FOOD TRUCK FEEDING FRENZY: Randy’s Catering

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 Carribean 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 “barbeque jerk chicken” as seen below:

002

 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 pricetag 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 barbeque sauce overtop.  It just didn’t really jive with the rest of the dish.  I guess that’s putting the “barbeque” in barbeque jerk chicken, though…

About these ads

Because the only thing stopping me from biting into this oversized burger is my small and modest mouth!

Now, I’m no stranger to looking up weird Japanese shit on the internet, so it’s no surprise that I recently stumbled upon this ad campaign by national chain Freshness Burger, which has reportedly boosted sales by 213%.  Apparently, Japanese women are not allowed to open their mouths wide in public–which goes against some of the other, erm, weird Japanese shit I’ve found on the internet, but I digress.

It seems that this cultural practice known as “Ochobo” had been preventing female customers from biting down on burgers like this one, so to solve this problem, Freshness came up with the Japanese face napkin seen above.  It may look like she’s smiling, but she’s really chowing down on a Classic Burger…presumably with her third hand.  Like I said, the Japanese are into some freaky shit!

In any case, my kinda hangout is one where Japanese girls chow down on monstrous meat patties with heavy metal blaring in the background.  Y’know, sorta like this commercial:

(Remind me to bring one of these next time I go to the Heart Attack Grill…)

I SURVIVED… McDonald’s Poutine

Now, one sign of a good poutine is a thick, meaty fry, so when McDonald’s announced it was adding poutine to its menu–following in the footsteps of Wendy’s, Burger King, and most other fast-food franchises in this country–it seemed like pretty much the worst idea ever.  After all, McDonald’s renowned salt-rockets are about as thin a fry as you’ll find in a cardboard pouch.  Dump a small bag of cheese curds and some not-warm gravy on top, and you get this:

002

You’ll notice that the curds aren’t remotely close to melting.  That’s cuz they took ‘em straight out of a sealed plastic bag and pumped some cold gravy on top.  I mean, I wasn’t expecting sauce en canne, but at least Burger King keeps its poutine sauce warm enough that it actually melts the cheese.  All this stuff did was make my thin, yet deadly, fries soggy–which is kinda gross.  In any case, the curds had good flavour, but they didn’t exactly squeak in my mouth.  And what was up with that gravy!?  Man, I’d even take KFC’s artery-busting lumps of doom over this.  You can really tell that McDonald’s has never used gravy on any other menu item before, put it that way.

Of course, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish; I was really only trying it in the name of science.  Cuz hey, there are really only three types of people who buy McDonald’s: students, the homeless and parents of small children.  Let’s just say that if this serves as your kids’ first taste of poutine, they’ll probably never want to eat it again…

…which just means more crise cardiaque sur une assiette for the rest of us. ;)

A burger joint on Bay Street? Actually, that’s not a bad idea…

Being that I walk by the place twice a day, I was certainly intrigued when the signs first went up for South St. Burger at 360 Bay Street.  While it isn’t much of a fast-food area–underground food courts aside–you’d think that a brand-new burger joint might be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.  After all, not every Bay Streeter can afford to eat at Blowfish or John and Sons for every meal!

In fact, I’ve already eaten at South St. twice.  I first came in for lunch last week to find the place was still pretty packed shortly after 1 pm.  I’d soon seen why–their service is a tad slow, albeit no more so than, say, Big Smoke Burger at the Urban Eatery.  Their assembly-line layout lets you choose from a variety of toppings, and if the beef takes a bit longer, it’s cuz they cook it to order.  But they’ve also got a line of signature burgers that I felt compelled to try, starting with The Nacho.  C’mon, you can’t tell me that a nacho burger doesn’t sound amazing…

001…and it looks pretty decadent, too!

The nacho burger is so named because it comes topped with salsa, cheese, guacamole and “jalapeno sour cream.”  (Suffice to say I added a few more toppings to mine above.)  First things first: the patty is nice and juicy, cooked perfectly.  There’s definitely some creaminess from the guac and sour cream, but I was a little disappointed in the salsa, which was milder than a bridge party at grandma’s house.  If you’re gonna put salsa on a burger, it’s gotta have some kick to it–and call me crazy, but this is one time I would actually prefer some processed cheese sauce.

That said, the overall experience was fairly pleasant.  Being that they were still within their first couple weeks of operation, a manager was quick to ask me how I liked my food and to clear away my trash.  I should also mention that this local chain has an arrangement with New York Fries for all their potato needs.  Not a fan of their poutine, but on their own, their fries are nice and crispy.

Anyways, I came back a few days later for dinner, and it was much quieter around 7 pm.  Hell, there were no more than 10 people in the place–although one guy did make a massive order to bring back to the boys working late in the office.  (Accountants, I presume.  Hey, it’s beginning to look a lot like tax season…)  This time, I went with another South St. specialty, the True North, which is basically beef, extra cheese and bacon.  Oh, and some “maple-syrup-infused onions,” although I couldn’t exactly taste the cabane à sucre.

004VEGGIES!? WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ VEGGIES!!!

I might lose my Wendy’s Club membership for saying this, but the True North sure beats the hell out of a Baconator.  Again, the burger was perfectly cooked, and the bacon was the ideal texture: good chew, but not too chewy nor too crisp.  Oh, and big ups for using real cheddar cheese instead of the “orange cheese” you get at your generic burger joint.  The onions also added a bit of tang, but like I said, I couldn’t taste the maple syrup.

In any case, while this might not be the best restaurant and Bay and Temperance, it’s certainly the most affordable: a signature-burger combo will only set you back 13-15 bucks after tax.  Even if you tip your server, that’s still less than a martini at Suits! ;)

Speaking of great steak…

So, I heard it through the Tee Vee box that Tim Horton’s has a new steak and cheese panini. I’m pretty sure I’d eat a steak and cheese sweatsock, so needless to say, I had to try this.

002Mmm, grillé

Although I got way too much horseradish in my first bite, the rest wasn’t as overpowering.  Basically, you’ve got thin chunks of steak (a la Subway) with some crisp red onions, a little creaminess from the cheese and sauce, between a hot, sandwich-press toasted bun.  Nothing wrong with this at all; in fact, it might even be more extreme than the Extreme Italian Sandwich.  Yes, I went there!

Looks like The Keg is embracing its bad reputation after all…

A little while back, The Keg was named the best place in Toronto to have an affair.  Upon the release of said survey, it looked like the steakhouse chain was backing away from its sordid reputation, even changing its slogan from “Great Steaks, Good Friends, See You Tonight” to the less suggestive “Great Steaks, Great Conversations.”  After all, when you’re about to t-bone your secretary, you don’t really wanna do much talking. :P

One might say that the new slogan better aligned with their perennial sponsorship of TSN talk show Off the Record, hosted by Michael Landsberg, he who never met a conversation he didn’t like.  (I have it on pretty good authority that Landsberg’s a homosexual who probably doesn’t take his dates to The Keg, but I digress…)  But lately, I think The Keg might be trying to be a little more discreet, a tad more subtle in its advertising–y’know, much like someone who’s having an affair.  Witness this bus shelter ad I spotted on Bay Street:

002So yeah, if she’s not better than a piece of beef, don’t even bother.

Not entirely sure what to make of this ad, but it’s probably safe to say that these two fine folks aren’t going home to have great conversations afterwards.  Who knows, they might even become more than good friends.  In any case, it seems pretty clear to me that The Keg is trying to position itself as a place to take a woman who’s not your wife.  Then again, I don’t think I see a ring on that guy’s finger…

…but that doesn’t mean he’s not married, right? ;)

Big Tips Texas is about to do to the Lone Star State what Buckwild did for West Virginia…

Considering my Calgarian upbringing, I’m pretty much a sucker for anything to do with rednecks–as long as it doesn’t involve banjos or crystal meth.  So that’s why I even found myself flipping channels during a nationally-televised Flames game to catch the season premiere of Big Tips Texas, MTV’s latest reality show.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to an MTV reality TV scout.  You get the call that Buckwild has been cancelled due to the untimely demise of Shain Gandee and are tasked to find a new redneck TV show to take over the Wednesday night timeslot. Being a lazy bastard, you Google “Redneck Heaven,” where you happen to come across this:

And yes, that’s really the name of a bar in the Dallas suburbs.  In fact there are three of them, though I’m guessing the fine young ladies pictured above work at the Fort Worth location.  The menu includes items like “Border Patrol Belt Busters” and Nolan Ryan Burgers, cuz apparently, the Rangers pitcher-turned-CEO has his own brand of beef.  But it’s probably safe to say that most patrons come for the breasts–and I don’t mean the “Pimp My Chicken Sandwich,” although I’d probably be into that.

That said, they’re up against some stiff competition in the key three-tooth, inbred, dirty-jeans-and-bandana demographic, being that the show airs on the exact same day and time as A&E’s Duck Dynasty.  (Incidentally, Uncle Si, Godwin and that other guy appear in the background of Redneck Heaven’s Twitter page.)  But lets say that the boobs to beards ratio is much, much higher on Big Tits, erm, Tips Texas.  As opposed to Buckwild, or even Jersey Shore, the cast here is all-female.  And if you’re wondering how they earn those tips, then you must’ve stopped staring at the GIF above already.

Another key difference between Big Tips and previous MTV offerings is that this show follows a group of co-workers, not a cast of friends.  Cuz there’s always bound to be more drama in a working environment.  Did I mention that this constitutes proper workplace attire on the program?  This whole story of young girls chasing their hopes and dreams while working at a breastaurant has been done before–but perhaps not with this much cleavage.

And after just one episode, it’s safe to say the show’s found its Super-Sized Snooki.  Much like the Jersey Shore star, that Amber chick is one crazy, drunken hot mess.  In fact, it says here she’s been arrested at least three times already, primarily for public intoxication.  I eagerly await the episode where she gets punched in the face… but I would still butter her ass and call her a biscuit.

Hey, it just so happens that I’m heading down to Texas in two weeks, and I have three hours to kill in Dallas before my flight to Austin.  They don’t serve breakfast at Redneck Heaven, do they?

Hey, if those new Burger King Satisfries make me 40 per cent less fatter, I’d pay an extra 30 cents for that…

As I wrote yesterday, science shows that football fans eat more the day after a big loss.  So that’s probably why I was craving a Triple Whopper after the Hawks dropped a hard-fought road contest in Indy on Sunday afternoon.  But in order to balance out a burger that contains not one, not two but three patties, Burger King has come up with the ultimate fast-food diet product…  new SatisFries.  Says here they’ve got 30 per cent less calories and 40 per cent less fat.

005Mmm, satisfrying…

Now, the first thing you’ll notice is that they’re thicker than your average fry.  They’ve also got more potato taste, with just the right amount of crispness.  That being said, you can buy frozen fries from McCain that taste pretty much exactly like this…  Does that mean they’re 40-per-cent healthier, too? ;)

No wonder I’ve been losing weight this season!

A new study in Psychological Science has found that “vicarious defeats experienced by fans when their favorite football team loses lead them to consume less healthy food.”  In case you’re wondering why the average Buffalonian looks like an offensive lineman, well, 13 years of vicarious defeats will do that to you–not to mention those four straight Super Bowls.  As per the study’s abstract, “These effects are greater in cities with the most committed fans, when the opponents are more evenly matched, and when the defeats are narrow.”  Or in other words, Wide Right Into the Extra Large Pizza! ;)

On the flip side, the study’s author, Pierre Chadron, told NPR that “After a victory, people eat better,” to the tune of five-per-cent fewer calories and nine-per-cent less saturated fat.  And hey, I kinda get that.  After Super Bowl XL, my t-shirt size went up to an XL–from a medium–but lately, my weight has been headed in the opposite direction.  As the Seahawks start the season 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, I’m having a hard time finding a pair of pants that fits me in my closet, cuz they’re all too big for me now.

The funny thing is that I actually used to eat more after a Seahawks win.  Since most of their games kick off around 4:30 pm Eastern Time, and I don’t have a personal chef, there’s no way I’m making dinner until the final whistle blows–which means not consuming a full meal until 7:30 or so.  When they won, I’d usually order take-out, but being that I’m no longer next door to Burrito Bandidos and their mouthwatering halibut on white with everything, I’ve had to put a stop to that tradition.  It also doesn’t hurt that the Hawks have only had one 4:25 kickoff thus far this season…

But on the other hand, my calorific intake during games is directly related to negative performance.  Simply put, whenever the Seahawks surrender a touchdown, I crack open a beer.  During a losing season, I’d go through a sixer a game, but lately, the stout SeaFence has me almost stone-cold sober at the end of each contest.  Which certainly does wonders for my calorie count–not that I’m counting, anyways.

Granted, my calorie count isn’t strictly tied to Seattle’s early success this season.  Since moving to my new apartment in April, I’ve actually started using the exercise room, and I also walk to work now.  My diet, on the other hand, remains more-or-less unchanged.  That being said, if Seattle goes to 5-0 this afternoon, I am so eating a queeno tomorrow!

I won’t need 300 sandwiches if you make me a mean bacon double cheeseburger…

The other day, a New York Post Page 6 reporter just set feminism back, like, 300-million years.  What else is new?  Well, this time, it wasn’t a salacious piece about who was seen canoodling at a corner table in Orso–instead, the Post‘s Stephanie Smith came out of the kitchen and admitted she’s a sandwich bitch.

In perhaps the most popular Post piece not to involve a topless bar, Smith tells her grueling tale of culinary subservience, which all started when her boyfriend asked her (apparently more than once), “You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”  Because it seems the Page 6 reporter is dating Red Forman.  But alas, after making her man the best turkey and swiss sandwich evar, she received an unexpected proposal… of sorts.  “Honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!”  Wait, so she’s making him a morning sandwich, and they’re not even engaged!?

But hey, surely this dude must be joking, right?  Apparently not.  Smith, for one, is taking the challenge pretty seriously–and she still ain’t got that bling.  As Smith recounts, “Even after covering movie premieres or concerts for Page Six, I found myself stumbling into the kitchen to make Eric a sandwich while I still had on my high heels and party dress.”  Because she’s finally met a man who can’t put something between two pieces of bread himself.  I’d say how 1950′s, but y’know, in the 50′s, I don’t think women were allowed out of the house…

Of course, the reason that this is such a story in the first place–besides the fact that it’s 2013–is that Smith decided to start a blog about it.  And I gotta say, 300sandwiches.com contains some pretty tantalizing food porn; this coming from a guy who likes his food almost as much as his porn.  Let’s just say that if I was a character in a late ’90s coming-of-age movie, I would be doin’ the nasty with this banh mi.  And apparently, I’m not alone.  As Smith says of her manly man, “To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex.”  On second thought, I don’t think I wanna know where that banh mi has been…

But alas, it seems Smith is slacking on her sandwich duties.  She’s been blogging for well over a year, and is barely halfway to her magic number.  Which makes one wonder, who makes the sandwiches on her nights off?  Or is she friends with Kitty Forman, too?

In any case, while I certainly appreciate a woman who can cook, I’m not sure that Fried Zucchini and Sliced Tomato on a Pretzel Roll is my kind of marriage material.  If you’re gonna make me something on a pretzel roll, it better be a bacon double cheeseburger, is what I’m saying!

And on that note, I think I’m gonna propose to that redhead from those Wendy’s commercials pretty soon.  I mean, she’s only a couple burgers away now… ;)