Not So Awe-Struck at Awestruck Food Truck Fest

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This was the scene at this weekend’s Day 2 of Awestruck Food Truck Festival 2014 held at Wellington and Portland this year. Now it may be because there were also about 10 other events in Toronto including the CNE and Fan Expo just next door, but this is just low attendance. It was so low that by 6:30 PM, the food trucks started leaving the premises for an event that was supposed to go on until 8PM. But when there’s more staff in your truck than there are people buying, business should be taken somewhere else.

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What: Frankie’s Fettuccine
Where: Frankie Fettuccine Food Truck Co.
Pointers: Rather disappointed with such a large serving of pasta for $12. It was very bland even with sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and mozzarella cheese on it. The peas added a bit of weirdness as a whole to this “Italian-fusion” dish. We’re not sure what the attempt was with the peas but it didn’t do anything overall. If there were salt and pepper around, we would have salted that thing just add a flavour to it. Rather disappointing so we threw most of it away.

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What: Nachos
Where: Curbalicious Food Truck
Pointers: This one is a new discovery for us and glad to have found it! Curbalicious offers a rotating menu but today was an Indian-inspired dish that had a lot of flavour in every bite. Served with the same concept as a nacho, Curbalicious offered a base of crispy-fried naan bread topped with cheese curds, shredded chicken, tamarind sauce and mayo. So it was more Poutine than nachos, if you ask me. The different flavours complimented each other and perfect for the crispy naan bread. We’d love to check out this food truck again and try the other dishes.

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What: Fish Tacos
Where: Rancho Relaxo
Pointers: I referred to them as fish sticks on a taco. But it’s not all that bad. For $10, you get three small taco with a deep fried breaded fish stick topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. The toppings themselves had a “refreshing” taste similar to one you would on the streets of Mexico, so I give these guys chops for that. But we weren’t fans of the fish stick idea. For us that would be more of a Po’Boy approach.

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What: Jerk Chicken Wrap
Where: Caribbean Provisions on Da Go
Pointers: We thoroughly enjoyed Caribbean Provisions on Da Go Jerk Chicken wrap. It was mildly spicy with tender chicken on a bed of Caribbean rice. It was meant to be enjoyed by the masses so we enjoyed that it’s not overpowering like traditional jerk chicken. We would prefer more chicken next time.

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What: Barbequed King Cole Duck Cakes w/ Spicy Corn Relish
Where: Localista
Pointers: Thoroughly enjoyed the duck cakes from Localista. The corn relish bed was a perfect pairing for this crispy on the outside, moist on the inside duck cake. We would have preferred some kind of tangy drizzle of sauce over the cakes just to bring it another flavour profile. Don’t get us wrong, it was still good, just felt it needed something tangy to balance out flavour.

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What: Chocolate
Where: Chimney Stax Baking Co.
Pointers: After an onslaught of savoury dishes, we needed some sweetness to balance the palate. There were 3 food trucks offering desserts but we decided to go with Chimney Stax. We had both the Classic Sugar Stax and the Chocolate Stax. It’s a hallowed-out baked good dressed on the outside with sugar, sprinkles, and so on. It has a nice crunchy crust yet soft and chewy underside. For more adventurous patrons, you can stuff the hollow portion with ice cream. It’ll likely hold the ice cream. We certainly thought of it!

Other food trucks that need no mention on our blog in this event were Me.N.U, Fidel Gastro’s and Buster’s Sea Cove. All of which haven been blogged on previous events.

Overall, a pretty disappointing turn out and nothing really exciting at this year’s event. Our hope is that next week’s ticketed event for the awards night at Celebration Square in Mississauga has a better turn out for these food trucks.

TD Night It Up 2014

The annual TD Night It Up at the Markham Civic Centre was another success this year. Sticking to the traditional night markets in Asia, food vendors offered a wide range of street food that some may consider delicacy. But if you are Torontonian, this is normal grub. Below are the ones we got to try before calling it “we’re full!”

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What: Oolong Tea Creama
Where: Sharetea
– Sharetea added a twist to the bubble tea movement with their Oolong Tea Creama. It’s basically iced oolong tea but with a heavy sweet milk cream on top. It has a fluffy cream cheese like texture that you can either eat by itself of try to mix it in with the oolong tea at the bottom. It was interesting alone but it made the oolong tea bland if you ate the cream first. Eventually, I mixed mine in. That resulted in a refreshingly sweet drink. Check out Sharetea at Northtown Way in North York!

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What: Spicy Chicken (left) and Rice Squares (right)
Where: Roy’s BBQ
– I think Roy’s BBQ is a pop-up food tent for now. They served us up spicy but mild chicken skin and tendon balls (they were more like chicken popcorn than BBQ) and a cooling rice squares. Both were very nice.

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What: One Up, Porkzilla and Angry Birds
Where: Me.n.u
– Me.n.u started as food tent vendors in events like the TD Night Market. I think we first saw them at TO Food Fest about two years ago. Now they have a food truck added to their roster but continue to do food tents. We were able to try all three. We liked the Angry Bird the most interestingly enough since we are fans of pork. But for some reason, the One Up and Porkzilla wasn’t as savoury as we remembered them. They also used to have more meat in it and moist, but they were a little dry today and maybe a little over fried. Overall, it was still good eats. Just need to be mindful of the texture next time.

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What: Pork, Beef and Chicken Satay Skewers
Where: Mamak Satay
– If you go to any night market this season and you see these guys, go! You can’t go wrong between the three satay skewers they serve up. Each has an explosion of flavours that is just wonderful. We liked all three with or without the sauce. Check them out if you see their pop-up food tent.

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What: Mango Ice Cream
Where: Ice Volcano
– One of our favourite stops in these food events is Ice Volcano’s 100% Canadian milk liquid nitrogen ice cream. It’s always a blast watching these guys create their ice cream right in front of you. It’s an edible science experiment! They added dry ice to the presentation so your ice cream cup is not only fancy to look at but also keeps the ice cream stay frozen a little longer. Check these guys out when you see then at food events!

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What: Assorted stuffed chicken wings
Where: Stuffed and Co.
– Stuffed and Co. is a catering company that is serving up stuffed chicken wings. Yes, they stuff the chicken wings with things like Mac’n’Cheese (Cheesy Mac), dumpling (Wonton Bomb), and jambalaya (Yaya Wing)! We liked all three, but our fave was the Yaya Wing. It had an Asian yet Southern comfort zing with jambalaya in sriaracha aioli and creole seasoning stuffed in a chicken wing then fried. It had an explosion of flavours that is unique to Stuffed and Co. Very good indeed!

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What: Oyster Omelets
Where: Oyster Omelet
– The Toronto Star raved about this food stand as a must check out in this season’s food events so we decided to check it out. Sad to say we were not impressed by the dish at all and decided to throw most of it away after a bite or two. It just wasn’t good and we actually blame it for perhaps causing stomach upsets later on. Just not a fan of oysters that way. Give fresh oysters with a bit of lemon and garlic butter and I’m good. Cooked this way? Not so much. We say, skip this one unless you are heading home soon to be near a bathroom.

Overall, another successful TD Night It Up event at the Markham Civic Centre. We love getting invited to this event every year and look forward to it. See you next year TD Night It Up!

Hawkers Market – Vancouver

Second foodie event of the summer! Hawkers market is a cool event that aims to bring local food businesses together for foodies like us to experience new and innovative food creations. This year, the event was held in East Vancouver, near Kingsway with the majority of vendors inside but also a few food trucks lined up outside.

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Our first stop was the table selling Chicken Waffles. The sandwich was made of free range chicken (really nicely fried), organic kale slaw (which they ran out of), chipotle maple aioli (super creamy), and watermelon gastrique (we had no idea where this component was). Overall, not bad for $9 and it was really filling!

We then tried some blueberry lavender marshmallows toasted with a blow torch, followed by a blackcurrant, raspberry and cream popsicle which was my favorite dessert of the night ūüôā

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The beautifully designed bottles of Taiwanese cold tea were from Oolloo Tea, the founder has a long family history of growing tea leaves and I love the simplicity and chicness of her designs and packaging! The chocolates were made by a lady who infused lavender and roses into the cocoa and cream, which makes the chocolate very rich and flavorful without being sweet at all. Probably the healthiest chocolate I’ve ever had. Another drink stand was called Kombucha, which is a different way of brewing tea with sugar. I got to try the pumpkin flavored one, which reminded me a bit like gingerale. Definitely a new foodie creation and seems very interesting!

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Overall, it was a fun event although I wish there were more food vendors! A lot of the vendors didn’t prepare enough portions so my advice would be to arrive early next time! Thanks for inviting us Hawkers Market – hope to see you at the next event!

CraveTO 2014 – Hits a high note for Music

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Back at Honest Ed’s alley, this year’s CraveTO (Night) food, music and drink event fell on one of the busiest weekends of the summer. Competing with a number of festivals around the city including the much awaited World Pride and a Canada Day Long weekend, CraveTO had to celebrate on a weeknight. Last year’s event consisted of day and night ticketed events, but this year, offered only an evening one. Similar to last year, it promised food, beverage and music. Food booths were smaller in numbers this year, which made the selection fairly limited. We still managed to try 80% of the food from the vendors. They are as follows:

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What: Pork BBQ and Chicken Parm Meatballs with Kettle Chips
Where: We Got Balls Food Truck
Pointer: Actually a little disappointed with both portion and taste of the meatballs. For one, we couldn’t distinguish the difference between the two as both texture and flavour was the same. We couldn’t taste any barbeque flavour on either meatball. It was swimming in marinara sauce and we concluded perhaps they gave us the wrong order. The Kettle Chips were good and crispy. I mean it’s Kettle Chips. We would have preferred a slightly larger sized meatball like what other food trucks and food pop-ups offer in these events.

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What: Po’Boy Hot Dog and Katsu Hot Dog
Where: Let’s Be Frank Food Truck
Pointers: This is probably the one worthwhile stop we tried at the event. The tiny Silverstein’s buns sandwiched a tiny Nathan’s Famous beef hot dog and loaded with toppings. A little salty but you are not eating a dozen of them so live a little. Definitely check out Let’s Be Frank food truck when you see it.

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What: Chicken Roti
Where: Randy’s Roti Food Truck
Pointers: A little disappointed with this one. Maybe our expectation was to be wowed since we know a little bit about roti. Or at least we think so since we’ve had our share of home made authentic roti. We’re not looking for perfection here, but at least something with flavour other than the tongue-burning Tobasco sauce. It had a bitter after taste also, which is often reminiscent of store bought roti mix. We expected spicy, but on a good heat. Not spicy for the sake of being spicy and call it roti.

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What: Beef Cheek Pastrami
Where: Brick and Mortar Pop-up Catering
Pointers: This is also one of the best in the lot that day. The beef cheeks were marbled and had lots of flavour. The fresh mustard and pickles (which I am not often a fan of) offered a nice tangy balance to the sandwich. We had no complaints here. Awesome, friendly and chatty staff and a tasty sandwich to boot!

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What: Cheddar and Potato Pierogies
Where: The Saucy Pierogies
Pointers: These were okay, we thought. Not as good as, perhaps, European Delight at the St. Lawrence Market, but it’ll do. We just wished there was more filling inside and the cheddar wasn’t as runny and melted like water. It made it appear to be cheap cheese.

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What: Deep Fried Chicken Skewers
Where: Gushi
Pointers: Gotta say, we were a little disappointed with Gushi this time around. We raved about it from previous posts as their Deep Fried Chicken Skewers were really good. At this event, they were not cooked all the way thru and it seems to be lacking the flavour it once had. It just wasn’t good any more. I hope their chicken at Market 707, their actual location, is serving up better chicken.

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What: Bubble Cake
Where: Penny Lou Lou Sweets
Pointers: If you’ve been to Asian night markets in and around the GTA, you’ve had your share of bubble cakes. It is basically a waffle batter and cooked like a waffle on a bubble-like mould then topped with whatever topping your heart desires. We had the one with everything on it – fresh fruits, Nutella, caramel, chocolate syrup, sugar icing and ice cream. There is no denying that it will satisfy your sweet tooth. This was the perfect way to top off our salty pickings from the other vendors so check them out.

There were two other food vendors that we didn’t try for a number of reasons: 1. Poutini’s has their own location and we’ve been there before, and 2. We’re not fans of oysters that had been exposed to the summer heat. We’ll visit Oyster Boy at your location instead. Invite us!

Well, that’s it. One summer food event down. Certainly looking forward to the others that we can get to. Thanks to the organizers of CraveTO. Looking forward to the next ones. Cheers!

Vancouver Food Truck Festival

First foodie event of the summer! It was so much fun attending this year’s Vancouver Food Cart Fest located right by the Olympic Village this past Sunday. Go check them out this summer as there will be different food trucks there every Sunday from 12-5pm. Not only do they offer valet bike parking, there’s also lots space to hang out, chillax and even play some ping pong! Also, kudos to all the staff for sorting the garbage, contains for recycling and composting – it felt like a game/quiz every time we walked by the throw something out!

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Drink Trucks:

The Juice Truck – their watermelon aloe juice was refreshing and tasty.

Jamaica Blue Cold Brew – Coffee on tap! This was a really neat concept as I’ve never tried this kind of coffee before. It was frothy and smooth, almost beer like actually. For someone who doesn’t normally drink black coffee, I could have easily filled a mug full of this delicious drink. The brewing process eliminates a lot of the acidity, and I didn’t feel the need to add coffee or sugar at all.

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Food Truck Name: Feastro – the rolling bistro
What we ate: Dirty Fries – fries topped with pulled pork, a generous amount of BBQ sauce, garlic lemon aioli, tomato salsa and pickled jalapenos
Verdict: This was the biggest portion we had out of all the food trucks. However, quality is better than quantity in this case. All the components taste good individually, but after digging my fork in for a bite, it just didn’t make me want to take another bite. Perhaps I should have added¬†some Sriracha hot sauce, to enhance and combine all the components together (But then again, Sriracha tastes good with everything). Oh well –¬†I’ve heard good things about their tacos though, maybe next time!

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Food Truck Name: Ze Bite
What we ate: Ze Moroccan – nicely marinated chicken, mint, moroccan spice mix, hummus, grainy dijon mayo, mixed greens
Verdict: This savoury gluten free crepe surprisingly did not taste like cardboard (though the crepe looks a bit like it though don’t you think?). Chicken was flavorful and not too dry, and the hummus added another dimension in texture to the dish overall. Pretty healthy if you ask me!

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Food Truck Name: Mogu
What we ate: Sweet Chili Chicken Karaage
Verdict: YUM YUM YUM. It’s everything that chicken karaage should be: fried crispy but saucy on the outside,¬†juicy and tender on the inside. This was probably my fave savory dish of the day, and bonus points goes to the cool art on their truck!

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Food truck Name: Vij’s Railway Express
What we ate: Puffed rice and chickpea salad
Verdict: For someone who’s not the biggest fan of chickpeas, this was quite good! The green peas, chickpeas and tomatoes in particular were bursting with flavors ¬†from the Indian spices, but the puffed rice and sprouts contribute to a crisp and refreshing taste.¬†Looking forward to trying the curries at the Vij’s restaurant – hopefully the line won’t be too long when I go!

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Food Truck Name: Sweet Ride
What we ate: Froyo with caramel sauce, toffee bits, Belgian waffles, and a slice of banana
Verdict: The tart frozen yogurt paired really well with the sweetness of the caramel sauce and crunchy toffee bits. In my opinion, it would have been even more amazing to have fresh, warm Belgian waffles (mmm imagine how good that smells), but I guess they had to make it in advance to avoid melting the froyo during the assembling process. Overall, a yummy summery treat for all ages.

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Food Truck: Johnny’s Pops
What we ate: Blackberry Mojito Handmade popsicles
Verdict: All these Popsicles are made with fresh local berries (and cream for other flavors) which is awesome because not only is it a somewhat healthy and refreshing treat, we also get to support local farms at the same time.

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Food Truck Name: Cloud Nine Cotton Candy
What we ate: Mango Cotton Candy
Verdict: So cool and innovative to create cotton candy flavors ranging from watermelon to pina colado and root beer. Hope they get to develop even more wacky flavors in the future!

 

Thanks again to Vancouver Food Cart Fest for organizing a great event, look forward to dropping by again this summer! Follow them on Twitter @FoodCartFestYVR or at foodcartfest.com