TUM One Year Anniversary!
Ode to TUM:
TUMmy full of incredible food
TUMs beside my bed
TUMble into a food coma
I finally lost my Toronto Underground Market virginity at their one year anniversary bash and boy did it feel good. I have been waiting for the day that I would get to experience the amazingness that is TUM. To date, it has not worked out whether it be scheduling or lack of readily available hungry people to come with me. Alas, I decided that the one year birthday of TUM would mark my debut and initiation into this world class food event. I love the idea of this social community food market held together by the passion and creativity of home chefs. I couldn’t wait to experience the electric atmosphere of so many foodies in one space. I brought along my dad for this whirlwind of an epic eating night. I figured I talk about food enough, he might as well experience my passion and enjoy right alongside me. Make sure to click each vendor to connect to their Twitter accounts!
I immediately knew that I wanted to hit La Carnita to start as I have been dying to try their Mexican fare and have yet to hit their College street restaurant. I have been faithfully drooling over tweeted pictures of their food in anticipation of my first bite. Thankfully us Goldens think ahead and we arrived early enough to be among the first in line for their pork cemitas, street corn, and churros. The cemitas had all the punch and flavour of a pork taco in a sandwich, which happens to be my favourite food. The street corn was grilled to perfection with just the right amount of chili heat, crema and queso to put a huge smile on my face. I have few words for those churros. A phrase comes to mind however, “Oh my G-d.” They were warm, crunchy, and cinnamony. And don’t get me started on the goats milk caramel dip. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Not going to lie to you, I drank what was left in that cup and I am not ashamed to admit that. La Carnita exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait to go to the restaurant for more.
While I waited for La Carnita, my dad hit West Side Beef Co and brought back the dry aged whole beast burger and spit-roasted beef. From the genius that is Carl Heinrich, mastermind behind John’s burger, the first dish I fell in love with, I knew this would be a highlight of the night. I was not wrong. The burger was the best bite of my night, with my dad wholeheartedly in agreeance. The meat was the star of the show with just the perfect hint of condiments as accompaniments. I kid you not, I saw little burger shaped fireworks dancing in my head with each tender and juicy bite. The spit-roasted beef was also tender and delicious. You could really taste the love and care that they put into their meat. It was awesome to see Carl helming the grill. I knew I was in good hands from this Top Chef. My one question is, Carl can you send me over some burgers and cook them for me too?
I knew Fidel Gastro’s was next on our journey. I have been a fan of these sandwiches for a while now and couldn’t wait to see Matt, who I consider a prominent leader of the street food revolution. He is not only a leader with his culinarily clever name but in his spirit and heart. He has that infectious personality that makes you want to shout Ole! alongside of him and devour every delicious sandwich he makes. Ever since I first dug into Fidel’s at Beerfest I have been following his evolution from pop up to food truck entrepreneur to television personality. This guy can do anything and he really proves that dreams do come true (pardon my Disney metaphor). Since I talk about FG so much, I knew my dad was excited for this one. We opted for the Toro Toro, filled with oxtail, cucumber, scotch bonnet, and garlic sauce and the Kingzilla, made with root beer braised shortrib and kimchi. The first thing my dad said was, “Now this is what meat should taste like.” These were another favourite of our night, not only because I love what Matt does, but because they are incredible and extreme sandwiches. The bread, meat and fillings are perfect marriages of flavour, texture, and a sophistication that even the sloppiest of sandwiches should have. Congratulations Matt! You know I will pop up at your window soon!
Next on tap were Comida Del Pueblo’s Jalapeno Cornbread Grilled Cheese and The Royal Tree Beaver’s thanksgiving pucks. I waited a good hour for the grilled cheese but after one bite I knew it was worth the wait. I love corn bread and I love cheese and this combination had explosive flavour. If every grilled cheese used corn bread, I would be perfectly alright with that. I loved the texture that the crumbly cornbread and melting cheese created. This dish was another highlight of the night and definitely worth waiting for. After reading about the thanksgiving pucks at The Royal Tree Beaver I was intrigued. I do not celebrate Thanksgiving but love every food associated with the holiday obviously. These pucks were made up of turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, and topped with gravy and cranberry sauce. I felt like I was sitting down to a proper Thanksgiving meal with each scrumptious bite. As well, since we have no NHL pucks gliding down the ice and perhaps into the Leafs’ net, these pucks were the best option.
Craving something to wash down the obscene amounts of food we had consumed, we went for Big E’s Grinds hawaiian punch. It was refreshing with bits of cucumber and strands of fresh canteloupe lurking at the bottom of the cup for a nice surprise at the end. Someone asked me where I got the sangria and seemed disappointed when I explained what it was and that it did not contain vodka. However, this refreshing juice did not dissapoint!
We settled next for Pimenton’s paella as it looked quite delicious simmering in their huge pans. It consisted of rice, mussels, chicken, shrimp, and squid. There was a unique smoky flavour to the dish with each element cooked to perfection. The seafood was fresh and added a new texture to each bite. I do also love when the shrimp comes unpeeled. Something about those tiny legs makes me laugh. I know… I’m a bit weird.
With the little room we had left in our now slightly protruding stomachs we moved on to dessert. From obsessively checking my twitter in the day for pictures and menus, I saw that Smashcake was going to operating a small cart filled with their delicious frozen peanut butter cheesecake sandwiches. I had to have one! Cookies, peanut butter, and cheesecake in one was too good to pass up. Upon receiving my frozen treasure, I placed it in my bag to let it warm up a bit. After an agonzing wait, we bit in to a creamy and incredible cookie sandwich. I will definitely be picking up more of these treats for my freezer at home so I can savour the flavour of these yummy sandwiches. We decided that a take home was in order so we could share a little bit of the night with the family. We went with a dozen mini cupcakes from Sullivan & Bleeker, with each one looking like miniature pieces of food art. I didn’t plan on eating any that day, but when I got home I had to devour the red velvet and cookie dough cupcakes. I just tell myself I had to eat them that night so that noone else would get to them first. If you think about it, I had already eaten so much, what is a few more mini cupcakes? One of the best bites of the night came as we attempted to leave TUM. I had been craving a paleta from La Carnita but the lines had been so long that I figured I would wait until I went to the restaurant to try them. As luck would have it, just when we were leaving the line shortened and I got to experience the magic that is their key lime paleta. The tart popsicle combined with the thick coating of salty-sweet graham cracker crumbs was insanely delicious. My dad and I both closed our eyes in sheer bliss as we tried it. I loved how the “paleta man” rolled the popsicle in extra graham cracker before handing it over and did not even shake off the excess, which took it from amazing to incredible! I used to dump graham cracker crumbs in cool whip in university when I was too lazy to make dinner… kind of reminded me of that (everyone should try this, so good!).
The Golden Rule: Go to TUM as many times as possible, support these amazing home chefs, and become a part of this social food movement! Follow these foodie connoisseurs to keep up to date with where they will be so you can try them for yourself instead of drooling over what I eat! Don’t be afraid to indulge. It is only one night of epic eating and it is worth the food baby that will follow. Hit 501 College St. to try La Carnita. Make sure to ask for extra graham cracker with your key lime paleta. Follow @fidelgastros (find the link in his section above) and find out where he will be in Toronto with Priscilla, his new food truck. Try every sandwich. I guarantee your tastebuds will thank me.
Click the images below to get an even closer view at the exceptional dishes I devoured!