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May, 2012:

El Gastronomo Vagabundo – Food Truck Profile

The side design on the El Gastronomo Vagabundo food truck.

Ontario’s first food truck, nearly two years ago, was El Gastronomo Vagabundo. No surprise, though, that the food truck whose chef appeared in his gotchies for a recent spread in the Grid goes by El Gastro for short. That attitude Adam obviously gets that a food truck meal should be a three-minute Ramones song, not a symphony by Bach.

Last night they hosted a party to celebrate (and view) their appearance on Food Network’s Eat St.

I know Adam and Tamara (El Gastro’s operations manager) personally, I spent a day working on their truck and wrote an article for Spotlight Toronto about it. This is a profile (not a review) but take that into account when you read the sections that shade towards opinion. (more…)

Book Review: The Farm

Cover for Ian Knauer's The Farm

Ian Knauer’s The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food adds another to the popular stack of cookbooks that are based on seasonal cooking. His story is a personal one that deeply connects him to the small farm that has been in his family for more than 200 years.

Reading through the book I found myself devoting more time to the personal anecdotes that he has sown between the recipes. The ones about his grandfather–who presented his daughter-in-law (the author’s mother) with “five squirrels and a bucket of weeds” as the makings of dinner–do an especially good job of illustrating how the connections with people and places can be wound together. Bite-by-bite memories of sandwiches shared ¬†and preserve jars opened made me want to keep reading well beyond the sections of recipes that are in-season now. (more…)

Pickled Spruce Tips

Young spruce tips with their papery husks still attached in places.

Forbes Wild Foods is a unique source for a wide variety of foraged Canadian edibles. Frankly, though, some of their prices are a little steep so I have to admit that instead of buying from them I’ve borrowed ideas from their website or market table that inspire my own foraging. Most recently, I gathered spruce tips and used them to make the pickled spruce tips recipe below.

Spruce trees grow upwards in the usual, obvious way but because they don’t drop and regenerate their needles every year the outward growth is a bit more complicated. Every spring the tip of almost every branch has a bud-like tip that sheds a papery brown husk and produces a new bunch of needles. (more…)

Potato Tortilla

Potatoes, onions, and olive oil flavour this national egg dish of Spain.

You might be surprised that “un espresso, por favor” and “una Estrella, por favor” sound quite similar when passed through the imperfect filter that is my flawed Spanish. I can tell you that having thought I said the former I was surprised to turn around and find a bottle of one of Spain’s most popular beers waiting for me. At 8:30 AM.

“What the hell?” I thought, “it’s Spain and judging by the age of my fellow breakfast-imbibers one beer won’t be lethal.”

Beer wasn’t a common feature of my breakfasts in Spain last month but tortilla patatas¬†definitely was. Even more than paella or gazpacho this frittata-like egg preparation is the ubiquitous, national dish of Spain. It anchors the simple breakfast of pastries, small sandwiches, and coffee that many neighbourhood taverns use to extend their revenue-making hours into the pre-siesta half of the day. (more…)

Buster’s Sea Cove – Food Truck Profile

The new Buster's Sea Cove truck has an all-seafood menu.

Some trucks around Southern Ontario, like El Gastro, often feature a fish option but Buster’s Sea Cove is the first with an all-seafood menu. That’s an obvious and appropriate distinction for a truck owned and operated by the same people who run the Buster’s Sea Cove booth at St. Lawrence Market. (more…)