In the name of “research”, Mack and I packed an overnight bag and headed to Calgary on Friday morning, with the intention of eating from as many YYCFoodTrucks as possible over the course of two days.
Those who have been following the development of the food truck culture down south will know that Mayor Nenshi, recognizing the potential of trucks to bring life to the street, initiated a pilot project that opened up most of Calgary’s public property to vending. In June, Taste the Trucks event showcased just how ready the city was for this shift – a crowd three thousand strong filled Stephen Avenue for a sample of street cuisine. Excitement for food trucks was in the air, and that appetite hasn’t slowed down since – follow the Twitter feeds of any of the half dozen mobile eateries that debuted this year, and you will find them feeding the lunch crowds during the day, bar hoppers in the evening, festival-goers on weekends, and almost everything in between.
Mack and I are learning more about their pilot in order to see what if any changes we might implement in Edmonton’s street food program to facilitate the kind of success they’ve had, but of course, that will take time. It’s not difficult to see, however, that if the City chooses to remain with the status quo, the promise of food trucks – their mobility, self-contained nature and ability to heighten foot traffic – will never be fulfilled.
On the drive over, I was glued to Twitter, looking at the feeds of the various food trucks to determine where we’d be having lunch that day (yes, we had a very car-centric trip through Calgary). It was not our lucky day: Alley Burger and JoJo’s BBQ were out of commission for the weekend and Perogy Boyz, Fiasco Gelato and Fries and Dolls were MIA, given they had worked a few hours earlier for a feature on Breakfast Television that morning. Luckily, we found one operational truck: Blam!Wich, which would be parked that afternoon at Central Memorial Park.
Central Memorial Park
A half dozen people were gathered at the truck awaiting their orders. Blam!Wich had four options that day (all $8) written in chalk on the sandwich board. It would have been helpful if the ingredients of each sandwich were elaborated on the board – I’m sure it would have eliminated the verbal repetition from the staff person who was asked the same question by every new customer.
It didn’t take long for our order at all – Mack and I had both decided on the baconstorm, with lettuce, tomato, maple-cured bacon, Canadian bacon and a bacon-infused aioli. It was more of a sub than sandwich, and was tasty enough.
Baconstorm (can’t help but think of @ZoomJer, of course)
It’s worth noting that Central Memorial Park itself is a lovely place to have lunch – lots of trees for shade, benches to sit on, and water features and flowers to admire. Even better, for those who didn’t bring their lunch, or for those who prefer a more formal meal, the park was also home to a small restaurant with a lovely patio.
Los Compadres and Fiasco Gelato
Thankfully, taco truck Los Compadres tweeted on Friday evening that they would be out for lunch on Saturday, which allowed us to plan a little bit. We intended to hit up two farmers’ markets after brunch, then hoped to still have time to make it out for a late lunch.
Parked on private property in Deerfoot Meadows (a complex similar to South Edmonton Common), when we pulled up, we were delighted to find not one, but two food trucks! Fiasco Gelato had joined Los Compadres to provide shoppers with the option of dessert (a welcome one on that sunny day).
Trucks x 2!
We wondered how patrons would cope with the lack of seating, but people made do with what was available – setting up on the curb, or our favourite method: on the flatbed!
Los Compadres had already sold out of most of its menu items, so we ended up ordering the adobada($7.50), which the staff person said was close to carnitas. In addition to tacos, the truck also served tortas.
The tacos were delicious. The meat was tender and juicy, and eaten curbside, required some acrobatic moves to prevent spillage – just the way tacos should be!
We capped off lunch with a scoop of gelato each ($4.50). It was difficult to choose from the half dozen flavours (among them, maple bacon). My raspberry sorbetto was nice and fruity, and held up surprisingly well in the sun. Mack enjoyed his strawberries and cream, light and not too sweet.
Love the “Tasty Beverages” taps
An hour later, Los Compadres tweeted that they were sold out, and on the radio(!), we heard that Fiasco had picked up and parked at Marda Loop, across from the popular Phil & Sebastian café in that neighbourhood. That’s the beauty of food trucks – they can (and should be able to) go where the people are, especially on warm weather days.
Mack’s heart was set on trying Perogy Boyz, the vibrant red truck serving up perogies of all sorts, but they didn’t tweet their location on Saturday until after we’d departed the city limits. But given we weren’t sure we’d even get to one, let alone three trucks, we chalked it up to be a successful YYCFoodTruck road trip all the same. Until next time…