October 1, 2012


Good Morning Gangsters! This weekend some friends and I headed up to Toronto for TUM's 1st Birthday Celebrations! To quote the founders: 

 "The Toronto Underground Market (TUM) is a social food market to promote Toronto home cooks & budding food entrepreneurs. It is a vene to showcase their products. The vendors are not all chefs, although some are and this is not a farmers market. TUM provides an opportunity to share food with the community that would otherwise only be consumed by friends & family" 

Usually there is only one 19+ event, but for this special occasion they hosted one kid friendly event during the day and another night time fiesta. Both events were hosted at Evergreen Brick Works. Bellow are some yummy treats from the day time event. 

The Evergreen Brick Works is a really great venue. It's got a great airy feeling with both outdoor and indoor space. It's situated a little bit out of the way so you get this really relaxed, chillin' in a barn in an open field kind of feeling. But the plus is that there is parking available and nice clean bathrooms! It's like the benefit of the open outdoors with the luxuries of civilization.  

A lot of the vendors were brand new to me, accept this one. We followed a crowd of people down this alley and what we found were pad thai fries and a peanut butter pulled pork bacon jam and crackling sandwich. Phew! what a mouthful! Of course there were other things on the menu but we just arrived and were keen on saving room for the other vendors! Fedel Gastro's started off as a pop up sandwich shop and now they have a highly successful food truck. The fries were very fun and bold and the sandwich was a great way to start the day. It was supper yummy and gooey with the slightest hint of peanut butter and amazing crispy, crunchy crackling bits. The guys at the counter were cute to boot!  Follow them on twitter here.

There were a total of twenty-five vendors at the event as well as an incredibly convenient water station.  The only issue I had with the event was the disorganization from some of the vendors, especially those not producing enough product. They were offering free cake but once we got to the stand they had already sold old, it was only 11:30 and doors opened a little after 11. They must have only brought three slices. There were also vendors who ran out of items within the first hour which I found to be a little silly. Tickets were sold in advance so you should have a decent idea of how many people you'll need to feed. To run out so early in the game was disappointing. 

Our next hit was Hot Bunzz. They are a glamourized version of those bbq buns you get at Chinatown. The three flavours available were Korean short ribs, wild mushroom three cheese omelette,  and fresh pear and ginger. We all had our favourites, mine was the short ribs (cause it best resembled the ones from Chinatown) while some of the other girls really enjoyed the wild mushroom. The ginger and pear were pretty loved by all. It was sweet and warm like apple pie. When we cut them in half, I thought, what a rip off, it's all dough! But my first bite proved me wrong. The dough was so light and soft and just completely complimented the stuffing inside. Catch up with them here

Our next victim was Butter Chicken and waffles from The Royal Tree Beaver. I thought this was going to be really gimmicky because it was a bunch of Canadians serving up curry. Yea I said it, I was skeptical. But I was pleasantly surprised when the curry turned out pretty decent. The waffle bits added a nice texture and helped sop up the curry, similar to naan but less flakey, obviously. The lineup for this was ridiculous, which I found strange because they weren't even making the waffles to order! They seemed a little unprepared and possibly didn't have the time to do the prep work they should have done. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed the curry. Feel free to stalk them here.

For all of you with a sweet tooth, there were definitely enough vendors to satisfy any dessert craving! These round brown things below, I almost had a heart attack when I saw these on a strangers plate. From afar, they looked like roasted bone marrow. I was ecstatic to hunt down the vendor who had enough balls to serve bone marrow, but sadly, I was wrong. One of the girls quickly stomped on my dreams and informed me that they were Canneles,  a spongy dessert. I was tres sad. But I went over and tried them out anyway. They were spongey indeed and came in two flavours, orange and vanilla. They were similar to a Cambodian dessert my mom makes.  I wasn't a fan, but there were plenty of other people buying them by the box full! 

What we did enjoy was the booth next door selling roast beef sandwiches and mac & cheese. I was pleasantly surprised to see the booth was run by a local high school (Thistletown High School). Uber impressed. We ordered the mushroom mac & cheese, one roast beef sandwich (they had a condiment bar you could pick and choose from) and one green peas, and bacon mac.  The sandwich was the hardiest thing we had all day and we all devoured it. The mac wasn't as cheesy as we'd like but it was still enjoyable. The salad on the other hand was a little on the bitter side. 

My first disappointment came in the form of green papaya salad. We were all so ecstatic to see green papaya at a booth we jump in line immediately.  We ended up paying five dollars for about half a cup of actual salad which I'm sorry, was a complete rip off. It wasn't authentic at all, it wasn't even a new and inventive rendition, it was just green papaya with a lime dressing. The strips of chive and bean spouts were also very off putting. I think we were so disappointed because it was labeled as a "green papaya salad". Those words automatically conjure up a distinct flavour in your mouth, and this was not what my taste buds had in mind. 

There were also these mini lobster rolls we originally lined up for till we found out just how mini they were. These were going for $4 per mini roll! I just couldn't pay that price for a few table spoons of shredded lobster. They did get good reviews from the crowd though.

Brick Works also had this great exhibition of Movement happening in the same space. You get art and food, who isn't into that? Another reason why I'll always support events here. 

Another big hit with me were these churros with goats milk caramel from La Carnita. They came piping hot and the goats milk caramel were similar to a more runny dulce de leche. I could have had a few more of these, especially since we were in line for West Side Beef Co. The line up was absolutely insane for this vendor. We had two orders of churros and a plate of beet sliders and chips to keep us going while we were in line. The beet sliders were a pleasant surprise, but you have to be a fan of beets to enjoy this one! They were sweet with still a bit of crunch to them. I think there might have been a balsamic dressing lightly smeared on the bottom of the bun as well. The chips were heavy in garlic seasoning, which we all loved! 

We thought the wait for the burgers were long, the line up to pick up your order was even longer! I managed to leave the girls and do another round the entire venue twice and they were still waiting. Luckily the wait was well worth it! They had a big grill set up and were cooking the sausage, burgers and roast beef out in the open, great way to draw the crowd! 

West Side Beef Co. is a duo that buys half of the best grass fed beef they can find directly from a farmer, butchers it into fifteen portions and then sell it to fifteen very lucky people who get a box full of ground beef, stewing beef, steaks, etc for $150 a box. This is a genius idea. You are guaranteed an amazing product without the trouble of going out and buying yourself a cow. Find out more about them on their website here

The burgers were so juicy and rich, which is a complete surprise for a slider. Usually these little guys are dry and all bun. For five dollars, these were a great deal and the sausage was amazing too. I would have preferred to just eat the sausage with a bowl of rice but thats just the Asian in me! The burger had a bit of sweetness from the cranberry sauce and the bun was nice and fresh. 

With all the vendors out there, we couldn't possible hit up all the booths. There were macaroons, shrimp chips, and these sausage rolls that I wanted, but couldn't quite talk my stomach into it! We were all incredibly full. This was my first time at a TUM event and I'm looking forward to coming to many more events in the future. I highly recommend bringing a water bottle so you can fill up at the water stations. There weren't any vendors selling drinks, not even lemonade! The usual TUM events do carry a liquor licence.

The entire TUM event is put together by a team of 15 and about a hundred volunteers each month. I think the event is a great way to show support for the little guys in the industry. It creates a great community for people of the same like mind to gather and really thrive and grow and enjoy each others company. The organizers do a great job of orchestrating such a grand and unique event.

Make sure you check out the Brick Works market on your way out as well. Check out the TUM website here. Fair warning, tickets sell out fast! 

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