Believe it or not, with all the random food I eat, I’ve never really frequented food trucks. Up until recently, I swore my favourite truck was the blue one at Nathan Philips Square that sells burgers, hotdogs and fries. You know the one – dry, thin burgers that you’d find at a little league tournament or fundraiser. But in my defense, the gravy is ALWAYS free! I used to swear “it was so bad, it’s good”. I now feel like I need to hide my face in embarrassment because I realize my grave error in judgement.
This Sunday, Food Truck Eats put on AwesTRUCK 2012 – a food truck event featuring the latest trucks, pop ups and some local artists at Evergreen Brick Works. There were around 10 trucks plus a few more pop up vendors showcasing a sample of their menus for around $5 a serving. Here’s my breakdown of the day.
The first stop of the day was TacoCat. I tried the cuttlefish and chicken satay tacos. The cuttlefish lost a little of its flavour when it was deep fried, but in turn, the chicken was wonderfully seasoned with a great peanutty flavour. A great start to the day.
Next up was The Tide & Vine Oyster Company pop up. Here, I sampled their lobster roll and oyster “lobstafeller”. The lobster roll was a little watery, but the fresh, lobster flavour really came out after a couple of bites. The lobster was nice and chunky and had a good meat to bun ratio. The “lobsterfeller” on the other hand was all extras with no oyster flavour. You couldn’t really taste any individual ingredient, and it was overwhelmingly salty. On to the next truck
I arrived at Dobro Jesti just in time, because shortly after I ordered the risotto balls, they were sold out. I love getting the last one – it’s such a personal win. I think I would have shed a little tear in my stomach if I couldn’t try these. They were delicious! A perfect, great, golden, panko crust with a creamy, goat cheese centre. I only wish I had the foresight to order two servings! The schnitzel roll was okay. The pork was nice and juicy, but it was on the sweet side. It was stuffed with apple, brie and cranberry, but you could only pick out the cran flavour which seemed to also surround the roll itself. I wish it had the same golden finish like the risotto. However, no time for ‘if only”- there was more food to be eaten!
Gorilla Cheese has become a staple at most food truck events, in fact they won the People’s Choice award at AwesTRUCK. I’ve heard so many great things, so I was definitely wanted to try it. I sampled the El Jefe Ham which also had pickles, pulled pork, dijon mustard and mozz and swiss cheese. It was good, but it wasn’t my favourite of the day. The pulled pork wasn’t that flavourful and actually took away from the sandwich. Everything else blended really nicely together and the swiss cheese really came through. Some of their items sold out quickly, including my first choice, “The Marmaluke”, so I will undoubtedly order from this truck again. I definitely see why people get excited whenever it rolls down the street.
Rome’n Chariot was by far my favourite truck of the day, and I also think the most underappreciated. I tried the Gladia-Trix Slider, which had a veal cutlet and breaded eggplant. I also ate the Porchetta Slider. The porchetta was tasty and fatty, and the bun had a nice, delicate crispness on the outside and was soft on the inside. However, the shining star for me was 100%, hands down the Gladia-Trix. The veal was nicely breaded and golden fried and came out both crispy and moist. They didn’t skimp on the meat, which was a treat, and it was perfectly seasoned and delicious. This echoed for the eggplant. It came out with a nice crunch and wasn’t too soggy. Everyone I was with resoundingly agreed that this was a top item of the event.
I had mixed feelings with El Gastronomo Vagabundo. They tout being globally inspired and locally driven. I was expecting fresh flavours, which I got, but I think they missed the mark on the “global” aspect. I regrettably missed out on the cod tacos, so I tried the onion pancake with chicken and pickled radish and cucumber. The pickling was fresh with a great tang, but it was on the watery side. With the Asian sounding ingredients, I pictured a deep fried onion pancake similar to the ones I eat at home. Insead, it was just a regular pancake, and you couldn’t taste the onion. However, the entire bite worked well together, but I guess my disappointment came moreso from my own pre-conceived expectations. It’s worth a second shot.
Cupcake Diner was a nice surprise. I’ve started writing off cupcake places because it’s overdone and I don’t have that huge a sweet tooth. I had their banana cake with peanut butter buttercream. The cake was very similar to banana bread, so it wasn’t that sweet. It was nicely balanced with a velvety, nutty icing. The great part was that it wasn’t sugar overload. Every cupcake out there seems to have 3x the necessary amount of frosting, and I end up scraping most of it off. Cupcake Diner had great flavours and I thoroughly appreciate their retraint.
When Fidel Gastro opened mid event, everyone flocked to their truck, so I was so intrigued. I tried the Sgt. Slather Sandwich and Diablo Pad Thai Fries. The sandwich had barbeque pulled pork, guacamole and tortilla chips. The pork flavour masked the guac, but overall it was a tasty sandwich and the chips added a great textural element. The fries were a disappointment. It had no pad thai flavour at all, it fact, it more resembled buffalo wings. Had it been called “Diablo Buffalo Wing Fries” we wouldn’t have a problem, but there was no tang of tamarind or any asian flair to it at all. I wouldn’t order that again.
As a final stop, we got Gourmet Gringos to go. They opened mid event as well. To be honest, I only had a small nibble as I was so full by the end of it. From what I tasted the fish was moist and had more flavour than the typical fish taco. If only they were open at the beginning of the event!
Now that the night is done, and I’m re-reading this entry, I’ve reached the same level of full that I was when I left Brick Works. My view of food trucks have been opened and expanded and I will never look at that blue truck at NPS the same ever again.
AwesTRUCK high – Mini Gladia-Trix @ Rome’n Chariot
AwesTRUCK low – Diablo Pad Thai Fries @ Fidel Gastro
AwesTRUCK surprise – Banana Peanut Butter Cupcake @ Cupcake Diner
Overall a delicious day!