Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: Nice balls, dude!

(Originally written January 14, 2014)

These Food Dudes were a lot more organized than the ones from yesterday.  Instead of waiting in line, they took your order (and your money) right away, then called your name when it was ready—which prevented people from saying “Screw this, I’m going to Subway!”  That said, I’m pretty sure these deep-fried mac ‘n cheese balls have more than six grams of fat:


The crisp crust was soft enough that you could cut it with a fork, revealing the cheesy goodness underneath.  The marinara sauce soaked up into the breading nicely, while the green pesto added an extra little kick.  I definitely could’ve eaten more than three of these!

Throwback Thursday: Studies find Canadians eat more fast food than they talk politics

(Originally written July 8, 2013)

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What would you rather have, a big, juicy KFC Double Down or a big, hearty helping of foreign policy?  Perhaps it’s no surprise that most Canadians choose the former, according to a pair of separate surveys both released today.  As The NPD Group reports, “restaurant visits increased by 10 per cent between 2002 and 2012 (from 20 per cent to 30 per cent), while the share of grocery spending has had a correlating decrease (from 80 per cent to 70 per cent).”  The NPD study also notes that “Millennials have had an increase of 157 million [restaurant] visits in the past six years, while the combined visits of Boomers’ and Mature Traditionalists’ increased by 241 million.”  No word as to the increase of visits by Immature Traditionalists, but considering Rob Ford’s KFC diet, I’d assume that figure to be astronomical. 😉

But while Millennials might be eating more McDonald’s, one thing they’re not doing is discussing politics on Twitter.  A Samara study entitled “Lightweights”—clearly not in reference to this country’s eating habits—found that “Just 17 per cent of Canadians say they have shared political content via social media in the last year; 15 per cent blogged about a political issue; 30 per cent used email or instant messaging to talk politics; and 25 per cent participated in an online discussion group for such purposes” as per Postmedia.  On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that at least 17 per cent of my Twitter feed is comprised of pictures of poutine—some of which were posted by other people. 😉

So, how do we fix this?  As Dana McCauley, vice president of Marketing at Plats du Chef, told the NPD Group, “in order to cater to the vital Millennial group, restaurant executives need to make personal connections on the social platforms where they are seeking engagement.”  Perhaps the same could be said of politicians—who wouldn’t wanna receive a special birthday greeting from Stephen Harper?  Then again, perhaps the leaders of country could solve this problem by following the fast-food study.  After all, no political event has ever garnered more mentions on social media than that time Rob Ford was videotaped entering a KFC*.


*not including that time when Rob Ford was alleged to have allegedly smoked an alleged substance allegedly believed to be alleged crack cocaine.

Crikey! This 155-pound lad eats more breakfast in a half-hour than I do in a week!

(Originally written February 8, 2013)


Now, doesn’t that just look delicious?  Man, I could dive right into this platter and stay there for a week!  Alas, only one human being has ever eaten this scrumptious spread in the alotted “one hour and it’s free,” some scrawny bloke named Robert Pinto.  It says here he only weighs 11 stones!

Of course, it must be mentioned that Pinto’s a competitive eater.  He finished the whole thing in 26 minutes–and here’s proof!  How is it that skinny guys kick ass at competitive eating, anyways?  I mean, The Great Kobayashi tips the scales at 128, but that man can put more meat in his mouth than a male escort on Pride Week!  Me, I can barely make it through a corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli without having a heart attack…

Oh yeah, he works out.  To burn off the 6,000(!!!) calories, Pinto told The Sun “I went for a five-mile run, went to the gym and had a swim — you have to keep healthy.”  Sure, that’s easy for you to say, Mr. I-eat-6,000-calories-in-26-minutes!  (Oh, wait…)

It probably helps that he’s not chained to a desk, either.  The Sun reports that when not devouring English breakfasts in a single round, Pinto “runs clothes shop C3 in Stamford.”  Which, I presume, is a women’s clothing store…  Hey buddy, nice blouse!


I survived… the legendary Rochester garbage plate!

(Originally written June 11, 2014)

Rochester, New York might only be 75 miles from Buffalo, but if you think it’s a wing town, think again.  Sure, they serve chicken wings, like every other place on the planet, but their local culinary special is much closer to a French-Canadian classic.  In fact, it’s kinda like poutine on steroids…if steroids make you fatter.

The garbage plate was invented by local eatery Nick Tahou Hots, which owns both the trademark and the domain name.  The basic idea is to take french fries and/or macaroni salad, throw a buncha meat on top, then top with chili and cheese sauce.  I guess they called it the garbage plate cuz “heart attack on a plate” was already taken.  Mind you, while Nick’s mighta been the originators of this culinary creation (waaaay back in 1918!), most local diners, drive-ins and/or dives offer some variation of the plate–whether they call it a sloppy plate, a junkyard dog plate, or, in the case of the Marshall Street Bar & Grill, a volcano plate:


If you’re wondering how this plate (which, technically, is more of a serving bowl) got its name, you obviously haven’t tasted it yet.  The chili offers up a pretty decent kick, and I suspect there might also be some spice in the cheese sauce.  I had mine topped with a cheeseburger and some pulled pork overtop the home fries (often used instead of regular fries) and the mac salad, which you can’t even see in this picture.  The burger was nothing special, just a thin, charbroiled patty, but the pork had a nice tang to it.  Hiding the macaroni near the bottom makes sense, since you’ll need it to cool your palate after all the heat…if you’re not knocking back a whole buncha $2.50 pints of American light beer, that is.  Of course, the fries on the bottom got pretty soggy from the nuclear cheese assault, and weren’t quite as good as the crisp ones up top.  But hey, I guess that’s what happens when you live in a volcano cheese-ruption zone!  Shut the front door and buy a ticket!

On that note, I found it funny–but also awesome–that this bar was showing Triple-D on the big screen when I walked in.  Guy hasn’t actually been to Rochester yet, has he?  Apparently not…

Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce brings Buffalo north of the border

Now, I’ve been to the Anchor Bar, aka Temple of the Buffalo Wing, a whole buncha times. You might even see my license plate on the wall, but you’ll hafta guess which one it is… Lemme tell ya, though, I would fill the gas tank of a ’67 Camaro with their wing sauce if it didn’t cost me a boatload in border taxes! There are very few wing joints in Toronto that perfectly capture that tangy, buttery taste of an authentic Buffalo wing (hot tip: there’s one at the corner of Bloor and Walmer in The Annex), so when my last bottle of Anchor Bar sauce ran out, I had to find me a replacement in the grocery aisle:

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Now, what does Guy Fieri know about buffalo sauce? I mean, he does serve donkey sauce at his NYC joint in Times Square, but that’s a totally different animal! Let’s face it, this bleach-blond broseph is about as Buffalo as Leon Lett. (Still too soon?) I probably wouldn’t have even bought this sauce, if it wasn’t 50% off. They normally charge like eight bucks for a jar of this stuff!

But as soon as I tasted it, I knew that Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce was bananas, and bananas are good. I don’t know how he did it—I’m guessing he got Kid Rock to smuggle the secret recipe across the Buffalo/Detroit border in a faux-leopard cowboy hat—but the dude manages to capture the true taste of Buffalo in this bottle. If this sauce was any more authentic, it would have tears of Bills fans baked right in! Can you say “Winner, winner, double-down Buffalo chicken burger dinner?”

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OK, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here are two frozen—never fresh—chicken burger patties dunked in Guy Fieri’s Buffalo NY Wing Sauce, topped with blue cheese squares and Hickory Sticks, the greatest chips of all time (says so right here) and joined together in holy matrimony inside an oversized onion bun. Let’s face it, this is basically Guy Fieri in chicken burger form. It even has the same haircut! 😉

OK, so maybe I should’ve used a smaller bun, but hey, who’s counting carbs when you can be counting down to some NFL playoff action…unless you live in Buffalo. (2025 AFC East champs, baby!)

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Guy’s American Bar is in Times Square, but its Kitchen must be in a distant suburb of Flavortown…

(Originally written January 23, 2013)

What trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s Times Square joint, which received such a glowing review in the Times?  As a big fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (the show, not the fat fuck who hosts it), I of course had to come check it out.  Were the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders really not so awesome?  Did the watermelon margarita really taste like formaldehyde?  My life would not be complete without the answers to these questions.  But, much to my dismay, I see they’ve omitted the formaldehyde martini.  The chicken tenders, on the other hand, are very much still a menu item:


Now, I will agree with NYT food critic Pete Wells in that I would’ve never guessed that the breading contains either pretzels or smoked almonds.  That said, they really weren’t that bad.  Big, hot and crispy…  Better (and more expensive) than the chicken fingers I buy at Costco, that’s for sure!  Also, the Donkey Sauce really added an extra kick.  At least, I think that’s what it was called.  It was really just a spicy mustard.  Anyways, while the tenders were at least partially awesome, I can’t exactly say the same about the pulled pork tacos…


Now, while the pork itself had the right amount of tang, it wasn’t even remotely warm.  And the random sprinkling of corn, cheese and semen-lookalike white sauce didn’t really add much of an extra kick.  This dish does not reside in Flavourtown, put it that way!

Alas, while there were initial reports of the place being packed, it was half-empty when I arrived around noon on a Sunday.  And yet, even though there were only three people sitting at the downstairs bar, the food-runner still managed to give my grub to the other folks–before he was chastised by the barkeep.  Granted, it might seem weird for one person to order two appetizers, but man, their mains were fucking expensive!

On the plus side, I take some comfort in knowing that the cooks all washed their hands before preparing my pork tacos.  I’m assuming they read the sign, anyways…


Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: Jamaican me hungry, Randy!

(Originally written January 13, 2014)

Wait, Toronto has a food truck scene?  I mean, I’ve occasionally seen a couple trucks parked on Front Street or at the Molson Amp in summertime (beats the hell outta Pizza Pizza), but shows like Eat St. and, well, Eat St. would have me believe that the mobile feeding units aren’t nearly as prominent in this city as in other major urban centres.

In any case, a recent surge of waterfront construction has brought the trucks out of hibernation to feed construction and office workers alike at the foot of Bay St.  Though they’re not exactly out in full force—they’re only setting up one per day, due to space constraints.  That said, I’ll be braving the (not-so-unpleasant) elements to line up for street food over the next few weeks because hey, it beats the slop in the office cafeteria any day!

First on the docket is Randy’s Catering, a truck offering Caribbean cuisine.  Unfortunately for me, they were all sold out of roti by the time I got to the front of the line (note to self: arrive sooner), so I settled for the “barbecue jerk chicken” as seen below:


Of course, you can’t really go wrong with jerk chicken, especially when it’s served so cheaply at many Jamaican restaurants across the city.  On that note, Randy’s $10 price-tag was a little steep, but I was too hungry to haggle at this point.  The rice and peas had a good spicy gravy, while the coleslaw contained crisp cabbage and the chicken was nice and moist.  But I didn’t understand why they poured some squeeze-bottled barbecue sauce over top.  It just didn’t really jive with the rest of the dish.  I guess that’s putting the “barbecue” in barbecue jerk chicken, though…