Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hippy Chippy Fries

"For the environmentally conscious chip truck lover"

When: July 9st, 2009 6:10pm.
Where: Johnstone Park, Peterborough (in the parking lot at the corner of Ashburnham Dr. and Marsdale Dr.) (map)
Exterior: This chip truck is light blue, decorated with colourful paintings of peace signs and flowers. It is located in the parking lot of a large park, so there are lots of grassy areas on which to enjoy your fries, as well as a single picnic table. It's not a far walk from the soccer fields and sandy beach in this park as well, so it would be a nice place to go on a day when you were out with your family. Hippy Chippy also caters to the environmentally and socially conscious crowd; there are signs proclaiming their support for local businesses & farmers and the chip truck itself is partially powered by solar energy. I biked there myself, and while I was there I saw more people pull up in bikes than in cars. There were also both aluminum and paper recycling, so you could recycle all the garbage from your meal.
Menu: Hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, gravy, pop.

Condiments: Ketchup, vinegar, hot sauce, salt, and something called 'hippy smoky salt' (I tried this, and it tasted pretty good, although mostly it just tasted like salt).
The Chips: I got a small fries & a diet Pepsi for the value price of $3.50. The fries were very fresh and had a lovely potato taste. They were a bit greasy, and not that hot when I got them, but I suspect I got the last of a batch they had just made for the people in front of me. I think these fries have a lot of potential, and I may have to go back to see if the next serving I get is hotter!

Overall, this is a beautiful location and is well worth a visit. Peterborough residents are generally quite interested in finding environmentally sustainable options, and all the elements of this chip truck fit with that lifestyle. It's interesting to see a bit of a modern, environmental spin on the classic chip truck.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jim's Gourmet Fries

When: July 1st, 2009 12:31pm.
Is there a better time to visit a chip truck than for lunch on Canada Day? (Plus, it's probably the only thing open!)

Companions: Jill & Damien

Where: Sydenham Foodland parking lot (map)
Exterior: This chip truck is a keystone for me: I have driven past it one to two thousand times in my life as it is between my parent's house and the place where I worked in the summers all through university. It is a permanent trailer sitting in the grocery store parking lot in Sydenham, Ontario. In recent years, they have added a screened-in hut around the ordering window where they keep the condiments. There are three picnic tables with umbrellas where you can sit, but it's also worth noting that it's very close to the lake and also a nice park where you can take your fries. It was predictably packed, as it was lunch time on Canada Day - there were tons of families and people coming from the nearby Sydenham Canada Day celebration. When we went up to order, they had lined up all the containers that were waiting to be filled, and we were number 16 in the line.
So it was a long wait. BUT, while we were waiting, local celebrity Dan Aykroyd pulled up in a fancy car! This was definitely a highlight of the visit - we tried our best not to stare, but how do you not gawk just a little bit when a celebrity arrives at the chip truck you're eating at? (We did draw the line at taking pictures of him) He sadly didn't stay for any fries, which was really his loss, because they were delicious!

Menu: Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, fries, poutine. The poutine comes in two sizes, and the fries come in four sizes (ranging from 'junior' to 'family').

Condiments: Ketchup, 2 kinds of vinegar in spray bottles, salt.
The Chips: We got a junior size fries ($2.25 - great value, as the portion is quite generous) and a small poutine ($4.50). They were both excellent. The fries were crispy, and deliciously fresh tasting. They came with a flat wooden fork which was really handy for both poking big fries and scooping out small fries. I would highly recommend these fries to anyone at anytime (although come before 4pm, because that's when it closes).
The poutine earned rave reviews from our official poutine reviewer, Damien. The cheese curds were tasty and distributed well throughout the dish. The gravy was well-seasoned and thick. Damien pointed out that too much gravy can make poutine too much like soup, but these ones did not suffer from that common problem. Overall, he gave the poutine two thumbs up!
Condiment Distribution: Jill reminded me that the classic way to ensure that you have ketchup for all of your fries is to 'hide' it down the side of the container, i.e. try to squirt it right down to the bottom of the container. We tried this with these fries, and the result was a 'bloodbath'. The last of the fries were swimming in a red pool of ketchup. These fries stood up to the ketchup, because they were so fantastic (see above), but use this technique with care!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

JRS Variety

When: June 26th 6:15pm

Where: Springbrook, on Stirling Marmora Road between Marmora and Belleville (map)
Exterior: This chip truck sits outside a store called JRS Variety. The truck its is a red wagon with a white awning. The sign is small and difficult to see from the road - I almost drove by it! I think the chip truck is owned by the same people who own the store, because as I pulled up the girl in store saw me and hollered for her brother to come out and help me. There's one picnic table in a small area between the no name gas pumps and the store. The whole establishment is in quite a residential area, with private homes in all the adjoining lots. Garbage and recyling are provided on site.
Menu: Hamburgers, fries, poutine, gravy. They don't have drinks, but you can get them inside the store (I got a delicious apple juice!)

Condiments: Ketchup, vinegar, salt, season salt. The condiments were on a VERY high shelf, which was difficult for me to reach (note: I am not tall).
The Chips: I ordered a small fries ($3.00), and they were delicious. The texture was consistent all the way through, with no noticable crispy skin. They had a very nice potatoey taste, which was almost sweet at times. They weren't very salty, but they also weren't greasy. They came hot and maintained their temperature to the last bite. Overall, the fries were excellent, and I would highly recommend this place as a bit of a hidden gem.

This isn't a very major road, so I asked the guy if he had been busy. He said he got a lot of people with camper vans and a lot of people heading up to cottages, although he mentioned that the traffic wasn't too heavy this weekend, with the July 1st holiday falling in the middle of the week.

Husky Gas Station Restaurant

This is not a chip truck. It was Father's Day (June 21), and my parents and I decided to go for a bike ride on Hwy 2 from Kingston heading towards Gananoque. We planned to stop at a chip truck, but biked for 15 miles and were unable to find an open one! We passed two closed ones, which was incredibly surprising - any chip truck worth its salt should be open on a sunny Father's Day Sunday! In desperation, we stopped for lunch at the Husky Gas Station restaurant (map), and got club sandwiches (for the meat eaters), veggie wraps (for the vegetarians) and fries. I won't quote the price because it was extravagant, but I will review the chips, as I think they provide a useful counterpoint to what is great about chip truck fries.
We were pretty hungry from our bike ride, so the chips were definitely all eaten up, but they were not the greatest. The major problem was that they were frozen, not fresh cut. I think all but the shoddiest of chip trucks will serve you fresh cut fries, while all but the finest truck stop will serve you frozen. The difference is huge. These french fries had a thick outer layer that was somewhat crispy, but also tasted slightly stale. The inside was pleasantly soft, but didn't have that distinctive potato flavour that characterizes fresh cut fries. Overall, these fries were good for when you're hungry, but probably not worth a special trip.

There is a spectacularly large Canada flag at this truck stop; you can see it for a long distance on the highway. It's hard to see how big it actually is in a picture.