It’s official: This summer, Montreal is finally joining the food truck party. The great news is that a handful of zany, tasty food vehicles will be appearing at select spots in town over the summer – from First Fridays at the Parc Olympique to festival foods in the Quartier des Spectacles, bellies will be fuller than ever thanks to some seriously awesome street snacks…
Most every other major city in the world has an established network of beloved food trucks, stalls and stands that are so ingrained in the culture of eating that they often define the gastronomic reputation of a place. Though Montreal has been far behind in this eating arena (and this one only) since a law prohibiting street food was passed in 1947, City Hall is currently studying the situation and have stated they should have a new proposal this fall. But in the meantime, we can still look forward to a summer of full bellies and fun times.
The food trucks will be populating the Quartier des spectacles during many of Montreal’s major festivals (as well as at other events throughout the summer like Piknic Electronik) and for the recently announced Pop-up Culinaire at the QDS’s Place Emilie-Gamelin. They will also be appearing in various configurations and combinations at First Fridays at the Big O, which happens, you got it, on the first Friday of the month.
So what exactly is on the menu? Besides the delectable tacos from Grumman ’78, there are five other mobile food units that keep on truckin’ all summer…
The big new kid at the Osheaga Block Party last weekend was La Mangeoire, whose sandwiches are fearlessly decadent and even epic. Finishing their Falafel sandwich at the first First Friday was a two-woman job.
Their Ribwich (Rouge-gorge, or Red Thoat, in French) is BBQ ribs with coleslaw and so much wicked BBQ sauce, but it seems like the sandwich they’ll be remembered for, so far, is the Decadent – Peanut butter, nutella and bacon. Wow.
Chef Gita Seaton and the crew from Mile End’s Nouveau Palais are refurbishing a Winnebago to serve up their famous late-night mini-burgers as well as Gita’s amazing cookies and milk, as well as other treats.
Crêpe-moi!, run by former bike messenger Jihane Boutros in a refurbished postal vehicle, serves up the classic French treat in all its sweet and salty variations – from design-your-own crepe with ingredients like chorizo, goat cheese and spinach (made with buckwheat batter in a nod towards Gallic authenticity).The sweet treats include classic sugar-and-lemon, nutella and banana, or dulce de leche.
Pas d’Cochon dans mon salon‘s hits included a pulled turkey sandwich, grilled asparagus and a homemade “Joe Louis” (a Quebec-made, twinkie-like treat), from a great menu by the chef at La Salle a manger and friends.
At the inaugural First Friday event, Lucky’s Truck was sold out of its braised-meat sandwiches and fancy poutines. We’ll definitely be first in line for the pulled BBQ turkey next time around.
HotBullDog is a rockabilly hot-dog truck in a refurbished trailer, doing top-drawer hotdogs – tomato-basil sausage anyone? I especially like the fact that you stand on a stage-like platform adorned with a red carpet to place your order. Finally – big news – Martin Juneau and Louis-Philippe Breton of Pastaga are casting about for a truck to kit out and join the fray with a possible pretzel menu.
This first wave of food trucks consists of six unique and delicious mobile kitchens that were specially selected and curated by Gaelle Cerf- one of three co-owners of Montreal’s first (and proportionally famous) food truck, Grumman ’78.
“I’m really amazed how big my network is,” says Cerf, who selected the candidates based on a desire to showcase the city’s culinary uniqueness, and to avoid the street-meat singularity of some other Canadian cities, which consists of one hot-dog truck after another.
“It’s all terribly co-operative and communitatian,” she says. “In order to be selected, the proposed trucks have to be offering something really interesting – I didn’t want any crappy fast food – no poutine made with powdered gravy! All the trucks in my crew will be doing food, restaurant-style – from scratch in production kitchens, served in awesome, interesting, original food trucks.”
Photos: Susan Moss