This past Friday, the City of Ottawa released the list of successful candidates from its “New Street Food Vending Program.” Of the sixty-one applicants, eighteen were given the green light to move ahead with novel food trucks and carts this coming May.
The licenses issued entitle the selected food truck and cart operators to fixed physical presence on public streets. Previously, streets were restricted to vendors of hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages (sometimes pogos), and fries (including poutine). In fact, there was a moratorium on street vendor licenses issued. For years, existing licenses could only be handed down from parent to child. Forty-four of the more traditional licenses remain.
The program’s new vending options follow:
- Food Trucks
- Ben Baird: Ottawa Streat Gourmet (North side of Queen, west of O’Connor)
- Layne Belcher and Mathew Hinds: Urban Cowboy (East side of Bank, north of Glen)
- Peter G. Bowen: Epicurean Munchie Truck (East side of Olmstead, south of Montreal Road)
- Mario Burke: Ad Mare (South side of Slater, east of O’Connor)
- Steven Dupras & Glen Galbraith: TURN rotisserie + kitchen (North side of Argyle, east of O’Connor)
- Mathew Gregoire & York Entertainment: Ragin’ Cajun (West side of Bank, north of Clemow)
- Jacqueline Jolliffe: Stone Soup Foodworks (East side of Spadina, north of Wellington)
- Jake Thomas: Dosa Inc. (South side of Somerset, west of Lyon)
- Jason Tran: Chow Down (North side of Byron at Woodroffe)
- Kin Tran: Asian-Fusion with a twist (North side of Gloucester, east of Lyon)
- Tim Van Dyke: LUNCH (North side of Albert, east of Lyon)
- Wasi Choudhry: Olive Green
- Rodney Cummings: Royi Fruta Bar (East side of Elgin, north of Laurier)
- Gavin Hall: BOBITES: Best Organic Bites (East side of Metcalfe, south of Sparks)
- Tarek Hassan: Gongfu Bao (East side of Elgin, south of Slater)
- Hana Jung: Raon Kitchen (West side of Bank between Albert & Slater)
- Brian Nolan: SPOON (East side of O’Connor, south of Sparks)
- Ulises Ortega: Churritos – Churro (West side of O’Connor, south of Sparks)
According to the corresponding press release, the panel that reviewed the applications was made up of five members, representing the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA), Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation, Savour Ottawa, Just Food, and Ottawa Public Health.
Vendors were [scored and] chosen based on the proposed menu, business plan, level of vendor experience and the overall contribution to Ottawa’s street food scene.
Expect to see fare beyond present “stereotypes,” including Texan-inspired street food from Urban Cowboy; Southern Indian dosas (a type of thinly griddled flat bread made with lentils and rice) from Dosas Inc.; oriental and South Asian street foods from Chow Down, Asian Fusion with a Twist, Olive Green, Gongfu Bao (Momofuku-inspired steamed buns), and Raon Kitchen (more native Korean); baked empanadas from Royi Fruta Bar; organic baked potatoes with “seasonal” toppings from Bobites; and frozen yogurt from Spoon (which also operates a frozen yogurt bar in the ByWard Market).
With new food trucks and carts coming, it is a good time to review existing street food options, most of which operate fearlessly on private property.
Alas, after two consecutive years, you will not find the former educator and slow food advocate on the canal this Winterlude. She opted not to participate as it is difficult to explain the value of a $6-7 bowl of nourishing soup when $4-5 Beaver Tail can be had nearby. Skaters want fries and hot chocolate. It doesn’t matter that Jolliffe’s soups, sandwiches, and tacos employ ingredients sourced from Ottawa producers. It doesn’t matter that she and her team prepare everything from scratch.
We’ve run into Jolliffe during one of her expeditions to Chinatown for ingredients to make kimchi for her Korean-inspired tacos. Her shopping cart brimmed with daikon.
This winter, you will find Sweat Pea on campus (Mondays to Fridays) at the University of Ottawa (11 Marie Curie Private). There, Jolliffe serves her health-conscious fare to a loyal customer-base, often selling out before the day ends.
Jolliffe is one of the few existing food trucks that applied successfully for the City of Ottawa’s program. It will be great, seeing her on a public street for a change.
Relish Food Truck
Paul Bergeron’s Relish “The Flavour” food truck opened during Westfest last June (2012). An alumnus of Ottawa’s celebrated Fraser Café (11 Springfield Road), he dreamed of making restaurant food mobile. With years spent on the line as a cook and Sous, he decided to take fine dining to the streets. Like his friend Jolliffe, he too believes in quality ingredients, sourcing everything as locally as possible.
[With 1300 farms in the Ottawa area, sourcing product from local producers is a common theme. It isn’t a fading food trend.]
Also parked at the University of Ottawa campus for the winter semester (Tuesdays to Fridays), Bergeron continues to serve up his brand of atypical food truck food to students, staff, and anyone else who happens by. Past weeks’ menus have included goat cheese arancini with mixed greens; butter chicken with rice; pork schnitzel sandwiches with coleslaw; beef tacos with truck-made tortillas; chicken curry salad sandwich with apple, red onion, cucumber, and radish; even doughnuts suspiciously reminiscent of the legendary ones his former chefs Simon and Ross Fraser serve in the Beechwood neighbourhood.
[The pulled jerk chicken plate, served during Westfest, was made with house-made jerk sauce. It was plated with mango salsa, slaw, and cilantro]
Formerly located on a gravel parking lot at the corner of Scott and McRae in Westboro, Donna Kyd has since moved her trailer up to 179 Richmond Road, directly across from the Loblaws Superstore. For the winter, she erected a covered deck around her service windows.
Like Jolliffe and Bergeron, Kyd is determined to bring healthier and more creative street food options to Ottawa. Something beyond burgers and fries.
Open since June 2010, Bite This is a sassy operation, complete with graffiti-ed truck trailer, colourful adirondack chairs, and a whimsical menu. Loyal patrons swear by the pad thai, which Kyd once listed in neon pink cursive as “Thai-One-On” on her dark sandwich sign. Others recommend her former “Momo-Chow-Wow,” a gingery North American Chinese-inspired chow mein.
We’re more fans of her “Cowboy Wannabe” hoagie with grilled-to-order sirloin, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and goat cheese. I usually order Kyd’s 6.5 oz burger, the “Big Honkin’ ‘juicy burger.'”
Yes, everybody, food truck or otherwise, manages to have a burger on the menu. It is a symptom of owners and operators trying to attract the young professional demographic and its disposable income. Hamburgers are familiar, so make for accessible menu items. However, how many eateries shape the patty and griddle it to order?
“You gotta sit still for 10 minutes for the burger! Good with that?” Kyd will holler from her griddle station.
Trailer Pork Boys
Trailer Pork Boys at the corner of Carling and Merivale, in front of the Best Western Hotel, is quite the sight. It is emblazoned with three porkers to the right of its two service windows. Peeking in, you will see an impressive mobile commercial kitchen, complete with refrigeration, fryolaters, ovens and flat top.
It is the result of a partnership between Gerry Macies and Jennifer Demers (husband and wife) and Rob and Adam Fata (uncle and nephew). A decidedly family affair, Adam Fata manages the truck with Chef Peter Simpson, both Caffe Mio alumni. Rob Fata owns Caffe Mio (1379 Wellington Street W.), a popular North American Italian eatery located in the West Wellington Village. Macies owns the closed and boarded up Lucky Key restaurant, which the truck parks beside. He and his wife Demers own the Best Western Hotel behind the truck and the corresponding parking lot the truck parks on.
Closed for the winter, anyone who visited during Trailer Pork Boys’ first summer open can still smell the scent of smoked ribs and sweet pulled pork when walking by.
Theirs was truly food that moved you.
The Flat Bread Pizza Company
Formerly an accomplished studio photographer, Mark Snyder decided to follow his dream of preparing and serving wood-fired pizza on the go. More of a cart-style operation, his Flat Bread Pizza Company can be found set up at music festivals, farmers’ markets (both Main and Brewer), and indoor or outdoor food fairs. Like most food trucks and carts, he caters private events as well.
Snyder’s branded mobile oven, which requires a trailer to lug around, produces artisanal pizzas that showcase innovative combinations of toppings, many borrowing from classical pizzas: genoa salami, black olives, red onion, and mozzarella; eggplant, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, and ricotta salata; soppressata, red onion, olives and mozzarella; and figs, sweet gorgonzola, sautéed leeks, balsamic and berkshire bacon.
He also makes calzones: Tuscan wild boar stew with Parmigiano Reggiano; oven roasted mushrooms with porcini, truffle oil and buffalo mozzarella; and maplewood-grilled tamworth Italian sausage stew with onions, peppers and mozzarella.
There was a time when Snyder purchased pre-made pizza dough from Hintonburg’s Harvest Loaf Bakery (1323 Wellington Street W.). But, he started making more and more requests to modify the recipe for his orders. Eventually, he took ownership of his dough. These days, his individual pizzas (he sells no slices) are made with dough he and his team proof for at least 24-hours.
His is some of the best pizza in Ottawa.
[The breakfast pizza, served every Sunday at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market in Brewer Park, included smoked pork sausage, duck fat fried potatoes, cheese curds, and an organic egg; everything sourced from producers at the market.]
The new food trucks and carts only serve to bolster a growing street food footprint. It is a beginning.
Needless to say, we are very excited for what should prove to be a delicious spring and summer.
Relish the Flavour Food Truck
Belated Friday Appendix: #GoodEatsBlogs
As per last week’s round up, here are recipes from some local food bloggers. The theme, comfort food.
While a classic French chocolate mousse isn’t exactly comfort food to me, it can be to others. In fact, it may be a favourite of a loved one. Jordan Danger (@GirlCrafted) of Girl Crafted tasked herself with making a chocolate mousse for her significant other. That is, after asking where chocolate mousse could be found on a dessert menu in Ottawa. Hint, try a steak house. Click here to read about Danger’s first attempt at none other than Julia Child’s recipe. For the recipe she attempted, click here.
Corn dogs are naughtier comfort for many of us. Andrea Tomkins of a peek inside the fishbowl made a batch with instant corn bread mix. The wrinkle? She pan fried her “corn dog”-esque treats, innovating what is likely a new take on “pigs in a blanket.” Click here for something that could sate a corn dog craving without resorting to pulling out the Dutch oven and peanut oil. Or, a deep fryer.
Sandwiches are my comfort food Achilles heel. My knees buckle at the sight of a thoughtful sandwich with quality ingredients, especially artisan bread. Becky Stanisic of A Bit of Momsense, made a quick and easy sandwich starting with a familiar ingredient, candied bacon. Loyal readers of foodiePrints will recall our once making cookies with candied bacon. Interestingly Chef Michael Smith’s referenced technique for candying bacon closely resembles David Lebovitz’. Click here for Stanisic’s sandwich. Click here for Lebovitz’ technique.
Want a comfort meal? Consider Nicole of Domesticated Momma‘s crock pot beef stew and Yorkshire puddings. The stew calls for beer to braise with and bacon to flavour. For something richer, I would suggest rendering the bacon until crisp and using the drippings to sear the beef. That said, click here for what I feel is a weekday recipe. Put everything into the crock pot in the morning. Turn it on. And, dinner will be waiting when you return home. You’ve but to make the puddings thereafter.
Finally, when discussing comfort foods, mac ‘n cheese always gets a mentioned. Amanda of The Best Mom on the Block published a classic bechamel-based mac ‘n cheese that’s gussied up with some brown sugar caramelized onions. Click here for the recipe. I recommend the stove top option.
Tags: #GoodEatsBlogs, Bite This, featured, food truck, Relish, Stone Soup Food Works, Trailer Pork Boys