I meant to write this last Sunday, the day after our visit to the Toronto Underground Market. But then I blinked and a whole week had gone by.
We’d been reading a lot about TUM, mostly via Twitter. It was amazing to watch… People would be talking about it a week ahead of time. We were seeing the #TUM hashtag all over the place. People were tweeting and sharing photos from inside, and then they’d keep talking about it for days after the fact. We’d talked as a team about trying to go, and then every month that went by we got busier and busier.
When the June tickets went on sale, I pulled the trigger. I grabbed 4 and figured I’d convince at least 3 other crew members to tag along with me. One guy bailed at the last minute – he’d started a home reno project earlier that day and bit off a little more than he could chew. But owner John DiLiso and team chef Marc-Andre Bourgon were still on board and just as excited as I was.
The parking lot was jammed! But we got creative, found a couple of ‘spots’ and headed inside (with our fingers crossed that our vehicles would be there when we came back).
Wow. It looked like a LOT of people. And having been away from the university campus bar scene for a few years now, my tolerance for line-ups has fallen to near zero. So I was ‘cautiously optimistic.’
Priority #1: Get beer.
A big surprise for me: The beer line-ups were easy. And so it began. Wandering with beers in hand, “where do we eat first?” We all knew the answer: Fidel Gastro’s. The line-up was huge, but it seemed to pass quickly. We took turns running for more beer, the friendly people in line around us and the speedy FG machine were all contributing factors.
These guys work like a well-oiled machine!
And my sammies were awesome! An El Captain Belly and some other glorious creation, the name of which I can’t recall. My only mistake… not getting 12 more in a doggie bag to bring home.
Full of Cuban sammies, we needed more beer and a tour of the Evergreen Brick Works. What a great venue for an event like this!
Next, according to Marc: Tacos. Apparently Seven Lives was a must-hit on our food list. So… more beer and a new line and the same experience. Friendly people all around and a line-up that seemed move a lot more quickly than it should have.
On the menu: Fish tacos! Shrimp, tuna, marlin. I’ll admit, I’d never had fish tacos before. I know it’s a growing trend, but tacos for me had always been ground beef or steak. Not that I’m picky about food… I’d just never tried them. But Marc assured us we were in the right line and both John and I followed his lead when it came to ordering. Another great team in action!
My shrimp tacos were awesome!
Of course Marc had to make a special request, something that wasn’t even on the menu, and the Seven Lives team was happy to oblige! I’ll have to ask Marc if this bad boy had a name. I recall him saying that the tuna was cooked by the acids in lemon and/or lime juice, not with with heat. It looked really good and I doubt the picture does it any justice.
Full of tacos, we were headed to find more beer and noticed that Fidel Gastro’s had sold out of food and were busy packing up. We’d been wanting to meet them for months, and although we had some brief introductions when we stopped for our sammies earlier, it just wasn’t the right time for any meaningful conversation. But they provide such a unique product, and they seem so passionate about their business… We were eager to talk a bit more with them. So we wandered over and got to meet Matt, the owner, and his new partner Dom, and some of the other Ole team members, Matt, Ryan and Kyla. They seem like a great bunch of people destined for even more success. And I managed to grab a shot of our fearless leader John, along with Elvis and the proud owner of Fidel Gastro’s, Matt.
It was awesome getting to meet the FG team, and we’re looking forward to their food truck unveiling in late July.
Arriving at TUM just after 8 o’clock kinda burned us. We really only had time for two serious rounds of food. But then, on the way out, Marc introduced us to Leonard Pig Candy!
Marc was right. It was awesome! What better way to finish our first TUM experience than with candied bacon?
We’re planning to become TUM regulars. Next time we’ll bring a bigger crew. And next time we’ll eat way more food.