I went to 3 Food Festivals this past weekend. One of them was the Pan American Food Festival. I believe it was held at Harbourfront in the past but it was held at the Daniel's Spectrum on Dundas St. E. in a beautifully designed redevelopment building in Regent Park.
This was easily the most laid back and easy festival that I attended over the weekend. This festival featured over 40 North, South and Latin American countries in one place. What was really great was that the weather was so nice that it added to the feel of being in a nice sunny warm country and eating some big flavours with abundant chilies and seafood etc.
The features of this festival were a Tamale competition and they had some Latin music and dancers and artists. All of the vendors were set up in a row outside of the building while the chefs doing food demos were set up in 2 separate rooms inside the building.
One of the star chefs that did a demo of Conc Salad or ceviche and fritters was Florida based chef Norman Van Aken who coined the term "FUSION" through the flavours he experienced in his Florida travels. There were many chefs from local Latin restaurants and from other countries. I sat in on another demo by the chef from Carmen restaurant on Queen St. W. He seems to be a very passionate and spiritual man who puts his love into his food. He made a mole sauce and charred some peppers which had a very distinct smoky smell.
They were serving $3 samples from the food demos so I tasted the Conc salad and the mole.
From the vendors I tried a really flavourful Smoky Poblano Chimichanga, it had great flavour but it wasn't what I expected as it was a bit messy to eat and the only other Chimichanga's I have ever had were deep fried into long rolls. I had it with some Hibiscus tea. The Vendor was Santo Pecado.
I also tried some mini Arepa or Empanada and a cheese stick. I can't recommend these though.
I also tried a Coconut Pop which was great and tasted just like freshly shaved coconuts in an ice cream pop. It had an Island taste.
And I finished it up with some BBQ Chicken and Plaintains.
This festival had a very relaxed vibe but they had the chairs set up in a row outside with nothing happening there. It would have been better to spread them out and had tables and chairs I think. I think they changed the set up for the Tamale competition and later for other artists. I didn't stick around for the Tamale competition because I was feeling a little dehydrated and tired. I was there all afternoon. There was underground parking for $5 which is very reasonable and no Admission Fee and the food demos were free except for the samples so it was really affordable for people in the Regent Park community and anyone else that wanted to explore the Latin countries food fare. As you can see I didn't get to try everything so I will have to go back again next year and sample some more.