Once in a while, I find myself thinking of the native flora and fauna that live in and around the Edmonton area. Through my childhood exploration of the river valley, I have discovered beavers, frogs, deer, and various waterfowl.
Back then, I didn’t contemplate what these animals did throughout the winter, as they were instantly out of mind when I left the river valley.
But what actually happens?
This wonderful land on which I live, transforms into a frozen, inhospitable wasteland for 7 months of winter, and it beggars the imagination that anything can find sustenance to see it through to spring.
More mobile creatures such as the Canada goose can migrate to the mid and southern United States to over-winter, but land based animals such as caribou must brave a harsh winter by grazing on lichen. Smaller herbivores can dig through the snow for dried grasses, and carnivores such as martens and wolves must track these creatures down amidst a wintry desert.
It’s a lean, pitiful existence for most Albertan wildlife, which finds parallels to the food trucks that call Alberta home.
Adopting a strategies akin to that of bears and geese, the food trucks must either hibernate through the winter, or move south to better business.
Acting as an agent of natural selection, only the most successful, fittest, and popular food trucks can survive as a business.
Drift is apparently one of them.
Like a wandering prostitute, Drift can be found at different downtown street corners, shilling its sweet, porky wares.
We encountered the food-mobile off of 108th and Jasper, right around the lunch rush and we milled around the sidewalk after our while confused pedestrians tried to navigate the human maze.
Service was acceptable considering the fact that they’re cooking out of a fucking truck.
I ordered the braised pork belly sandwich and my coworkers ordered the rest of the menu.
Evidenced by the handy print-outs on the glass of the truck, Drift was deemed to be the best food truck in Edmonton by Avenue magazine, and the pork belly sandwich was among the 25 best things to eat in this city.
Although Edmonton may not be the food capital of the universe, having some sort of magazine acknowledge your food for not being crap is always a good thing, and I have been only slightly disappointed by Avenue’s other choices.
How was the sandwich?
Well it was good.
Think “bánh mì” but with pork belly instead of loin. The pickled carrots, daikon and cilantro were identical to that of Vietnamese sandwiches, although the Drift sandwich did choose to use a Portuguese roll as opposed to a crispy, Vietnamese baguette. While this wasn’t a bad choice per se, I don’t feel like the sandwich was improved much by the change.
Taste wise, it was spot-on. The belly was soft and well caramelized, while still maintaining a thoroughly substantial and meaty mouth-feel combined with the slightly chewy bread. The fat from the mayonnaise and pork were far from cloying, and were paired well with the slightly sweet carrot and daikon pickle.
The “fresh cut fries, Seasoned with our house made drift spice & served with our house made drift ketchup” were a bit more of a letdown.
Not to say that it wasn’t good. It’s more that I was expecting it to be better.
The fries were a little bit soft and tasted mainly of fennel and cumin. They left the skin on too, which was a pet peeve, but I’ve known people who enjoy un-skinned fries, so we can chalk that up to personal preference.
The “house made drift ketchup” tasted like cardamom marinara sauce, and was more watery than I had expected. Dipping the slightly limp fries in the non-viscous ketchup proved to me somewhat of a challenge, and often we were left with soggier, slightly-tomato flavored fries.
I can appreciate the east Indian theme they were going with on a theoretical level, but the execution was just a bit off.
The fries could’ve been crispier and the ketchup could’ve been dippier, but that’s all easily fixed.
- Sandwich was delicious
- Food is relatively cheap
- It’s nice to see international “fusion” not go horribly wrong once in a while
- Fries and ketchup could’ve been executed better
- They overuse the word “Drift” on the website
- Waiting on the side walk in a group for your food isn’t fun
- Nothing I can think of!
The fact that a food truck can survive in such a hostile environment for multiple years should be seen as a testament to the quality of the food and the ingenuity of the owners.
In this case, Drift has managed to thrive in an otherwise barren locale with it’s fresh sandwiches and creative international flair.
If you’re ever downtown in the summer, give them a try, you (probably) won’t be disappointed.