Delicious Pastries at Cannoli Crunch

Cannoli Crunch
: I was at the Taste of Little Italy festival, but their permanent location is at 850 King Street West, Toronto

There was a whole bunch of interesting food at the recent Taste of Little Italy street festival, though Cannoli Crunch — who make various flavours of cannoli and then fill them fresh to order — was one that I couldn’t resist.

(Also: after a couple of years of their absence thanks to you-know-what, it was quite delightful to be back at a street festival.)

Cannoli Crunch

Though some of the other flavours sounded interesting, I went with the classic ricotta-filled cannoli dipped in pistachio.  Hey, it’s a classic for a reason.

It was so good.  It was filled to order, so the shell remained abundantly crispy, as it should.  And the filling was actually quite unique; cannoli filling generally has that slightly grainy texture that you get from ricotta, but the version here was smooth like custard while still retaining its delightful ricotta flavour.

The contrast between the crispy shell and the ultra-creamy filling was really nice, and the whole thing had a perfect level of sweetness — sweet, but not in-your-face sweet.  It was a great dessert.

Great Tex-Mex Tacos at Hotmess Tex Mex

Hotmess Tex MexLocation: 615 College Street, Toronto

Hotmess was selling tacos at the recent Taste of Little Italy festival; having heard nothing but good things about their Tex-Mex grub, tying it out was a no-brainer.

They were doing beef, chicken, and corn tacos; I went with beef.  It was quite good.

It’s very simple: spiced beef, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese served in a hard shell tortilla.

Hotmess Tex Mex

It’s basically Taco Bell if Taco Bell were really, really good.

The beef was nicely spiced, and unlike Taco Bell, it actually has the taste and texture of beef.  How about that!  The lettuce and tomato are fresh and crunchy, and the cheese adds a nice salty bite.

The shell is probably the highlight, oddly enough.  It’s obviously freshly fried, and it’s glorious — the level of crunch is profound.  It’s ridiculously satisfying.

La Forchetta Ristorante at Taste of Little Italy

La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy
Location: 613 College Street, Toronto (but it’s only served during Taste of Little Italy)

The Taste of Little Italy street festival is a decent event for food — lots of interesting vendors, and generally some pretty good eats to be had. However, every year there’s one clear highlight, and that’s the Risotto al Parmigiano Reggiano served up by La Forchetta Ristorante.

Oh man, that risotto. It’s pretty basic: it’s got some green onions for colour, sometimes some chopped asparagus (though I didn’t taste any this year) but it’s otherwise no-frills risotto. I think what really pushes it over the edge is the big wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano that they serve it in. The Italian cheese melts generously into the rice, giving it a luxurious richness, and a really satisfying, almost nutty flavour. As they serve it, they scrape the bottom of the wheel with the spoon, ensuring that each serving is as packed with cheese as possible. It’s seriously good.

La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy