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AwesTRUCK 2012!

September 27, 2012

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, I am sure you all know that I have an obsession with food trucks. Call me a junkie, a groupie, a fan but I like to believe that I am making a difference in promoting the food truck revolution happening in Toronto and around Ontario (although I would agree that I am a food truck groupie). When I first started watching Eat St. I wondered why there were no food trucks in Toronto. Little did I know that a movement was starting. I spotted my first truck at Queen and Jarvis, their old haunt, and I was converted from that moment forward. Trucks were real, and they were serving amazing food on our streets! Despite the ridiculous bylaws in Toronto that restrict trucks from being completely free to roam as they please, Toronto and beyond have provided us with some truly amazing food truck eats! It is only fitting that when I saw that there was going to be a food truck awards event, I was incredibly excited and instantly salivating. This event was made for me or that is how I felt at least. AwesTRUCK highlighted the best of our new street food culture and finally provided some much needed recognition to the hard working individuals that put their heart and soul into their food and believe in creating a relationship with those that follow them. I of course have made it my mission to try every truck and follow them around the city to show my support and stuff my face with some incredible dishes. Here is my review of the AwesTRUCK awards and some of the amazing trucks you can find around the city (sorry folks this will be a long one)!

During the VIP hour from 2-4, we had the privilege of receiving free food tickets, which my friend Adee and I took full advantage of. I believe in going to an event like this, you must attend with someone who shares a passion for food or at least loves to eat and we made a great tag team, tackling as many trucks and vendors as our stomachs could handle. We decided to head to Dobro Jesti first, a truck I had yet to try. We ordered the schnitzel rolls and risotto rice balls. The schnitzel had a very interesting flavour and great texture although a bit sweeter than I am used too. I loved the risotto rice balls, which were also up for best menu item at the awards. The goat cheese provided a great oozy quality to each bite and the marinara sauce was a well-balanced complement. They won Best New Truck at the ceremony!

We decided to go for three sandwiches at Gorilla Cheese. Who doesn’t like free grilled cheeses? They are one of my favourite trucks as I am a grilled cheese fiend. Something about the toasted bread, melting cheese, and delicious fillings gets me every time. We ordered the Mamaluke, the Gordopolis, and the Jacked Lemon for dessert. We split them up to ensure that we would be able to continue eating for the next few hours and dug in. Both the Mamluke and Gorodopolis were amazing examples of turning a simple grilled cheese into a marvel, with the additions of olives, feta, pepperoni, basil and much more. The Jacked Lemon was a nice surprise with the fresh squirt of blueberry, the tart lemon curd, and sweet marshcarpone in every mouthwatering bite. They definitely deserved the win for People’s Choice!

We decided more dessert was in order and ordered three cupcakes from Cupcake Diner. You may now start to wonder how we possibly could eat all of this food. Considering that there is still much more to come, I believe that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it. This day, I set my mind on eating an obscene amount of food and I did just that. We tried the Chocolate Hazelnut, Lemon Rasberry Cheesecake, and Caramel Apple Pie. All three were moist and flavorful. They definitely hit my sweet tooth with a punch, but I love a sweet icing on my cupcakes. Every one had their own unique feature that made it a worthy contender for the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. The moist apple spice cake, lemon cream cheese buttercream, and hazelnut cream filling all made for a mouth-watering experience.

There were also plenty of pop-ups with amazing culinary creations at our fingertips. We decided to try the Malpeque oysters and lobster roll from the Tide & Vine Oyster Company, the Babi on a bun from Babi&Co, three tacos and a dessert from Tacocat and the garlic shrimp and pork from Big E’s Grinds. The oysters were fresh and the lobster roll was probably once of my favourites of the day from Tide & Vine. I have a food affair with lobster going on at the moment. The Babi on a bun, which consisted of braised pork belly on a Chinese bun really resonated with me, as I had travelled to South East Asia the previous summer. The flavour took me straight back to those streets where I had some of the most amazing street food in the world. Tacocat had some inventive and delicious tacos including cuttlefish, chicken satay, and pork neck. As strange as pork neck may sound, it was one of the best bites of the event. The corn fritters were also a highlight as I am a huge corn lover. Big E’s was also one of the favourites of the day. The shrimp and pork had intense and exciting flavour profiles and when mixed with the rice provided the perfect bite.

If this was not enough we ended the day with feta fries from Blue Donkey. They are one of my personal favourites and hold a special place in my heart as I have made some great friendships with the Blue Donkey crew (Love ya Mike)! It is a great feeling to walk up to the truck window and they already know your name and personally come out to greet you. The fries, feta, and tzatziki combination were a match made in heaven- a Greek Poutine if you will. We managed to also squeeze down a few bites of the brisket and pulled pork from Southern Smoke, another truck I had yet to try. Even with just those few bites, I knew this was real BBQ. The sauce and melt in your mouth quality of the meat gave me the perfect last few bites to an epic eating adventure.

I would like to congratulate all the winners. Each truck proves that food does not only need to come from a traditional restaurant or fast food counter. We need to bring food to the streets and with each person who becomes a proponent of street food and food truck culture, we come one step closer to providing complete freedom to these amazing vendors who work so hard every day! Shout out to everyone who organized the event, you did an amazing job! (Thanks Suresh!)

The Golden Rule: Follow every truck on Twitter (you can check my feed to learn their handles), as well as follow @foodtrucksTO and @ontfoodtrucks. Eat at these trucks often and always go hungry! Become a member of the food truck revolution and appreciate that to these people you are not simply a nameless face, but an individual who supports their passion and love for creating great food for people who love to eat.

Stay tuned for more in depth reviews of all of the food trucks I have tried… they will make you very hungry so try not to drool.

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