Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Race to 100


It was around this time last year that I started to realize I had visited an extraordinary number of food trucks.  So I decided to make it my mission to get to 100 by the end of 2013.

For the purpose of this tally, I have included not only "gourmet food trucks", but also trailers, carts and a few traditional Mexican/Latin American trucks. These traditional trucks are just a small sample of the many I have visited and I felt that they were worthy of being included in the list due to the quality of product being produced.

The inaugural truck back in 2009 was Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles and the 100th truck was Jogasaki Burrito, also in LA. 


So here it is...the master "Street Eater" list!!!

Los Angeles
Kogi
Auntie's Fry Bread
MOEggrolls and Deli
Gravy Train Poutinerie
Jogasaki Burrito - 100th TRUCK!!!
The Burnt Truck
Lomo Arigato
Lobsta Truck
Tainamite Truck
My Delight Cupcakery
Big Gay Ice Cream - LA Pop Up Truck
Cheer Burger 
Mandoline Grill
Tamales Elena
Mariscos Jalisco

Tijuana
Tortas Wash Mobile
Tacos Kokopelli
Mariscos Ruben

Seattle
Maximus Minimus

New York City
Korilla
Comme Ci Comme Ca
La Bella Torte
Cupcake Crew
Wooly's Ice
Newyorkina
Solber Pupusas
Sam's Falafel
Tamales Guadalupe
Calexico
Schnitzel & Things
Wafels & Dinges
Carrillo Antojitos Chapines
Sunrise Grill
Mud Truck
Gorilla Cheese NYC
Biriyani Cart
The Cinnamon Snail
Big Gay Ice Cream
Okadaman
Nuchas
Bian Dang
Country Boys

Boston
Sunbird (Cape Cod)
Staff Meal
Roxy's Grilled Cheese
Lobsta Love
Frozen Hoagies
Momogoose
Go Fish
Clover

Vermont
The Skinny Pancake

Ottawa
Stone Soup Foodworks
Bite This!
Hot Potato Truck
Flatbread Pizza Co.
Chef on Wheels
The Merry Dairy
Wanna Wafel
B. Goods Bakery
Pizza and Panini
Trailer Pork Boys
Crispy Spring Roll
Relish
Strata Pizza
The Town Fryer

Rural Ontario
Seed to Sausage (Sharbot Lake)
Bren's Country Kitchen (Carleton Place) - Now Closed
Fatty Bo Batty (Stirling)

Toronto
Blue Donkey Streatery
El Gastromono Vagabundo
Gorilla Cheese
Wingmee's 
Toasted Tangerine
Cupcake Diner
Caplansky
Food Cabbie
Busters Sea Cove
Dobro Jesti
Shriners Creek Kettle Corn
Rome'n Chariot
Manual Labour Coffee
Curbside Bliss
Per Se Mobile
Fidel Gastro
Hank Daddy's BBQ
Stuft Truck
Sweetness Bakery
Tide and Vine
Gourmet Gringos
Urban Smoke Truck
The Feisty Jack

Montreal
Grumman78
Pas de Cochon Dans Ma Salon
Lucky's
Crepe-moi
La Mangeoire
Route 27
Winneburger
Lucille's
Gaufrabec

BC
Tacofino
Wildside Grill
Roaming Dragon
Re-Up BBQ
Coma Food Truck - Now Closed
The Kaboom Box
Dim Sum Express
Feastro the Rolling Bistro
The Juice Kaboose
The Campfire Grill
Chili Tank

As of today...November 6, 2012, I have visited a total of 111 trucks.  Can't wait to get back out on the streets in 2013!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Food Truck Road Trip - SoCal/TJ

Awww...my first food truck back in 2009. Kogi BBQ in LA.

Well, I just set off for my next food truck adventure this morning. I'm finally making a return trip to the city that introduced me to gourmet food trucks and authentic Mexican taquerias...Los Angeles! Some of you will know that for various reasons I had to cancel this trip twice already this year. But, with an abbreviated schedule and some well deserved time off work, I think I have finally managed to make it happen!

I'll be in Southern California for a total of 8 days stating today. I'm excited to meet some food truck friends I have gotten to know over the past year through various blogs and Twitter, and I may have even brought a couple of the Canadian inspired trucks a few treats from home! With only 8 to go before hitting my 100th truck, I am curious to see where I will end up for this milestone food truck meal. Of course, I will at some point need to track down the Kogi BBQ truck. As they were the ones that popped my food truck cherry back in 2009, it just feels right to go back for another round of Korean tacos.

But aside from the ever popular and fun “gourmet trucks”, I am mostly excited for the chance to immerse myself in the Mexican culture. With only 6 weeks of Spanish lessons under my belt, I'm hoping that I will have adequate confidence and ability to converse with the street vendors and (maybe) learn a little from Latin American community members along the way.

I have purposely scheduled this trip to coincide with La Dio de los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead” festival at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA. On this day, the Mexican community (as well as several other Latin American countries) celebrate the lives of the loved ones they have lost. Most families construct large and elaborately decorated altars with photos, sugar skulls, flowers and food, among other items. The festival itself can best be described as “Halloween meets Carnivale”. Participants often dress up or paint themselves to resemble skeletons, and enjoy dancing and eating authentic Mexican foods during the celebration. Definitely looking forward to this experience.

With ample time allowed in my itinerary for exploring East LA and the Boyle Heights neighbourhood, along with a day trip to Tijuana, I will no doubt return home with an even greater appreciation for Latino culture...and of course, the food!!

As always, you are welcome to follow along on Twitter @Street_Eater with my adventures. And if you have any specific trucks or street vendors in The LA area that you'd like to see me visit/profile, please let know know and I'll do my best to get to them!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

THE ULTIMATE OTTAWA FOOD TRUCK LIST


Name: Bite This
Location: Corner of Scott St and McRae St. (across from Trailhead)
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11-3pm
Menu: Asian influenced










Name: Stone Soup Foodworks
Location: Ottawa U campus during school year. Festivals in the summer.
Menu: Soups, tacos, other local and sustainable treats.
Website: http://www.stonesoupfoodworks.ca
Twitter: @StoneSoupTruck








Name: The Merry Dairy
Location: Roaming (often west end communities)
Menu: Frozen custard
Website: http://www.themerrydairy.com/
Twitter: @TheMerryDairy











Name: Relish the Flavour
Location: Ottawa U campus during school year. Festivals in the summer.
Menu: Rotating
Website: http://www.relishtheflavour.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @relishtruck











Name: Wanna Wafel
Location: Bank St/5th Ave. As well as some festivals.
Hours: Weekdays 3-8pm. Weekends 10-5pm
Menu: Liege and Brussels style waffles
Website (franchise): www.wannawafel.com
Twitter: @wannawafel_ott












Name: B. Goods Bakery
Location: Saturday Main St Market. Festivals/events
Menu: Fresh baked cookies, coffee, espresso
Website: http://www.bgoods.ca/
Twitter: @Bgoodbakery







Name: Flatbread Pizza Company
Location: Ottawa Farmers Market Sundays 8-3pm. Various festivals/events
Menu: Wood-Fired Pizza made with local and seasonal ingredients
Website: www.flatbreadco.ca
Twitter: @FlatbreadPizzaC







Name: The Hot Potato Company
Location: Ottawa Farmers Market Sundays 8-3pm. Various festivals/events
Menu: Baked potatoes/wedges (bother regular and sweet), lemonade, other random treats.
Website: http://hotpotatoco.com/
Twitter: @hotpotatotruck







Name: Chef on Wheels
Location: Weekdays (lunch) Lisgar St at Elgin St.
Menu: Viet-Thai, and "chip truck" favorites











Name: Strata Pizza
Location: Fesivals/events
Menu: Wood-fired pizza
Website: www.stratapizza.ca
Twitter: @STRATAPIZZA















Name: Pascale's All Natural Ice Cream
Location: Ottawa Farmers Market Sundays 8-3pm. Various festivals/events
Menu: Homemade Ice Cream, Popsicles
Website: http://www.pascalesicecream.com/
Twitter: @PascalesAllNat












Name: Trailer Pork Boys
Location: Corner of Carling and Merivale at the Macies Best Western Hotel
Hours: Weekdays 11-7pm. Saturday 11-6pm
Menu: BBQ/Smoked Pork
Website: www.trailerporkboys.ca/
Twitter: @trailerporkboys








Name: Crispy Spring Roll
Location: Main St. Stittsville beside the TD bank
Menu: Viet-Thai, and "chip truck" favorites











Name: Pizza & Panini
Location: Various Events/Festivals
Menu: Wood-fired Pizza and Panini











Rural Trucks/Trailers (Off the beaten path, but still in the 613)




Name: Seed to Sausage
Location: 12821 Highway 38. Sharbot Lake
Hours: Check Twitter for updates on if it's open.
Menu: Rotating depending on the guest chef.
Website: http://seedtosausage.ca/
Twitter: @Seed_to_Sausage








Name: Fatty Bo Battys
Location: 260 West Front St. Stirling.
Hours: 11-8pm daily
Menu: Chef described as "upscale carnival food" (pulled pork sandwiches, deep fried oreos, etc.)










Coming Soon!!

Town Fryer - Preston St.



















Friday, May 18, 2012

Montreal Street Food


Street Food is illegal in Montreal.  Yes, you read that right.  In what is likely one of the strictest of all municipal food vendor laws, it is illegal to sell food anywhere that cars can pass on the same roadway.  Therefore you will only find mobile vendors in Montreal at festivals or anywhere a street is shut down for an event.  Even absent from the roads are the typical "chip truck" that so commonly hold all the street permits in many other major Canadian cities.  It is strange to think that not even poutine is acceptable street fare in this town.

But, among all the political and legal bullshit exists a small group of vendors and community members that are fighting to show that it's about time that the by-laws were changed.  With an inaugural street food lunch planned at Place Emilie-Gamelin this past week, I hit the road and met my little brother and his girlfriend for a day of food truck gluttony.

First stop had to be Grumman78.  This bright green taco truck has been a fixture at events around Montreal and has developed a loyal following.  When not out in the truck, they have been known to host popular "Taco Parties" at their headquarters (also were food prep is done) and have recently opened a food court location at Faubourg Ste-Catherine.


Grumman78's Pork Banh Mi Taco



Joining Grumman78 was Lucky's, Crepe-Moi and Pas d'cochon dans ma salon.  Lucky's colourful truck (pictured below) featured a menu of sandwiches and poutine made with many local ingredients.

Lucky's duck confit poutine (via @LuckysTruck MTL)









Lucky's lobster roll and Chicken with apricot chutney sandwich.


Pas d'cochon's set up is simple, yet practical.  They offer a menu highlighted by pulled pork, as well as other treats such as fresh oysters and salads. Looking closely, you can see the large homemade smoker in the back on the truck.


Pas d'cochon's lobster roll. Lots of filler, but the crunch of fresh asparagus was a welcome flavour and texture.
 
Crepe-moi's adorable yellow dessert truck offers both sweet and savory crepes, along with ice cream. The nutella/banana and dulce de leche crepes were devoured before pics could be taken!


While in town, I had to check out Grumman's Faubourg Ste-Catherine counter.  My brother explained that it's located in a food court "mall" that was intended to highlight global cuisines several years ago.  Some of the original vendors still exist in the food court, however it continues to be in transition at this time.  Don't let that lead you away from visiting Grumman's though, this location offers a larger selection of tacos and drinks compared to the truck.  Drinks are served as they would by many street vendors...in a bag with a straw. 


Horchata and Jugo Verde.
Overall, Montreal has a long way to go compared to many other North American cities.  But they are well on their way to showing off the potential this city has for street food.  And I for one, am thankful that it's only a 2 hour drive from Ottawa.

Grumman78's taco logo is awesome.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Malaysian Street Food Bazaar


Thanks to some very observant friends, I found out about a Malaysian Street Food Bazaar being held at the Malaysian High Commission this past Saturday.  How could I resist?!  As boring as this government town can be, having all the Embassies in Ottawa does have it's perks sometimes.  So, with a couple hungry friends, I set out to explore the flavours of Malaysia.

Right off the hop, we were treated to the most amazing (and huge) dish of Rendang beef, rice and noodles.  I learned that Rendang is a dish traditional served at ceremonies or festivals to honour guests.  The beef is slow cooked in coconut milk and a myriad of spices.  As the coconut milk evaporates and the spices absorb, the beef begins to caramelize.  The result is a sweet and spicy "pulled" beef dish that was absolutely unbelievable.  I'm looking forward to trying this recipe out on my own.

Rendang: The best $5 we've ever spent.

Fanning the charcoal fire for the satays.
After polishing off some chicken satays, shrimp and a bowl of laksa, we needed a bit of a break and palate cleanser.  The Malaysian "ABC Shaved Ice" seemed to be the perfect answer.  ACB is short for Air Batu Campur - literally meaning "mixed ice".  A man was hand shaving large blocks of ice which was then packed into cups.  But not before an assortement of sweet corn, red beans and grass jelly (cincau) was spooned into the bottom of the dish.  The ice is then flavoured with colourful syrups and topped with condensed milk and peanuts.  A seemly random combination of flavour, yes, however quite enjoyable and refreshing. 

ABC Ice

A very random spoonful of flavour and textures.
The Indian influence on Malaysian food was highlighted by two types of roti that were offered at the bazaar.  Roti Jala is formed when a thin batter is drizzled onto a hot griddle through a container with small holes in the bottom.  The result is a crepe-like roti that takes on the appearance of a thin funnel cake.  It's then rolled into a cylinder and served along side soups and stews.

Roti Jala being prepared.


Roti Canai is a stretched dough type of flatbread that is folded over vegetables or egg (called Roti Telur) and grilled in ghee until golden brown.  I unfortunately did not leave any room to try this dish, and the line was the longest of the festival.  Hoping I can track this roti down at one of the local restaurants!

video 
Stretching the roti dough.

Shrimp and vermicelli topped w/hot peppers in a tamarind soy mixture.  Sweet rice and coconut "tamale".
After my friends left to get their hair done (I know..hair over street food, really??), I powered on through a couple more snacks.  Thankfully all vendors were offering their food in take out containers, so I was able to grab some to eat later.  I also picked up a load of deserts/pastries to bring to my hockey party potluck later that day.  Curiously, many of the desserts were coloured green.  With the flavours consistently banana and/or coconut, I could not determine the source or reason behind the colouration.  I would later learn that a traditional ingredient in Malay cooking is Pandan leaves, which leaves a green colour.  Pandan paste can be bought in many Asian specialty stores.

Sweet potato donuts and sweet rice/coconut balls infused with Pandan paste.





Overall, the best dish by far was the Rendang Beef.  Thankfully, it was made by the wonderful people at the Chahaya Malaysia Restaurant, so I look forward to visiting them for dinner in the future. If you'd like to check out some traditional Malaysian cuisine, they are located at1690 Montreal Rd in Gloucester.





Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rise of the Pop-Up

After not being able to make it out to the Underground Market this past Saturday, I decided to end my long weekend with a Monday trip down the 401 for a trio of pop-up mastery at the Steam Whistle Brewery.  In celebration of the Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener, Fidel Gastro, Comida del Pueblo and The Rock Lobster Co. came together to feed the masses their delicious sandwich creations.

Pop-up restaurants and retail stores are becoming increasingly popular in today's culture.  An ingenious way to start a business at minimal cost, many young entrepreneurs are taking to the streets in search of the next venue to showcase their products.  With the street food scene growing in popularity across North America, the city of Toronto is starting to stand out as a hotbed for food trucks and pop-up restaurants. 

La Carnita was the first to hit the local pop-up market last summer.  Combining street food with street art, creator Andrew Richmond and his team are serving some of the best tacos and tostadas this taco enthusiast has ever had.  La Carnita's overwhelming success has been pivotal in growth to the street food industry and has inspired several other local chefs to take on their own pop-up businesses.

La Carnita: Buy limited edition art...receive tacos!
Fidel Gastro

Over the past several months, El Presidente himself,  Matt Basile has not only showcased his awesome culinary skills, but he has also perfectly demonstrated the way to market a new business.  Ingenious product branding coupled with a strong social media presence and fresh local ingredients have proven to be a huge success.  Fidel's Extremo Cuban Sandwich menu is ever evolving and Basile recently took a trip down to Miami where he found inspiration through in the flavours and culture of the immigrant Cuban community.  His prep work is done at a local butcher whom conveniently enough also provides the meat, and he sources the buns from bakery in Kensington Market.  No matter which one of his popular sandwiches you order, be ready to yell OLE! when your order arrives.

"Sgt. Slather" and the "El Paisano"

Comida del Pueblo

Comida del Peublo is literally translated to "Food of the People".  This triple threat of young Toronto chefs came together to create some of the best street food the city has to offer.  Using traditional Latin American ingredients, their menu is highlighted by a Jalapeno Cornbread Grilled Cheese Sandwich that is sure to sell out at every event.  Water Buffalo Empenadas are a recent addition to their menu which has garnered significant publicity from hungry customers ready to snap pics of their meal and post online.

Jalapeno cornbread grilled cheese and water buffalo empanada

Rock Lobster Food Co.

Rock Lobster is the newest kid on the Toronto Pop-Up Block.  After trips to Atlantic Canada and NYC, a decision was made to bring the ever popular lobster roll to the streets of Toronto.  Rock Lobster just participated in their first Underground Market and proved to be a fan favorite, as evidenced by having one of the longest lines at the event all evening long.  Rock Lobster is also offering a wholesale line of sustainable seafood from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  For more information on how to order, check out their website!

Lobster rolls and lobster ceviche

All pop-ups are available for private catering, but don't wait too long to book them for your event, as their summer schedules are filling up fast!  Fidel Gastro, Comida del Peublo and Rock Lobster will all be showcased in the upcoming The Next Food Truck hosted by the wildly popular Food Truck Eats events.  In a one day showdown on April 23rd, they will compete along with other budding food truck owners to see who would be best suited to take to the streets of Toronto in their own mobile kitchen.

And be sure check out the Toronto Street Food Project to see how a group of local street food activists have come together to promote a change in municipal regulations throughout their city.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tacos are Coming

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have a small infatuation with tacos.  OK...maybe not so much an infatuation, but rather an outright obsession.  I can't help it.  And I'm not talking Old El Paso or Taco Bell here...I'm taking handmade soft corn tortillas, fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.

My problem started years ago with travel through California and Mexico.  I was introduced to what tacos REALLY should taste like, and since then I've been ruined.  Whether it's LA style carnitas, Baja fish tacos or even the pork brain tacos of the Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana...it's all beautiful and delicious.  After my last trip to Southern California I came home and immediately bought a tortilla press.  It's taken several failed attempts and endless nights slaving over a hot stove, but I think I've finally gotten the hang of the tortilla.  Since then I've been putting basically anything I can into a tortilla and subjecting close friends to "taco parties" against their free will.

Taco time @ home

Up until recently, there were few worthwhile taco options in Ottawa.  But that all seems to be changing now.  We've got a long way to go to catch up to other large cities, but that's typical for our local food scene.  So, for now let's just enjoy what we have and support our local "Taquerias"!

Here's where you can find some of Ottawa's best tacos;

The Piggy Market is a craft butcher and gourmet food store in Ottawa's Westboro neighborhood.  They have a daily lunch counter which offers tacos every Thursday. The handmade tortillas and succulent local meats make for one of my favorite stops through town.


Piggy Market's Cochinita Pibil Taco

Stone Soup Foodworks, Ottawa's lone gourmet food truck does Taco Tuesday every week.  Situated on  Marie Curie Dr on the University of Ottawa Campus Monday through Friday lunch, this truck has become a hotspot for streetfood loving students and professionals seeking fresh and healthy alternatives to fast food.

Stone Soup's Beef Tacos

The Whalesbone offers fish tacos during their famous "Brown Bag Lunch" every Tuesday to Saturday 11-2pm at their Kent St retail location.  This local institution in sustainable fish supply is the place to go if you love seafood in your tortillas!

Whalesbone's Octopus Tacos

TacoLot is the newest kid on the scene and on their first day last week they were already sold out by 1:30pm.  Although they have yet to set up a website or social media accounts, they can be found in on Wellington St in Hintonburg, right beside Suzy Q Doughnuts (which makes for a very tasty combination).  Hours are12-9pm, however since they are just getting started it is likely that for the time being those hours are no guarantee.

TacoLot's pork tacos

Los Tacos de Mauro is a hidden gem at 349 Dalhousie St. in the Byward Market. Sharing space with a Latin Discoteka, they are open 11-9pm Tuesday to Friday.  Here Mauro Rosario's tacos are served along side other traditional favorites like chile rellenos, tamales and tortas. 

Lamb, ChicharrĂ³n, and Chicken tacos.

Mercado Latino on Montreal Rd in Vanier is a specialty grocery store that cooks up tacos every Saturday from 12-2pm.  Don't be shy to ask about the tacos, they aren't advertized anywhere.  There is likely only one meat option available, so just tell the store clerk how many you want and she will head to the back to whip them up.  There is a small table located in the front where you can sit and enjoy lunch, or they will pack it up for take out as well.  It's deliciously messy and the most authentic street tacos you can get in Ottawa.

Mercado's Tacos de Pollo

So there you have it. There are a couple other restaurants with tacos on their menu, but in my humble opinion these are the most worth your while.  It's a pretty good start for our to city really embrace the taco, and I'm glad I am no longer alone in my obsession.

And as the back of my card says;