Last month, seven Calgary food trucks launched with a bang at the YYC Taste the Trucks event. I’ve had the chance to visit a few of the trucks over the past month and I am excited to report that the pioneering spirit of Calgary foodies and chefs looms large. The excitement is palpable and changing the way we view street food.
It’s a warm Tuesday night on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 10th St. S.W and the hum of the Alley Burger Truck beckons.
Featuring the graffiti stylings of local artist David Brunning (a.k.a TheKidBelo), the truck is the epitome of urban. Aptly, nestled along the train tracks of a downtown parking lot, there is a huge lineup with all types of folks. Businessmen mingle with moms and their baby carriages, a few dogs wait patiently with their owners, we even spot a unicyclist wheeling up as we’re leaving.
Despite having to change the evening’s destination just two hours before set up, Alley Burger will sell out of every scrap of food onboard, feeding more than 300 people. Behold the power of social media, fresh local ingredients and a passionate politician.
“Props to mayor Naheed Nenshi for supporting this,” chef Connie DeSousa says with a smile, “we wouldn’t be here without his support.”
Everything happening here is local. The 1981 Chevy hails from Carsland, Alberta, the pork comes from Spragg Farms and the produce from Jungle Farm — a fourth generation family farm just north of Innisfail. The Alley Burger Truck is essentially Charcut’s local food philosophy on four wheels.
The menu is small but fantastic. There’s the original Alley Burger with Spragg Farms pork, roasted garlic sausage, Quebec cheese curds and a piri piri aioli (Sm. $5, Reg. $8).
Or you can sample the Whole Truck Burger ($6.45, $8.99) featuring 100% Angus beef with your choice of piri piri aioli, brassica mustard, pickles, onions, jalapenos, lettuce and tomatoes. For an extra dollar, you can add a farm egg, bacon or cheese curds.
To get your fry on, the Alley Burger menu also features poutine with Quebec cheese curds ($7.52) or hand-cut fries with gourmet shaker salt (truffle, curry, chipotle, bacon and cheddar, etc.).
Arriving late in the game, we only get to try the original Alley Burger. It’s well worth the journey, with a coarsely ground pork patty that’s juicy and rich with flavour. Nestled in a soft, sesame-seed bun with a slather of piri piri aioli, the burger has a nice kick of heat. Melting on top of the patty is a gooey pool of Quebec cheese curds — a great combination.
This won’t be our last visit to the truck. The good news is that Alley Burger will be parking the truck in a semi-permanent downtown location a few days a week for lunch, in addition to maintaining the initial underground spirit of Alley Burger with pop-up locations on various nights headed by “Alley Burger Mike” (Chef Mike Batke).
For up-to-the minute details, check out Alley Burger on Facebook and Twitter.
Looking at the Perogy Boyz truck makes you want to throw your fork in the air and wave it like a revolutionary foodie. Brought to us by the guys behind Taste Restaurant (Curtis Berry, owner-manager Brendan Bankowski and chef Shaun Greenwood), the simple yet mouth-watering menu features traditional Eastern European-inspired street food like perogies, sausages and borscht — with a twist.
One such twist is the cabbage roll sausage. Comprised of beef, sauerkraut and rice with marinara sauce ($4), it’s a unique take on sausage with all the goodness of baba’s cabbage rolls.
The delightful potato, onion and sauerkraut perogies served with sour cream ($7) are more in line with your traditional perogy fare, but there’s also an entirely new selection of pinched dough wonders; like the ground duck and Saskatoon berry with chive ponzu ($7) or the Mexicali perogies with ground beef, chili aioli, cheddar and a tomato tartar ($7).
Served in an environmentally friendly takeout box (nice work Boyz!), the perogies are delectable, and from what Bankowski tells me, made by real babas at Calgary’s Heritage Bakery & Deli.
And don’t forget to check out Baba’s Borscht ($4) on those cool autumn evenings.
For up-to-the minute details, check out Perogy Boyz on Facebook and Twitter.
Fries & Dolls
These gals may be the sweetest sisters you’ve ever met and their fries are to die for. Serving up a nice range of gluten-free (nothing breaded, no flour) gourmet French fries and smokies with a wide array of toppings and sauces, this duo de force delivers awesome mobile snacks. Not only that, but their truck is cute in hot pink, as are their rockabilly polka-dotted aprons.
With names like Farrah, Fergie, and Marianne & Ginger, these dishes are total babes. Today I’m trying the Sophia fries topped with truffle oil and Grana Padano cheese.
Perfectly cooked and the ideal size, the fries are slightly crispy, soft and a little brown. The combination of truffle oil and grated, fresh Parmesan cheese is mouth-watering. I’m nervous that I may start following this truck a little too closely on Twitter.
For dessert my friends and I sample Sandra D — sweet potato fries tossed in cinnamon, cumin and brown sugar. I love the addition of cumin in this dish, it subtly cuts the sweetness of the cinnamon and brown sugar and offers a nice contrast. Fries and Dolls also serve their food in biodegradable takeout bowls, which makes me whole-heartedly believe that I might live to see the days of Styrofoam-free takeout. A girl can dream. I mean, we finally got food trucks, right?
For up-to-the minute details, check out Fries & Dolls on Facebook and Twitter.
Pimento’s Mobile Pizzeria
A taste of Italy curbside. Chef Mario has hit the streets in a van pimped out with a kitchen and real deal wood-burning stove. Serving up pizzas dressed with quality ingredients like Italian organic tomatoes, fresh basil, premium meats and real cheeses, Mario’s pies are hand-tossed on the spot and finished with extra virgin olive oil.
I go for a basic marinara with pomodoro tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, garlic and oregano, and I’m happy to report that this street pizza is worth the wait.
I’m yet to try the Los Compadres taco truck, but I’m definitely looking forward to getting my Mexico on with their tacos pastor, tortas and quesadillas. That, and I promise to follow with Gelato from the Fiasco Gelato truck, but I’ve always liked their gelato, so I’m pretty sure that’s a safe bet. You can read my full review on Jo-Jo’s BBQ here. Keep on Truckin’ YYC!