orgies of excess like the Bacon Explosion might be just another relic of a bygone age. Maybe that’s a good thing.

The Dish

Random Stuff

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A culinary tour of some of this year’s deep-fried wonders at the CNE

The bacon-wrapped deep-fried Mars bar at Deep Fried Candy Bars

For last year’s Canadian National Exhibition, we brought you eight culinary innovations, including the god-awful (but much talked about) Krispy Kreme burger. This year, dubbed by many the year of bacon, we scoured the Ex’s food stands once more to bring you five new gastronomic wonders to check out (or avoid, depending on your stomach). What follows is the account of our perilous journey, complete with readouts from our Regret-o-meter. Consume the following at your own risk »

(Meter image: xlibber)

The Dish

Random Stuff

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The CNE announces this year’s deep-fried and bacon-laden indulgences

From last year’s fried-things coverage, complete with Regret-o-metre (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Each year, we fear and anticipate in equal measure the arrival of whatever new deep-fried offerings and culinary innovations the folks at the CNE have managed to round up. This year’s lineup of indulgences, which will be available starting August 17, includes the return of such delicacies as the Krispy Kreme Burger, the Colossal Onion and the following deep fried items: butter, Mars bars, PB&J, the ever-controversial Cola and mac-’n’-cheese. What really caught our eye on the press release, however, was the arrival of Bacon Nation. Expect sandwiches made with Nutella bacon and Jack Daniels bacon, deep-fried bacon–covered hotdogs, a bacon parfait, bacon sundae, bacon popcorn and even meat candy (that’s chocolate-covered bacon and candied bacon). Oh, and also new this year: raw vegan food. See the full lineup [CNE] »

The Dish

Restaurants

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Weekly Lunch Pick: the downhome chicken and crumpets at Lucien

Lucien’s chicken and crumpets (Image: Andrew Brudz)

For years, Lucien was known as one of downtown’s most elegant and fussiest fine-dining establishments. But owner Simon Bower recently recast the  restaurant as more casual and accessible (read: affordable). Part of the transformation includes a new lunch menu by chef Etienne Lemieux, formerly of Cowbell.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: The White Brick Kitchen, a new spot for American comfort food (“Tater Tots” included)

The newest local joint serving up hearty comfort food is tucked in among the Korean eateries on Bloor Street West. The White Brick Kitchen, on the corner of Bloor and Euclid, is the work of brothers Stephen and Matthew Howell, both George Brown alumni (Matthew took hospitality management, while Stephen did culinary arts). After several years working in local restaurants—Stephen is an alum of The Stockyards and Jump—the siblings decided to combine forces on their own place.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Easy Restaurant, the College Street outpost of the classic Parkdale breakfast joint

(Image: Susan Keefe)

With the advent of brinner and the dizzying popularity of all things bacon, it’s not surprising that all-day breakfast joints like the Parkdale institution Easy Restaurant are doing well. The ultra-laid-back California-inspired spot cut its teeth at the foot of Roncesvalles Village, and last month it set its sights on Little Italy, opening a sister location on College. We dropped by to check it out.

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Why whiskey could be the new bacon (parental discretion advised)

Remember your last bourbon sour? Well, we hope you savoured it, because the surge of brown spirit–based drinks might well be on its last legs. Why? Because that sometimes-smoky, slightly sweet flavour of whiskey has now been made into a sexual lubricant. It seems like only yesterday that people were gabbing about bacon lube, and now no one seems to be talking about those fatty strips of smoked pork with quite the same reverence. We fear the same may happen for the city’s bourbon intake. Should there be a dearth of whiskey in the city, don’t fret—you can purchase this ridiculous product in a six-pack for a $12 discount.

The Dish

Food TV

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The Top Chef Canada exit interview: episode 3, death by rendering

This season, we’ll be chatting with each week’s eliminated chef after they get the boot (or, rather, after their boot-getting episode airs—this stuff was recorded months ago).

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The Dish

Food Events

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GALLERY: Our 10 edible picks from this year’s Toronto Christmas Market (mulled wine very much included)

The organic waffles at Über Delicious (Image: Caroline Aksich)

You don’t have to be a wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked tot to enjoy the second annual Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. Heck, you don’t even have to be the world’s greatest fan of carollers and reindeer songs—because the edible offerings at this year’s cheery fest are the perfect remedy for holiday exasperation (especially the mulled wine). We hit the Distillery’s cobbled streets to seek out the best the market had to offer. Here’s what we found.

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