Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Sun shined on the Stop's Night Market

Last night the Sun gods came out to bless The Stop's  Annual NIGHT MARKET fundraising event for The Stop's drop in programs.  

The Stop's Night Market is held over 2 nights and each night has different food and drink vendors and different entertainment as well.  

This year they moved to a new larger location on Sterling Road in the Lansdowne and College area in an industrial area just next the Nestle chocolate plant.  Yes it smelled delicious walking from College street to the gravel parking lot where the event was being held.

Last year the event was held in the alley of Honest Ed's where the 2 buildings are connected.  I didn't go last year because tickets were sold out as soon as they went on sale.  Last year it cost $50 for an all you can eat pass.  This year they raised the fee to $100 so that they could raise more money and allow more people the ability to attend but they were still able to sell out.
Last year even though there was a torrential rain soaking all the vendors and attendees from what I saw in photos everyone still stood in lines to get there tasty bites of food.

This year they chose their dates well and Day 1 had the most beautiful weather for an outdoor event. 
Since it was a parking lot it wasn't fancy and not the place to be wearing club wear and stilettos to.  I don't think it would be as much fun in the rain so I am very glad that mother nature was co-operating.

The Stop's programs and events are run mostly by Volunteers so I was happy that when I arrived the first person that I was greeted by was my friend Sylvia who was volunteering.  She likes to volunteer at a lot of festivals but she has been away a lot for the past year so I haven't seen her in a long time.  It was great to do a quick catch up and then we were off.  Sylvia gave me the lay of the land and told me some of the things she tried that she liked.  The first thing I tried which was right beside the Stop's booth was Fonda Lola which is one of the restaurants that was on my list of places to check out because they follow me on Instagram and I just haven't had the chance to check out their restaurant yet.  
They served up Flauta de pollo aka taquito which was delicious.  I inhaled it while the sauce ran down my hand.  

What I really loved about this event was all of the different creative carts that the vendors put together.  The Gabardine had a cart that had a spinning wheel.  There was a cart made up of tin cans.  Sullivan and Bleeker's looked like post it notes on cardboard.  Pizzeria Libretto had potato sack material.  Oyster Boy had a world theme.  It made it really fun to see all of the interesting looking displays of creativity.

In one corner they set up a photo booth and had large cardboard cut outs of things like the knife and fork that I am holding in this picture and beer mugs and funny signs.  Photo booths are always a fun thing at events.  The volunteers were ready to take a fun picture of you as you mug for the camera.  I didn't do silly but just a bit of fun as you can see.

I didn't make it through all of the food and drink.  I think I tried about a third of what was there but I did try Branca's Sweet corn empanadas.  They were crunchy and sweet.  I tried Valdez' Tuna and watermelon ceviche and I don't think i am a fan of mixing fruit and fish and like a traditional ceviche a lot more.  I tried Maizal's Esquites which was a corn salad type of thing.  I tried Delica Kitchen's corn dog but couldn't figure out what they used for the dog part because it wasn't a typical hot dog.  Sylvia liked that one but I don't know if I liked it as much as she did. What I really liked was the simplicity of Pizzeria Libretto's fried cheese and tomato sauce.  The sauce was fresh and the cheese was slightly oozy.

I tried Dailo's Smoked trout betal leaf but it was ok.  I didn't love the leaf but it was a nice concept.
I wanted to try Torito's Torta de pollo but it was a bun that they poured sauce over top of and then gave you gloves to eat it.  I didn't want it dripping all over me so I passed on that one but I think people liked it.  
I enjoyed Hawthorne's Chicken skin taco.  It had a great crunch and had a kimchi kick on top.
Oyster Boy had a huge lineup so I skipped that because I just had their oysters at the Big Night event so I tried to sample things I haven't tried before.
I also sampled the AGO's chicken tamales which were pretty good with extra condiments.
The only thing I got to drink was Just Craft Soda's cherry soda.  I tried their lemongrass soda before at the Sial Canada show and their products are fantastic.  Natural flavours and not as sugary sweet as normal soda is.  It was my wine fake out.
One of the dishes I didn't have the room to try was Smoke Signals massive Bama BBQ sandwich.  I probably would have gone for it if I was choosing for value and not trying to sample as much as I could.
I finished off my food sampling with one of Sullivan and Bleekers Smore's cookies. It would have been fantastic if it was warm and melty.  Can you see a trend here.   Oh and one of the other dishes that I really enjoyed was hot off the grill and really fresh was Gabardine's Beef Arepas.  I really like Gabardine because they always produce solid comfort food.

There was also a couple of fun bands that entertained the crowd and I have to say that I was impressed with all of the Volunteers and believe me it's hard to get great volunteers for events but not just my friend Sylvia but all of the volunteers were helpful and on top of clearing the garbage and getting people in the event quickly by scanning the passes and giving out wristbands.  The wristbands was a great thing to keep the lines moving and save people from juggling money, or tickets and their drinks and food and in my case my camera.  My friend Sylvia was even my hand model for a few of the photos as you can see.  I know that a couple of the volunteers came from TIFF and I know that's why they were fantastic.  

The organizers did a fantastic job I must say.  It was beautifully set up with the drinks and food intermixed instead of a bar on one side and food on the other.  Because it was all you could eat you could bounce around to different vendors and go back to ones you enjoyed.  I didn't have room to go back to any of them and not enough room to try them all and I even started off hungry.  You need a big appetite to sample it all.

I think the only thing for me that I would change would be the gravel ground because my feet got really tired quickly which was unfortunate and it was a little out of the way and not as easy to get to as a location like Honest Ed's so I am sure a few people may have missed it because of that but I did see a whole lot of people that rode their bikes or took cabs to the event which is probably a great thing to save on drinking and driving.   Myself I hopped on the streetcar over to the subway.  

And then there was this styrofoam cup display outside of the venue that I couldn't figure out until someone at the Stop said what it was.  "YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE".   Kind of a nice thing to thank people who participated to show that their actions in attending the event and the money raised will make a difference to the programs the Stop will be able to deliver which is what this event was all about.

The Stop really have a good thing going.  They have fabulous events but what they really do at the heart of it is help a whole lot of people year round.

To find out how you can contribute your time or to donate money please visit their website:

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