Sunday, September 29, 2013

Notorious P.I.G. on the Street

An out-of-town friend/colleague from Toronto was in Vancouver for a September week of meetings and visits and was lucky to get a beautiful Wednesday. Sunny and almost summer-esque. He visits Vancouver regularly, but hasn't really had an opportunity to sample YVR food trucks so I wasn't surprised when this foodie messaged me to see if I wanted to meet up downtown for a food truck lunch. We headed towards the art gallery where one of my favourite food trucks, Mom's Grilled Cheese and a food truck/WV Westfalia van that I've been wanting to try, Pig on the Street, were parked side by side. I recommended that we get a Mom's GC sandwich to share and then we split a wrap from Pig on the Street.

From Mom's Grilled Cheese, we ordered the cashier's recommendation, a pepperjack havarti with tomato and bacon on sourdough. It was awesome as usual. Click here for a previous post on MGC. I love this truck and so did the Vancouver food truck rookie.

I've had several friends sing the praises of Pig on the Street and I was really excited to try it. The van sells five different flatbread sandwich wraps, all of them featuring bacon (except one veg option that substitutes halloumi cheese). They also sell bacon and cheese pastry twisty breadsticks, blueberry lemonade and one dessert option, a bacon, bourbon, caramel, brownie bite. After ordering, I was given a wooden pig figurine with an awesome porcine celebrity moniker, Notorious P.I.G. and was told the wait would be about 20 minutes. 

The wait time was pretty accurate and I was pretty excited to hear staff call out my piggy hip hop name.
I ordered The Porker ($10) Double smoked bacon, sausage and bacon stuffing with sage and apple, goat gouda, greens, apple chutney, caramelized onion mayo. This wrap was heftier than I imagined and they were nice enough to serve it cut it in half on request since we were splitting it. 
Let's start from the outside and work our way in. Their flatbread is delicious and warm. They hand craft this flatbread themselves and I don't think I've had anything quite like it, it is thicker than a standard tortilla, a bit more like a roti, soft, tender, chewy. The bacon itself is plentiful in this wrap. It's thick cut, crispy, smoky and salty with a slight crunch. The stuffing was served in what seemed like a thick slice and pan-fried. I could really taste the savoury sausage and herby sage flavours and the smoother texture allowed the crispy bacon to take the spotlight. The goat gouda was smooth and creamy with a nice saltiness, similar to feta. They also stuffed this wrap generously with arugula which had a nice fresh bite that combined with the acidic apple chutney helped to cut the richness of the bacon, cheese, stuffing, and caramelized onion mayo. All of the flavours complimented one another amazingly and all of the fillings were evenly distributed so each bite captured all of those dynamite elements together. Delicious, satisfying, awesome!

Pig on the Street on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Taste of Sunny Mexico on The Drive at La Mezcaleria

I had briefly visited La Mezcaleria as part of a Tasting Plates adventure on Commercial Drive a few months ago. When asked to coordinate a work drinks meet up in East Vancouver, I knew right away I wanted to try. We arrived right after they opened at 5pm and grabbed a table right away in the front area.

We ordered cocktails, I had Lucia’s Garden -$11 (front and centre) and really enjoyed it. This drink features chipotle infused mescal, cynar (a herby bitter liqueur), reposado (a type of tequila; aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size), tequila, mint, agave. Slighty spicy, with a refreshing, slightly herbaceous taste, this was like a smoother, more delicate Caesar or bloody mary. You could actually taste the layers in this cocktail, but they all melded together seamlessly.

We also nibbled on tortilla chips and their Ceviche Flight- $19; a sample of their ceviches. Aguachile (lime and lemon marinated scallops and albacore tuna with green apple, cucumber, and chile water), Albacore Tuna Ceviche (avocado, lime, and pork chicharron), Scallop and Coconut Milk Ceviche (jicama, pineapple, and thai chile), and Pacific Red Snapper Ceviche (tomato, lime, red onion, Serrano, and cilantro).
My favourites were the Aguachile, I just loved the sharp, sour bite from the green apple, and the Pacific Red Snapper for the spice and kick from the Serrano and fresh cilantro.

Two weeks later, some friends wanted to meet up for dinner on Commercial, something casual and fun. I created a list of options and included La Mezcaleria. They all picked LM, they had heard good things and wanted to try.

When we arrived at 6:30pm, the place was quite crowded. It’s a small, narrow space so seating is a bit limited. They do take reservations for parties of six or more, but we were a party of five (insert Matthew Fox and Neve Campbell jokes here). We had a bit of a frustrating and uncomfortable 20 minute wait standing and seated at the corner of their front bar surrounding their open kitchen area. We ordered drinks, they took a really long time, and one of the hosts gave my friend’s bar seat to someone else…which was a bit weird.

Narrow and crowded as it felt at that moment, the d├ęcor and design is undeniably cool. A long wood bar in the centre surrounding an open kitchen where food orders are prepped, grilled, assembled right before your eyes. Mainly small tables and another bar at the back where the cocktail wizards work their drink magic. There are cool black and white photos from Mexico, hanging plants, retro cool dome lamps.

Once we were seated, drinks in hand, the whole experience just took a slight turn and transformed into a pleasant and all around happy dining experience. All of us order the daily special cocktail, a Spicy Mango Orange Margarita $11. This was a NICE drink. Not too sweet with a oh-so-subtle kick of chipotle. The sous chef and I also enjoyed a few pints of their on tap 33 acres Lager.

La Mezcaleria is owned by the same people who brought Vancouver La Taqueria taco shops a few years ago. I’m a fan of La Taqueria’s tacos so I had a pretty good idea on what to order. We all ordered tacos for dinner, they do 4 Meat Tacos for $9.50 and 4 Veggie Tacos for $7. I ordered two Meat (Pescado; Zarandeado fish with chipotle mayo, radish, and pepitas and De Lengua; braised beef tongue) and two Veg tacos (Tinga de Hongos; Sauteed fresh mushrooms in spicy chipotle sauce and De Picadillo; Sauteed ground tofu)I believe the total came somewhere between $7-9.50 for the four but not sure exactly. My favourites were: De Lengua, which was tender, soft and uber juicy…and don’t be freaked out, it doesn’t look like a tongue, just slow cooked, shredded beef AND Tinga de Hongos for the warm, smoky, spicy chipotle sauce. Of course, all of the tacos come with seasoning and sauces, but you can kick up your tacos as you like with their four house salsas- verde, chipotle, arbol, and habanero.

They do offer the same tasty pickled onions and jalapenos that they do at their La Taqueria taco shops but they don’t bring them automatically, so make sure you ask your server.
Also, if you want add some refreshing crunch and veggie filler to your taco, you can ask for a side of shredded cabbage (I think they charged me an additional dollar for this.)

La Mezcaleria on Urbanspoon