Friday, January 20, 2012

The Streets of New York - Part 1: Manhattan

Back in September I spent a food truck filled weekend in NYC, highlighted by the Vendy Awards.  With the long cold Ottawa winter taking it's toll on me, I figured what better time to indulge myself (and anyone who cares to read) on some of my other New York City street food memories.

Let's start off with a late evening stroll through the East Village...

People's Pops is a seasonal street vendor with 3 fixed locations throughout the city as well as several mobile units which attend various flea markets and festivals.

Being that I am literally a "big gay food blogger", I was very excited for my next stop.  Unfortunately the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck wasn't on the road that night, so I had to "settle" for a visit to their brand new brick and mortar location.  Pictured above is a traditional vanilla cone, topped with the very nontraditional topping of crushed wasabi pea dust. 

The next morning I ventured out in the rain and hit up Chelsea Market.  (Home of the Food Network!!).  Although it is entirely indoor and some wouldn't necessarily consider it street food, I like to mention local markets as well because there are undoubtedly some amazing vendors to be found.  My highlights included beautiful fresh seafood at The Lobster Place, cookies and espresso at Jacques Torres Chocolates, and bacon salt AND beer "growler" refills at The Filling Station.

My next adventure took me out on the soggy streets in search of the Schnitzel and Things truck were I enjoyed the veal platter.  The guys at the truck were exceptionally friendly and felt very bad that I was waiting in the pouring rain, so they hooked me up with their entire selection of condiments and a couple extra sides.

Following a brief nap back at the hotel and much needed change into dry clothes, I set out to find the Madison Square Eats street food festival.  I enjoyed a few different dinner bites, including an awesome clam chowder and some local craft beer from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, but being the taco fiend that I am, Calexico was my favorite...

Awesome staff pic!!

The biggest taco....ever.


At some point during the weekend I also stumbled upon a couple traditional taco trucks, enjoying some chorizo and oreja tacos. Loved the menu at this truck...their wide variety of meats reminded me of the trucks in Southern California.

 There was one last truck in Manhattan that left it's mark on me.  Wafels and Dinges.  The evening after the Vendy Awards, I somehow found room in my stomach for more food truck fare, and I was not disappointed.  I located this Belgian truck on a street corner in the trendy West Village.  As per usual with the street vendors I have met, they were super fun and excited to share and talk about their food. 

Liege wafel, spekuloos, whipped cream
I had to order the "Throwdown Wafel" because it was on Bobby Flay's show Throwdown that I first learned about this truck.  It was simple and decadent.  I also couldn't help but buy a jar of the spekuloos spread that they use on many of their items.  Sadly, I later forgot this item was in my carry-on at the airport and it did not make the trip home to Canada.

...Stay tuned for Part 2 of my NYC adventure...the Red Hook Ball Fields!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Best of 2011: Food Trucks, Craft Beer and Other Random Bites

The past 7 months for me have been a whirlwind of travel, food trucks and the occasional pint of beer.  Beginning with a chance meeting with a member of the "Eat St" web team in Vancouver in June, I was encouraged to share my street food adventures with more than just my poor overburdened Facebook friends.  So, as the year has come to an end I have decided to sum up my calorie filled 2011 with a few "best of" lists.

1. Maximus Minimus - Seattle
2. Tacofino - Tofino
3. El Gastronomo Vagabundo - Niagara/Toronto
4. Wafels and Dinges - NYC
5. Stone Soup Foodworks - Ottawa

Special mention goes to taco pop-up La Carnita in Toronto.  Finding others so close to home that share my love for street tacos has been both heartwarming and inspirational!!  (...and their art is pretty cool too)

Buy art...receive tacos.

2011 also brought the beginning of the Food Truck Eats events as well as the Toronto Underground Market, a monthly food event featuring dishes from both home cooks and professional chefs.  I'm excited to see what 2012 will bring for both of these fantastic organizations.

1. King Heffy - Howe Sound Brewery (Squamish)
2. Rosee d'Hibiscus - Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! (Montreal)
3. Long Shot White - Broadhead Brewing Co. (Ottawa)
4. Nickel Brook Ale - Better Bitters Brewing Co. (Burlington)
5. Smoked Oatmeal Stout - Trafalgar Ales & Meads (Oakville)

My picks for favourite seasonal brews are; Muskoka Brewery's Summer Wiesse and my hometown favorite, The Clocktower Brewpub's Pumpkin Ale. 

3 of the many pumpkin ales I got my hands on this fall.

 RESTAURANT/MEAL OF THE YEAR - The Black Hoof (Toronto)

Just prior to eating at The Black Hoof, my friend asked me about my most memorable restaurant meals of all time.  I genuinely couldn't come up with a legitimate answer.  A couple minutes later we got a call that our table was ready. Well, wonder no more...  After consuming a selection of charcuterie, beef tongue on brioche, fried sweetbreads and a blood custard for dessert, I can honestly say that no other meal has ever had the same impact on me than this experience. 

So as 2012 revs up, I'm looking forward to the warmer months and the continuation of my street food adventures.  I'll be heading down to California in May for another west coast tour which will bring me back to the origins of my love for Latin American cuisine and gourmet food trucks.  Also, I'm hoping to work with friends to expand the food truck world here in Ottawa, where there is currently a very sad state of street food.

Halloween 2011