Popup Sandwiches, 86’d Mondays at the Drake Hotel

Posted on January 24, 2012

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Countless times I see how people would talk about the day after of 86’d Mondays.  I often wondered about it and never had the opportunity to go and check it out until this year.  I most often than not have a photography class or workshop that is almost always scheduled on a Monday.  86’d Mondays is food central,  taking place every Monday night (about 7pm – 10pm)  at the Drake Hotel at Queen St. West.  Hosted by Toronto’s own prolific food writer Ivy Knight,  the event highlights different things that would make any food lover smile ear-to-ear and giddy.  It can be a cook-off, a tasting of different brands of the same food item or feature an emerging newcomer in the business of food.  It’s a virtually culinary tour of different cuisines, different food items and different chefs, all happening under the one roof.

This year the stars lined up and I saw an opportunity to finally dive in and give this food event a try.  January 16th featured the 86’d Mondays’ 2nd Annual Food Photography awards.  I could not resist the opportunity to enter the contest, hoping I’d match up with the sea of talented photographers out there.  The contest ended up having 500 photographers in participation and I got one of my images as an Ivy Knight pick, my photo of a high stack of bacon when I visited Faicco’s in NYC.  Through the night, I was able to meet and speak to several people who shared my love of food.  The first experience made me come back for a second time.

Last night, I attended 86’d with my friend, food stylist Abe Wornovitzky.  The sandwich pop-up event headlined both Fidel Gastro’s and The Drake Hotel.  While the Drake Hotel is always known for having a cult following with years of wisdom tucked under its belt, Fidel Gastro’s a newcomer to the Toronto scene. Known to make appearances private parties and food pop-ups, banking on social media and word-of-mouth, offering gourmet sandwiches.  You could say that Fidel Gastro’s think-tank, Matthew Basile,  is a kindred spirit to me, leaving his day job (just like I did) to fully concentrate on his passion for food,  starting a sandwich mania for hungry Toronto.  I understand the motivation and the need to be living and breathing what you are passionate about.  If passion is there, it follows that the product is almost foolproof amazing.

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Fidel Gastro’s set up a menu of three sandwiches.  Just by reading the description of each sandwich from their menu would start whetting your appetite (you could say I have a hyperactive over-imaginative brain).  The Drake Hotel matches it with two sandwiches, equally appetizing by imagination.  It was mind-boggling trying to make up which of the five sandwiches to order.  Sitting at the bar, I cast furtively towards the serving area and I see that the sizes of the sandwiches is considerably decent, so there is no way that I can push for more than two from the five.  Probably seeing my indecision, Abe offered that I could take a bite of whatever he orders so I don’t have to get what he is getting.  Saved by my food stylist yet again! :)

So we ended up with two sandwiches each.  I chose the Fidel Gastro’s The Ole!Ole!Ole! (Spicy short rib gravy poutine + bacon) and The Havana Club (cilantro and beer soaked pulled pork, caramelized onions, Havarti and Virginia ham).  Abe, on the other hand went for The Drake Hotel’s Mykonos Revenge (Southern fried chicken, maple pecan donut and cherry stuff) and Fidel Gastro’s The Sloppy Jose (braised brisket, baked beans and roasted corn aioli).  Each and every sandwich we tried was over the top delicious but I must confess I do have a favorite.  Top of my list is The Ole!Ole!Ole! for the sinful reason of being so in love with extraordinary thick slice of bacon on my sandwich.  My next two-thumbs up goes for Abe’s Mykonos Revenge.  Both Abe and I agree we would make a habit making sandwiches out of donuts. LOL.  Abe’s top pick is the Sloppy Jose Sandwich.  If you ask him about it, you probably would end up in a REALLY long conversation why he thinks it’s the best sandwich for the night.  He was raving about it incessantly.

From the two Mondays that I have experienced, I do think that I would make 86’d Mondays a habit.  I cannot think of any reason why I shouldn’t.

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