In recent years, the Canadian National Exhibition has become known for their gonzo grub.
It all started back in 2010, when deep-fried Mars Bars and deep-fried butter were introduced on Canada’s largest fairgrounds. Since then, battered foods of all sorts – cookie dough, Thanksgiving dinner, and even bubble gum – have caused a frenzy.
Last summer, insects were introduced into the mix, along with other outrageous fare, such as Bacon Croissundaes and Philly Steaklairs (Philly cheesesteak meets éclair).
This year, the focus on battered ingredients and sweet/savoury mashups continues, with new features including liquid nitrogen and an assortment of offal.
Here’s a look at the current lineup, along with other food-centric events happening throughout the summer:
Dinner and Dessert in One
Why buy two dishes when you can have supper and sweets in one go?
The Colossal Coliseum – Get ready for it. Breaded veal and a pulled pork panzerotti are stuffed into a Kaiser with sweet BBQ sauce, creamy slaw and jalapeños, then topped with not just two brownies, but two deep-fried brownies. (San Francesco’s Italian Sandwiches, Food Building)
Southern Slang – Sweet and heat comes way of buttermilk chicken on a cinnamon sweet bun, topped with housemade slaw and chocolate Sriracha sauce. (Fran’s Restaurant, Food Building)
Spaghetti Donut Ball – A spaghetti ball gets deep-fried, covered in sugar and cinnamon, and finished with chocolate sauce. (Fritta, Food Building)
Strawberry Shortsteak – There’s no shortage of doughnut sandwiches this year, including this cheesesteak made with provolone, covered in strawberry sauce and icing sugar, and served in a doughnut. (Philthy Philly’s, Food Building)
You name it; it gets battered and fried until golden.
Peanut Butter Sriracha Bites – Like doughnut holes, but better, thanks to a peanut butter Sriracha filling, finished with cinnamon icing sugar and chocolate syrup drizzle. (Fran’s Restaurant, Food Building)
The Great Canadian – Cheese curds get dunked in sizzling oil, sprinkled with icing sugar and served with pure Canadian maple syrup. (The King of Curds, Midway)
Spaghetti Donut Ball – This time ’round, the deep fried Italian meal in a ball is mixed with fresh Italian herbs and Parmesan, and topped with tomato sauce. (Fritta, Food Building)
Deep Fried Chicken Feet – Crispy chicken feet served on a stick. ’Nuff said. (Coco Concessions, Midway)
Farm to Fryer is offering a long list of deep-fried concoctions:
- Deep-Fried Frog Legs and Cod Tongue – Served with tartar sauce
- Turpiggy Torpedo – Deep-fried pork belly and turkey with cranberry mayo and cheddar on a torpedo bun
- Fried Mac and Curd Chimichanga – Mac and cheese curds stuffed in a burrito shell, then deep-fried
- Cheese Stuffed Doritos – Marble cheddar coated in a Doritos crust and deep-fried (Farm to Fryer, Food Building)
These dishes have a lot going on.
Pancake Bacon Tacos – Buttermilk pancakes stuffed with fried and scrambled egg, topped with tomato, green pepper, onion, maple bacon strips and chipotle syrup. (Bacon Nation, Food Building)
The Juicy Oink – Love pork? This one’s for you. Pork five ways (slow roasted five-spice pork belly, slow roasted pulled pork shoulder, sweet longanisa sausage, crispy pork skin and a Shanghai pork soupy dumpling) is topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and honey apple slaw, then stuffed into a freshly baked bun. (Hot Bunzz Street Cuisine, Food Building)
Don’t have a sweet tooth? These creations are for you.
Rolled Grilled Cheese Dippers – grilled cheese, rolled up and made perfect for dipping, and served with the sauce of your choice (varieties available: Tropical Twist with fresh pineapple and ham; Mediterranean with pesto, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella and feta). (Melt My Heart, Midway)
Mexican Hot Dog – Mexican hotdog served in a tortilla, smothered in chili, cheese, salsa and topped with jalapeños, cilantro, avocado and slaw. (new to the CNE this year: Mr. Mike’s, Midway)
Over the top is an understatement.
Sugar Mountain – Brownie topped with a scoop of cheesecake, white chocolate-dipped sugar cone, confetti doughnut, cotton candy and powdered sugar. (new to the CNE this year: Cake Shack, Food Building)
Chloe’s Doughnut Ice Cream – Ice cream available in a variety of flavours, served inside a freshly-baked doughnut. (Chloe’s Doughnut Ice Cream, Midway)
The critter craze continues.
Cricket Cone – Vanilla soft serve in a cone, blanketed in toasted coconut and topped with chocolate roasted crickets. (Bug Bistro, Food Building)
This one was made for Insta.
Dragon’s Breath Crepe – Thanks to liquid nitrogen, the crepe creates a “smoke” that you exhale through your mouth and nostrils. (Eative, Food Building)
All this eating is sure to make you thirsty.
Jump on the charcoal bandwagon with Charcoal Lemonade. (Bacon Nation, Food Building)
Dine as low as 99¢
With more than 1.5 million visitors annually, that’s a lot of mouths to feed, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to eat well.
Thankfully you can still eat for cheap on the grounds. There’s a host of dishes available for five bucks or less, and a handy list to help you plan your eats for the day.
Don’t forget the classics
Long-time favourites of hot ice cream waffles, cotton candy, funnel cakes, candy apples,popcorn and grilled corn are readily available on the Midway. Head inside the historic Food Building for international foods – everything from pad thai to fish and chips.
Parties, trucks and fests
There are a host of food events to get excited about this year:
- CNE’s first-ever East Coast Kitchen Party (Aug 19 & 20) – Offering Maritime fare, entertainment, East Coast brews and spirits, including Screech.
- French’s Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest (Aug 25-27) – 25+ food trucks will line Princes’ Boulevard, with 11 craft breweries on site to quench your thirst.
- 9th Annual RibFest (daily) – Taking place daily at Bandshell Park, dig into smoked ribs, pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans and much more. This is a licensed area.
- Celebrity Chefs – Celebrity chefs will be taking the stage including Antler’s Michael Hunterand affable John Higgins. Check out the entire lineup.
To find out more, visit the CNE website.