I was speaking with a friend the other day about the decline of the food truck scene in Calgary. Many of the original trucks like Alley Burger and Fries & Dolls are no longer. Just like cupcakes, macarons and various other food trends, it would seem that food trucks have had their day in the sun (and rain, and snow, and whatever weather Calgary wants to throw at them). People are no longer too keen on standing in line for an hour for a grilled cheese. They would rather head back into a restaurant to sit at an actual table to eat their meal.
Needless to say, this conversation occurred prior to attending the recent Food Truck Frenzy in the East Village. Yes, the line-ups were not quite as long as they used to be and no, an Asian-Mexican-Canadian fusion burrito no longer seems so intriguing, but our city still has quite a number of decent trucks cranking out some quality food. All in the name of a great cause, of course. Remember my interview with Breanne from Mealshare all of those weeks ago now? Well Mealshare made an appearance once again (they are EVERYWHERE lately, which is all good in my eyes), with each food truck at the event having at least one Mealshare item on their menu. If you don’t recall what Mealshare is all about, let me refresh your memory. Essentially, when you purchase a Mealshare item at a participating restaurant (or in this case, food truck), a meal gets donated to someone in need. Considering that people are dining out anyways, it is a brilliant way to ensure that some of the money being spent is going towards a cause. I had the opportunity to chat with Jeremy, one of the founders of Mealshare, over lunch and he was such a likeable guy, it would be impossible not to see the good in all of the work he is doing.
My other revelation of the day was the salad I ate from Lettuce Beet. Forget gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting trucks, Kristin is changing “food truck” to “food bike.” The menu might not be extensive, but what food truck menu is? The whole pointing is doing just a few things and doing them well. Having worked in the corporate world until just February of this year, Kristin ditched her office job to bring wholesome and hearty lunches to the business people of downtown Calgary. Lettuce Beet offers three different salads; one vegan, one vegetarian and one for meat-eaters too. She sources all of her ingredients as locally as possible, depending on what is in-season and available, and everything is organic. I had the opportunity to try both the “Flourish” and the “Glow.”
The Flourish was definitely my favourite, complete with roasted broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas and quinoa, and a thick, tahini dressing. Boring salad this was not. It was a little bit spicy, a little bit salty and packed with umami punch from all of the roasted veggies and legumes. The Glow was even lighter, consisting of a variety of lettuces and spiralized vegetables. The Green Goddess dressing was heavy on the basil flavour and reminiscent of pesto, minus the pine nuts and cheese. If Lettuce Beet is any indication of what the future of Calgary’s food truck scene has to offer, I am all in.