23 Feb Feed My Camera
Cantina and the rest of the Food Trucks United crew get a special mention in Feed My Camera’s website. Posted on 23 Feb 2014.
Food Trucks United – Central
Over the years my family has acted as some kind of host family/intermediary for a number of students coming here to study from mainland China. Most would stay with us for a few days or weeks, and we would help them look for accommodation, show them around Sydney and help them familiarise with the essentials – where to shop, how to catch transport, how to set up a bank account etc. Some find it easier to adjust to the lifestyle here than others, and one of the most frequent questions I get asked when they first arrive is: “So, where do you go for fun at night?”
My answer has always been somewhat long-winded at best. You see, most of the time these kids have come from bustling, crowded cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, and even those from second or third tier cities such as Fuzhou would experience a kind of culture shock arriving here, as though they have been suddenly thrown into a rural town. They’re used to cities that transform themselves with the sunset; buildings donning neon-makeup lighting up the skyline at night. Down below the high-rises in the narrow streets and alleys, a sea of humans, with its own ebbs and flows, would rush into every nook and cranny inhaling all sorts of consumerism in its cash economy eco-system. Compare that to Sydney where, well, most places close at around 6pm and you’re really left with some restaurants, clubs and bars or the cinemas with minimal transport to get you home. You can begin to imagine why a few words must be spent to re-focus what entertainment and enjoyment of life means in their eyes.
“It’s a quieter life, but one that is generally filled with lots of warm sunlight hitting your face. There’s no smog, and there’s lots of space to run around and plenty to explore. It is quiet at night though if you don’t like bars and clubs…”
Luckily I think this is slowly changing. DL and I were recently invited to check out the Food Trucks United (FTU) StreetFest Fridays at Belmore Park in Central. I must admit the City of Sydney council has been working hard with groups to try and provide alternate sources of family-friendly night entertainment to Sydney. Held on the first Friday of every month, FTU Friday is a great opportunity to have a night evening picnic with some family and friends out in the city. There was music pumping in the background, artists busy with their creative works and plenty of interesting and affordable food provided by food trucks. We dropped by after work and the place was filled with people casually sitting about, enjoying a light nibble and a cool breeze in the late afternoon sun. Some stood around admiring the various forms of artworks set up around the place. Subdued and civilised, it was definitely a breath of fresh air for Friday nights.
The trucks were arranged in a circular fashion, and by 6:30pm the line at Cantina Movil had definitely picked up momentum. Just for kicks, we did a taco battle-off seeing as both the Al Carbon truck and Cantina Movil were there. We picked up our first order for the evening – Smokey Slow Roasted Barbacoa Lamb Taco from Al Carbon. It was all kinds of delicious and the meat was nicely smokey and tender. From Cantina Movil we picked up the Tacos with Chilorio Pork and Chipotle Beef Burritos. Flour tortillas were a little on the sweet side, but the pork was nice and flossy. The chipotle beef was nicely tender and juicy, with a good kick if you try it with their hottest hot sauce. Be careful, that hot sauce definitely builds up towards the end. The red cabbage slaw was also a nice touch to bring everything together.
Despite the name of the event, there were a number of food tents pitched such as The Sauerkraut Sisters. DL and I picked up a Bratwurst Dog from there which was nice and moist. I love sauerkraut and wished that they would pile more on. There was also a cool little tent selling freshly pressed sugar cane juice – very snazzy.
We also checked out Street Sliders – one of the newer trucks which we hadn’t tried before. They had three sliders on offer: the Brick, the Prime and the Smoke. Luckily for us, they had a trio combo which conveniently allowed us to try all three. The Brick was a chicken fillet slider with a roasted garlic aioli. The chicken was incredibly tender and well grilled. Definitely my favourite out of the three. The Prime was the standard beef pattie slider which was well executed. Lastly, the Smoke was a well thought-out vegetarian options, with smoked mozzarella burger with eggplant puree.
As mentioned previously, FTU StreetFest Fridays are held on the first Friday of every month and is conveniently located across the road (Eddy Avenue) from Central Station at Belmore Park. It is a great opportunity to support local artists, musicians and designers whilst enjoying some good food with family and friends. With some luck, hopefully events such as these will grow and turn into permanent establishments in our city, not only supporting homegrown art and culture, but also providing us with some true alternatives to what Sydney nightlife currently is.