It’s been a while since I’ve attended the Toronto Underground Market. I had taken a hiatus since Cinco de Mayo mainly due to scheduling and lack of funds but I knew no matter what, I just had to be part of the September 1 year anniversary. With the ticket sale marked on my calendar, I grabbed some them as soon as they went on sale. In the end, I opted to volunteer once again ( I can’t pass up an opportunity to be behind the scenes) and used my NIGHT tickets to gain access to the DAY event. (Yes, I basically spent the whole day there). I spent way too much money, ate too much food (with tons of leftovers) and was pretty tired when I got home but despite it all, I had fun hanging out at the event and being part of the food world again, even if only for a day.
My sister was once again my partner in crime. We arrived at the venue around 10am to ask about our ticket situation. Once we were assured we’d be allowed in, we volunteered to help out for the morning but most of it had already been taken care of so we used the time to wander and scope out the vendors in attendance. Held once again at Evergreen Brick Works, it was a beautiful Sunday morning. With more vendors than normal, they made use of the Koerner Gardens which included a lot more seating area. The rest of the vendors were, as per usual, hosted in Holcim Gallery which is a cool venue where industrial meets urban graffiti amidst natural touches.
What’s a party without cake?
The majority of the vendors during the day event were sticking around for the night but almost all the vendors has different menus for both times. The day event featured many of the veterans from previous TUM events and I found that there were more sweet options than savoury. With the age restriction lifted, it was cute seeing the families come out to enjoy a relaxed Sunday lunch with TUM. The crowd also felt a little more subdued and the vibe was much more casual. There were no serious mad dashes and lines moved rather quickly (with the exception of a select few heavy hitters) In the end, I actually preferred the Day event and I hope TUM considers hosting them once in a while to give a broader selection of attendees.
Our first stop was La Carnita to be their first customer of the day to indulge in their divine churros. Despite being a menu item at their restaurant, we couldn’t resist getting another taste. Thi, our awesome waitress during our first visit, recognized us and quickly greeted us. We also returned for our last stop for the Day event to pick up the key lime paleta which we also first tasted in their restaurant and couldn’t get enough of. Awesome sweet staples from the ultimate veteran of TUM.
Figuring we should actually eat some real food for lunch, our next stop was Hot Bunzz. We choose the Korean short rib bun which included bulgogi short ribs with farm fresh eggs and caramelized onions, topped with toasted pine nuts. I loved their presentation and thought the price was well worth the warm, super soft bun filled with a delicious blend of meat and onions. Couldn’t be beat!
Not too far away, I noticed a menu featuring Thai inspired dishes and just couldn’t pass up a taste of Thai food. The folks at the Big Brown Box were serving up a Thai box filled with all my favourites. Freshly created as we ordered, our box was filled with creamy coconut rice, a refreshing mango salsa and two perfectly fried shrimp. While it wasn’t exactly filling, it was really yummy and happily ate it all.
We wandered around a little bit longer, sampling other freebies before the Thanksgiving Pucks from The Royal Tree Beaver caught my eye. Fried balls made up of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, glazed over with gravy and cranberry sauce – heaven in a bowl for me. This is what all thanksgiving dinners should be like.
I had always been keen on sampling something from The Lunch Room but their fare typically veered towards the sweet. I was happy to see the addition of margarita ribs which was a huge hit with the rest of the line as it was probably one of the best priced items at the event. For a mere $5, you got two ribs, a sumptuous slice of cornbread, warm grits and coleslaw. I personally wasn’t too fond of the grits (not something I typically eat) or the coleslaw (I’m used to coleslaw with more freshness and tang). Depending on your spot in the line, you could have lucked out and gotten a bigger meat portion but I was perfectly happy with my share.
After a few minutes of deliberation, I caved in and got a cinnamon bun from Little Tomato Catering to save for later. My sweet tooth was just calling. They had several flavours – maple bacon, peanut butter and jelly, bananas foster, apple pie and mayan chocolate. Wanting something fall inspired, we choose the apple pie which was quickly given to us out of their warmer/oven.
The last savoury stop of the day event was Fidel Gastro. I had noticed people walking around with boats of fries and sandwiches and wondered where they had been coming from. Curious to check out their menu, we suddenly found ourselves lining up and decided to stick with it since I hadn’t sampled anything from this TUM veteran. Fries are my weakness and Pad Thai fries just kicks it up another notch. Spicy without burning, the fries were sauced and topped with bean sprouts and cilantro.
Before our departure, we picked up almost the entire line of cake jars from Sullivan & Bleeker. My sister is a huge fan of their baked treats and for good reason since their cake is just the right mix of sweetness, flavour and indulgence. There were also cookies available and we picked out the smores one to sample. Definitely a treat that has lasted us the rest of the week. I highly recommend buying a jar the next time you can.
That wraps up the day event but there was plenty more to be seen for the long awaited evening bash. So check out the next post to see all the details. In the meantime…
For more TUM coverage in the last year click >>> HERE! (including my video from my very first experience!)
For my full photography set of the event: Flickr – jara_mae
More information regarding Toronto Underground Market can be found: