Toronto Underground Market: a foodie's dream event / by Jessica Lee

Have you ever had one of those moments where you regret eating so much of one thing because now you're too full to try another thing? It happened to me tonight.

I spent an evening at the Evergreen Brickworks for the Toronto Underground Market. I had been meaning to go to this recurring event for a while now, but unfortunately I always out of town.

Basically the Toronto Underground Market is a place where home cooks or people just entering the food business can get a chance to test out the waters with the Toronto foodie crowd, and the public gets to taste a little bit of everything.

The place had a great vibe to it as everyone was passionate about food (duh) and not only that, there was a community atmosphere to it. Strangers would randomly chat with me about what they were eating/what I was eating/where to get the best [insert type of cuisine here] food in Toronto. It's a great place to meet other like-minded foodies (unlike a business networking event where you're supposed to meet other people but the vibe is weird because it's way too forced!).

The list of vendors was amazing. It really highlights the diversity of Toronto as there was food from all over the world. So while you're eating an Australian meat pie for instance, though there are no Aussies talking to you in their accents while you're eating, it's close enough to bring a tear to your eye because of all the memories evoked from last year's trip to Australia.

Tonight's fare had Korean delicacies, Japanese Onigiri (or Japanese triangles as I like to call them), and food from the Caribbean, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hawaii and of course Canadian.

Here I am with a Taiwanese Rice Sausage:

It's crazy because I have never heard of rice sausage and I was in Taiwan just two years ago! By the way, if you're a foodie, please head to Taiwan, you may gain a few pounds but the happiness will be worth it. Taiwan is like the U.S. in that the food is cheap (cheaper than Canada anyway), but the amount of new things you'll try is overwhelming.

Okay, so let me explain the Taiwanese rice sausage. It is a sausage made of rice which makes up the bun, and then they paired it with an actual sausage which was pork or chicken. I had this early on during the event and it really made me full. It was delicious, but a eating strategy mistake on my part.

I should've known to eat the less filling things first so that I would have enough stomach room for everything else.

Next, I headed to Babi and Co, which is Indonesian food. This is the Mie Udang, which is shrimp and pork noodle soup with pork belly lardons, celery and fried shallots. The flavour combination was just amazing.

It was my favourite dish of the night (I'm slightly biased because I just came back from Indonesia a couple of months ago and also because there aren't many Indonesian restaurants in Toronto).

Here are a group of strangers digging in:

I loved that they just let me take a photo of them, no questions asked. Seriously the group of people at this event are some of the coolest people on this earth.

I also loved that most of the people making food were using their own recipes, or a recipe passed down to them from older generations. Here a lady is making gourmet meringue. I would also like to point out how simple her set up is, no ovens. Amazing.

Moving from a well-stocked kitchen to a warehouse-like environment probably isn't easy.

 Anyway, here are my tips for the Toronto Underground Market newbie:

1. Arrive early because stuff gets sold out and to avoid the line-ups
2. Bring tupperware
3. Bring friends (to split and share stuff)
4. Pace yourself, it's not a race. Food is supposed to be enjoyed slowly!
5. Ask questions. I learned quite a bit of food-related stuff tonight, and it's cool to know all the stories behind where the food came from and how it's made.

Here is grilled cheese:

Mystery strawberry and lime drink:

The meat pie that almost brought me to tears from missing Australia too much: Seriously, Toronto needs a meat pie shop; down the street from where I live, preferably.