Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Hawkers Market - Nov 2013


I attended the first monthly Hawkers Market this past Saturday. Advertised as an underground market featuring local food entrepreneurs, the event originated in Vancouver and has recently come to Edmonton. Admission prices are $10 online and $15 at the door. I was given free admission as a food blogger, but I still had to pay for the food inside.

I arrived at Mercer Warehouse shortly before the scheduled start time of 5 pm, but the vendors were still setting up. Luckily Roast was just upstairs, so I waited in the cozy coffee shop until it was time. The venue, a barren basement with graffiti on the walls, was quite empty in the beginning, but the room started filling up quickly. There were people of all ages and backgrounds, from babies to old couples.


XIX Nineteen
The first vendor I visited was XIX Nineteen.


I was intrigued by their braised rabbit and gnocchi "poutine" ($7). Unfortunately I had missed the double quotations around the word poutine on the menu, so I was expecting golden French fries, but instead got soft and mushy gnocchi with shredded rabbit meat, cheese curds and gravy. This dish was very weak in flavour; the meat and gravy didn't have any taste. The cheese curds were nice, but as they were bland, they didn't add anything in terms of flavour. Also the lack of fries took away the crispiness and contrast in texture.


Parts & Services
Parts & Services offered traditional French dishes like pulled duck confit ($7) and roasted bone marrow ($5). I really wanted to try both, but finally decided on bone marrow as I hadn't had it before.


This dish was surprisingly good. I actually thought it was the best of the night (along with the custard, but more on that later). The torched marrow was topped with diced fennel for a refreshing hint of sweetness. Paired with crusty baguette, it was the perfect sweet and savoury combo.


Drift
Drift has the most creative counter in the shape of a food truck, their usual storefront in downtown. They only had one item on the menu — khao swe ($5), a Burmese chicken coconut curry noodle dish. Customers can add their own garnish from a selection of toppings including hard-boiled egg shreds, lemon juice, green onions, and chili flakes.


It's amazing what a little bit of colour can do for the presentation. I really liked the rich and creamy curry, but again there was no contrast of texture as both the chicken and noodles were really soft. I think it would've tasted a lot better with al dente noodles.


Bully
I've heard about the Bully food truck for quite some time now, but I've never had the chance to try it because I don't work downtown. I really wanted to try the mac n cheese ($5), but I wasn't in the mood for anything super rich and Mousie wanted to get the chef-made turkey bacon sausage ($8).


The sausage was made with turkey and local bacon, and served with the most delicious truffled creamer potato salad. In fact, I appreciated the potatoes a lot more than the sausage. Another highlight was the onion that was sauteed in rye-whiskey. Seriously the best onion ever!


PBD.
This dessert booth touting donuts and custard didn't seem to have a brand name or logo. I saw the letters PBD. on the menu, so I'm going to assume that was the name.


Mousie was excited about the custard, so I agreed to try it even though I wasn't interested in anything mousse or custard-like. I'm really glad I had this though, because it was so light in texture, yet so rich and fragrant in flavour. It wasn't too sweet or too tart; it had the perfect balance between citrus-y lemon and sweet cream.


There were a few vendors I didn't get to try because I didn't have enough stomach space or money. For those who enjoy a few drinks, there was a selection of wine and craft beers. I was going to get a meat pie from South Island Pie Co, but the setup didn't look like the pies were ready-to-eat. They were wrapped in plastic and I didn't see any heating equipment. And they were quite expensive at $7 apiece, so I passed.


There were also 2 tables with Mexican food. I would've liked to try some tacos, but didn't get around to it.


Overall it was a nice event, but since I arrived early at 5 pm, there was nothing to do after I tried all of the foods. I don't think the dancing started until much later, and the crowd probably got much bigger at that time too. Considering I didn't have to pay admission, I thought the price was reasonable for trying a variety of different foods. Of course events like Taste of Edmonton and Heritage Festival give much better value, but Hawkers Market is more about exploring local start-ups that are relatively new to the food scene in Edmonton. Another part of it would be to enjoy the ambiance, the music and dancing. If you're only interested in the food, I wouldn't recommend this event because there isn't a lot of selection (less than 10 food booths), and you will be disappointed if you're comparing this to bigger food events. But if you want a fun night of food, drinks, music and dancing, then definitely check Hawkers Market out.

XIX Nineteen on UrbanspoonDrift Food Truck on UrbanspoonBully Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon
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