Vancouver Food Cart Fest 2013 – I feel like I’ve been punk’d

Well you guys, I haven’t had a really good rant in a while and I was starting to think I was losing my edge. Never fear, Food Cart Fest to the rescue!!  The plan was to head down to False Creek with Hayley and meet up with some local foodies (@mhchipmunk, @yvrbcbro and @foodgays). I got to the Athletes Village just after 12 and parked under Legacy Liquor Store. The parking ticket machine there never works and it seems like no one cares so free parking! Off to a good start.

You can sort of see Food Cart Fest in the distance.
You can sort of see Food Cart Fest in the distance.

I wandered over to the big empty parking lot where the festival is being held this year and saw a really long lineup of people along the walking/bike path. That couldn’t be just to get in could it? Yep, it was. There was roughly (and I’m under exaggerating) 400 people lined up to enter Food Cart Fest and this isn’t even the first weekend. I decided to see WHY the lineup was so long and discovered that it was because you have to pay an ADMISSION FEE to even get in??!! Last year The event was held in the parking lot at The Waldorf on Hastings all summer and there was no admission fee. Were there lineups at the trucks? Yes there were but that is totally acceptable. Yes the admission fee is only $2 but that makes the line so slow that someone with a young child >>>ME<<< has to stand in the heat for 30-45 minutes? This is the part where I lose all the non parents… Talk to you later. But it’s not just the parents, it’s EVERYONE!

This year you have to line up to pay to get in, to line up to pay to eat. Stupid. Vancouver’s food truck newbies envision a city that looks like Portland with food trucks parked on every corner and dedicated parking lots filled with amazing food and brimming with atmosphere. That happened organically for Portland, it wasn’t forced like they’re trying to do here. Why would I pay to have the privilege to eat at a food truck when I can eat at a food truck any other day of the week and just pay for the food? I love Vancouver’s food trucks. I love the people that run them, the people that own them, the food they produce and the choices they offer to the people of this city. This city is Vancouver, it is not Portland, it will never be Portland. Stop trying to make it Portland! Portland has become what it is without producing “events” like this contrived joke.

Calling your event family friendly because you have a bouncy castle is almost as ridiculous as the lineup to get in. If I put a bouncy castle in a strip club would that make it family friendly? No, No it would not. No parent I know would wait in today’s heat with their kid. I saw parents in line… I don’t know what would make them want to wait that long with a child.

So, I didn’t get to hook up with my foodie pals, I didn’t get to eat any yummy food and now I’m at home wondering if I should’ve just stayed here and watched the NHL draft, it sounds like it was pretty entertaining.

Scott.

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Sharkey’s beer dinner with Alameda Brewing

Another night, another fantastic meal at an establishment that understands the importance of craft beer. Sharkey’s Bar & Grill is nestled right alongside the Fraser River in scenic Lander and easily has one of the best summertime patios in town. They recently held a craft beer dinner with the good folks at Beerthirst featuring Portland, Oregon’s own Alameda Brewing. The social longatble dinner was a five course affair from Sharkey’s talented head chef Brent Fahl, each course paired with a unique brew from Alameda.

Chipotle Bacon Popcorn
Course number one was a first for me at a beer pairing dinner, popcorn! Not just any popcorn though, chipotle bacon popcorn! Tossed with fresh bacon bits and chipotle pepper and held together by sweet caramel. It was paired with Alameda’s Yellow Wolf IPA which is quite hoppy and everyone knows hoppy beer goes with spicy food right? Of course you did, you read this blog!

Arugula Salad
The second course was a very flavourful arugula salad with sundried tomatoes and extra aged horseradish cheddar tossed in a honey apple cider vinaigrette. It was paired with Alameda’s Oh Canada Maple Session Ale, a fantastic pairing. The sweetness from the dressing, the rich bite from the cheddar and the peppery arugula paired extremely well with the slightly sweet maple session ale.

Chicken with Chorizo sauce
Course number three was an oven braised boneless, skinless chicken breast served with chorizo and sweet corn sauce. It came with a side of house cut fries which had been steeped in a wheat ale. The Chicken was moist and delicious and the chorizo sauce was rich and creamy with a little sweetness from the corn, really nice. The fries were awesome, steeping them in the wheat ale gave them a slightly sweet and very enjoyable flavour. This dish was paired with Alameda’s Black Bear XX Stout, probably the only beer in their lineup that could hold it’s own against this intensely flavoured dish.  I wouldn’t say the pairing was spot on but they didn’t oppose each other so it worked.

Half lobster tail
The fourth course was a baked half lobster tail drizzled with asparagus butter and served with basmati rice. The lobster was decadent and the asparagus butter was a great choice by Chef Fahl. The rice, as minor as this seems, was the most perfectly cooked basmati rice I’ve ever had which is quite a feat when you’re cooking for 45 people at once. Also I’m from Surrey so, you know, I’ve eaten A LOT of basmati rice over the years. This dish was paired with Alameda’s Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale. This is a fantastic beer, it’s basically a traditional English brown ale but with a 7.9% alcohol kick and some very complex malt flavours. The pairing was really nice as well, the malt really balanced out the sweet and savoury elements of this dish.

Pumpkin spice cake
The fifth and final course was a pumpkin spice cake. I don’t like pumpkin flavoured things, I’ve made this very clear over the years but I thought I’d be a big boy and at least give it a try. It was a pumpkin sponge cake layered with vanilla ice cream topped with fresh whipped cream along with warm pumpkin and sour cherry compote and some pumpkin seed brittle. I actually loved it, the spice normally associated with pumpkin was very subtle and the ice cream/whipped cream melded with the sponge cake in a cold creamy mouthful of joy. The pumpkin seed brittle was amazing too! It was paired with Alameda’s P-Town Pilsner, thankfully not a pumpkin beer! The P-town Pilsner is a good representation of a  German style pilsner but it uses Noble hops (I think…) which impart an almost corn-like flavour. I’m told this is true to the style but it’s not my favourite pilsner. I am very thankful it was not a pumpkin beer though…

All this for $35.99 plus tax and tip, a ridiculous deal if you ask me. Cheers to Sharkey’s man in charge Andrea Frustaci (Dre to all the cool kids) for embracing the craft beer movement!!

Twitter – @sharkeyladner

Facebook – facebook.com/Sharkeys-Seafood-Bar-Grille

Blog – sharkeysgrille.wordpress.com

Web – sharkeys.ca

Scott

Deschutes Brewery Public House – Portland

To say that I like beer is an understatement, beer is the ultimate social lubricant bringing people together since 6000 BC. When I was a young man I thought that beer was something you bought in 12 packs, drank tons of, wasn’t that expensive and gave you a wicked hangover. 3 out of 4 of those statements are still true except nowadays I cough up the extra couple of dollars for good craft beer. My favorite craft beer is Deschutes Black Butte Porter from an awesome little brewery in Bend, Oregon. Thankfully they have a brew pub in Portland which I was more than happy to try out on a recent trip there.

Deschutes brew pub in Portland is quite large and extremely popular with long waits  pretty much every day of the week. The inside is a mix of carved rich wood and typical brew pub old school touches. During my visit they were serving a cask conditioned Black Butte Porter (naturally carbonated) which made me quite sad, they’ve made my favorite beer even better but I can’t get it here. I had the beer flight, which consists of 6 beers of your choice from their large beer menu, you can’t go wrong with any Deschutes beer, except the gluten free option which was quite bad…

The menu at Deschutes is quite progressive as is most of Portland’s restaurant scene. I had a fantastic root beer glassed pork belly with a soft poached egg yolk as an appetizer, I could have ordered 3 or 4 of these and been quite happy with not trying anything else, it was great! My main course was a take on an east coast lobster roll using west coast crab. It was good, a little bland perhaps but the crab meat was fresh as was the roll. The soup that came with it was so bizarre that I couldn’t wrap my head around how it tasted so good. It was a tomato based soup with a few different kinds of shellfish and Elk Chorizo?? I know it sounds crazy but it was so good, rich, a little spicy and very fresh. I would have written down all the ingredients but the waiter wasn’t 100% sure what they were and the guy who makes the soup had gone home for the night (typical laid back Portland). Check out the rest of the pictures!!

Scott.

Savor Soup House – Portland

Soup is not a typical food served from a truck/trailer. It seems like something that wouldn’t work as “street food” given that it’s a liquid, it’s hot and it’s not very portable. Luckily if you decide to go “Food Truckin'” on a weekend in Portland a lot of trucks are closed providing ample eating surfaces and protection from Portland’s Pacific Northwest fall/winter weather.

Savor Soup House is luckily one of the spots open on Saturday and it provided the perfect warm up on a cool rainy day. The obvious choice for those who want to try more than one soup is the $6 soup flight, consisting of decent sized servings of 3 different soups. I went for the Vegan Tomato Fennel and Orange topped with Parmesan and Croutons, the Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice and finished up with the Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque topped with spiced pumpkin seeds.

The Creamy Chicken and wild rice (on the right) was good, loaded with tender chicken, rice and lots of mushrooms and nicely seasoned. The Tomato soup (on the left) was a surprise, the orange added a great citrus kick to it and the croutons were and nice fresh. The Butternut Squash and Apple bisque (center) was amazing, sweet, savory, velvety, rich and the spiced pumpkin seeds were a perfect partner to this delicious soup. Soup on a cold and rainy day is unbeatable, it’s like wrapping yourself in a blanket that came straight out of the drier, so good.

Once again Portland street food has blown me away.

Scott.

Voodoo Doughnut – Portland

You have all heard of Voodoo Doughnut right? They’ve been on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Good Morning America and many many other TV shows. Home of the Portland Cream doughnut (Portland’s official doughnut), the original Voodoo Doll doughnut and the world famous Bacon Maple Bar.

The whole reason I wanted to try Voodoo Doughnut was the Bacon Maple Bar and it was everything I dreamed of. You know when you’re eating pancakes with maple syrup and a side of bacon and you get a little syrup on your bacon? It tastes exactly like that, and the doughnut plays the part of the pancake quite well. It is a right of passage for bacon lovers, or breakfast lovers, or doughnut lovers, hell it’s a must for everyone!

You can get married at Voodoo as well, under a velvet portrait of Kenny Rogers no less! The rest of the doughnuts were good but none compared the the Bacon Maple Bar. There are 2 Voodoo’s in Portland, one downtown and one on N.E. Davis (the one I went to) and one in Eugene. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and always have a line up. Stop what your doing and book a trip to Portland. RIGHT NOW!! Here’s some more pictures…

Scott.

Brunch Box – Portland

The street food love affair continues, this post focusing on Portland’s Brunch Box, as seen on Eat St. on the Food Network. Known for their over the top burgers with even crazier names like the You Can Has Cheeseburger, the Slaughterhouse IV and the Redonkadonk, the later being named one of the most unhealthy foods in Portland. My weapon of choice was the OMG, a hand pressed black angus beef patty with cheese, bacon, ham, Spam, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, ketchup, mustard and mayo. It sounds crazy right? It is crazy, crazy good. I think my heart rate dropped about 20 beats per minute after I was finished but it was so worth it. You would think that with bacon, ham and Spam that the burger patty would be totally lost but it was so good, super high quality and so flavorful. This is a messy burger so load up on napkins! All of the toppings are fantastic together (yes, even the spam) and the bun is made fresh by the Brunch Box.

The other burgers on the menu all look great but there is one that takes the OMG to a whole other level, the Redonkadonk. It’s an OMG with 2 grilled cheese sandwiches in place of the buns, one on top and one on the bottom. I wasn’t in the mood to visit the world famous American hospital system as I hear it’s quite pricey…so I settled for the less (not much) ridiculous OMG. Portland is crazy awesome.

Scott.

The Sausage Shack – Portland

Portland, a street food lovers mecca. What could make it even better? Bacon, specifically deep fried street food wrapped in bacon. Healthy, no. Delicious, yes. The Sausage Shack just so happens to be winners of Portland’s Illustrious 2011 Bacon Cup, the first annual. So what does one have at this bacon lovers utopia, bacon wrapped chicken wings, the Big Bacon Burger? Nope, it had to be the bacon wrapped corn dog.

This is the smartest thing anyone has ever done, anywhere. Wrap things in bacon and deep fry them. I don’t care who you are, if you’re a health nut or a marathon runner or whatever you will not be able to resist this food. The corn dog is just a regular corn dog but when it’s wrapped in bacon…wow. This is the only thing I had at The Sausage Shack due to a fairy intensive day of food trucking but I think I made the right choice. Check out the rest of the pics!

Scott.

What’s for Lunch BC is headed to Portland!

Lock your liquor cabinets Portland, I’m coming this Friday! That’s right boys and girls, What’s for Lunch BC is headed to America land over the Remembrance Day long weekend for a little R&R! Portland is well known for its restaurant and street food scene as well as it’s craft beer and it just so happens that eating and drinking are 2 of my favorite things!

I’m headed down with some great friends that I don’t get to see often enough due to my ridiculous work schedule and my even more ridiculous social media events calendar. I’m also planning to do this trip on a fairly frugal budget. I’ll be setting myself a daily limit and when it’s gone, I’m done for the day!! I hear you can stretch a dollar pretty far down there though, I guess I’ll find out.

If you want to keep up to date with where I am, what I’m doing and whether I’ve been arrested you can follow me on Twitter @whatsforlunchbc and search for the hashtag #WFLBCinPDX, feel free to wire me bail money, I’ll totally pay you back…

Scott.