Nuit Blanche 2011

Posted on October 2, 2011


Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s 6th annual sunset-to-sunrise art festival, is one of my most anticipated for the year.  It’s when art galleries and independent artists open their doors to the public and people can literally walk all over downtown Toronto and experience art in almost every corner.  Toronto is wide-awake the whole night, interacting and participating in public displays and installations.

My Nuit Blanche this year started a bit earlier than previous years, taking the first shift Facebook station for Gallery 44’s Postcard Portrait Studio.  It was quite fun to watch people let loose and get creative with funny poses using stereotypical Canadian winter props that members contributed.  All night I had my eye on the snow shoes and got my chance to show them off after I had my portrait taken after my shift.  Night started really funny, I know I would see more as I head out with my friend to do our rounds.

I excitedly pull out my iPhone to try Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche app but found that its success was its own undoing.  I could not access most of what I need it to do for me, probably because a lot of people were using it at the same time.  Maybe next year a bigger server/network combo perhaps?  That teaches me too, never to abandon the traditional paper guide.  Luckily, being around Gladstone Hotel’s area, there were still a lot of them for the picking by their doorstep.

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We started out visiting a friend, Steve Khan, whose organization Community Arts Ontario, hosted the What Am I Exhibit.  I think my godchild would love this idea, writing on the walls.  Blank faces filled every spot of the walls and people were welcome to write what they perceive themselves to be.  That’s quite pretty obvious to me, I wrote “A foodie with a camera for an appendage” with no hesitation :D

Walking further east on Queen St. West, we see more interesting displays (like a big balloon face and a chair made of reclaimed wood in the middle of the sidewalk),  windows that let you peek in what’s further inside, walking in and out of galleries.  I must say I am most impressed with the guy at the Drake Hotel who seem oblivious to all people gawking at him from the sidewalk, watching him build more balloon art.

We walked a bit more and reached MOCCA.  As we line up by its doors, I turn around and I see a projection on the wall, a parody of US recruiting for their army singing its invitation to the tune of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was playing.  As much as I try to get past the hilarity of the video, the singing voice do have an ethereal quality to it, making the video even more funny.  The line seems to move slow and my tummy was growling.  I haven’t had dinner yet and I must confess, I had food truck eats swimming in my head.  I guess I cannot hide that much from my friend Valerie and she suggested we hop on a streetcar and head east to the Distillery.

As we come close to Nathan Phillips Square, the crowds got bigger and bigger.  I guess the more I get into this festival, the more I have ventured out on the outskirts.  I have forgotten that crowds insanely swell by the main artery of downtown Toronto.  I made a note to self, don’t be at Yonge and Queen subway station on the way home.  Insane crowd on the streets mean an even bigger crowd down by the subway platform below.

We reached the Distillery and we went to the center where the food trucks used to always be.  What I found was an acrobat instead, swinging through open air in a graceful, very thin, futuristic costume.  I stood there wondering if the performer feels the gusty cold night air.  Does adrenalin keep you warm?

We walked further on and found where the Food Truck Eats part III are.  This time, they took over the parking lot space in front of the old Brewery building.  I was hell-bent on scoring four things this night, Beast Restaurant’s Maple Bacon donut, get me a stash of Caramel Kettle Popcorn, Bonfire Catering’s Potato Pizza and pork Hawaiian Skewers.  I must apologize I was too hungry to take pictures of the food I ate.  I was just too happy that there will still donuts when I arrived.  It’s quite funny when Valerie bought herself one after watching me dive into one.  It was just as what I read most people said about it, absolute bacon heaven.

We lined up by Hawaiian Skewers despite the long queue.  It’s amazing how Torontonians still lined up despite the gusty cold wind. I came ready for the cold of the night wearing a winter jacket but my two friends, Natalia and Valerie were with thinner ones on.  I had to pass up the potato pizza as similar to the queue on the previous Food Truck Eats event, the line in front of their truck was quite long.  I think I am quite pacified with the maple bacon donut, popcorn and pork BBQ skewers.  I am quite sure this is not the last event I would get to sample their food.  We left the parking lot and found a warm refuge in one of the small cafe in the Distillery.  I can’t believe Valerie actually found us an empty table.

After the quick break, we tried to venture into the futuristic displays at the galleries of the Distillery District.  After a few more ins and outs of various exhibits, the cold wind got the better of us and my friend Natalia got way too chilled.  It’s a little past 1pm and we headed on west close to Natalia’s place.  I can’t believe how time flew by.  When reached St. Lawrence Market, we see a huge crowd following a truck.  I was curious about why such a huge mob was on the heels of a lone truck but my feet are begging for a rest. I think I had my fill of art work for the night.  Maybe next year, I’ll stretch it to another hour longer :)

Posted in: Toronto Eats