Tag Archives: 100th Grey Cup

Things I Ate At The C.N.E. In 2014

Coco's Fried Chicken. CNE 2014

Coco’s Fried Chicken. CNE 2014

Having recently completed my fifth annual tour of the Canadian National Exhibition‘s weird fair food offerings I can say with a certain amount of humility that this one nearly broke me.

For the first time ever I went to the Ex on three separate occasions. And though each time was during the “after 5 p.m.” weekday special — so I wasn’t there for a full day — these three trips came on three consecutive days. And as shocking as it may seem, three straight days of eating carnie stunt food tends to cause a certain amount of physiological rebellion within the human body.

To find out how this all turned out, read below…

First wave attack, Tuesday, August 26

Quench Lemonade. CNE 2014

Quench Lemonade. I started out with a fountain lemonade (part of my ongoing Ex campaign to not drink pop). It was fine, standard lemonade with maybe 20% too much sugar. The mushed lemon half thrown in certainly added a nice touch. 5.7/10

Just Cone It, Olympus Cone. CNE 2014

Just Cone It’s Olympus Cone. As a sucker for all forms of Greek food and as someone who decided he wanted to avoid the Bacon Nutella Pizza Cone, I went with the Olympus — a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, feta and olives — instead. Problem number one was that before I took a bite the biggest piece of feta fell off the top of the cone on to the ground. Burn. Then, when actually eating the thing the watery juices spilled on my hands. On top of that the cukes tasted old and gross. 4.9/10

Orange Sorbet. CNE 2014

Orange Sorbet. This was Sarah’s. I helped finish it off. Classic orange sorbet. 6.5/10

Note: This Sorbet came from Eative and their weird sci-fi dry ice gastro-something station. I didn’t get to see any of that stuff. I just ate the leavins. (Thanks, Tara.)

Water Bottle Refill Station. CNE 2014

Water Bottle Refill Station. One of the great new institutions at the Ex is the prominent water bottle refill station right beside the eastern entrance of the Food Building. We actually refilled the lemonade cup multiple times to create lemon-bammed water. 8/10

Miami Ice's Monkey Junk. CNE 2014

Miami Ice’s Monkey Junk. Being a little naive to wordplay sometimes, when I bought this I failed to realize that “Monkey Junk” meant “frozen banana smoothie popsicle.” Is that racist? Or has everything-is-racist sensitivity made me incapable of seeing it simply as “monkeys like bananas, this has bananas, therefore we’ll call it ‘Monkey Junk’?” Either way, by the time I got to the melty end of this it was kinda awful. 4.8/10

Fran's Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle. CNE 2014

Fran’s Thanksgiving Turkey Waffle. Fran’s first year at the Ex was impressive. For stunt food the Thanksgiving turkey waffle was a solid meal. The portion size was huge and the service at the Fran’s booth was beautiful in its ruthless efficiency. About the only thing wrong with this meal — which was basically an open-face turkey sandwich with waffle instead of bread — was the cranberries. Nobody actually likes cranberries. They should die. 7.8/10

Second wave, Wednesday, August 27. One of my main goals on this night was to check out classic Can-Rockers April Wine. This cut into my eating time…

Reese Flurry. CNE 2014

Reese Flurry. I’ve always loved soft serve ice cream and this was no different. That said, by the time you get to the bottom of this the remaining Reese’s Pieces are reasonably frozen and therefore not much fun to chew/bite. 6.8/10

Miller Genuine Draft. CNE 2014.

Miller Genuine Draft. I had two of these. They were normal beers from the Big Beer Industrial Complex. 6.2/10

Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips. CNE 2014

Iron Skillet Sirloin Tips and Garlic Mash Potatoes. These were very hit-the-spot tasty bits of steak ‘n’ potato. The best part being that the Iron Skillet folks weren’t scare of seasoning, which is a risk at some of these food stalls during the Ex. 7.9/10

El Gordo from Chunky Cheese Gourmet Grilled Cheese. CNE 2014

El Gordo from Chunky Cheese Gourmet Grilled Cheese. Featuring Monterey Jack, sundried tomatoes, chicken breast pieces, salsa, chipotle spread and jalapeno peppers, this was one totally alright sandwich. It’s relative quality was a good salve because they also sold something called the Elvis sandwich — an abomination featuring peanut butter, cheese, bananas and some other crap — which I couldn’t bring myself to try. 7.5/10

Hula Girl Expresso's Crobar. CNE 2014

Hula Girl Expresso’s Crobar. This was the croissant/chocolate bar hybrid that was one of this year’s alpha stunt foods. I’d consider it more “turnover” and less “croissant,” and there was nothing approaching the volume of a full chocolate bar in there (it was more like three squares of a Caramilk bar), but it was still quite tasty. 7.2/10

I wanted to try the Deep Fried Cheesecake, but it was sold out. So then I tried to get a Deep Fried Cola and that was sold out, too. Left with little else on the novelty food spectrum I went with…

Bacon Nation Sundae. CNE 2014

Bacon Nation Sundae. This is a normal soft serve ice cream sundae with caramel and chocolate. Except the bottom of the cup is filled with bacon bits and the garnish is two slices of bacon. The bacon slices weren’t so odd. After all, if you order something like a Grand Slam breakfast there’s often some collateral pancake syrup-to-bacon damage on those plates. But the bacon bits, man, that was… wrong. By the bottom of the cup it was just chocolate syrup and bacon bits in an unholy and inedible combination of the sort that’d make drinking fracking detritus seem relatively desirable. 3/10

Third wave, Thursday, August 28. Finally, on the third day I spotted a modest lineup for this year’s alpha food event, Coco’s Fried Chicken…

Coco's Fried Chicken Honey Butter Buttermilk Biscuit. CNE 2014

Coco’s Fried Chicken Buttermilk Biscuits With Whipped Honey Butter. Not bad. Not Popeye’s. 6.8/10

Coco's Fried Chicken Cocoa Chicken. CNE 2014

Coco’s Fried Chicken Cocoa Chicken. Chocolate chicken? What the fuck? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but it basically tastes like normal fried chicken. With maybe a bit of cumin. There was nary a hint of chocolate beyond the appearance. Sidenote: The fries were really good… Coco’s has their fry game down. Sidenote #2: Do NOT get the “chocolate ketchup” dipping sauce. Imagine licking the toilets on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship… that’s what it tasted like.  Chicken 7.5/10, Fries 7.8/10, Chocolate Ketchup 1.2/10

Wild Child Kitchen's Booster Juice. CNE 2014

Wild Child Kitchen’s Booster Juice. Having been thumped by the massive Cacao Chicken I needed a pick-me-up and for this I went to the hippies at Wild Child. I got something good from them last year so this year I decided to try the Booster Juice — beets, apples, carrots, ginger, lemon. The look of the Booster is great. Think “what True Blood prop juice must be made of,” but the actual drinking of the Booster? Let’s just say there’s such a thing as too much beet. And however much beet was in this drink was exactly too much beet. The slurry at the end of this — a combo of beet pulp and ginger — was undrinkable. 4/10

Special mention. The exact time required for the Wild Child Booster Juice to make its way through the entire human body is four hours. And when it does leave the human body it does so in spectacular, porcelain-staining, technicolour fashion.

Cherry Slushy. CNE 2014

Cherry Slushy. I got this to slink back into my comfort zone after the trauma of the Booster Juice. 5.9/10

My desire to try the churros was 100 per cent influenced by Clone High

I Love Churros' Chocolate Churros. CNE 2014

I Love Churros’ Chocolate Churros. A Spanish alternative to the classic sugar doughnut, these churros started out amazing. They were straight out of the deep fryer and their texture — a crispy, sugar-sprinkled exterior combined with a slightly doughy interior — made for magical mouthpleasures. Until I got to the bottom of the first one, that is. The chocolate syrup that had been pumped into the center of the churro had pooled at the bottom and become super-heated. So when I bit into it I got a gusher of scalding chocolate syrup in my mouth, essentially burning my tongue to the point where today I taste nothing. Also, after finishing these I almost randomly barfed without any notice or provocation. I blame that on the cumulative effects of the three days, not on the churros, though. 6/10

Additional reading:

Things I ate at the CNE in 2016. Bug Bistro’s Bug Dog and Fran’s Blueberry Milkshake with a slice of real blueberry pie.

Things I ate at the CNE in 2015. Including Frosted Flakes Chicken On A Stick and The S&M Burger.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2013. Including Nutella Jalapeno Poppers and the S’more Dog.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2012. Including the Chocolate Eclair Dog and Bacon Nation Nutella BBBLT.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2011. Including the Krispy Kreme Hamburger and Deep Fried Twix.

Things I ate at the C.N.E. in 2010. Including Deep Fried Butter and Taco In A Bag.


Filed under Food, Recollections, The Misadventures Of

Justin Bieber’s Boo-Gate Conspiracy Theory At The 100th Grey Cup

Justin Bieber at the Grey Cup

Justin Bieber at the Grey Cup

Last week I got to attend the 100th Grey Cup under the guise of covering the Justin Bieber half-time show. It was pretty exciting for me in part because the Toronto Argonauts were in the final (and won!) and because going to a Grey Cup game was on my list of things that every Canadian must do at least once.

The big story that came out of the half-time show was that Bieber got booed mercilessly (read my onsite report).

That statement is… inexact.

Did Justin Bieber get booed? Yes and sort of.

Here’s what happened: During a stoppage in play somewhere between mid-1st quarter and mid-2nd quarter the Skydome (nobody calls it “Rogers Centre” except Rogers employees) showed a giant image of Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen on the Jumbotron with some sort of “Stay tuned for Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen at the 100th Grey Cup half-time show…”-type message.

THIS got super-booed. As in, everyone in the arena was really loudly booing.

The game continued. Then came the half-time show.

The stage got built, which took about five minutes, then Gordon Lightfoot played on a small riser far removed from the main stage. During this time half the stadium emptied out to go get beer/food/pee break. Meanwhile, somewhere in this time frame about 300 screaming girls were unleashed on to the field to surround the main stage. Then Marianas Trench played (who were wretched, truly awful). Then Jepsen played. Then Bieber.

Besides a short burst of teen girl screaming when Bieber hit the stage and a bit of gauzy, unfocused low end rumble that could have been booing, the crowd noise during Bieber was relatively inaudible.

Bieber’s face on the jumbotron during the game = super-booed. His half-time performance = not so much.

Now, an audio-minded conspiracy theorist could suppose all sorts of things from this. First off, in advance of the Grey Cup game the Argos had been practicing with crowd noise pumped through the Skydome speakers — the assumption being that the ‘Dome would be hella loud during the game and when the Argos would be on defence the noise would disrupt their opponents the Calgary Stampeders plans if they couldn’t hear themselves.

During the actual game Argos players and cheerleaders were constantly whooping and encouraging to the crowd to make noise when Calgary had the ball. This is all pretty standard football stuff. Nothing nefarious there.

But what if the stadium was miked for crowd audio (for a high-profile televised sports event… this is a certainty) and during the big game the home team, on their home field, fed some of that crowd audio back into the stadium soundsystem to make the crowd noise seem louder? There’s a long sports tradition of home team fans, hoteliers, venue staff, etc trying to mess with visiting teams before and during big games (painting the visiting team’s dressing room the day before an NHL playoff game is a thing home arena staff do to the away team), so touching up the audio to help the Argos — who practiced to anticipate said noise — is well within the realm of possibility.

So how does this relate to Bieber? Well, what if that jumbotron flash earlier in the game was a test of the “augmented” audio the stadium was using? So when the super-booing happened the decision was made to completely dampen crowd audio during Bieber’s performance — just turn it right down — be it boos or cheers. Which would explain the relatively mute sounding crowd during the half-time performance.

Now, have I investigated this? Talked to people? Dug further? No.

This is mostly just tin foil hat-wearing with a minor in event trolling. I don’t actually care enough to investigate further beyond the 20 minutes it took to write this. So take it for what it is, nothing more.

By the way, I actually did write about Bieber’s performance for Huffington Post Music Canada. The story — in which pretty much everyone has ignored the obvious sports analogy-as-defense-of-Bieber — has resulted in a fiery comment war based on gnarled CFL fans vs. teenagers lines. You can read, and comment on it, by clicking here.

Here’s the performance, filmed by someone in the Rogers Centre — not via the television feed (which would have had tinkered crowd audio). Decide for yourself:


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Filed under Concerts, Jock Stuff, Music, Shameless Promotion, Television

Grey Cup Music: Analyzing The Most “Football” Songs By The Artists Playing This Weekend’s CFL Festival

Grey Cup 2012

Grey Cup 2012

Toronto has been overrun this weekend by Canadian Football League fans partying it up in advance of tonights 100th Grey Cup competition between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders.

Those parties have also meant the CFL bringing in a ton of bands for street festivals, ticketed concerts, and during the game’s halftime show tonight, performances by Justin Bieber and Gordon Lightfoot.

We combed through the Grey Cup festival schedule and tried to figure out what was the most “football” song by the artists playing this weekend. Then we wrote about them for Huffington Post Music Canada.

To read the story, click here.


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Filed under Concerts, Culture, Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion