Ice cream waffle sandwiches. Tiny Tom donuts. Ninety-nine cent spaghetti. Corn on the cob. Deep-fried chocolate bars.
The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is known for its iconic food as much as the rides and events. Between the international fare available at over 100 vendors in the Food Building, and 60 concession stands on the Midway and throughout the grounds, there are tasty options for every budget. Cool fact: there are 175 items available on the fairgrounds for $5 or less.
Each year new dishes are introduced, but recently, the pressure to be more outrageous has increased to the nth degree: cricket hot dogs, deep-fried butter sticks, bacon “croissundaes,” and well, you get the idea.
This year is no exception:
To the Extreme
Philthy Philly’s Chocolate Banana Steakclair is exactly what it sounds like: Steak, provolone cheese, slices of banana, chocolate sauce and whipped cream crammed into a chocolate éclair.
King of Curds was a popular vendor on the Midway last year. This summer, they’ve come up with Hong Kong Style French “Toast” Curds - Deep-fried cheese curds blanketed in peanut butter and condensed milk, finished with a “chunk” of butter.
Continuing on the sweet-and-savoury theme, The Fried Chicken Sando by Heartbreak Chef is available in two sugary varieties: S’more and Apple Fritter.
Choose vanilla and chocolate ice cream if you want to, but So Cute Ice Cream on the Midway has a different idea: Vanilla-Pickle served in a ranch dill cone, Curry Coconut in a coconut shell, and Crème de la Corn in a piece of corn on the cob.
The annual search for something novel to hit the deep fryer resulted in two standouts this season:
- For those with a sweet tooth, look for Deep Fried Ferrero Rocher by Deep Fried in the Food Building. The chocolate hazelnut sweet gets enveloped in a layer of cookie dough before being submerged in hot oil.
- I’ve got two words for you: Wine and Cheese. Coming together in crispy goodness at Hot Canadian Cheese on the Midway, happy hour is literally anytime now, thanks to these fine folks.
Go for Gold
The gold theme is already crowding your IG feed, Bacon Nation’s The Golden Burger complete with gilded bun (note: it’ll cost you a cool $100!), and Eative’s Gold Ice Cream, covered in a 24K edible gold leaf.
This year’s roster also includes welcome surprises:
- Cactus fries! Mr. Vegetable found on the Midway, batters and deep-fries the fresh, low-cal plant from Mexico.
- Turn up the heat with Tokyo Hot x Nashville Hot Fried Chicken in the Food Building’s Nashville Hot Chicken Box and Nashville Hot Sandwich.
- Visit Rio A Taste of Brazil on the Midway for the fabulous portable Brazilian snack, Pastel - a savoury pie boasting a thin crust.
There are a slew of vendors both in the Food Building and on the Midway that return year after year, that are worth checking out.
Tuck into delectable West Indian, Jamaican, Filipino and Thai fare. Enjoy everything from English-style fish ‘n chips and healthy Greek plates to deli classics such as steamies and Montreal Smoked Meat on rye.
Ain’t No Party Like an East Coast Party
Opening weekend includes an East Coast Kitchen Party, so check out the battle for best Caesar, oyster shucking, and a ton of east coast eats in between rides and visits to the buildings.
And if you’re at the Ex for the last weekend, be sure to catch the new TELUS Asian Market for an array of Asian-fusion fare.
Looking for a daily event? Ribfest offers a whole lotta ‘cue in Bandshell Park.
You’ve got 17 days and 192-acres to cover at this year’s CNE. The only question is: what will you eat first?