A baker’s dozen of deep-fried and downright dirty dishes at the Canadian National Exhibition
Part freak show, part thrill ride, the CNE’s over-the-top food offerings test the boundaries of what can be deep fried, served on a stick or used as a sandwich bun. Seventy-five years ago, the humble ice cream waffle debuted on the midway, scandalizing more sensible tastes of the time. Now, some already-decadent dishes come wrapped in a bacon-weave, just because. How far we’ve come! Here’s what you can expect this year, ranked in order from “ok” to “omg.”
A pillowy Asian bun is the vessel for this twist on a malt-shop classic. Banana, hazelnut-chocolate sauce, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate and strawberry syrups are layered inside the fluffy bao. Far East Taco, $7.
Coffee and doughnut milkshake
Why just dunk? At the Ex, this classic combo is blended into a custard-thick shake. It’s like slurping down breakfast for dessert. Fran’s, $9.
Calling this poutine is a stretch—it’s more like a deconstructed, totally lowbrow croquembouche—but what 10-year-old wouldn’t enjoy a pile of Timbits held together with flavoured whipped creams and dessert toppings to make flavour combos like birthday cake, cinnamon french toast, and chocolate salted caramel? Tim Hortons, $3.99.
Garlic snow crab fries
A box of fresh-cut fries is piled high with delicate, sweet crustacean meat, then drizzled with garlic aioli. A pinch of parsley and dill tops it all off. Jake’s Lobster, $11.
Frosted Flake–battered chicken
Chicken skewers are coated in crunchy Frosted Flakes and tossed in the deep fryer. What would Tony the Tiger say about this unholy union? Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips, $10.
Red velvet Oreo cookies
Oreo cookies are plopped in red velvet batter and dunked in the deep fryer, then finished with powdered sugar and cream cheese icing. The Funnel Cake Shop, 3 for $7.
Chicken waffle on a stick
A carnival staple in the making: chicken tenders are coated in waffle batter, deep-fried to golden-brown, then dunked in maple syrup, dusted with confectioner’s sugar and spritzed with hot sauce. Mr. Mike, $8.
Biggie in a Blanket
Fran’s wraps their whole breakfast plate—bacon, sausage, eggs, cream cheese—in a giant buttermilk pancake, then douses it with maple syrup and whipped cream. Fran’s, $10.
Bub’s Bad Boy Burger
A high watermark in the evolution of drunk food? Bub’s Bad Boy Burger is spicy beef, a piece of honey garlic fried chicken, pepper jack cheese, wasabi cucumber, hickory sticks, tomato, sriracha mayo and buttermilk coleslaw all piled between two Jamaican beef patties. No one-trick pony, Bub’s also makes the Sumo Burger, an Asian-inspired double-beef burger topped with hoisin, wasabi mayo, wasabi cucumber, caramelized onion, and chow mein noodles on a sesame bun. Bub’s Bad@ss Burgers, $8 to $12.
Pickle Pete’s deep fryery swaddles a slice of New York-style cheesecake in a tortilla and fries it until crispy. Cinnamon sugar and chocolate syrup add redundant calories. Pickle Pete’s, $7.
Corrado’s S&M Burger
Corrado’s reworks their meatball recipe into a revved-up patty, stacks it with a square of lightly fried spaghetti and mozzarella, tops it with bright marinara and a sprinkle of parmesan, then sandwiches the whole mess in a garlic bread bun. S&M, spaghetti and meatballs, get it? Corrado’s Authentic Italian, $14.
Ever thought, “all this poutine needs is more poutine?” Voila: the Ex brings you inception poutine. A core of cheese curd is wrapped in mashed potato, rolled in bread crumbs and (you know what comes next) deep-fried. They’re served in a pile, sprinkled with more curds just because, and topped with rich Bavarian-style gravy. Vienna, $6.95–$9.95.
Bacon-wrapped grilled cheese
The porcine provocateurs at Bacon Nation turn out the kind of obscene comfort food you’d feel too guilty to make at home; this year, they’ve wrapped an aged-cheddar and mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich in a basket-weave of bacon strips. Bacon Nation, $10.