We all know that those who wish to be considered true Stampede Foodies must abandon all fear, shame and hope to fit into last week’s pants if they are to survive the delicious temptations out on the Stampede Midway.
And while it’s true that there are many savoury, succulent and sugar-filled treats out there, did you know that there are also many healthier options as well? Items that are tailored for those who may have food sensitivities or just want to try a lifestyle change with their diets? Things that are not necessarily deep-fried? Shocking, I know.
Today’s #CSFoodie challenge was to find the Best Alternative Choice on the Stampede Midway, and we had to eat our way through a few of the non-traditional (for lack of a better term) options out on the grounds. Wrap Daddy’s ended up taking the official honours for their Gluten Free Chicken Wrap, but what about the other items? Here are my thoughts on some of the things we were asked to sample in this edition of Reggie’ll Try It!
Gluten Free Vegetarian Pad Thai by SelfSpring Noodle Bar (Across from the BMO Centre)
In general, SelfSpring Noodle Bar offers rice or wheat noodles with your choice of sauce. Their Pad Thai sauce is gluten free and can be made with gluten free noodles, which is all prepared in a separate wok to avoid contamination.
I had the Vegetarian Pad Thai with the gluten free option, and I have to admit, it was a very filling dish (and I just had the small size). Rather than chicken (which is what I’d normally get), there were lots of carrots and broccoli pieces instead. It’s spicy though (and I passed on the extra hot sauce too), so if that’s not typically your thing, then proceed with caution.
My verdict: Four out of five flapjacks.
Gluten Free Majnon Layla from Avatara Pizza (Near Nashville North)
Fire-roasted organic falafel chips with hummus, bruschetta and parsley. It’s not a pizza, but it does make for a nice, light snack. Perfect for sharing on a hot day, it comes in half or full sizes. And it’s all gluten free.
It’s simple food although it may not be enough to fill you up if you’re famished. A solid three out of five flapjacks from me.
The Veggie Burger from the Stampede Concessions Booths (In the BMO Centre)
Whenever someone says “concession booth” to me, I flashback to junior high school where we didn’t have a proper cafeteria and instead had a small room that served students anything that could be stuck and heated in a toaster oven.
Stampede Concessions, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast that serves a variety of different foods all year round at various events on Park, all of them tasty and reasonably priced.
The Veggie Burger is quite filling. Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onions, mayonnaise and a vegetable patty come standard on this one, and not being a regular connoisseur of veggie burgers myself, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this. In fact, I wanted to order another!
Verdict: Four out of five flapjacks.
Gluten Free Steak and Salad by Steak Hut (Next to Nashville North)
This wasn’t on Steak Hut’s standard menu, but if you ask nicely, they will serve you a steak and salad, which is completely gluten free. The steak itself is tenderized and seasoned to perfection. That charbroiled steak is served fresh off an open grill and tastes wonderful, complemented well by the cool garden salad.
The above picture literally shows a steak on a salad, but after the photo opportunity, the grill master offered to cut it up. He mentioned that they’ve had discussions on whether or not to make it a standard option, and it’s still up for debate.
Be warned that since this isn’t a standard menu item (yet), you’ll end up paying a little bit extra for it.
I loved it and it earned four out of five flapjacks from me.
Falafel by NC’s Gourmet Grill (Near the Rotary Dream Home and Nashville North)
Made with seasoned chick pea patties, vegetables, tahini-based sauce and served on a pita, it’s a falafel no matter how you look at it. Served hot and fresh, the portion is hearty and can easily feed one person. A great vegetarian option for those looking for some on Park.
A solid three out of five flapjacks from me.
Gluten Free Chicken Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (Near the Big Four Building and Coca-Cola Stage)
Served in a flour tortilla cone with chicken bits, various vegetables and with optional sour creme and fried cheese, this food item has a gluten free option. You can try to devour it all in one go by folding it into itself, but it’s recommended you eat it with the provided fork first. It’s hearty and good enough as a meal on its own.
The fried cheese really makes this dish, as it reminded me of the crusted cheese on top of my mom’s oven-baked lasagna, which was my favourite part.
There’s a lot of drippings with this one, so napkins are highly recommended.
Also note that the gluten free option costs an extra buck.
Five out of five flapjacks.
Vegetarian Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (Near the Big Four Building and Coca-Cola Stage)
Also by Wrap Daddy’s, the Vegetarian Wrap substitutes the chicken bits from its sibling above with some kind of protein-based meat alternative. In fact, as I had ordered both the chicken and the vegetarian wraps at the same time, I thought they accidentally mixed some chicken bits into this one and became worried for some of my vegetarian friends to whom I really wanted to recommend this to. It tasted too good to be true!
The taste and texture of the “meat” resembled pork or chicken so much that my meat-eater’s heart became quite confused. And conflicted! That said, if human technology has progressed to the point where even this omnivore can’t tell the difference, then I suppose I could be persuaded to try being a vegetarian for a little while myself, as long I was able to continue eating things such as this.
Again, this one can get messy with drippings so make sure to have some napkins available.
A hearty five out of five flapjacks from me.
And there you have it. While it was the Chicken Wrap that won it for Wrap Daddy’s, I would have still been happy if the Vegetarian Wrap had come out on top. Which just goes to show you how solid a menu Wrap Daddy’s has.
This was just a small selection of some of the alternative food choices that are available on Park. There are many, many other options out there that are suitable for those who are lactose intolerant, require diets with reduced sugar, or have other food sensitivities, so give some of them a try the next time you come to visit! If in doubt, make sure to ask your food vendor about the ingredients they use in their offerings and their food preparation methods. They’ll be happy to share and they encourage it.
And if you want to be completely safe, did you know that you can bring your own food to Stampede Park? There’s plenty of green space to enjoy a picnic lunch outdoors (my favourite spots are those near the river banks), and all of the venues on Park like the Stampede Corral, Big Four Building and Grandstand Building allow you to bring your own food to munch on during events (many of them free with admission). Everyone wants to ensure that you have an enjoyable, and most importantly, safe stay during your visit to Stampede.