I was invited to visit Austin Texas for a whirlwind tour – and I’ll be honest, we jammed more fun into a weekend than I ever thought was humanly possible! Austin Texas is a crazy, vibrant and exciting city filled with countless food trucks (that rarely move), eateries, restaurants, live music venues, and drinking establishments.
I am creating short videos to try to capture some of the vibe that we experienced. This first video is from our first night in the city of Austin.
Over the Christmas season that recently ended we visited the light displays around Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake, the Burnaby Village Museum, and the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.
This year’s free light display at Lafarge Lake is even bigger and more beautiful than previous years because the display now goes all the way around the lake. It is lovely to walk around the lake and see the light displays.
My kids’ favourite part of the walk was the gnomes in the little mining tunnel near the south end of the lake. However, they were quite aghast to see one of the miners in the tunnel smoking a pipe.
Another important consideration before visiting the Lafarge Lake festival of lights – there are no public washrooms around the lake and the Evergreen Cultural Centre is often closed in the evening – plan accordingly.
The Burnaby Village Museum is another free festival of lights definitely worth visiting. Sure there are lots of lights at the display but the really cool thing is the old-fashioned village that you can wander through. It feels like you have traveled back in time to a sweet old village; especially when the kids get to visit with an old-world Father Christmas.
Of course the carousel at the Burnaby Village Museum is also an incredibly popular attraction for the young and not-so young. My kids love riding the carousel and are filled with joy, especially if they get their favourite horse on the carousel.
And then on the first day of this new year I went with my family to the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. The light display at Van Dusen is beyond compare. So many lights! It really is a marvel.
The light displays at the Van Dusen Gardens – simply put – spectacular. And they go on and on and on!! You can wander from one garden zone to another and each is decorated in its own beautiful and unique way.
Similar to the Burnaby Village Museum, at the Van Dusen Festival of Lights there was a carousel, but honestly, this was the one way that the Burnaby Village Museum event was superior. It is tough to top the carousel at the BVM, especially seeing as the BVM carousel is inside whereas the Van Dusen carousel is outside – and it was really cold on the evening we visited!!
Other pluses for the Van Dusen Festival of Lights – they have multiple warming stations located around the gardens, washroom facilities AND food trucks!
My favourite food truck at the festival was the Potato Tornado Shack. They spiralize a potato, skewer it onto a wooden stick, dip it into batter, and then deep fry it to a wonderfully soft condition … pure deliciousness.
They also serve poutine (with a vegan gravy) and smoked meat sandwiches. I sampled a small piece of the smoked meat and I can assure you, I will be tracking down the Potato Tornado Shack
To wrap it all up, like this Christmas season has been wrapped up, Coquitlam and Burnaby light festivals are both free. The Festival of Lights at Van Dusen cost $17.50 per adult and $10 per child 3-12 years of age.
My favourite food truck, the Cheese Street Grill is back at their regular location just outside of the Poirier Recreation Centre in Coquitlam. Now, after I exit the gym after an intense work I can once again stop and grab a grilled cheese sandwich!
While I did not go for an intense workout in the gym today (truth be told, I am not sure that I have ever gone to a gym for an intense work out) I did manage to find time to stop and see Scott in the Cheese Street Grill food truck.
Scott set me up with a grilled three cheese sandwich on sourdough with extra caramelized onions, a mound of ham, and a dill pickle. It looked so tasty that I ate half the sandwich before I remembered to take a picture. For $11, this is still one of the best food truck values in the city.
While I was visiting with Scott he told me about an interesting new website – The Food Truck Post that he has developed. The site is designed to allow foodies to read a quick “bio” of all sorts of food trucks, see where food trucks are located, what food truck festivals and events are going on, and just as cool, the site allows people organizing events to contact food trucks directly to see what trucks might be able to come to their event.
Yes, there are other food truck apps, but so far, I am quite impressed with the way that the Food Truck Post dot com works.
We had the Cheese St Grill and This Little Piggy food trucks visit our school site today as a lunch option for the teaching staff. Teachers could buy their lunch from either truck and although there were some line ups, they were moving along quite nicely.
My grilled cheese with three cheeses, caramelized onions and double smoked bacon was awesome. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the pulled pork sandwich from This Little Piggy seeing as my colleague ate it up before I had a chance to get a bite.
I was at Yellow Dog Beer, a Port Moody craft brewery when I happened upon a new food truck; The Local Omnivore – a very cool food truck that makes sandwiches, burgers and fries.
These fun-loving dudes serve up great tasting food with a mind towards how the food is produced. Their certified organic beef comes from a ranch in the Pemberton Valley, north of Whistler BC and the Kennebec potatoes they use for their fries are locally grown.
The pork they serve is brought in from Paradise Valley Alberta because they found a pig farm out there that does right by the pigs. The guys from The Local Omnivore make their own bacon in their commissary at 337 E Hastings Street. They cut, slice and hang the pork bellies before completing the smoking process.
One can only imagine how wonderful it would be to feast at their commissary with the smell of bacon being cured on site. They do have the occasional pop-up restaurant at their commissary with the next one being a beer and burger special event on Friday April 24th. I believe, although I may be mistaken, that they will be serving Four Winds Craft Beer at their pop-up restaurant.
I had The Local Omnivore BLT sandwich ($7) and it was truly an excellent sandwich. Loaded with big, thick and droopy pieces of bacon, slices of very ripe tomato, a couple leaves of lettuce and a spicy mayo on the ciabatta bread all added up to be a perfect sandwich.
There is a distinct after-burn element of heat in the mayo-dressing they concoct that cuts through the delicious fattiness of the bacon. The ciabatta bun does heroic work holding the bacon, tomato, lettuce and spicy mayo-dressing altogether.
As well as having the occasional pop-up restaurant at the home of their commissary, the plan for this fall is to have a full on restaurant up and running. The planned theme of their commissary-turned-restaurant is a Texas barbecue-style joint. You know I will be trying that food out when it is ready!!
For now I will be tracking down The Local Omnivore via Twitter to see where they are parked for my next BLT fix. Good eats.