There are a lot of food and drink-related events out there in Toronto. Lucky, lucky us! But let's face it, some of them are more worth attending than others. Some are downright dismal - so let's stick to the positive here and talk about what is worth it. You know of course about my love for Taste of Toronto and Pintxos TO (which I hear is returning again this year!) . I love an event that celebrates the incredible talent we have here in Toronto's culinary scene, showcases the diversity of this city, are well-run and encourage people to check out restaurants that they perhaps haven't experienced before.
From June 6-12, 2016, there is a new festival in town that does all of that, and is a pretty amazing deal as well. Lovers of BBQ and beer alike, take note. This one's for you. The first ever Toronto BBQ Week kicks off tomorrow, presented by Samuel Adams and in partnership with Now Magazine. This one is a winner for sure: fifteen participating venues offering their spin on a BBQ dish paired with a pint of Samuel Adams Boston Lager for just $15! I love the fact that there are so many different takes from around the world on BBQ - from Indian, to down home Southern, to Northern Thai to Chinese-Jamaican. Whether you are looking for ribs and brisket, or something a little lighter like grilled ocean trout, there is a range of delicious options that all pair excellently with a frosty Sam Adams. The balanced flavour profile, upfront malt flavour and hoppy finish matches up well with the punch of BBQ spices and the caramelized flavour of the meat.
Because I know your time is valuable and it's so hard to decide which of these 15 amazing restaurants you are going to visit during Toronto BBQ Week, I have graciously spent an evening with a few friends touring three of the venues on the west side of the city so you can have a little sneak peak. I know, huge sacrifice, right?
Until now, I hadn't had the chance to visit Pukka on St. Clair West. After sampling this one offering for Toronto BBQ Week, I guarantee you that I will be back! Wow! Chef Dinesh Butola's tender North East Indian pork ribs had just the right texture and hint of spice, and the slaw with hits of crispy chaat were the perfect pairing. It was the perfect showcase of the quality and forward-thinking take on Indian food that you can expect at Pukka. I was torn between wolfing them down and savouring the ribs slowly, and will admit that I was lingering a little longer with my pint of Sam Adams because I just didn't want to leave this beautiful restaurant. But, there was more delicious BBQ awaiting us, so off we went.....and it's tough to say no to our next destination, which has become one of Toronto's most well-known place to savour BBQ for a reason.
BARQUE BUTCHER BAR
Toronto couldn't get enough of the decadent smokey offerings at Barque Smokehouse on Roncesvalles, so in May 2015 Barque Butcher Bar opened up just down the street to accommodate lovers of meaty goodness. Co-Owner and Executive Chef David Neinstein is a certified BBQ judge and has competed in some of the toughest grill and smoke-off competitions in the US. For Toronto BBQ week, David and his team have cooked up a delicious pulled pork sammy topped with a refreshing apple slaw and crispy fries. Pretty amazing deal paired with a pint of Samuel Adams for just $15, right?
PARTS & LABOUR
Our last stop of the evening was at Parkdale favourite Parts & Labour. Always a great spot to be at any night of the week for a lively but laid-back vibe and decadent eats and drinks. For Toronto BBQ Week, chef Brent Pierssens has cooked up one of my favourites: Grilled Merguez sausage with confit fingerling potatoes spiked with creme fraiche. I love this spin on BBQ from beyond the borders of North America, and again, paired with that pint it's the perfect thing for sharing or just keeping all to yourself.
Three very different takes on BBQ, three amazing reasons to check out Toronto BBQ Week. You've got until June 12th, 2016. Oh, and did I mention you can also win a trip for two to Boston? Details are at torontobbqweek.com. You're welcome!