Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Street Eats and Beats- Edible Canada's Festival Under the Bridge

I'm always on the lookout for fun food events and when a few friends sent me info about Street Eats and Beats, I pretty much bought my ticket right away. Food trucks, DJs, lots of beer and wine. Nothing bad about this mix. This event was put on by the awesome Edible Canada and was held in the covered and open parking lot adjacent just south of their Granville island restaurant.
Single tickets were $30 and included 2 drinks and 6 food truck samples. They also offered a vegetarian option for $20 with 2 drinks and 3 food truck samples.

When you entered, friendly staff gave you a passport for the food trucks and bartenders to punch. Guests at this event certainly weren't limited to the items on their passport- there was beer and wine available for purchase and most of the food trucks were selling full-sized versions of their samples and offering other menu items for sale.

We arrived early-ish in the evening just before 7pm. The line ups were all fairly small at that point, so we took a leisurely approach to obtaining and eating our samples and enjoying a few bevvies. But around 9pm, the fenced in area was bumping with hundreds of guests and line-ups grew quite long. It got a bit crazy with the long line-ups (for food, not for beer) but the party vibe also kicked up with awesome music performed by a DJ, a saxophone player and a drum player.

Le Tigre
Offered up samples of their Finger Licken Popcorn Chicken-le tigre marinated fried chicken with spicy mayo and Warm Brussel Sprout and cauliflower salad - capers, cracked chillies,lemon juice, parmesan cheese. The brussels sprouts and cauliflower were crispy and tossed with lemon, chilis, capers, basil and cilantro. Each bite was full of fresh herb flavour and a sour kick from the lemon. The chicken was cooked crispy outside and juicy on the inside. I found this a bit greasy, so it was nice to combine with the acidity of the brussel sprout/cauliflower salad. 

For the sous chef and other vegetarian/vegans, they subbed their Beet Fries for the chicken. Since he was only getting 3 samples for his vegetarian package, he went ahead and purchased an order of the Beet Fries. These are really tasty, simple, coated in a light starch and fried until crispy and sprinkled with seasoning. The coating is nice and light. I really liked the contrast of the crunchy exterior and smooth inside full of bright beet flavour. 
Le Tigre Cuisine Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Was dishing out Southern Buttermilk Biscuit with Sante Fe Red Gravy on Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce. I've only ever had the Pulled Pork Sandwich from this truck (and I really liked it) and I don't think this is on their regular truck menu or at their New West Market location. It was a great option for a cold February night and a great contrast to all of the greasy, fried options. The buttery, warm, biscuit had a wonderful texture and was topped with a dollop of the pulled pork red gravy which tasted more like a southwest tomato chili stew. It was nice, fresh comfort food.

Re-Up BBQ Foodcart on Urbanspoon

Fresh Local Wild
Serving up delicious, but a bit small, servings of their Seafood Chowder Poutine- with clams, mussels, salmon, cod, and double smoked bacon. I've been to this truck before and DIG it. Great, fun, staff and amazing high quality food. This was chock full of big chunks of seafood, big on flavour, big on texture. Way better than your typical poutine with cheese curds and gravy. And their fries are awesomely crispy and quite flavourful. Unfortunately, for a slow eater like myself, this dish got cold really quickly and definitely lost its appeal the colder it got. But even cold, it was still good- just not AS good.

Fresh Local Wild on Urbanspoon

Grilled Cheese by the moonlight

Mom's Grilled Cheese
Guests were given a choice (always nice to have options!) of Mozzarella Basil on Olive and Rosemary bread or Bacon Cheddar on French. Vegans, Vegetarians and Gluten Free guests were also taken care of at this truck with Gluten Free bread and Daiya cheese substitutions. I've experienced Mom's Grilled Cheese before at their regular Vancouver Art Gallery spot and think it's pretty much the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had. Plus, the staff manage to be friendly, happy, charming, and efficient; doling out sandwiches at a fast pace to drooling customers. I also love the presentation (checked retro paper cones) and the attention to detail with a dill pickle wedge, a few crispy potato chips in each cone. I also have to give a shout out to their impressive condiment station with an awesome variety of hot sauces.

Visitors to the Mogu truck got a massive nugget of their Sweet and Spicy Chicken Karaage. It was very crispy and crunchy on the outside and really really juicy and meaty on the inside. Great flavour and I loved their house made sweet chili sauce.

Mogu Japanese Street Eats on Urbanspoon

Varinicey Pakoras
This was our last food truck to sample and to do so we had to wait over 30 minutes in a chaotic, disorganized line that backed up all the way to the port-a-potties. There was definitely a sense that this cart was either understaffed or ill-prepard for the big crowd. It might have been good for an event organizer to set in and intervene to bring some order to this crazy line. Some of our friends actually gave up because they didn't want to deal with the line. Once I FINALLY got my pakora, I did really like it. They were big! They were lightly battered and not too oily. They tasted lighter and fresher than they look. I also enjoyed the side of spicy mango pickle dip.

Varinicey Pakoras Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happiness between Two Waffles

One recent rainy Vancouver morning, I had picked up a new friend from out of town from the Langara 49th Canada Line stop and was heading down Cambie looking for a place to grab breakfast. I saw The Dutch Wooden Shoe CafĂ© to my right and felt the urge to park. I’ve visited The Dutch Wooden Shoe once over a year ago and remember enjoying my meal. This pannekoek house is located on Cambie Street (near West 17th) serving up and extensive menu of breakfast and lunch dishes. The restaurant is similar in concept and menu items to the De Dutch Pannekoek House chain, but prices are cheaper at TDWSC.

What is is a Pannekoek? Originating in the Netherlands, pannekoeks are a genuine Dutch pancakes served for lunch and supper, but less commonly for breakfast. Pannekoeks are larger than American pancakes and can sometimes be up to a foot in diameter! They’re also thinner than American pancakes but thicker than French style crepes. Toppings vary from savory meats and cheeses to sweet syrups, yogurt, fruit, whipped cream, and ice cream. The customary Dutch way of eating a pannekoek is to roll it up, cut into bite size pieces, and enjoy!

This restaurant is kitchsy and home-y. It’s got wood paneling, mis-matched mugs and quirky knickknacks. You kind of feel like you are dining at a Dutch grandma’s home atmosphere. Even though it’s a pannokeok house, my mind was made up when I saw the Waffle BLT (I believe this was around $8) on the menu. I was really excited when they let me add a medium fried egg to the mix.

The waffle was fluffy, soft, light and a subtle sweetness. The bacon was “spek”, Dutch style bacon, cooked thin and chewy with a slight crisp and nice salty flavour. The runny egg yolk added a nice ooey gooey richness and the green leaf lettuce and thick tomato slices added a bit of bright fresh flavour to the combination. I added a heathy dollop of their chili garlic sauce which took things to another level. When I come to order this again, I’d add the egg again and get them to leave off the mayo and cheddar to make it a bit lighter and save some calories. The side hashbrowns and side salad where pretty underwhelming (frozen and hashbrowns) but rounded out the plate just fine. 

  Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Lucky food on Chinese New Year

When I think of Chinese New Year I usually think of a dragons dancing, parades, red envelopes, and FOOD!
The Chinese are highly superstitious, especially with food.
What should you eat for Chinese New Year? Well that all depends what you are looking for in the upcoming year of the Snake...

Shrimp= Good Times (the word shrimp in chinese is pronounced "ha")
Anything with seeds= Fertility(they represent new life)
Whole Cook Fish= Abundance
Noodles= Longevity (they represent long life...don't cut them in half)
Lettuce= A Raise $ (symbolizes rising fortune)
Broccoli and Cauliflower= Riches (the blossoms on each stalk represent a blossoming year)
Egg Rolls, Dumplings, Pot Stickers= Good Fortune
Duck= Fidelity

BUT avoid Tofu or Bean Curd because its white colour suggests death and misfortune.

Shopping for Chinese New Year is pretty easy in Vancouver. I'm lucky enough to live close to some mom & pop asian groceries and bigger specialty stores like T & T Supermarket. Some T & T products are now available at Real Canadian Superstore.

Shrimp and Chive Cooked Dumplings - an awesome, fast, easy meal with stir fry veggies or spicy fried green beans.

Pineapple Cakes and Chinese Style Pastry (Sachima)- These are really different from western cakes and pastries and are much less sweet. The Pineapple cakes (front) are individually wrapped and a crumbly, golden crust surrounds a chewy pineapple filling. The Sachima (behind) are like a Taiwanese Rice Krispie square- I tried the Raisin and Sesame variety.

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! Enjoy the rest of Chinese New Year celebrations, eat lucky food, and enjoy the upcoming year of the Snake.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Quick post- Breakfast Bites

In the last couple of weeks, I've stumbled across two little gems of breakfast joints. One in my neighbourhood and the other just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my office.

Outpost Cafe

I've definitely grabbed coffee from The Outpost Cafe numerous times but just had my first breakfast experience. Their Fried Egg Breakfast Biscuit ($5.95) was such a treat and a welcome change from my everyday bowl of cereal. The fried egg, thinly sliced tomato and onions, and spinach were all tasty but the beautiful freshly-baked breakfast biscuit was definitely the star of the show. They have a great slightly crusty exterior and a nice soft crumbly outside with a slightly herbacious flavour. Fantastic coffee and iced lemon water station with jam jar glasses.
**Sadly as I was writing this post, I checked their website and there was a note saying that after 2 years, they are closing their doors and the cafe will no longer be in operation. Too bad.

The Outpost Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yummy Sushi

I was looking for an easy place to grab a quick lunch with some friends who were in the vicinity of my office taking care of some business on Granville island. There are plenty of places in the area, but I'd heard of this $2.99 breakfast and threw it out there to see if they wanted to check it out. Turns out they were in a cheap and cheerful mood, so when I threw out some options- they picked the "cheap breakfast" option. 

And this place really should change their name to "Cheap and Cheerful" because that describes this experience to a T. In terms of ambience, you feel like you are eating in a friend's aunt's kitchen. There is a fridge in the dining area, tile floors, about 9 basic glass top tables. The place is run by a husband and wife team. He cooks, she serves and keeps the place tidy. She is an delight- so happy- so smily- so enthusiastic. Her good mood is infectious and giggle-worthy. Just try not to smile when you eat here. They offer $1 coffee and re-fills for coffee and water seem like they are topped up after every sip. She told me I was doing a good job of staying hydrated. The Breakfast special is $2.99 for 4 pieces of bacon or sausage (she was only too happy to offer me half and half), 2 pieces of toast (white or multi-grain), 2 eggs, and hashbrowns. My sunny side up eggs were wonderfully cooked with nice oozy yolks. My bacon was nice and crispy, just how I like it and the sausage was well cooked. The shredded hashbrowns were okay, definitely inconsistent with some crispy and awesome and some a bit cold and mushy. Plenty of ketchup and sriracha to kick up the flavour. Nothing fancy, the food isn't amazing, but it's cheap, quick, and we all left smiling from our Yummy Sushi experience. This is a cash only establishment.

Yummy Sushi on Urbanspoon