Sew Hungry – Hamilton’s Restaurant Food Truck Rally

Attention Ontario Foodies: one of the most anticipated culinary events of the year is only one week away!

Sew Hungry Restaurant and Food Truck Rally will shut down Ottawa Street in Hamilton on Friday May 2, 2014. With over 55 food vendors, the award-winning event brings a large foodie crowd to the Garment District of the city for its 4th year running. This event garners more attention and interest each year, cultivating and preserving the culinary community within Hamilton. Alongside the many vendors that will surely satisfy even the ravenous appetites, chefs will be doing cooking demonstrations throughout the day!

I had the chance to talk with event organizer, Elisha Proietti, who graciously spoke to me about the ways in which Sew Hungry has grown.

FGFS: How did Sew Hungry come about? What drew you to Ottawa Street?

Elisha Proietti: I was hired by the BIA about 4 years ago as the Manager for the Ottawa Street Farmers’ Market as well as the Events Coordinator for the Ottawa Street BIA.  Ottawa Street has been booming for awhile now and the BIA wanted to add more events to the street to bring more attention to its growth.  4 years ago when Sew Hungry started, the food truck scene was just starting to rear its head.  Gorilla Cheese had just hit the streets and El Gastro had really just paved the way for this movement to begin.  We wanted to remind people that Ottawa Street, although famous for it’s textiles, had a lot more to offer!  Including some great restaurants!  Bringing in food trucks was a perfect way to expose foodies to the great eats we have to offer on the street.  Typically people will go out for lunch on a Friday and we wanted to get them thinking about Ottawa Street when they do that!  So, I called in Graeme from Gorilla Cheese and proposed the idea of a Food Truck Rally along Ottawa St to him and he loved it!  We rallied together about 9 trucks (we were begging trucks to come at the first Sew Hungry) and here we are today!

FGFS: Congrats on having such a successful event last year! What makes this year even better?

EP: Thank you! We were blown away by how well received the event was last year!  As an event planner, you are always looking at the event from a different angle than the attendees.  I think sometimes we are our own worst critic, which can be a good thing!  This year there are a lot of new additions to the event that we are excited about.  We have firstly added more trucks to the roster so that we can accommodate the crazy numbers we saw from last year!  We will have 35 trucks this year serving curbside, which is pretty awesome.  We also have Roux Commercial Kitchen and Commissary who is sponsoring and providing what they are calling the Sew Hungry Kitchen Stadium!  The stadium will feature Local Guest Chefs which are being sponsored and provided by Go Cooking of the Hamilton Spectator, who will be doing cooking demonstrations throughout the day!  We will also be shutting down 5 side streets this year to provide additional tables and seating for people.  It is shaping itself up to be the best Sew Hungry yet, and we are constantly making sure that each year outdoes the last.

FGFS: You have so many amazing vendors, how do you pick the participants?

EP: The growth of this event has been pretty surreal to watch.  In the first year we had 9 trucks and it was difficult to get those 9.  This year we have 35 trucks participating and we had 53 trucks apply.  This was just by the deadline, I still have trucks calling me on a daily basis asking if they can be a part of the event.  It is a great thing but it is also makes it that much harder.  The Events Committee agreed one of the best ways to decide, was to taste test all of the new trucks that applied to the event.  OnFebruary 26th, we had 6 judges come in to the BIA office.  They got to meet the new trucks and try all of their food first hand.  It was a really incredible day.  The trucks all brought their A game and it was inspiring to see how passionate they are about food.  They have really taken street food to a whole new level and you could see it in the way they presented the food and in how simply delicious the dishes tasted.  Needless to say, we were all absolutely stuffed at the end of the day.  Maybe next year we will be sure to spread it out over a week.  26 taste tests in 4 hours proved to be very difficult!  I think some of us didn’t eat for days after that!  As the event grows, this aspect is going to get harder and harder, but at 35 trucks we are already maxed out on space and we also want to ensure that our own restaurants have a great business day as well!  We have an incredible lineup of trucks this year and we are so excited for Hamilton to have the chance to try them!

FGFS: Organizing a Food Truck Rally isn’t a small feat! How do you it all?

EP: There is a lot more work that goes into it than what people realize!  We take that as a compliment though.  I have had people in the past ask me if we could do it once a month, or every weekend, which would be impossible!  Part of the fun of the event is that it’s something to look forward to every year.  Planning for Sew Hungry starts in the fall, and each year I seem to try and get things started earlier and earlier.  The BIA has an amazing Executive board and Events committee that always step up and help wherever they can.  Other than that it takes a lot of organization and planning to make sure that every detail is looked after!  Event planning always comes off to people as this whimsical, fun, party job but thats not the case.  It’s a lot of hard work and you have to really love and care about what you are doing in order to do it well.  Just like any other job!

FGFS: Any advice for a Sew Hungry first timer, like myself?

EP: I think my best Sew Hungry advice is to come in a group and divide and conquer.  We have an amazing website that was done by Orbital Studios and there is a great interactive map on the homepage that can help you plan ahead! I also recommend a pair of stretchy pants (jogging pants, Lululemons, Modrobes for the old schoolers). The least busy times are usually 11am – noon and 4pm – 5pm so if you can get here then that will help too!

FGFS: Lastly, favourite place to eat in Hamilton?

EP: Hamilton has become such an incredible place for food so it’s really hard to pick just one. I think my Italian roots always draw me to Café Limoncello. Those pizzas are just so good. Bruno is a fantastic chef and Nancy Leo, who owns the restaurant, is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met and it shows!

Come out and enjoy this delicious community on Friday May 2, 2014 from
11am – 3pm and 4pm – 8pm. We’ll see you there!

Sew Hungry on the Web:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

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Nice to ‘meat’ you: An Interview with Hamilton’s own MeatVentures

Written by Carly McLeodI had an opportunity to sit down with Salar from MeatVentures to talk about their up-coming plans for the summer as they hit the streets of Hamilton with their Meat Wagon! I was also fortunate enough to try their smokey-Sriracha bacon which is fantastic. If you love yourself some unique carnivorous treats, MeatVentures will not disappoint. This is not your average food cart – no hot dog in sight! Watch for MeatVentures Meat Wagon at your local events – trust me, you are going to want to try it out.

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inside — the unbelieveably yummy smokey-Sriracha bacon

FGFS: What do you have planned for this summer?
MV: It has been a busy time for us gearing up for the warming weather. We are starting a food cart, vending on weekends at local events! Look for Persian tacos, Filipino sliders, thick cut house made bacon on a stick, and a BLT with 3 kinds of house made bacon… plus more. We’re aiming to do everything in house and fresh. We are working with Roux Commissary to get our Meat Wagon on the streets. Roux Commissary is doing a cool program, we are going to the first do be doing this kind of thing. It’s a new thing for everyone. Within this community we are constantly learning we helping each other. With Roux’s guidance, we are able to find venues to go to and vend.

We are also a BBQ Competition Team! We started this last year and were quite successful. We enter in 6 competitions and won 3 of them. We came in 2nd in 2 of the competitions. It turned out really well!

FGFS: What inspires your dishes?
MV: My Filipino-Iranian roots. Growing up there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t eat. I really loved cooking. Food was a large part of my family and growing up – it is my passion. I was really good at cooking and computers and kind of went down that route, but now it’s time to change paths. We will be bringing fusion of Filipino-Persian-Canada inspired flavours to the cart and are looking forward sharing our menu with you soon. {Check out the menu for MeatVentures here.}

FGFS: What made you think about bringing your love of food to Hamilton?
MV: My wife, Jeannie and I lived in Downtown Toronto, we planned to move, and moved to Hamilton. We were looking at getting a bigger place in Toronto, but my wife and I both wanted to branch out more. We decided on Hamilton. It gives us the opportunity to work on MeatVentures. There is a great community here – especially working with Roux, they have a licenced kitchen the equipment, and resources to help us get started. Really they are a food incubator and it is wonderful go through this experience with them.

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Brisket Bahn Mi

FGFS: Favourite place to eat in Hamilton?
MV: Memphis Grill in Winona – excellent tasting, large portions!

I was able to catch Meat Ventures in action at the Home and Garden show in Hamilton on March 2nd. They participated in a grilling competition put on by Chadwicks and Hacks. Despite BBQ competition happening in subzero temperatures, Meat Ventures came out on top in the freestyle portion of the competition where teams had to prepare an appetizer, a main course, and dessert. It was awesome to see such passion for food and dedication to creating unique dishes. The cooler temperatures outside meant paying close attention to the temperature and timing, as most competitions take place in the summer! Congrats Salar and Jeannie – you guys rocked it!

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Bacon in the process of becoming part of the Candy Bacon S’mores

Bonus points (from me) go to Pig Shot snack – “sausage and black pepper bacon shooter, filled with a mix of Dawson’s Jalapeno Garlic sauce, cheese mix, and brown sugar for a bit of sweetness”. 

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Pig Shot (left) and Poink Ball (right)

You do not want to wait until the sunshine of summer to get a taste of MeatVentures. Stop by the Roux Commissary Booth at the Food and Drink Festival in Hamilton on March 22, 2014 from 12:00-5:00pm to see MeatVentures. And, to get yourself a Pig Shot – you will not regret it.

MeatVentures can be found online:
Web
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Dinner x Design

Words and Photos by Aly and Carly

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Carly and Chanry (of the Hungry Gnome)

We stepped into a high energy atmosphere at Link condo and towns Presentation Centre for Dinner X Design.

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People gathered amid dioramas and layouts of soon to be built condos close to Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Tariq and Saud Adi of the Adi Development team were our hosts and combined a sleek modern architectural approach with the allure of walkability and stunning natural views in an attempt to shake up your expectations of dreary, concrete condo living. The event was aimed at building community, joining the chic with contemporary design.

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Needless to say, it worked. There was a buzz of energetic conversation throughout the night. Many people gathered on tables or chairs pouring over large scale promotional material and negotiating with sales associates attempting to purchase their desired condos that night.

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Being 20-something food bloggers, who are not exactly the condo-purchasing type (just yet), we found ourselves a little out of our element. That was of course, until we found the food.

Servers whisked by with platters of beautifully designed appetizers.

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The appetizers themselves looked sleek and modern. Each was created with unexpected combinations inspired by the amenities, architecture and natural surroundings of the development. After having a few tastes of each, it was time to meet the chefs. Chatting and getting up close and personal with Chef Matt Kershaw, watching the precision, thought and dedication that goes into each piece food was exciting.  The merger of design, food, architecture is not an easily pulled off feat. We left the event feeling full, ready with ideas of the spaces we live and how it is connected to the food we consume on a daily basis.

As an overall event, the attention to detail was immense. As people who appreciate good food and good design, witnessing the collaborative spirit between both was inspiring. Unique food for a unique event proved that thinking outside of the box is memorable and above all tasty!

November Home Cooking/Novel Writing

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Words & Photos by Aly

Thousands of people across the globe are challenging themselves to write a novel in November. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) asks you to give up your excuses, get to your computer, and finally pen at least a rough draft of the novel you’re always (not) writing. The feat to write 50 000 words in a month, or 1667 words per day is daunting. I have been doing this tradition, for better or worse, for four years. November is the busiest time of the year for me and fellow University students, so I have failed more than I have succeeded. This year however I will finish a collection of short stories, and personal essays.

“How did I succeed in future years?” I thought, recalling countless cups of coffee, fast food, and baked good filled afternoons.

Thing is, I just did that in October, so there’d have to be a new strategy. I am a firm believer in doing whatever you need to do to get through a day, week, or month. Food can be a great source of energy, comfort, and celebration. If you need to eat a sad bowl of ice cream, you eat that sad bowl of ice cream.

However, for me, November marks the third month I have moved out of home, and a culinary tipping point. September was “I can cook everything!”, October was “I hate cooking! Instant soup forever!” and November? That could be up for grabs.

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So, in addition to braving the most hectic time of year academically, and writing 1667 words a day, I decided to do the most terrifying thing of all — cook every meal, and only eat things I have bought from the grocery store. The exceptions will be coffee, and social snacks with friends like popcorn at the movies, or a coffeehouse hangout.

With help from this Golden Zucchini Sandwich Recipe  I got to work.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, 1 minced, 1 made into paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large zucchini, grated
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil, tarragon, or other fresh herb (optional)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices good sourdough bread, lightly toasted
1 cup freshly grated white cheddar (from about 4 ounces cheese)

Makes 2 servings (take one for lunch!)

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Mayonnaise

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You can follow the rest of the recipe on the Big Girls, Small Kitchen site, which is great resource for people trying to get more kitchen handy.

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Tips:

The mayonnaise is what makes it crispy and golden! It might seem weird to use it in place of butter, but it surprisingly works, and it something I might try on grilled cheese!

Experiment with different cheeses and breads. I just used sliced bread I had lying around, and didn’t toast it before use.

It’s a lot easier to assemble your sandwiches in the pan than on a plate especially if you want to avoid a mayonnaise plate. Coat all face up sides of bread with mayonnaise mixture. Put the mayonnaise side down in the pan, cheese, zucchini, cheese, bread with mayonnaise side up and voila!

This makes a tasty, cheesy sandwich that is like a grilled cheese, but more filling, and easy to make.

Now that you’re full, time to head back to that novel!

Lookin’ Good Girl: Our Fave Crafty, DIY & Fashionable IGers

When I started Lookin’ Good Girl back in May it was with a simple (and totally awkward) braid crown video tutorial. I started LGG with the intension of bringing easy, fun and affordably as well as crafty, DIY how-tos to our readers. Under the LGG umbrella we’ve been able to publish a lot of sweet, funny, personal and powerful posts from our writers. It’s become increasingly apparent that those posts need to have a home on the site. They’ve become a huge part of our voice and also given people a voice on subjects close to their heart. LGG has been the home to where a lot of ideas about body positivity have been shared and that’s an essential part of who we are. But equally important I think is that Lookin’ Good Girl returns back to it’s DIY roots, so that’s why we’ve made the decision to break up Wednesdays on the site a bit.

From now on every second Wednesday will continue to be Lookin’ Good Girl, but on the alternating Wednesday will be Real Talk. In Real Talk we plan to post videos like our recent In Conversation With… post, and things related to the more personal and political. We know a lot of our readers have come to love reading the posts on Wednesdays, and we hope the change up makes as much sense to them as it did to us when me made the choice to do it like this.

With that here’s this week’s Lookin’ Good Girl. I polled some of contributors and found out who their favourite DIY, crafty, home-cookin’ and just plain fashionable Instagrammers are. I present them to you  in no particular order!

elaineho

@elaineho – I’m a huge fan of all the jewelry makers I’m seeing around online making things that are vaguely occult like out of raw and natural materials.

mingdoyle

@mingdoyle – mega talented freelance illustrator and comic maker, a favourite of many FGFS writers.

topshelfpreserves

@topshelfpreserves – small batch badass in Ottawa (branding done by another IG fave @RossProulx)

woolgatheringottawa

@woolgatheringottawa – wicked crafty wool and thread lady in Ottawa

truefat

@truefat – this girl has got it going on. fat, fashionable, foodie. plus cats.

dltvo

@dltvo – this lady makes vegan and microbiotic look damn easy and beautiful.

lagusta

@lagusta – Jodie nominated this one because “@lagusta has great vegan chocolates, is the biggest sweetheart, AND the best colorful vintage get ups. BOOM.”

crystal_cave

@crystal_cave – basically the most fierce fat babe on the West Coast or any coast. She runs with the illest crowd and I live vicariously through dat life.

megmakins

@megmakins – Like most IG accounts I don’t remember how I found this one, but I can’t stop loving her. DIY lifer to be sure.

doorsixteen

@doorsixteen – this lady did the ultimate in DIY, she gutted her kitchen and titled it herself. Dreamy white subway tiles with black grout of course.

franallin

@franallin – a girl with wicked rad style of her own but also the provider of the best Toronto #streetstyle captures your bound to find on IG

AwesTRUCK 2013 Brings Ontario its Biggest Food Truck Rally

Originally posted to Ama’s twice-weekly column on Toronto Is Awesome

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon, however this could not stop foodies nor food truck fans from trudging through the rain and mud at Fort York to attend AwesTRUCK 2013.  This planned to be Ontario’s largest food truck rally and many awards were to be handed out in several different categories including best new food truck, best design, etc.

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Beers and Fat Babes: FGFS Takes to the Toronto Beer Festival

Carly is our Hamilton Squad Leader. Carly is into library science, her dude, and whisky. Her spirit animal is Adele and we love her. We invited her down (or is it up) to Toronto this past weekend to attend Toronto’s Festival of Beer with Lead Photographer Yuli. Here’s her full report!

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There is nothing better than a summery evening of thirst quenching beers, delicious food, and good company. Toronto’s Festival of Beer kicked off its three day event this past weekend with a sold out crowd celebrating the history of brewing in Canada.

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The all mighty Beer Buck

As crowds of beer enthusiasts descended on Bandshell Park in Exhibition Place, Yuli and I (and TFOB goers) each received a glass stein for beer tasting. The mugs were ingenious idea – it not only significantly reduced waste but doubled as a snazzy souvenir! Then we were free to guide ourselves through the exhibitors, using our “beer bucks” to purchase samplings of brews and food.

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We utilized the TFOB app to research different breweries and food vendors to find the places we wanted to try. The interactive map was handy tool to pinpoint exactly where breweries had set up shop. We used the TFOB app to research different breweries and food vendors to find the places we wanted to try. The interactive map was handy tool to pinpoint exactly where breweries had set up shop.

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The dudes from FoodShootr caught us being fat & fabulous.

We got hang out in the media space furnished by Andrew Richard Designs. We snacked on some Neal Brothers chips, snapped some pics, and took in the unique centrepieces by LOLCandy. Hilariously, the poor candied centrepieces were missing some essential parts by the end of the night. We may have snacked on some of the centrepieces ourselves. Glue will not stop us; we only continued what had already been started.

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Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer

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Some QT’s who clearly visited Steamwhistle’s arts & crafts table

We made some great choices sampling beers from Goose Island, Brooklyn Brewery, Kensington Brewery, Minhas Brewery (Boxer), & Crabbie’s. Paired these brews with amazing food by Rashers and Blue Goose Pure Foods.

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Boxer Beer Watermelon should come with a Tastes Like Candy warning

The FGFS Squad’s Favourite Beer: Boxer Beer Watermelon.
Verdict: It tasted like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. More along the lines of cider, this beer really packed the punch, clocking in at 8.5% alc. It was the perfect summery drink to sip! We could not get enough.

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Chicken and Trout tacos from Blue Goose Pure Foods.

After soaking up the summer rays, and a few mugs of watermelon beer, we sought out some good eats with Blue Goose Pure Foods. They were serving up their mix and match tacos right out of a shipping container. It was my first experience with Blue Goose and I have to say that I want to make a trip down by the Toronto Waterfront and try out their other carefully crafted delights! Yuli grabbed the trout and chicken, and I had the chicken and beef. Clean and organic ingredients, the tacos totally hit the spot.

Big shout out to the watering stations! Sometimes you just needed to hydrate or wash out your mug!

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I really enjoyed kicking it with Yuli – sharing numerous laughs, talking about body politics, body positivity, personal experiences, food and beer, while taking in the summer sunset. Over the course of the afternoon and evening we shared numerous laughs, discussed body politics, body positivity, personal experiences, food and beer, while taking in the summer sunset. FGFS held it down good & proper at the TFOB.

Until next time – Cheers!

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Fresh To Death Photos: National Ice Cream Day

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Ottawa Squad be on it.

It would appear that bitches love ice cream. Any which way they can get it, even if they are lactose intolerant, vegan and celiac (yeah — we have a squad member who is all of those).  Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day and the Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa squads went ham on that ice cream tip. Check out these Fresh to Death Photos.

Foodie Friday Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Ice Cream – Sweet Chai from McCartney & Son in Hamilton

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Hamilton Squad leader Carly visited this parlour and tipped us off to that fact that they have flavours like  lavender, dandelion, and pumpkin!

2. Local – Cool City Oyster Bar, Toronto

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We tried oysters from all over, but we loved the ones from New Zealand best.

3. Food Art – by C. Pollet

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Just love the colours and prospective in this piece.

4. Pizza – Heirloom Tomatoes

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Would you get a load of the gradient going on here? This looks like the freshest slice on the planet!

5. Food Art – Cake on the Water

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One more from the Food Art board this week. Just couldn’t let this one go unnoticed . From a series by American artist Jacinda Russell.

You Can Make That: Rhubarb Schnapps

This comes to us from our Hamilton Squad leader, Carly. Carly is into library science, her dude, and whisky. Her spirit animal is Adele and we love her. Start this schnapps now and in six weeks you’ll thank yourself. 

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My love affair with rhubarb did not come willingly and it only started last year. I had an opportunity to live in the heart Alberta last summer, which has had a lasting effect on my life ever since – the prairies skies, the landscape, the people, and a love of cooking. I owe this passion for cooking to the really rad lady I stayed with during my time there. It might seem cliche, but I learned a lot about myself through cooking. I am, by no means, a savvy home cook. I gained a majority of my cooking skills last summer. This learning experience challenged me to think about my food, where it came from and pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone time and time again. For that, I am most grateful.

Living in central Alberta, we appeared to have an abundance of rhubarb throughout May and June. We also quickly ran through every recipe that required the tang of the pretty coloured vegetable. We had an archive of carefully curated cookbooks at our fingertips, but alas cooking with large amounts rhubarb can be tiresome.

schnapps5Enter the recipe for Rhubarb Schnapps. I’m not exactly sure how we actually arrived at Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Rhubarb Schnapps, but we decided to give it a try. We had nothing to lose but a little vodka. It was a way to get rid of the mounds of rhubarb we appeared to have and gave us a chance to branch out. After patiently waiting 6 weeks to strain out the colour-drained cubes of rhubarb, it was a complete success. Our only miss was that we didn’t make enough.

I decided this year that I would try my hand at making a large batch of the schnapps here at home in Ontario. For me, it’s a throwback to my time in Alberta and I think it’s well on its way to being a summertime tradition for me. The recipe is simple and foolproof to execute and the results are far greater than you can imagine.

There are three ingredients you have to gather – rhubarb, sugar, and vodka.

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Start by buying vodka. The key to buying your vodka – the cheaper, the better. You only need a 1L for the recipe that Lawson has in her book, “How to be a Domestic Goddess”. I purchased more because I wanted to have some more schnapps on hand this summer to give to friends and as hostess gifts during the summer.

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The most important part of the recipe is the rhubarb. I knew that I wanted to use locally sourced rhubarb and headed down to the Hamilton Farmer’s Market. If you are lucky enough to know someone who has a plant in their garden, ask for some, people are usually more than willing to part with a pound or so of it. I was found exactly what I was looking for at the market – beautifully coloured rhubarb! I grabbed approximately 4-5 pounds of it. The lady at the stall was really helpful and even cut off the large leafy greens for me to make sure I had exactly the amount of weight I needed – smart thinking!

Divide the amount of rhubarb into the mason jars. Fill with vodka, secure the lid and SHAKE IT. Store in a cool dark place for 6 weeks. Don’t forget about it though, you must shake the contents of the jar every day. The colour will start to pull from the rhubarb stalks after a few hours (because you won’t be able to wait 24hrs to take a peak at it). The red and deep pinks from the rhubarb stalks turn your liquid into a lovely hot pink.

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