Eating Hogtown: A Pork-Themed Tour of Toronto


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If you had to guess, what do you think the most-consumed meat in the world is? Beef? Maybe chicken?

Try PORK.

Although it's only the third-most-popular meat in America (being beaten out by beef and chicken), pork is nevertheless the most popular meat worldwide. China is the largest pork consumer — but would you guess that Canada is the largest pork producer?

I learned all of this at the beginning of a new tour offered by Urban Adventures in Toronto — their “When Pigs Fry” tour of Toronto, which focuses on the city's long history as a pork capital. (There's a reason the city used to be nicknamed “Hogtown,” you know…)

Toronto Skyline

Our tour began outside the Flatiron building at the corner of Church, Wellington, and Front streets in downtown Toronto. There, we met our local guide Jason (who helped design this pork-centric tour), and got a brief lesson about pigs.

We learned that pigs were brought over from Europe in the 1700s and were traditionally free-range. They would be let loose on islands and in cities, and would scavenge for food — and also clean up the streets in big cities like New York and Philadelphia. Their wild ancestors can still be found in the original 13 states.

Meat

We made a brief stop in a grocery store to check out the price of pork and bacon. (If you're curious, bacon in Toronto sells for $3-$6 per pound.) Jason pointed out that pork is generally one of the cheapest meats, meaning that it's also always been quite recession-proof.

Then it was time to eat.

Paddinton's Pump

Paddington's Pump, Toronto

Our first food stop of the day was at Paddington's Pump, which is a restaurant connected to the world-famous St. Lawrence Market. The market was closed on Monday, but Paddington's Pump was still serving up what we came for — the peameal bacon sandwich.

Peameal bacon was “invented” in Toronto by William Davies, and is a thicker cut of pork loin — different from regular bacon, which usually comes from the belly of a pig. Its “peameal” name came from the fact that the meat was traditionally rolled in a coating of crushed-up yellow peas. These days, it's coated in cornmeal — but is still delicious.

Peameal bacon sandwich at Paddington's Pump

At Paddington's Pump, the sandwich is called “the Oink,” and is made fresh when you order it and served up on a kaiser roll.

Streetcar ride

After filling our bellies with peameal bacon, we hopped on the 504 streetcar to head to the other side of the city. This streetcar line sees more than 50,000 riders per day, Jason told us. We passed the time playing pig trivia (for example, did you know that the phrase “to sweat like a pig” is anatomically impossible since pigs don't sweat?), with Jason rewarding us with maple-bacon saltwater taffy.

Maple bacon saltwater taffy

Lou Dawg's

Our second food stop was at Lou Dawg's, a Southern barbecue joint on King's Street West. Here we were treated to a Canadian favorite with an American twist — pulled pork poutine. Poutine is famous in Canada (usually gravy and cheese curds served over fries), and Lou Dawgs just adds a Southern twist: pulled pork and a little barbecue sauce.

Lou Dawg's pulled pork poutine

The word “poutine” is actually French for “a mess,” Jason told us, and our Lou Dawg's dish certainly was a bit messy. But it was also delicious. Lous Dawg's sources all of its ingredients for this dish (and most of its others) locally, and I felt like you could taste that in every bite.

The Healthy Butcher

Healthy Butcher, Toronto

We walked from Lou Dawg's up to Queen Street for our next tasting at The Healthy Butcher, which is — not surprisingly — a butcher shop. But it's also so much more.

The Healthy Butcher has a pledge to serve only locally-sourced organic meat from animals that are pasture-raised and hormone and antibiotic-free. The shop also has a full transparency policy — you will always know where your meat came from here. The owners visit every farm and work directly with the farmers to source their meat selection; sometimes the farmers even drop the meat off directly to the shop.

Opened in 2005, The Healthy Butcher isn't exactly cheap (bacon here goes for around $15 per pound), but there is a growing demand for this sort of meat both in Toronto and beyond. We were treated to both pan-fried and oven-roasted bacon here. I actually preferred the oven-roasted, since it doesn't render as much fat and therefore has a bit more flavor.

Healthy Butcher bacon

It was great to get an insight into the organic food movement in Toronto, and to be able to appreciate why this meat is so much more expensive.

WVRST

WVRST Toronto

Our last stop of the day was at WVRST Sausage Hall and Beer Garden — a quirky German gem on King Street West. Here we extended our already-full bellies with currywurst — Polish sausage covered in a sauce made from ketchup, curry powder, and Worcestershite sauce. If you've ever been to Germany, chances are you've tried it.

Currywurst at WVRST

It was actually probably my least favorite dish of the day, but only because I'm not a big fan of currywurst and because we'd already had so many tasty pork products. But WVRST had my favorite indoor space — it really does feel like a beer garden!

The Verdict

Let's see. Toronto. History. Delicious pork. Fun trivia. What more could you possibly want from a food tour?

In all honesty, though, of the handful of food tours I have taken thus far on my travels, the “When Pigs Fry” tour of Toronto has to be one of the best — and one of the tastiest. As one of Urban Adventures' newest tours on offer, I predict it will be a very popular one in Hogtown! I highly recommend it!

Food quote

IF YOU GO

What: When Pigs Fry tour

Price: $76 CAD (roughly $58 USD). Price includes an expert guide, one-way streetcar transport, and food tastings and water; other drinks are at your own expense.

Length: Roughly 3 hours

Starting point: Outside the Hockey Hall of Fame (NW corner of Yonge St. and Front St.)

Availability: At present, this tour is offered on Wednesdays, and Friday-Sunday at 2 p.m.

What do you think? Would YOU want to eat your way through Hogtown?

 

Eating Hogtown: A Pork-Themed Tour of Toronto

 

*Note: I was a guest of Urban Adventures on this food tour of Toronto. My opinions, however, are my own and not at all swayed by free bacon.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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38 Comments on “Eating Hogtown: A Pork-Themed Tour of Toronto

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  1. Great foodie pics! Didn’t know of the Hogtown name. Had a peameal bacon sandwich at St. Lawrence Market and the Lou Dawgs pulled pork poutine TBEX weekend. OMG! Both enough reason to get back to Toronto in a hurry. 🙂

      OMG, weren’t those two things beyond delicious?? Enough reason for me to go back, too. Plus, Toronto is an awesome city!

    Not to contradict Jason or anything (well, I guess I am) but poutine isn’t French for mess. It’s actually not French for anything, really. Even people from the area where poutine was invented still don’t know how the word came to be. Just sayin’ 😉

    But that pulled pork poutine looks absolutely delicious.

      Haha, well I guess I (and Jason) stand corrected! Regardless, the poutine was awesome.

      The Dictionnaire historique du français québécois lists 15 different meanings of poutine in Quebec and Acadian French, most of which are for kinds of food; the word poutine in the meaning “fries with cheese and gravy” is dated to 1978. Other definitions of the word have been in use at least since 1810.

      It most likely has its roots in the English word “pudding”, but has been used commonly to refer to a mess of some sort.

    hmmm healthy eating 🙂 i love traveling and eating combined – totally the highlight for any travel.

      VERY healthy. 😉

      I, too, love to combine travel and eating. They go so well together!

    the pulled pork poutine looks delicious. Although not your fav – I have never tried currywurst. I’ll have to give that a try sometime – I love pretty much anything curry!

      Definitely give currywurst a try sometime. Along with pulled pork poutine!

    Looks delicious!

    If you ever make it to Hong Kong, you’ll have to try some of the amazing pork dishes here. China is definitely the largest consumer of pork– they estimate Hong Kongers alone eat 10,000 pigs PER DAY! Crazy!

      10,000 pigs per day?!? That’s insane! Then again, I suppose there ARE a lot of people there…

      I definitely will have to try some pork dishes if I find myself in Hong Kong!

    I didn’t know that Canada is the largest pork producer… thanks for the info, Amanda!
    I love pork! will get a pulled pork sandwich in 30 minutes 😉

      You learn something new everyday when you travel! 😉

      I’m actually not a huge fan of ALL types of pork, to be honest. But everything we tried on this tour was delicious!

    Mmm I love pork and that peameal bacon sandwich looks to die for!

    Definitely on the list when we head to Toronto. My mouth is still watering!

      I sooooo so highly recommend it. All the pork was delicious, and I actually learned quite a bit!

    Holy Cow, or should that be Holy Pig? How on earth did you manage to eat all that on one day! I have to say it does look rather tasty!

      I will say that I was SO FULL after this that I didn’t even have dinner that night! So worth it though.

    Food tours really are a lot of fun. This one looks delicious! I’m surprised pork is the most popular meat in the world considering 2 major religions forbid eating pork, but I guess the rest of us make up the difference!

      Yes I was surprised to learn that, too! But I suppose it makes sense, considering how much pork they eat in China. This tour was seriously awesome.

    THIS LOOKS AMAZING. I WANT TO EAT EVERYTHING!

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