Last Saturday morning I kissed my kids, praised my oh-so-supportive husband and hopped on a westbound train into the city for an afternoon of adventurous eating with my good friend, Aleka. Feeling the excited rumbling from our stomachs, we raced to 99 Sudbury for Slurp! Noodlefest, the second, and as rumour has it, last, annual festival featuring unique approaches to ramen, pho and other comforting noodle bowls from some of the city’s most notorious chefs.
The sold-out event started at noon and it was clear that we were not the only ones hungry for our noodle lunch. With affordable offerings from Nota Bene, The Drake Hotel, Momofuku Toronto, Kinton Ramen, and many more, nearly 700 noodle lovers packed into the Liberty Village studio space to get a taste.
We had to move quickly if we were to take in the 11 restaurants that framed the renovated warehouse. Halfway down the west wall, I had to make an order. I was starving and the idea of beef tongue, pork hock and Mexican kimchi together in a single bowl was just too tempting to walk away from. My first bowl of the day was from The Garbardine, 372 Bay Street, and it was a medley of textures in a perfectly balanced spicy broth.
As the crowd grew too thick to comfortably walk through, we had to abandon our original mission of talking to as many culinary masters as we could and shift our focus on noodlefest survival – eating and drinking. The Gabardine bowl hit the spot and now we needed a bevvy… Off to the gin table!
Rightfully placed at the front of the room, the Dillon’s Distillery table was something all noodle fans should get a taste of. Dillon’s is a Niagara-based distillery producing small batch spirits such as vodka, gin and white rye, using 100% Ontario grapes and rye grain, as well as a natural line of bitters (DSB, pear, orange, lime, lemon, and cranberry). I’m so intrigued by these local crafts folk — really looking forward to tasting more from them.
As lines for vendor tables were established (some larger than others) it was becoming a little easier to maneuver around the room. Aleka and I roamed, inhaling the exotic aromas, tasting a few more bowls, and managing to strike up a few conversations with some of the pros.
The exceptionally friendly crew from Double Trouble Brewing Co., creators of the popular Ontario craft IPA Hops & Robbers, introduced us to their brand new “hop-forward” Pilsner to be released in LCBO stores later this month. A refreshing lager that is bound to be in my icy mug on a future July afternoon.
The ramen bowl being served at Kinton Ramen’s back-corner booth had the entire venue a buzz. I didn’t have the patience to stand in the 100-person long line up to find out just how good it was, but hopefully these folks enjoyed what their patience earned them.
All in all, a successful afternoon for two friends that just love to eat, although the event coordinators failed in a few essential areas. Vendor signage was near impossible to see while you pushed through the crowd blindly. A simple solution would have been to place signs on the wall above each table. Someone on hand to help coordinate the chaotic lines would have been welcome, as well as a coat check and some table-top space. It was very difficult to carry a winter jacket (thanks to the ridiculous +2°C temperature outside), camera, drink, and noodle bowls through a full house just to get to one of the three pillars with a narrow table top-esque surface. Like a digital-aged hobo, I hovered over a garbage bin to eat, rest my arms and snap a few shots. Even with a Momofuku noodle bowl in hand, eating over a garbage bin will sour any culinary experience.
Add to favorites