For last year’s Canadian National Exhibition, we brought you eight culinary innovations, including the god-awful (but much talked about) Krispy Kreme burger. This year, dubbed by many the year of bacon, we scoured the Ex’s food stands once more to bring you five new gastronomic wonders to check out (or avoid, depending on your stomach). What follows is the account of our perilous journey, complete with readouts from our Regret-o-meter. Consume the following at your own risk »
We hopped off the Bathurst 511 streetcar and entered the not-so-pearly gates of the CNE with our eyes fixed on the Food Building in the distance. No, not even the “Guess Your Age/Height/Weight” carny could draw us away from our mission, or from the wafting smell of deep-fried goodness. Stepping inside, the very first thing we saw: Pull’d, home of Jack’d, a red velvet pancake sandwich, and Stack’d, a pulled pork sandwich with pierogies. How could we resist?
What is it?: Pulled pork layered between three thick red velvet pancakes, doused (they’re not joking) in Jack Daniel’s-infused syrup and topped, naturally, with a chunk of butter
Tastes like: Last year’s Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger, dressed up like a lady in red. In a very bad way. This little lady is just as soggy and corn syrup-laden as the doughnut burger, but with a revolting smoky barbecue flavour to finish it off
Where to find it: Pull’d, CNE Food Building
Next up: anything devoid of sugar, please. Among the hearty fare offered by Bouchard’s Poutinery, we were first tempted by the cheeseburger poutine but found the Lumberjack poutine a worthier challenge (it is lumberjack endorsed, right?).
Name: The Lumberjack Poutine
What is it?: Traditional poutine served with three strips of juicy Canadian bacon and a sunny-side-up egg
Tastes like: A really salty breakfast poutine (blame the gravy). This may sound like a bad idea, but it’s actually delicious, and appropriately squeaky. And you really can’t go wrong with something that’s topped with a fried egg, right?
Price: $8.50 small, $10 large
Where to find it: Bouchard’s Poutinery, CNE Food Building
The Mars bar has long been a deep-fried classic, originating, like haggis, in Scotland. This year, however, the traditional deep-fried bar has been one-upped by a version that’s wrapped in bacon first. We couldn’t resist.
Name: Bacon-wrapped deep-fried Mars bar
What is it?: A Mars candy bar wrapped in bacon, battered and deep-fried
Tastes like: A regular Mars bar that’s approximately 10 times sweeter (due to its state of liquefaction), surrounded by mushy bacon that you can barely taste but you know is there, like a nagging itch. All of it wrapped in a batter that makes it look more than a little unappealing
Where to find it: Deep Fried Candy Bars, CNE Food Building
This innocent-looking item was just around the corner from the bacon-wrapped Mars bar. Thankful that there were no bacon bits on or in it, we took the plunge.
Name: Marshmallow and pecan baked potato
What is it?: A baked potato dessert made with sweet potato (pictured: a regular potato; they were out of the sweet kind) and filled with marshmallows, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon
Tastes like: Apple pie, with eyes closed tightly and imagination sufficiently engaged. Probably tastier with a real sweet potato
Where to find it: Baked and Loaded, CNE Food Building
Last but not least was a visit to the highly anticipated Bacon Nation, where curious Exhibition-goers can get a bacon-wrapped hot dog, a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s deep-fried on a stick, a Nutella-bacon sandwich and, yes, a bacon sundae funnel cake (we abstained from that one).
Name: Bacon Nation Jack Daniel’s Explosion
What is it?: Bacon sausage stuffed with real bacon bits, infused with Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce, wrapped in a bacon weave
Tastes like: The best Spam burger we’ve ever tasted, grilled to crispy, fatty perfection, despite the fact that we’re not entirely positive what a bacon weave is (and the fact that the bacon sausage needs to be at least three times bigger to look like the one promised in the picture)
Where to find it: Bacon Nation Headquarters, CNE Food Building