The Weekly Rant – Episode 1

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If you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I like to speak my mind on various topics. Usually my opinions fuel some heated debate and sometimes it gets downright ugly but at the very least it gets people talking/thinking about issues that affect our daily lives. This post is the first in a new series of weekly posts intended to bring these issues to a wider audience. This is going to be fun.

Topic number 1, food trucks in Steveston. Over the weekend I saw that the Le Tigre food truck was at the Steveston Farmers Market. I know that food trucks are staples at other farmers markets around the Lower Mainland but I don’t agree with food trucks operating anywhere near Steveston. Steveston is an extremely seasonal area for restaurants and they have to stick it out through the slow fall and winter months relying on summer business to make ends meet. To have a food truck pull into town on a sunny summer day and take customers away from these businesses doesn’t sit well with me.

Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls...
Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls… Photo WFLBC.com

Le Tigre has done nothing wrong. They have the required permits, they’re great people and they make great food, it just shouldn’t be happening in Steveston. Sorry guys, I love you but… you know. I have the same opinion about food trucks at White Rock Beach so if a food truck shows up there I’m not going to be happy about it.

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Norgate as seen from International Plaza – Photo WFLBC.com

Topic number 2, Norgate residents complaining about noisy trains. Norgate is located in North Vancouver just east of the Lions Gate Bridge and south of Marine Drive, so basically right beside the CN rail yard, also right behind the beautiful sulphur piles along the shores of Burrard Inlet. Norgate was developed in the 1940’s to house shipyard workers and is mostly small bungalows with an average selling price somewhere near $650,000. The rail yard has been a part of this neighbourhood for FAR longer than the current residents have lived there. For them to complain about the noise is ridiculous. There were similar complaints in New Westminster a few years ago and they met with the same public reaction. It’s like moving in next to the airport and complaining about noisy planes. If you can afford a $650,000 house you should be smart enough to buy something that isn’t right next door to noisy industry.

Two polarizing topics, feel free to add your thoughts to the comment section. Let’s keep it clean though, ok?

Scott.

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Pig on the Street – Food Truck Friday!!!

Every Friday, if I’m downtown, I try to have lunch at a food truck. This week I tried Pig on the Street which is probably the smallest food truck in Vancouver. It’s actually not a truck, it’s a Volkswagen camper van and it’s super cool. They make flatbread sandwiches, soups and delicious sounding (I didn’t have one) Bacon, Bourbon and Caramel Brownie Bites. Almost everything on the menu is “Pork-centric” with the exception of the vegetarian sandwich called the No Piggy. When you place your order you’re handed a small wooden pig with a pork related name on it, it works like taking a number but it’s way more fun.

I had The Porker which comes loaded with locally sourced double smoked bacon, sausage stuffing with apple and sage, goat Gouda, caramelized onion mayo and greens. $10 tax included is a pretty good deal for this epic lunch. I was FULL and very happy as I settled into my pork coma. The bacon is incredible and the smell wafting down the street from the little Volkswagen is intoxicating. The sausage stuffing is amazing, the goat Gouda is a unique but perfect choice and the mayo and greens finish things off nicely. Pig on the Street is the cure if you’re “achin’ for bacon”.

The Porker
You should make Food Truck Friday a part of your routine. It’s easy, fun, delicious and affordable. Download the free Street Food App for you smartphone HERE and get started!!

Twitter – @Pigonthestreet

Facebook – www.facebook.com/PigOnTheStreetVancouver

Web – www.pigonthestreet.com

 

Scott.

Roaming Dragon menu launch at District 319

The Roaming Dragon is the rock star of the Vancouver food truck scene and has been on quite the roll since I first met the team a couple years back. They’ve recently brought Chef Tina Fineza on in a consulting role to update and relaunch their menu on both the street food and catering sides of their business. A bold move for something that was already a success but Jason Apple and Jory Simkin. Roaming Dragon co-owners, are always looking to improve and grow their empire on wheels.

The venue for this relaunch was District 319 on Main St between Hastings and Cordova, not a part of town I frequent but the space was super cool with Asian inspired décor that suited the event perfectly. The new food was a big hit as was their well known basil lychee lemonade with a shot of vodka added for adults only. This event really showed what an awesome job these guys do with their catering business.

It’s always great to see Jason and Jory, they’re really great people. Check them out for your next event! catering@roamingdragon.com

Scott.

Bada Bing food truck

I happened to stumble upon a food truck I had never tried the other day after my lunch plans fell through. Bada Bing, which was parked on Broadway just off of West Georgia, specializes in Philly Cheesesteaks offered with either chicken or beef. The truck looked pretty cool. lots of flames,  clever windshield signage and the smell wafting up the street was irresistible.

I ordered the beef cheesesteak with a side of fries.  They offer hot sauce and garlic sauce as toppings and of course I took them. The sandwich itself was big and fresh but the meat lacked any sort of seasoning and was quite grey and lifeless ( as one would assume a dead cow would be, I guess?). Luckily the garlic sauce and hot sauce were there to add some flavour. The bun seemed super fresh and the peppers and onions weren’t overcooked or mushy. The appearance of the sandwich in the picture isn’t a true representation of how it looked before it was wrapped in paper and carried 2 blocks to the HSBC building where I ate it.

The fries were actually outstanding, probably the best I’ve had from a food truck if not a close second to Fresh Local Wild. They were fresh, hot and crispy with great seasoning and a hint of garlic. Food truck fries seem to be a bit of an art form in terms of them actually being fresh. Most other vendors struggle with soggy, limp fries that are often cold. Whatever Bada Bing is doing is working.

Check them out at 655 Burrard street, outside of the Royal Centre/Hyatt Regency hotel.

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.

Coma Food Truck

I’m sure you all know I have a ravenous appetite for food served from a truck/trailer/cart. I don’t think serving food on the street makes the food better but as a blue collar, on the go kind of guy it works well for me. It doesn’t hurt that most of the street food in Vancouver is lights out delicious either, we are truly spoiled for choice and it’s all come together in a relatively short time.

Coma Food Truck has been around for a while and I’m suprised it’s taken me this long to give them a try. They’re one of the trucks in town that doesn’t have a “permanent” location so following them on Twitter or using the Street Food App on your iPhone is a must. They serve a Mexican/Korean/American fusion style menu offering tacos, burritos, Bibimbap, soups and much more. The day I visited was one of the first “cold” days in Vancouver this year and while I waited for my order they were giving out Korean Miso soup to keep their customers warm, so nice! The soup was great, a spicy version of Miso soup that was perfect for a cold day. It was also a little less salty than traditional Miso soup which is definitely a good thing.

I asked for a recommendation from the crew in the truck and they said I should try the spicy pork burrito. Spicy pork? Yes please! The Burrito was good, not overly spicy and was filled with cheese, tofu and corn to compliment the pork. The tortilla was lightly grilled as well giving it a nice little crunch.

Make sure you follow them on Twitter @comafoodtruck, Keep up to date with Vancouver’s street food scene with Street Food App and get outside and support local food trucks, even when the weather sucks!! You never know, you might find me at the window of a food truck one day!

Scott.

Vancouver Street Food, it’s getting a bit complicated…

Something smells rotten at Vancouver’s City Hall. As you are probably aware I am a huge supporter and regular customer of Vancouver’s Street Food revolution. Made up of amazing food and great people it is easily the coolest thing to hit the streets of our city in years. Given the success of the initial wave of trucks, who won the right to operate in a lottery, the City of Vancouver has implemented a new approval system that seems far too complicated with a hint of favoritism and a dash of political over-involvement.

The new system involves a panel of “experts” who choose from a number of candidates vying for one of the coveted downtown spots. The biggest concern I and many other street food fans have is the introduction of “people who know people” in the restaurant industry giving business associates the green light while other possibly more qualified vendors get left out in the cold because they didn’t know the right people.

Another concern I have is that nutritional value is one of the categories that is considered. Really? Do traditional restaurants face this scrutiny when opening a new location? Are the hundreds of purveyors of fast food held to the same standard? No they are not and it is unfair to expect anything different from street vendors.

Recently a website devoted to Vancouver’s street food scene, vancouverstreeteats.com was suddenly shut down and all content removed by it’s operator and is now completely gone. The reasons given were a damning assessment of the new selection process and after speaking with several vendors I learned that these concerns were shared by most current and future operators. An anonymous source in the business told me “We had these concerns from the beginning with the new selection process”. Another person in the business told me off the record that City Hall had told them out of the final 50 chosen in this round, 19 were getting spots through judging, but the judging never took place and 19 trucks were awarded the spots without giving the other 31 people a reason why they weren’t even able to compete.

Don’t take this he wrong way though, every current street vendor operating in Vancouver has done a great job and they all serve amazing food. It would be a shame for City Hall to over complicate and ruin a great new niche market in the city that is beginning to attract international attention.

Street vendors make this city better, don’t let politics take away another great attraction to Vancouver. Get out and find these guys and eat some really great, affordable food and tell Vancouver City Hall to get stuffed, the people have spoken and we want street food!

Scott

Roaming Dragon, Pan Asian Street Food.

The Vancouver street food scene has been a sad, repetitive song played over and over for years. The Lyrics were all about hot dogs in the summer and chestnuts in the winter, boring (even if the hot dogs have Japanese fixins’ ). Thankfully those days appear to be over with the City of Vancouver’s new policy on food trucks. Food trucks have been a big part of other cities culinary scene for years with colorful trucks rolling all over town with everything from taco’s in LA to fine French food in NYC.

Vancouver’s first Food truck is the Roaming Dragon, serving pan asian delights out of a state of the art truck in various locations throughout the city. On Saturdays you can find them at the Trout Lake Farmers Market at John Hendry Park in East Van from 9-2 (check out their website for other locations and times http://www.roamingdragon.com/ ). The family and I headed down to East Van on the first rainy day in a month to see what the Roaming Dragon had to offer, and I am happy to say that we were not disappointed.

We met Jason and the rest of the crew in their slick looking truck and placed our order, which was done on an Iphone that was synced with their POS (point of sale) system, very cool. We ordered the duck confit salad, the pork belly sliders, Korean short rib tacos, chicken karaage, rice balls and some lychee and basil lemonade. While the food was being prepared I was given a quick tour of the truck and it really is a gourmet kitchen on wheels. The food was all amazing, the duck confit salad was perfect with orange and watermelon pieces that balanced well against the salt of the duck, The pork belly sliders were on steamed Asian buns with cucumber (it might have been pickled?) and green onion and were unique (in a good way) and very tasty. The tacos were great with shredded carrots and nori which was the only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of as it took a little away from the taste of the short ribs, a very minor problem though. The chicken karaage was as good as I’ve had anywhere in the city and the rice balls were fantastic, nice and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with a hint of cumin or something south Asian that really gave great flavor. The lemonade was the single best lemonade I have ever had, with the basil and lychee adding a grown up character to this popular street side beverage.

Not only is the food amazing, it’s really affordable with most menu items priced at $4 – $6 and any 2 items for $10. All of the packaging is biodegradable, even the ones that look like Styrofoam are rice paper based. The forks are plastic though so maybe opt for the chopsticks if you’re worried about your carbon footprint, I wonder if they know about aspenware?  http://aspenware.ca/ Just a suggestion.

Vancouver needs more trucks like this and if the guys that run this one have their way there will be more soon as the parent company, Gourmet Syndicate (  http://gourmetsyndicate.com/ ), is set to light the Vancouver street food scene on fire. I can’t wait.

For all of you “new media” lovers here’s some more places you can find them.

http://twitter.com/DragonTruck

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragontruck/

http://www.facebook.com/DragonTruck

Scott.