Guilt-Free Gluttony

We took history back in high school, so we know what Canada Day is technically about. That said, for us, the July 1st weekend is as much a celebration of summer as it is a commemoration of the signing of the British North America Act. It’s about fireworks, days off work, cold beer and, most appetizing of all, it’s about meat. Delicious, well-made BBQ. Call us unpatriotic if you must, but that’s what we anticipate most about the long weekend, and we know there’s at least a small part of you that feels the same.

Believe us when we heartily recommend this weekend’s Toronto Ribfest, this Thursday to Sunday (June 30 to July 3) at Centennial Park. In its 12th year, the three-day event will feature 13 travelling “ribbers” (12 from Ontario – for the hyper-patriotic), serving some of the best pulled pork, baked beans, and, appropriately enough, slow-smoked ribs that the nation has to offer. They’ll be competing for “People’s Choice”, which is where you come in.

For those of the 150,000 visitors looking to occupy themselves between mouthfuls of meat, this year offers two stages of music, with a bluesy,-classic rock heavy lineup that includes Neverest, Groove Hammer, and tributes to KISS, CCR and Aerosmith. Hardly Woodstock, but it’s something to accompany the beer in your hand. If you’ve got kids, there’s also a midway, clowns, facepainting and a haunted house. And on July 1 there’ll be fireworks. Just like the founding fathers would have wanted.

Feel guilty devoting your most sacred national holiday to the pursuit of carnivorous satisfaction? Take solace in the fact that the Rotary Club-organized event not only contributes to multiple local charities, but also the Toronto Food Initiative – a foundation that goes to support 100,000 square feet of schoolyard gardens, student lunch and breakfast programs, and 40,000 pounds of organic vegetables for Toronto food banks. You can call it a good cause. We’ll call it guilt-free gluttony.

Still not sold on the trip to Etobicoke? Check out these other summer BBQ events.

Mississauga Ribfest, July 14 to July 17/Scarborough Ribfest, July 29 to August 1
More BBQ in the suburbs, these Toronto Ribfest’s close-resembling cousins in the periphery of the metropolis.

Toronto Festival of Beer, August 5 to August 7
The main attraction at the Toronto Festival of Beer is obviously the suds, but the festival’s dirty (read: awesome) little secret is that it was started by grilling fanatics. The result: food as good as the beverages.

Hart House Craft Beer Festival
, July 28
Toronto’s more local/independent-minded beer festival, this one also offers some top quality BBQ fare, this time from Hart House executive chef Marco Tucci. If you’ve ever wondered how many ways you can eat pork, this one is probably for you.

Image courtesy of Terance Brouse.

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