Last weekend was indeed a treat for lovers of halal food as the Halal Food Fest Toronto returned to the International Centre in Mississauga after it’s huge success last year.
I was privileged to get a media pass as well as two VIP tickets for the event which meant that my family and I could enter through the Speakers’ Entrance. However, I was glad to see that even though the crowd was huge there were no line ups at the Main Entrance this year.
|Salima Jivraj, Founder and Marketing Director of Halal Food Fest|
Two days of food, live demonstrations, seminars, cooking competitions, performances and more were enjoyed over seven festival areas: Sample City, Shops, Community Kitchen Stage, The Food Court, Main Stage, Street Fest and Kids Zone.
My family’s favourite item in Sample City was the liquid nitrogen ice cream by Extreme Cream which was made from fresh ingredients right in front of our eyes. As soon as liquid nitrogen was added to the ingredients it created an interesting smoky effect and the ice cream froze in less than 20 seconds. Popcorn made with liquid nitrogen was also being served. It was amusing to see smoke coming out of everyone’s noses after eating the popcorn.
|Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream|
Being a baking addict, I was attracted to the Redpath Sugar booth where they were handing out free sugar cookies and demonstrating dessert recipes with a halal twist.
|Redpath Sugar booth|
My sweet tooth also led me to the tastefully decorated booth of Blossom and Bean which offers marshmallows, gummies, s’more kits and vanilla extract, all halal of course. I found it hard to stop eating the pillow-soft vanilla marshmallows while asking my girls to stop munching on the gummies.
|Blossom and Bean booth|
After that it was time for the Welcome address on the Main Stage where prominent politicians, entrepreneurs and Islamic scholars rubbed shoulders with sports icon Nazem Kadri who plays for Toronto Maple Leafs.
|Nazem Kadri with prominent politicians,entrepreneurs and scholars|
Apart from food vendors, there were a large number of vendors selling items such as modest clothing, Islamic books, home decor, handmade soaps to name a few. My sister in law and I were glad to find some trendy jilbabs at one of the booths.
All the shopping and browsing made us hungry again and we headed to the outdoor BBQ area a.k.a Street Fest offering ribs, burgers, steaks and a variety of other grilled delicacies. We feasted on some roasted lamb from Berbician and ribs from Daddy’s Halal Ribs, one of the most popular booths in the Street Fest area.
|Berbician roasted lamb|
|Daddy’s Halal Ribs|
Food trucks were a new addition to the festival this year. They were offering all kinds of delicacies such as grilled corn, shawarmas, cupcakes and sea food.
Since grilling season is here, people flocked to watch Chef Ahmed Baig demonstrating how to grill the perfect steak on the Outdoor Stage.
|Steak Grilling Demo by Chef Ahmed Baig|
No festival can be complete without a Kids’ Area. My daughters couldn’t have enough of the bouncy castles even though the sun was blazing.
After having a wonderful time on the first day I was yearning to visit it again on the second day but unfortunately my other commitments did not allow me to do so. Incidentally, my article on DIY eco-friendly cleaning products was published in Halal Foodie magazine which was distributed on the second day of the festival.
|My article in Halal Foodie|
The organisers had clearly worked very hard to overcome the flaws that the event experienced in it’s debut year. This year it was much bigger and better in every aspect. It was a great way to bring the community together and spread awareness about halal food. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.