After a few years resisting, in recent years Montreal has finally started to embrace the food truck, offering up a permitting system for up to 50 trucks each season (running from Spring to Fall) at 38 designated locations around the city, as well as special events. As a result, the restaurateurs of Montreal have responded, and there’s now no shortage of food trucks, ranging from those run by established restaurants to those opened by new chefs. Last summer’s trip to the Mondiale de la Biere festival in Montreal (yeah, last June… I’m still behind in my writeups) allowed us to sample a good cross-section of some of the city’s food trucks. One of our clear favorites was P & A Garguantua, serving up grilled cheese.
I always enjoy a good hot dog truck, especially ones that can really have fun with the concept. For example, about 6 months ago I really got to enjoy Asia Dog, a funky Asian-inspired hot dog vendor in New York City. So when wandering through Eat X NE in Burlington, one food truck caught my eye, The Hindquarter. The Hindquarter drives around Burlington’s South End in a converted Rescue Squad red truck, serving up a variety of sandwiches, soul food, and sausages to hungry eaters. For Eat X NE, they had a nice broad menu, focusing on fried whole belly clams (clam strips are the work of the devil!), their take on a Banh Mi, a smoked chicken sandwich, and a chile relleno. But one item in particular attracted my attention: the simply named Jumbo Hot Dog.
It’s been a crazy-busy year, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been eating, just behind in our writing. Back in September, we decided to take a weekend to ourselves and head up to one of our favorite cities, Burlington, VT, for a relaxing day of hanging around. After doing some light shopping, we headed down to the South end of town to pay another visit to Switchback Brewery. While there, we noticed that a rather lot of people were in the area, all headed for a local food festival, Eat X NE, focusing on local farm-to-food options (as well as their partner event, BrewHaHa, a modest beer festival focusing on local beers). We decided to check it out, and were very pleasantly surprised: the fairly lousy weather had finally broken giving some nice, clear weather, and we got to sample a handful of new beers, and check out some of Burlington’s food trucks. One of these were a modest little trailer called Lazy Farmer.
The whole purpose of our trip to Colorado was going to a wedding of two of our friends. However, they aren’t exactly traditionalists, so one of the activities planned for their informal wedding was a hike up nearby Mount Garfield. Well, it’s a short hike (~2 miles), but it’s also a steep one (~2000 feet), with most of the elevation gain in the first third of the trail. I enjoyed both the hike and the view from the top, but by the time we got back to Grand Junction to get ready for the wedding, I needed a bit of a snack. Cruising through the west side of Grand Junction, we happened across two places: a Sonic (I don’t really care for their food, but I love their cherry limeade), and in a little parking area right next door, Loncheria Rubi, a taco truck.
Since I end up going to the DC area at least twice every year (usually for work), I’ve been able to see a lot of minor changes as they happen on the food scene. One of the bigger changes is that the area is finally starting to embrace the food truck. A few years ago, there were surprisingly few modern food trucks, with the mobile food scene in DC still dominated by hot dog vendors and the people selling random snack food on the Mall. Indeed, it was just 2011 when one had to go to odd neighborhoods to find a place like El Chilango (who have since spun off a brick and mortar joint in the District, as is often the case with the better food trucks). In any case, there are now food trucks aplenty: 12th Street and 14th Street on the Mall are repleat with them, and the central business areas in downtown and Arlington now sport plenty of food truck options, as do most of the major tourist areas. Indeed, Connecticut Ave on the west end of the National Zoo has quite a selection, and, as we discovered this trip, some of them, like Crêpes Parfait, are actually quite good.
Okay, I’m going to start out by saying that this review is of a place that’s not particularly offbeat or unique. You see, pretty much any place you go in Belgium, you can count on three things being widely available: beer, frites, and Gaufres de Liege, aka the Belgian Waffle. Doing a simple walking tour of Brussels, I passed approximately two dozen storefronts, carts, and food trucks selling freshly made Gaufres de Liege, and by the time we got to Square de Meeûs, the nice aromas of freshly-baked waffles had finally defeated me, and I had to stop at Pascalino’s Glaces et Gaufres for a waffle.
As those that have been to this site a lot have noticed, I have a weakness for hot dogs. Indeed, a coworker claiming that “hot dogs are just hot dogs” was one of my inspirations for starting this blog, since there are really quite a few varieties of hot dogs in existence (indeed, I’ve got as far as the Iceland Pylsur in my reviews). One of the more intriguing things I like is when essentially the same concept, like the “Chili dog”, gets some regional variations. When I was growing up (in the Southwest), a chili dog was simply a “chili dog” (albeit with the caveat that the sort of chili that makes a good condiment isn’t the same sort that tastes good in a bowl). The “Coney Island” dog is a variant of this with “Coney sauce”, a meaty, near-chili spicy meat sauce, and can be spotted by that name ranging from Michigan all the way over to Massachusetts. However, nearly the exact same dog as a “Coney Dog”, with a slightly drier and less spicy sauce, goes by the name “Texas Hot” or a “Michigan” (likely in homage to the Coney Island variety primarily coming from Michigan) in Upstate New York and Vermont (and as far north as northern Quebec, my friend Ben has a great story about buying a “Michigan” hot dog at a food cart at a Hydro Quebec station in far, far, northern Quebec). And a particularly good example of the “Michigan” hot dog can be found at Beansie’s Bus in Burlington, VT.
One of our first stops heading west from Klaustur was Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of South Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls, about 75 feet wide and 200 feet tall, with a large enough water volume that it generates a fair amount of wind and mist. Like most of the major waterfalls, it also has it’s own legend. No, not trolls this time, but Vikings, apparently one early Viking settler, Prasi Þórólfsson, hid a chest of gold under the falls that was never found except for a large ring from the side of the chest. If it’s not those troublesome trolls, it’s the Vikings, I guess. Oh, and Skógafoss also sports a hot dog truck. The Skógafoss Country Wagon can generally be found in the main parking lot of Skógafoss, near the campsites and the laundry area for hikers.
I’ll admit I’ve got a love for real Belgian waffles. But one of the major problems I’ve had is that you can’t get a proper Belgian waffle here in the US. Sure, a rather large fraction of the breakfast places here will serve you something called a “Belgian waffle”, but what you are getting is really just a regular ole American waffle made in a waffle iron with bigger crenelations, usually served up with a small mountain of fruit (or fruit-like “pie topping”) and whipped cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, heck, I like a good waffle, and even own an American-style “Belgian” waffle maker myself that gets used several times a month. But a real Belgian Waffle is a different beast. A proper Belgian waffle (also known as a Liège waffle, from the Eastern Belgium city of the same name) is a distinctly more refined item. First of all, it’s not made in a round iron, but a large rectangular iron with an open grid crenelations. A large lump of raised, yeasted batter is dumped right on the surface and the iron closes around it, allowing the lump to spread out into whatever globular shape it wants. The batter also has a bunch of pearl sugar crystals mixed into it, the idea being that as the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt, resulting in a rich, crunchy, and caramelized exterior. The result is a nice hot treat that’s a noticeable leg up above the normal “Belgian waffle”, with a nice buttery interior, a yeasty taste, and a nice crunchy exterior. Well, it turns out that many food trucks of the Boardwalk on Bulverde that night included one that makes… proper Belgian waffles. The Begian Waffle Co is a nice, shiny, new food truck run by a pair of pleasant Belgians, offering up a menu of waffles. They start with three types of waffles: their original “Waffle de Liége”, as well as cinnamon and chocolate variants. They then offer up a rather impressive list of toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, and butter are free, while various modest surcharges will get you toppings ranging from fresh fruit, to Nutella, to peanut butter, to a variety of savory toppings (eggs, cheese, and ham, for example).
Well, the nice think about the Boardwalk on Bulverde is that, on any given night, there are almost a dozen food trucks there hawking their wares, so after you’ve started a meal at one truck, you can work your way through the many other trucks to find your next course. In our case, Food Truck #2 at the Boardwalk was Spice Runner, a food truck serving sandwiches and “Pocket Pies”.