Thoughts on CraveTO (and musings on food truck events)

25 May

Food Truck and foodie events are now de rigeur in Toronto. A quick internet search reveals that the first food event focused on food trucks was in 2011 (thank you @BlogTO), but please correct me if I am wrong. That first event was in the Distillery District. Now, Evergreen Brickworks has become a favourite for such events. That Toronto food truck lovers would appreciate events that are held at rare historic sites in Toronto (meaning those that miraculously avoided the wrecking ball in the name of progress)  is not surprising. Food trucks tap into our present obsession with everything that evokes nostalgia: that the past was somehow better, and that our grandparents knew best, not our parents. Waiting in line to then eat out of your hands while standing up is nicer when you are surrounded by old bricks and memories of the past, instead of brutalist concrete structures from the 1970s. Or maybe I am trying to look for meaning, where there is merely convenience?

CraveTO was the third food truck event that I have been too that was held at Evergreen Brickworks. I’m still amazed at the success of the revitalization project of the Brickworks. Growing up in Toronto, I just saw it as a vestige of our city’s past, frozen in time, something cool to look for when playing “I Spy” on a drive downtown with my parents. Now I’ve been to a number of foodie events there (last year’s Food Truck Fest and Toronto Underground Market), as well as other events. The Food Truck Fest was co-hosted by Toronto Underground Market, and until now it looked like TUM had the monopoly on such events at Brickworks…

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I’m definitely with @Polish_Football and @MsElleWoods on this one. I’m sure it sucks for TUM, but competition creates a healthy market for consumers… In this case, more selection for the hungry masses. How this unfolds remains to be seen…

So, how did CraveTO fare for this gourmande?!

I must admit: I wasn’t planning on going but I was swayed by their dynamic online presence. They would tweet right back, and seems like they had a number of students on the twitterverse doing wonders for them (notably @JennCupcakePR), as well as a number of their vendors promoting it. But ultimately,  it was a non-foodie friend who asked me to go. When I booked my ticket, I was happily surprised that the ticket was under 20$ (16.75$, but then 19.73$ with processing charges – funny how 27 cents can make all the difference, non?). This was the night before the event. An hour later, another friend we had invited informed us that there were no longer tickets. Impressive.

One thing I find annoying about events at the Brickworks is parking! It’s usually overflowing and you have to either park illegally or waste time driving around the lot looking for a spot. Whoever planned this event had probably wasted time doing the same. Partnering with @Uber_TOR was a really smart idea. As I mentioned on the YYZGourmand twitter last night, it wasn’t only convenient, but a safe choice for an event with alcohol! Starting a night off in a black Lincoln car was way more fun that fighting in traffic and a parking spot. Classy.

So far, this has been more about branding and event management than about food and the actual event… so onto that!

One more image of their branding… so fun!

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I arrived with my friend E around 6.. and very hungry. Something we could have done without was the 15 min wait at the door… and in the cold. Actually, we could have done without the cold the whole time, but that’s out of everyone’s control.

First off, we hit up The Fiesty Jack truck. We decided on Chicken Tikka Masala, which was served on a bed of fresh fries. Holy yum! I’ve never had anything from this truck but it was really great. Spicy sauce and tender chicken : better than most chicken tikka masalas I get at a sit down restaurant. We ate this in line for Fidel Gastros – and the smells of our food sent a number of others to get the same thing.

Picture of the like up for Fidels (before 7pm!!!)

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Picutre of the like at Buser’s Cove at the same time… womp womp

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I don’t think this had much to do with the quality of the food. Instead, everyone we spoke too in the Fidel Gastro’s line were incredulous that Buster’s had “busted” (har har) the 5$ an item rule that CraveTO had stated would be the case. If you’re told it will be 5$, a 13$ selection seems a bit much (even if this means having a much smaller portion).

As for what the famous Fidel’s had on offer:

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E and me shared a Fat Boy Shrimp and an Albama Tailgaiter. Both AMAZING.I lived and worked in Korea with E, so we LOVED the Alabama Tailgaters. Kimchi with anything and I am sold! Spicy, bite-sized and with bacon… SO good. As for the fat boy shrimp: very crispy and very fresh shrimp. I didn’t feel like it required a bun, so I disgarded mine. The side coleslaw was standard but good.
It was at this point that I stopped taking photos and just focused on eating… and drinking. Drinking the 3$ margaritas on offer by Tequila Tromba! I don’t like beer, so that there was a good wine selection was interesting… but once I hit the tequila, that’s what I stuck with! (and at 3$ a pop, who wouldn’t?!?!)

The most fun food “find” of the night goes to Come and get it!. We got a Spicy Mango Jerk Chicken sandwich as well as a Hawaiian Pork Belly sandwich. Holy fucking flavours! While Fidel’s is undeniably good, this was the most surprisingly good food I had last night. I can still taste the Mango Jerk Chicken and it was almost 24 hours ago – and I promise that I have since brushed my teeth… twice. Mango and jerk chicken belong together, but what could make it better?!  Plantain chips. Yes. The crunch is the base note that brings the spicy and sweet all together. The texture, which complimented the flavour, is what made this my standout favourite dish. The Hawaiian Pork Belly also had the perfect marriage of texture and flavour: glazed pork, pineapple, lettuce and pork cracklings. Who put the devine on the plate?! I still can’t believe I ate this standing up while in line for drink tickets.

After all this meat and bread… we decided we needed some dessert. Since we were well on our way to being drunk thanks to Tequila Tromba, we stuck with the Mexican theme and got churros. E had never seen churros filled with caramel and chocolate – so she was a huge fan of those. I enjoyed them but wished they had been warmer (but at this point the wind was getting colder, so everything felt cold).

The last thing we picked up was cupcakes at For the Love of Cake. E ate hers there, and I took mine home. Oddly, by 8pm, we were done. We did our best, CraveTO, but Mother Nature froze us out. So instead of dancing to the DJ, we took an (uber) convenient Uber car home.

Until the next food truck event..

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6 Responses to “Thoughts on CraveTO (and musings on food truck events)”

  1. Peter May 25, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    had a great time at craveto! Always enjoy fidelgastros! LOL I’ll never eat at Busters Foodtruck again, that slimy guy charges too much for crappy fake food

    • yyzcherry May 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      Hi Peter! I also had a great time at CraveTO!

      I doubt the guys at Buster’s have fake food, but their pricing was out of sync with the rest of the event. I think that is what turned a lot of people off.

      What was your favourite dish that you tried on Friday?

  2. Jennifer Cupcakes May 27, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out. I’m glad you enjoyed the event! – JennCupcakePR

    • yyzcherry May 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks, Jennifer!

      Tell us about your other upcoming events that you are helping with!

  3. Brynkus May 31, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    This sounds like an fun event. You killed me with the hawaiian pork belly sandwich description…my mouth is watering!

    • yyzcherry May 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      Brynkus, looks like it is time for you to come to Toronto!

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