This time around, I attempted to sample from the food trucks in Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Again, like the trek to Minneapolis, we were dealing with cities that are much smaller than Chicago.
The one disadvantage in Canada was not having regular access to 3G since roaming charges wouldn't have been worth accruing. Finding a food truck is a lot easier when you can rely on 3G anywhere instead of searching for wi-fi. As much as food trucks use Twitter, sometimes the messages don't come through even if you finally find wi-fi.
While Calgary has quite a few innovative food trucks, two of the more well-known entries are Alley Burger and Fries and Dolls. Finding them proved to be more challenging, even with Twitter and Facebook.
I had two windows in Calgary: Tuesday/Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. The weekdays would be easier, especially being downtown. But I needed that Saturday afternoon to accomplish my mission.
This isn't to say that I didn't see food trucks in Calgary during the week. Stephen Avenue (no relation to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is from Calgary) is a pedestrian-only stretch. The food trucks didn't strike me as being unusual.
Alley Burger was out on Tuesday, but nowhere near downtown. And I had arrived too late into town to find them by 1 pm, since they weren't easily accessible by public transportation. Alley Burger took Wednesday off.
Alley Burger's Twitter feed spoke of a Saturday event with several food trucks. Unfortunately, we never found out from Twitter and subsequent research about this great Saturday event. I could have possibly found the truck outside Charcut House, its sister restaurant, but timing made that difficult.
Cool is one thing, vague is another.
Fortunately, Fries and Dolls had a Saturday location about a block away from where I was staying. For those who don't know what Fries and Dolls is all about, they serve up kicked-up fries with 50s diner waitress charm and attitude.
The fries are named after female sex symbols such as Farrah and Sophia. The fries come in two sizes: B cup and D cup.
The Farrah was garlic fries with parsley and cheese. I ordered the B cup Farrah since "B cups were the best." I really wanted the smaller size, but I figured part of the charm was being involved in the theme.
While I was waiting for my order, I overheard her address the sizes as small and large to a family. Some people can't handle the theme.
At $6.50 (B cup/small) and $9 (D cup/large), you are paying premium prices. They were mixed pretty well with good garlic flavor. Overall, the fries were worth the experience, factoring in the whole experience.
I supplemented my fries with a trip to the Red Wagon Diner, a handful of meters away from Fries and Dolls. I tried the Montreal smoked meat sandwich with housemade mustard ($7) with a kosher pickle ($1).
The difference between lean and fatty on a Montreal smoked meat sandwich is substantial. The sandwich came out real fatty; I'm a lean kind of guy. The pickle was really good.
The bigger surprise was that the sandwich contained hardly any mustard. This was the signature point — the housemade mustard. I went back to get more. They were very happy to give me more and took my feedback well (on the lack of mustard).
The housemade mustard was good, really strong, too strong but tasty. The taste felt like horseradish and some kind of pepper.
Drift's usual location was 108 Street and 100 Avenue downtown. Downtown Edmonton was filled with construction, so that intersection was in really bad shape. My wi-fi ability was not as strong in Edmonton as it was in Calgary. Fortunately, luck kicked in.
I came across Drift at Jasper Avenue and 107 Street. I settled on a braised pork shoulder sandwich with Swiss cheese, back bacon, pickles, cabbage & grainy mustard. This was the kind of sandwich that screamed "food truck."
This sandwich was a blend of nice flavors and textures. I also got fries with housemade ketchup. The ketchup was more of a finely ground tomato sauce. The ketchup was so unlike ketchup that it could have legitimately been called a vegetable.
Some hype is fine, but I want a bit more consistency in food trucks. Be somewhere. Be where you say you will be and let us know where that will be. People still want value, even with food trucks. They have to be better than brick-and-mortar restaurants since I can easily find the traditional restaurants, and they are less about hype than the food trucks.