Monday, August 8, 2016

Kultura brings the Philipines to TO

For the second year in a row I attended the Kultura Filipino Arts Festival on Sunday August 7, 2016 at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto.  

It is in it's 11th year though and has grown from a small BBQ in Kensington Market.

This year it moved from Yonge and Dundas Square to more space at Nathan Phillips Square.  It’s a festival of Filipino foods, arts, crafts and music with a marketplace of local vendors.

There are a lot of stereotypes about Filipino food and the Filipino community, I know because I have heard them from a few people.  I have been to a couple of Filipino restaurants for Blogger dinners and both were very different experiences.  One was traditional and one was modern. Both were incredibly hospitable and the food was very distinct.

Although there was a lot more room I think there were a few less food vendors.  It was a very hot day with a high UV sun rate and I was wearing black so I only sampled the 4 dishes that were up for an award in the Chef Challenge because I was too hot to stay longer.  They are all $3 dishes that each vendor creates to make an affordable bite of food for the attendees.  With a passport you receive when you purchase food tickets you are then able to choose which Chefs dish you preferred.

The list of participating vendors and their dishes were:

KANTO by Tita Flips (Reigning Champ): Cabcab (Cassava Wafers) (bottom left)
LAMESA Filipino Kitchen: Pork Neck Inasal (top left)
MERIENDA: Pandesal with Ube Cream Glaze and Coconut Jam (bottom right)
TITO RON’S: Filipino Spaghetti Hotdog (top right)

I had to wait a really long time for the Cabcab because they couldn’t get their fryer to work but in the end that was my favourite bite.  The flavours were great and worked very well together.

There are a lot more Filipino restaurants in the city but the participants were some of the most popular and well known around the Filipino community and experienced in the street festival world too.  One of the longest lines was at Kanto for the popular rice, egg and meat dish.  I guess the only full meal available but they had a hard time keeping up with orders.  They also make the tasty Turon which is plantain wrapped in wonton wrappers and fried and coated in a caramel sauce. I have had these before and they are really yummy.

 It's over for this year but I hope it returns with more vendors next year and you have a chance to try the food but you don't have to wait a whole year because Lamesa has a restaurant on Queen Street West, Tito Ron's has a spot in Kensington Market, Marienda is located in the quickly growing Filipino community at Bathurst and Wilson and Kanto is located on Dundas St. West.

I'm sorry I can't write about the rest of the vendors and the entertainment at the festival.  I was pretty focused on the thing I know best....the Food.

If you haven't tried Filipino food then take the opportunity to go out to one of these restaurants and sample a few things and decide for yourself what Filipino food is.

UPDATE:   LAMESA wins the Street Food Chef Challenge with their Pork Neck Inasal and they also win a trip to the Phillipines.  Congratulations Lamesa team.

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