I am by no stretch a Torontonian, but this annual event is considered by many a staple of both the summer and their childhoods. Childrenhoods? I don’t know, but all I know is that everyone talks about the Canadian National Exhibition, or rather, the CNE. Oh them crazy T-dotters and their acronyms.
The festival takes place at the Exhibition Place around Fort York, on the western side of the downtown core, and it’s basically a giant carnival. Honestly, this place is huge. There are rides, strong man shows, canine acrobatics, water shows, carnie games, air shows, and most of all, what I was personally interested in, some pretty spectacularly outrageous foods that are always the talk of the town.
Oh yes, all those horrible things that you hear about at American state fairs. All those deep-fried, artery-clogging, fat-dripping abominations that you couldn’t possible imagine existing in Canada, oh yes, they were here. What I was most excited to try was the deep-fried cola (not pictured above), but I didn’t get to try it. All these fatty, deep-fry anything you can get your hands on, are always what people talk about when the CNE comes around.
“Did you eat the deep fried butter?”
“What about the Krispy Kreme ice cream sandwich?”
Yes, you read that correctly. A Krispy Kreme ice cream sandwich. And that’s exactly what you think it is. Two Krispy Kreme donuts with ice cream in the middle. So simple. So sinful.
Not only did the food come high in caloric density, they came in giant sizes. As they should, since it was so darn expensive. Everything was more than 5$, averaging about 8-10 dollars per item. Really, what would you expect for an event that averages 1.35 million visitors every year within the 18-day span that they are open.
The first thing we tried were the Tiny Tom’s donuts, which are pretty famous purely for their exclusivity. At one point in time, their only location was at Canada’s Wonderland, but they’ve recently opened up an actual store location somewhere in Markham, and every year, they show up at the CNE. Really, they’re just tiny donuts that come out of this cool machine, and you get to watch them being deep-fried. We went to have some because everyone is always saying how delicious they are, and myself, I had dried them at Wonderland many moons ago. A warning, peeps, things are never as good as you remember them. We bought 3 dozen little donuts, and were only able to finish about a dozen of them.
Ahh, the famous onion blossom. It’s exactly what you think it is. A giant onion, chopped up, battered, and deep fried. Each little prong is approximately the size of my index finger, and the whole thing is probably the size of my head.
The way Ervin described this, I was expecting it to be mind-blowing. The dipping sauce in the middle was pretty good, but the onion itself was barely anything worth mentioning. Hardly tasted like onion and the batter tasted like nothing but oil. Not amazing, but we plowed through about half of it before we couldn’t take another bite. The novelty was there, but it wore off quickly. The rest went into the garbage bin; the second failed food adventure of the day.
Luckily, the one thing that ne’er fails us is funnel cake. If you follow me on tumblr or twitter, you may have seen many many funnel cake adventures anywhere between October 2010 and January 2011. The best one is at Canada’s Wonderland, but this one is rather comparable too. The strawberry sauce is great, but the ice cream looked like whipped cream, and they didn’t put enough. But this would be the biggest gastronomic success of the day.
While the CNE was going on, Ontario Place, which is right next-door, opened up its grounds for free for their 40th anniversary, so we went to visit. Thank the Lord it was free because if I had paid 35$ to get in, I would not be very pleased. Let me explain.
This was the worst amusement park I had ever seen. This includes the one in downtown Hai Phong, Vietnam. It was so empty, and derelict, and just so sad. Even though the grounds were free, there was no one there. Just sad old rides and sad old trees. The workers there were bored off their faces because there was no business. I’ve no idea how that place stays in business.
Anyhow, we ended up spending about 7 hours walking up and down the Exhibition Place. Walked into the Casino for a bit, and got carded a total of 3 times before even making it to the entrance. How flattering. There’s also a marketplace where they sell a bunch of overpriced flea market merchandise. We didn’t end up going on any of the rides, but it was a fun day overall, just checking out the exhibition for the first time. We played a lot of carnival games and had the worst luck, but I did end up with a small little Shrek gingerbread man. I am not proud that it was in a game where you were guaranteed a prize, but still, another addition to the net. :P
And now, a little extra stuff for you.
Funnel Cake Adventures
* Still have to try the funnel cake at Wild Wings. Yes, Wild Wings has funnel cake. Step up your game, Wings Up!