The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is officially back for its 100th year – if you’re unfamiliar, it’s the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. In short, country meets city all under one roof at Toronto’s Enercare Centre from November 4-13, where Canada’s agricultural scene is literally celebrated from farm to table.
A ticket for The Royal will grant you entry into the world-famous Royal Horse Show, the Royal Rodeo, and more incredible equestrian and livestock displays. But most importantly, it’ll give you access to the Royal Food Market, the Champions Showcase (where winners of food competitions offer samples of their award-winning delights), and endless Canadian food vendors to explore. Read on to find out everything you must try while you’re there:
Butter Tarts from The Queen’s Tarts
Here at Food Network Canada, we like to consider ourselves butter tart connoisseurs, and we highly recommend you get your hands on one of these gooey-delicious tarts. Hailing from Sault Ste. Marie, the tarts are available in all the classic flavours you know and love (plain, raisin, pecan) for $3.50 each, and are sure to satisfy your Canadiana sweet tooth.
Award-Winning Grand Trunk Cheese from Stonetown Cheese
At the Stonetown Artisan Cheese booth you’ll find samples galore – including their Grand Trunk cheese, a farmstead gruyère that was the first place winner at the 2017 and 2016 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, and also the first place winner at the 2018 British Empire Cheese Competition. Be sure to try a sample and take some of Canada’s finest cheese home with you.
Turkish Delight at Kalamata Ltd.
Get a taste of the Mediterranean with Kalamata Ltd.’s stunningly beautiful selection of Turkish delight. Flavours include cherry coconut, milky walnut, apple, lemon, strawberry and more. The beautiful display alone is worth a visit, and we also recommend adding some baklava to your order for the complete dessert experience.
Foccacia Grilled Sandwiches from Albion Hills Farm
Any sandwich that’s bigger than a plate is a win in our books – and these seriously impressive sandwiches from Albion Hills Farm are available grilled to order and big enough to share (perfect if you’re visiting with kiddos!). The sandwiches are available with Parma prosciutto, Genoa soppressata or extra lean smoked turkey breast for $13 each.
All the free samples
If you’re a fan of free samples (who isn’t?), you’ll be pleased to get a taste of just about everything at The Royal. Head to Metro’s Spotlight on Local and try tasty samples from their Locally Sourced Program, which fosters new businesses trying to break into the grocery market. There you’ll find samples like pepperettes from Halenda’s Meats, cheese curds from St. Albert, hot sauce from Nerpy’s and more. Then, make your way to the Champions Showcase for a taste of the Royal Champions, AKA award-winning creations from home cooks. Offerings rotate based on the day you attend, but you’ll find anything from fresh butter tarts to tangy pickles and olives.
Your own cooking at the Burnbrae Farms Culinary Academy
Each day at the Royal, you can attend cooking classes from some of Toronto’s most notable chefs for just $20 per session. Learn how to make impressive dishes like shakshuka, spaghetti carbonara, dan jiao egg dumplings and more! Plus, you’ll get cooking tips from the best in the business, use top-shelf local ingredients and enjoy a delicious meal. Notable chefs in this year’s lineup include Michael Bonacini, Alida Solomon, Trevor Lui, Eva Chin, Cory Vitiello, Diala Canelo and many more.
Gaylea Butter Sculptures
Okay – so you can’t actually eat this one, but we have a feeling you’ll be seriously delighted by the creativity and skill you’ll see showcased at the Gay Lea Butter Sculptures. Butter sculpting has a long history at The Royal, going back over 70 years! Be part of history and get an up close look at the sculptures for yourself. Then, head to the Gay Lea booth and snag a free Craig’s Cookie (made with Gay Lea butter, of course).