Sherman's Food Adventures

Food @ The Fair at PNE 2016

If you haven't noticed, there was no post about PNE eats last year (2015).  Yep, for the first time in many years, I wasn't able to visit The Fair during its annual 15-day run since I was in Hawaii having a good time!  This year, I made it back from my Summer trip to attend the PNE food tour for local media.  We started off strong with the Deep Fried Pickle Corn Dog at Chicky's Chicken.  I liked this concoction as the juicy pickle added an impactful tart and saltiness to what was essentially a corn dog.  Loved the crispy corn meal batter as it was crunchy and appealingly sweet.

Now the food at the PNE is generally on the heavier side and traditionally sinful.  They make no apologies for it and really that is the draw!  That was exemplified by the Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger at Handmade Burgers. I found the meat to be decently moist while the mac n' cheese maintained its consistency (ie. not dried out and not contaminated by the cooking of the meat).  Hence it was cheesy and creamy.  The brioche bun was nicely toasted and soft.  I did have to use a bit of ketchup to liven up the mild flavours though.

Walking up a few spots up, we visited Reel Mac and Cheese.  I've had their stuff before and I was pretty confident that the Slumdog Millionaire Mac & Cheese would deliver.  The picture was only a sample size, as the regular portion would be even bigger (if that is believable).  I found the noodles to be fairly al dente and dressed in a creamy (with just enough of it) sauce that had a proper amount of curry.  It was aromatic and savoury benefiting from the pop of the sweet peas and the crunch from the fried onions.
 
Moving directly across, we ended up at International Perogy's.  Okay, I know what you are thinking...  Hunky Bill's...  We'll get to that later, but this one here was Chicken Teriyaki Perogies.  Say what?  Yah, this was a fusion of mini-perogies topped with fried chicken strips, sautéed onions, sriracha mayonnaise, sweet ginger teriyaki sauce, green onions and nori.  I thought the mini-perogies were easy to eat featuring a soft and thin skin.  The flavours were definitely Asian with some spicy creaminess as well as the sweet gingery saltiness of the teriyaki sauce.

Okay, it was bound to happen...  The combination of my son's 2 most favourite desserts - Oreo cookies and a churro.  Yes, the Oreo Churro at Steve-O's, complete with its classic creme filling.  I liked this as the churro itself was firmly crunchy (like the cookie) and tasted like an Oreo.  It was amazingly not as sweet as I would've imagined.  They offered up a second item as well with the Deep Fried Tequila.  This was essentially a donut ball of sorts crossed with a fritter.  Hence, it was lightly crispy while giving way to a soft cake interior.  I found it pretty sweet, which was probably done intentionally to balance out the tequila.  Personally, I would've loved to have more tequila and less sugar.

If we were going to do deep-fried tequila donut/fritters, then why not keep on the same theme with Deep Fried Coffee at Ogopogo Concessions?   I got to try the espresso and it was unmistakable in flavour while the texture was akin to a freshly made donut hole that was airy and light.  I found it balanced in flavour so that the sweetness kept the coffee in check.  In addition, there were several options for toppings including mocha chip, salted caramel, espresso flake, French vanilla and cream & sugar.

Right next door at Gourmet Burgers, they have been serving up interesting and unique items for many years.  This year, they decided to go big, literally.  How about a 10lb monstrosity named the Hercules Burger?   This thing must be ordered an hour ahead of time since it takes that long to cook.  Sure, it costs $70.00, but it is enough for 15 people!  I got a small piece to try and I was surprised that the well-seared patty was fairly moist and lean.  This was actually a solid burger, however, the bun could've been toasted though.

Remember when I mentioned Hunky Bill's?  He's been around for 50 years serving up his homemade Ukrainian-style Perogies at the PNE.  Unlike the fusion style ones we had earlier, these were classic being fried with onion and served with sour cream.  Nothing fancy here, but solid crispy perogies sporting a tasty cheese and potato filling. Our food tour ended at the Craft Beer Festival on the West side of the PNE grounds.  We sampled brews from Dead Frog, Parallel 49, Phillips Brewing and Moody Ales.  Loved the little plastic mugs and of course the beer as well.  This was served with a side of Bacon Floss (not pictured), think bacon flavoured cotton candy...  So there you have it, some new and some old favourites at the PNE.  I may be dropping by again next week, so stay tuned for more eats at the fair.

*All food and beverages were complimentary* 

Hangry Health Bar

The chances of finding me hanging out at a juice and/or health bar are directly correlated to media invites.  Yes, I'm not much of the health nut and I went into this invite like many others of the same genre - with trepidation.  It's not like I don't like juice though, I just don't seek it.  The interesting thing about Hangry Health Bar is that not only do they serve up some nutritious eats, Commodity Juicery sets up shop there as well.  We got a wide range of items to try including juices, smoothies, rice bowls and smoothie bowls.

Packed with pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, banana, turmeric, ginger, dates, coconut, & apple juice, the Coco Loco smoothie bowl was loaded with flavour.  If you can imagine, the combination of fruit added natural sweetness and the topping of goji berries, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes and chia seeds and almonds provided both textures and several more layers of tastes.  As much as I'm not into the health food thing, I enjoyed eating this and went back for more helpings.

We then moved onto sampling Commodity juices with the Sunrise, Sweet Greens, Mighty Greens, Orange Roots, Feel the Beet, Matcha Milk and Purple Puppy. For me, my favourites were the lighter juices including the Sunrise sporting the sweetness and tang of grapefruit with a hint of mint.  I also enjoyed the Orange Roots where the layers of flavour from the apple, carrot, lemon and turmeric was sweet and aromatic.  The one odd duck from this selection was the Matcha Milk which was creamy and milky with cashews, almond and maple syrup.

The other major item on the menu were the Hangry Bowls including the Marley, El Loco, Bangkok, Wild West and Hawaiian.  I thought the Bangkok with tofu was the most impactful as the spicy peanut added lots of crunch and lingering heat.  There was also a balancing sweetness.  Also rather spicy was the Marley with chicken.  The jerk sauce had oomph while the crunch from the cucumbers added texture and brightness.  I guess spicy was the theme as the El Loco with chicken featured a creamy and spicy chipotle sauce.  The freshness of the salsa lightened things up.

We ended off with some Signature Smoothies in the Tropical Storm, Strawburst and Very BerryConsisting of pineapple, mango, cantaloupe and banana, there were layers of fruit in addition to the aromatic coconut in the Tropical Storm.   I thought the Strawburst was similar to many strawberry banana smoothies I've had, but with a twist of cinnamon (just enough though).  Again, the Very Berry seemed like a typical offering, yet it was spiked with lemon and ginger which added a touch of bite.  These were some refreshing treats to end off the tasting which was a whole lot better than I was expecting.  As much as these were fairly healthy bevvies and rice bowls, there was no absence of impactful flavours.

The Good:
- Things tasted good and not in a mild manner
- Lots of choice
- They aren't afraid of adding spice to their rice bowls

The Bad:
- I guess some might find it pricey, but the ingredients aren't cheap