Victoria, CAN: Around Town – Treats to Eat on the Street

Sarah Costin, left, Cindy Leinweber and Mike Hart from Baron Burgers were at their window, awaiting orders. Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

By Michael Reid  | Times Colonist

Sarah Costin, left, Cindy Leinweber and Mike Hart from Baron Burgers were at their window, awaiting orders. Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist
Sarah Costin, left, Cindy Leinweber and Mike Hart from Baron Burgers were at their window, awaiting orders. Photograph by: ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

It was easy to see why the City of Victoria let a group of revolutionaries occupy a slice of downtown Friday.

The event was emblematic of an urban food revolution — the proliferation of “food trucks” across North America.

The first thing you noticed as you wandered into Centennial Square was the intoxicating aroma of fried onions, barbecued bison, grilled seafood and scrumptious waffles, a sure sign the Victoria Street Food Festival was under way.

The Rob Bannister Tentet had just finished a swinging version of the Benny Goodman classic Sing, Sing, Sing, prompting patrons to put down their fish tacos, pulled-pork sandwiches and souvlakis long enough to applaud.

A jazz singer’s rendition of a familiar George Gershwin gem best summed up the flavour of the family-friendly event presented by VIC Fest and Tectoria, specifically when she sang “It’s wonderful/It’s marvellous …”

Seventeen vendors participated in an event for which Misty Aitken of Capital City Productions says locals have a serious appetite. “There’s been such a major food-truck revolution on the mainland, so we decided it was time to bring it to Victoria,” said the local event planner.

“To be able to have them all in the heart of the city in summer is amazing.”

Her colleague, production manager Drew Coleman, said teaming with Tectoria was a natural fit. “Our biggest thing is local, and it’s also not-for-profit. They’re like-minded.”

He said the festival also let them highlight the diversity of local microbreweries in its beverage garden — Lighthouse Brewing and Merridale Cider on Friday, and Hoyne Brewing at an earlier event on July 19.

Ken Kelly, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, described it as a win-win initiative.

“We don’t usually see this level of activity here except for during JazzFest and the Christmas Light-Up,” he said.

“What pleases me is we have a balance of businesses that already exist downtown, like Pig, Wannawaffel and Discovery Coffee — the businesses that pay their taxes downtown 12 months of the year, and new flavours from other trucks.”

Kelly had just visited Wilde Greens & Grains, where health-conscious customers ordered gourmet salads such as The Oscar Wilde, augmenting its leafy greens, cherry tomatoes and avocados with options such as quinoa, bison and turkey sausage.

“Lots of prep and lots of space,” said co-owner Thomas Creighton, explaining how healthy food can become fast food.

“We buy our food fresh every day. We may not be as busy as everyone else, but we’re catering to that demographic.”

Over at Grilled to the Mac, Roberta Henry cooled off with a locally crafted bottle of Phillips’ Intergalactic Root Beer.

“You don’t usually see all these food trucks in the same place. They’re usually spread out,” she said while waiting for her classic mac and cheese. “It’s a great idea to see what’s available out there.”

Art Tucknott experienced a pang of pity for Brock, his six-month-old grandson, for having to eat Pablum.

“Wait until he tastes real food!’ he said.

http://www.timescolonist.com/entertainment/around-town-treats-to-eat-on-the-street-1.562301