Saturday, July 7, 2007

Taste of Lawrence Festival

Yesterday, we ventured to the Taste of Lawrence Festival, which is really on the other side of the world for us. We took the subway all the way to Kennedy and then hopped on the Scarborough LRT (never been on this before) to Lawrence West station where we grabbed a bus to Lawrence and Warden.

What we're coming to see is that most of the summer festivals in the GTA are carbon copies of each other but in different locations. Rather than having local merchants set up booths and serve food, you see the same caterer-type vendors who travel from festival to festival and have no ties to the community. So, as usual, there was the fresh lemonade stand, several generic hotdog/sausage carts, the cotton candy/caramel apple/assorted heart attach food van, Tiny Tom's doughnuts, etc. Even the Malaysian murtabak vendors were the same people I saw last week at Yonge and Dundas.

That being said, it was a nice, little festival and we sampled a few interesting things. We had little Colombian empanadas that were cornmeal-based and stuffed with shredded pork, which I'd never had before. The only other empanadas I'd had were at Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington Market, which were Chilean and very different -- larger and doughier. I loved those ones, and I liked these tiny cornmeal ones because they were appetizer-sized and I always enjoy shredded pork. Then, we tried one of those Malaysian murtabak pastries, which I loved. The pastry reminded me of a flaky paratha and it was stuffed with a mixture of ground chicken, beans, potatoes, and cilantro. Incredible.

Also at this festival, they were attempting to create the World's Largest Multicultural Salad. I didn't hear any of the preamble, but it looked like they had a very long trough filled with lettuce, croutons, and some other salad ingredients. In the past, I've seen people try to make things like the World's Largest Gingerbread House or the World's Large Pizza, which is impressive, but is dumping a lot of lettuce into a trough worthy of a world record? I appreciate the heart-healthiness of it though.

Afterwards, Darcy and I walked west on Lawrence away from the fair and we saw so many interesting Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants and shops. It would have been so cool if these places had opened their doors and people could sample their specialities. We visited a Lebanese Bakery and an enormous Middle Eastern supermarket called Arz. It was like a big chain grocery store, but with all Middle Eastern things like freshly made baked goods (pita, cookies, baklava), halal meat, a million kinds of olives, and fresh cheese (lebneh, akawi). It was so much fun.

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