On Victoria Day Monday I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my parents and GC for Food Trucks Eat – Peller Estates Edition.
I am very hopeful that the fact that this poster has the year 2012 on the truck means that this event will become an annual event. This is the best food truck event I have been to and I want to go back to bad! May Victoria weekend 2013 – who’s coming?!
We met up with my parents and headed down to Niagara. First stop, Welland to check out the Welland Canal. Yes, we are that kind of family.
Then we headed to Niagara. We arrived at Peller at about 11:30, half an hour before the gates opened. And this was the line:
The line ahead of us.
And the line behind us. And it got bigger. But it’s ok. Chef Jason Parsons was full of energy, running back and forth between everywhere talking to people, and letting everyone know how much time was left until we got to experience the deliciousness.
There were 16 trucks from Southern Ontario and the United States, live music and of course, wine. Each truck had wine pairings posted with their menu to give you the full experience of being at an award-winning winery. The band was great – they played a mix of classic rock and new rock, the perfect compliment to great food and wine. It was the perfect atmosphere to enjoy some good food, some good wine and some great company.
We were strategic – we came with a list of all the vendors, decided which ones would be the hottest and which ones we wanted to try. We knew we wouldn’t be able to try them all (unfortunately) so we settled on 4 – it’s not as sad and as poor of an attempt as it seems.
Our first stop was Buster’s Sea Cove. The original location is at St. Lawrence Market but since we had never tried them, we thought it was as good a time as any. Oh, and they were serving lobster rolls. This truck is the first seafood centric food truck in Ontario and is a little more upscale from their location at St. Lawrence Market.
I love how this truck is designed. It is wrapped in an eerie, ocean scene which makes you feel like you are on the edge of a dock about to swamped by a tidal wave. You can almost smell the ocean salt and hear seagulls.
Although I love fish tacos I got a lobster roll; I had never had one and missed out at the Toronto Underground Market. And it was a good decision.
Just looking at this again is making me a little excited. This isn’t your average lobster roll – it isn’t drowned in mayo to the point of being unrecognizable. This is a lobster roll that highlights lobster and all its greatness. The lobster was buttery, and fruity, with a hint of citrus highlighted with a squeeze of lemon. There was so much lobster in this roll. You could make out claws of deliciousness. The dressing was light, and creamy and the bun was perfectly toasted with light butter. And a side pickle! Who knew that was even a thing with lobster rolls! And a side of crisps – Ms Vickie’s, the perfect compliment for seafood.
I am planning on visiting this truck/vendor as often as I can/my health/budget will allow me to. If you haven’t had lobster or a lobster roll, you need to have one of these as soon as possible. This was a favourite of the day for my parents and GC. I think it was my favourite too but I am debating between this and the oysters we had next…
Our next stop was Tide and Vine.
The van alone had me sold. I say to GC all the time that if I am forced to get my license I want to drive something like this. It’s retro, playful and classic.
This was my first time having oysters. I love the theatrics of having oysters. They are freshly shucked to order, they are served on ice, and these oysters had seaweed wrapped around them, illustrating how fresh they are. The only thing I can’t handle is watching them be shucked. I love watching it, and could watch this for hours but mini heart attacks would accompany this. I kept waiting for someone to slice off a finger.
We all ordered the Shucker’s Threesome: Cucumber Dirty Martini, Strawberry Daiquiri and the Spicy Caesar.
Do not believe anything you hear about oysters – they are not slimy, snotty, overly salty grossness. They are smooth, succulent, salty and perfect. Each topping added something different to the rich oysters – the cucumber cut the saltiness of the oyster, the strawberry contrasted the saltiness and the Caesar gave you a great kick of heat. This was an amazing introduction to oysters and I plan to have them again and again.
Our third stop was Dobri Jesti.
A food truck serving up Eastern European fare – clearly we had to check this out. I ordered the classic Schnitzel, GC ordered The Hunter, and we split a Risotto Rice Ball and an order of Mr. Schnitz’s Bits.
This risotto ball is better than the other ones I have had – instead of being tomato based it was cheesy, garlicky and creamy. The outside was crispy and crunchy. I wish we had ordered more than one to share. That was a rookie move.
The schnitzel was crispy and the hint of lemon brought out the subtle flavours that pork can have. The bun was a bit dry and too big for the fact that I wanted to eat more that day. Since it didn’t add anything to my sandwich, I just ate the schnitzel..
Mr. Schnitz’s Bits or garlic donuts were heavenly. Warm, doughy, buttery with the perfect hit of garlic and salt. They were dense but they were so good. This was my favourite thing from Dobro Jesti.
I think for their first food truck event they did very well – you could tell they were new because they had a few issues with timing and dealing with the line up but everyone was friendly and excited about food. We only waited in line for about 10-15 minutes which is extremely reasonable for a food truck. I can’t wait to see them at a future food event!
Next we went inside to beat the heat and taste three wines – a rose, a white and an ice wine.
The wine cooled us down and got us ready for eating more food. Onto El Gastronomo Vagabundo!
I have been wanting to try El Gastro for over a year. At every food truck event they have insane line ups and I am always jealous of people walking away from the truck smiling and with amazing food. But not this time!
Both GC and I and my parents got one chicken taco and one fish taco to share – four tacos in all.
Tacos do not photograph well. Let’s talk about the taco I liked less first – the chicken taco. I found the chicken tough and overcooked. It had very little spice to it. The fish taco on the other hand – holy smokes. The cabbage was sweet and crunchy, the cilantro was fresh and fish was flaky and seasoned nicely. The sauce on the fish was so spicy and good! I think this is one of the better fish tacos I have tried. I am excited to try this again…
We thought we could handle one more snack but when we saw the line at Toasted Tangerine we bailed. We knew we would feel too full by the time we were able to order so we grabbed some treats for the ride home.
4 bags of popcorn from Shriner’s Creek Kettle Popcorn – yes, this is excessive but I love this popcorn and I only get it about once every 6 months.
The cheddar tastes like real cheese and is a little smoky. The black truffle flavour doesn’t come across well – it just tasted salty and slightly buttery which for popcorn is still yummy. I still haven’t tried the Cabernet Sauvignon so I will keep you posted on how that one tastes. It kind of is throwing me off that it is an almost fluorescent pink but I’m sure it will be tasty. The Caramel Apple pie was perfect. It was colour-coded to taste and each bite truly tasted like a piece of apple pie. It has been less than a week and I only have one bag left, we should have bought more…
And cupcakes from the Cupcake Diner. I know, I know.
Top row: Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Dolce de Leche, Banana Coconut
Bottom row: 2 Caramel Apple Pie and another Chocolate Dolce de Leche.
This was kind of my mom’s birthday celebration – we brought candles, a lighter and sang Happy Birthday in a parking lot.
I only actually got to try the Caramel Apple Pie and I thought it was delicious. I think the cake could have had a touch more cinnamon to it but the cake was a delicate base of the rich icing. It was very good. I think I have found my Cupcake Diner cupcake.
We had a few token Niagara sites to check out before we went home. First we went to Kurtz Orchards Farm & Marketplace. Although there is many jams, spreads and preserves here that are all very tasty we opted to enjoy the view instead.
Followed by the Centennial Lilac Garden and the Floral Clock.
On the way home we stopped at Hillebrand Winery for another wine tasting.
This was an amazing day. The lines were manageable and not excessively long. There was a great assortment of vendors and different flavours. The wine was good and perfectly paired with all the trucks. There was free water that was readily available so no one would get dehydrated. There was ample seating and tables to stand at so you didn’t have to precariously hold plates while trying to enjoy yourself. The band was cool and played great music. I loved everything about this day and I am really hoping that they do another one in the fall (wishful thinking) or next year.
Niagara is a beautiful area and there is so much to do and discover. I can`t wait to go back and discover more wineries, food and beauty.