A whole lot o' nothing. And then some….
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TUM, TA TUM, TUM YUM!

Yesterday my pal – and faux business partner – Vern and I hit the one-year anniversary of TUM – the Toronto Underground Market. It’s not a farmer’s market, not a food expo, it’s more a place where budding chefs/official gourmands/people cooking in their home kitchens all meet to showcase and sell their wares. Some are restauranteurs. Some are food truckers. Some are caterers. And some are phenomenally talented cooks who want to shill their shit and have nowhere else to do so. Toronto by-laws are such that to make and sell food you need to jump through a lot of hoops. Which is why certain people who cook and sell homemade goodies out of their homes Do. Not. Exist. Anyhoo, whichever way you…um…slice it, TUM is a festival of food. We ate our way through it and here are our greatest hits…

To begin, we each wolfed down a “Cannele”.

Cannele. Not Canelle. No cinnamon here….

Originally hailing from Bordeaux these little custard treats came in orange and vanilla. I liked. Vern loved. And we were off.

Next stop: Caramels. Vanilla and sea salt. Sadly, the evidence has been ingested and there’s no photographic proof that I ever had any. So maybe I’ll pretend it wasn’t me that sucked back 5 in about 5 minutes. But I will tell you that real deal caramels (again, made the “French” way) don’t stick to your dental work!

Tucked away between an outer wall and storage units was a line up. A couple of guys cooking, a lot of yelling…Who were these people?

Fidel Gastro. Rebel without a kitchen.

Fidel Gastro. Brilliant. Hilarious. Cute. They were the rock stars of the entire event. People were lined up to sample their wares. Including us. We skipped the “Phad Thai fries” (WTF?! Next time!!) and went for the Gorgeous Jorge (peanut butter pulled pork, bacon jam and crackling. Grilled.) Saltiest and tastiest $5 I’ve ever spent. Our version became the “High Maintenance Jorge”. Because they cut in half. A good thing, ‘cuz we may have come to blows over this sandwich. So good we had to go back (and line up) twice. To bring home the bacon for our men.

And speaking of bacon…..That was definitely the theme of the day.

Cayenne-candied bacon. SPECTACULAR!

Leonard Pig Candy were flogging candied cayenne bacon ($5 for 2 pieces!) as well as chocolate-dipped bacon and bacon jam. We tried the milk-chocolate dipped strips. Yuck.

Not everything tastes better with chocolate.

Bacon-jam however, was $8 well-spent. Divine! Not to be confused with President’s Choice “Bacon Marmalade” (which is revolting). I don’t know what I’ll be doing with it, aside from sneaking a spoonful every once in a while. I just know it was incredible.

Ideas for Bacon Jam. I’m not the only one who needs it but doesn’t know why.

The accompanying bacon-mouth necessitated we bypass the line-ups for butter-chicken and waffles, Rock Lobster Company lobby-rolls and the carvery offering up “Canadian-Canadian Food” like roast beef and turkey.

Theeeeeere’s the beef.

Until we saw yet another line-up at “Hot Bunzz”. Korean Short Ribs with egg bun?! Three mushroom with cheese bun?! How could we resist?

Resistance was futile….

These were a bit herb-y but still….great texture! Needless to say, it was time for the sweets. Donuts from Dough by Rachelle (maple bacon, double chocolate, sprinkles). Cinnamon Buns by Little Tomato Catering (PB&J, maple bacon – again with the bacon!) and brownies, brownies and more brownies.

Not as good as kitchen co-op….

The most beautiful sweet things were the baked goods by Sullivan & Bleeker Baking Co. .

Taste as good as they look.

We split a “dirty dozen” mini-cupcakes. Flavours included mint chocolate, cookie dough, red velvet, ‘smores and more. Deeeelish.

Samosas filled with fresh veg and butter chicken. Cairo street food. Philippino BBQ. Thai curry boxes. Indonesian shrimp sticks. Backyard kitchens. Random tacos. On and on and on it went.

And that was just the daytime market! Apparently the night market is even better with booze, tunes, concerts and more vendors. Maybe by next month – turns out TUM is on monthly. So are weight watcher weigh-ins….. But until then….bring on the bacon!

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