The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. It could only mean one thing. Summer is coming? No silly, it's the start of food truck season!
This past weekend kicked off the 2016 What The Truck (WTT) season, with the first inaugural event held at Northlands Park. Edmonton's food truck scene has grown quite a bit over the last little while, and the aim of WTT is to celebrate that growing culture. At a WTT event, a number of food trucks are gathered in one central location, allowing guests to try a handful of them all at once.
The season started off with a bang, with 40 trucks taking part in the weekend-long festivities. Though the location of WTT varies, I thought that Northlands was a great location. Easily accessible by transit, ample parking, and lots of room to spread out.
There was a decent crowd when the event started at 3:00, but the line-ups were pretty manageable and food was quick to come out. It helps to come out to a WTT event with a game plan. Check the menus beforehand (they're usually posted a few days before) and have an idea of which food trucks you want to hit up. If you're going with friends, divide and conquer! Going early helps too!
The first truck that we hit up was Casa12Doce, a beautiful and vibrant food truck based out of Sherwood Park. If there was an award for the most eye-catching truck design, Casa12Doce would definitely win.
Owner and executive chef Carlos O'Farrill originally hails from Mexico City. When he wasn't able to find a worthy Mexican eatery in Edmonton, he decided to make one himself, only, this time on wheels. With a diverse menu that includes everything from tacos to flautas, Casa12Doce's specialty is delivering fresh, authentic Mexican food to the streets.
We ordered their gringa ($10.00): two 10" flour tortillas grilled with cheese, topped off with al Pastor pork, onions, cilantro, pineapple, and a lime wedge. Basically the love child between a quesadilla and a taco. Portions were generous with a healthy serving of well-seasoned pork. The meat was erring slightly on the dry side, but the pineapple made up for it with its sweetness. The quesadilla taco shell was toasty and melty, the perfect vehicle and a delicious combination when rolled up and eaten together!
For some reason or another, green onion cakes have become Edmonton's unofficial "official" dish. Jumping on this trend is Rapscallions, a new addition to the food struck scene, having made their debut at WTT. I have to say, their take on the classic green onion cake is pretty ingenious: using it as a taco shell and stuffing it full with a variety of Asian-inspired fillings.
Rapscallions had probably one of the longest lines, but they were quick to churn out their product. Despite being rookies, their assembly line operated like a well-oiled machine. Food trucks, take note: novelty sells.
Out of four varieties offered, we settled on the Korean shredded beef green onion cake taco ($7.00). Korean-style beef short rib, cooked bone-in, shredded, and then soaked in its own braising liquid. Finished with kimchi and roasted sesame seeds, and then rolled up in a green onion cake. While the idea was creative, I felt the execution was so-so. The green onion cake was dense and a little burnt. I was expecting more flakiness and definitely more green onion flavour. The shredded beef was moist, but coupled with the kimchi, the flavour was pretty mild. I see great potential in their product though, and could only hope for improvement here on out.
Moving along to their neighbouring truck, Drift is what you would consider a veteran. I'm sad I wasn't able to try out their brick and mortar store (Dovetail Deli) earlier, since it was announced a month ago that they were closing up shop. Not to worry though, they still plan to go strong with their food trucking business.
For the WTT event, Drift were serving slider sizes of their usual sandwiches alongside your choice of fries or crisps. LT ordered the pork belly slider with fries ($8.00). Even with the side, I thought it was pretty expensive for such a small portion. Their regular sandwiches go for $8.50 anyways, so why the inflated price?
The sandwich is somewhat banh mi-inspired, since the pork belly is paired with pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, and chili mayo. I had a bite and thought they were a bit too liberal with the chili mayo since it was all I ended up tasting. The hand-cut fries were good, though LT said they were a bit inconsistent with some pieces being crispy and others soggy. She did like the fries better than the sandwich, and thought it paired well with their homemade ketchup. A somewhat disappointing first impression though, since I've heard so many great things.
The Good Stuff truck was new to me, but apparently they originate from Red Deer. Loved their tagline -- field, farm, fork, face. Emphasis on locally sourced ingredients is always nice to see.
We got the fried chicken bao to share (2 for $9.50, 1 for $5.00). In between the soft and fluffy bao was a kimchi brined and fried chicken thigh, "good" sauce, cilantro, and green onion. I had a bite and thought the chicken was cooked well with a satisfying crunch. Pretty safe flavours overall.
Our last savoury item of the day came courtesy of Meat Street Pies. They're run by a husband and wife team, and offer a variety of freshly baked, handheld meat pies. Think chicken pot pie, Cornish pasties, tourtière, Jamaican patties, and much more.
The lady taking orders was so fun and sweet. I think having a person on the ground feels so much more personable than having to shout your order up to a window (or maybe that's just me and my lack of height talking).
LT decided on the tourtière ($6.50), a traditional French-Canadian pie. Meat Street prepares theirs with a mix of ground beef and pork, onions, celery, and a not-so-secret blend of herbs and spices. The puff pastry was impossibly flaky, making it a mess to eat but totally worth it. Filled to the brim with meat, no fillers here. LT thought it was delicious, and when prompted more, said "Delicious. it was just delicious." Make of that what you will.
Onto dessert! There were quite a few gelato and ice cream trucks to choose from, but in the end, I decided on Cafe Bel-Air, a humble little cart serving up gourmet popsicles. Cafe Bel-Air can also be found at various farmer's markets around the city. Their flavours are inventive, emphasizing local and all-natural ingredients. Vegan? Lactose-intolerant? They have you covered!
The mango lassi popsicle ($3.00) was right up my alley. It was a bit subtle on the mango, but huge on the spice. (Cardamom maybe?) Definitely a refreshing treat, and nice, light way to end off the festivities.
Knowing LT and KN, simple ice cream wasn't going to cut it. They made a beeline for Molly's Eats, a food truck known for its international take on comfort food. They've been around for quite a while, but for WTT, they brought forward a dessert-centric menu.
For LT, was there anything more fitting than the French chocolate cake ($5.00)? Topped off with a caramel drizzle and a sprinkle of sea salt, the cake was super rich and chocolately. It was more like a piece of fudge than cake really. My bite was incredibly dense, with a strong coffee note. LT is a big chocolate fan, but even for her, it was a bit too much.
KN got the flødeboller, pronounced flew-de-bowl-ler ($5.00). A Danish dessert, a flødeboller is basically a chocolate covered marshmallow sitting on top of a cookie. Molly's made theirs gluten-free, egg-free, and nut-free so anyone could partake. It was almost like the real-life embodiment of the poop emoji. Hmm, appetizing. KN thought the cookie bottom was a bit dry, and that it wasn't anything too special.
Overall, the first WTT events were a huge success. Despite inclement weather reports, the rain held off on both Saturday and Sunday and only started pouring once it wrapped up. The event was well-organized, and the food trucks were better prepared to handle the crowd. Through volunteer efforts, WTT has managed to overcome the growing pains that made last year's Churchill event a bit of a gong show. With more dates planned throughout the summer, make sure to go out, support your local food trucks, and celebrate the little sun we get with some tasty food!
Labels: Canadian, Chinese, Dessert, Edmonton, Event, Fast food, Food Review, Food truck, Fusion, Ice cream, International, Mexican, Sandwiches