Limited Time Offer! Hats Off Day – North Burnaby June 1st, 2013

You guys busy on Saturday (June 1st)?  Want to go to a dog and family friendly event that supports/show cases local businesses (especially restaurants) and shuts down 11 blocks of a busy 6-lane street for 6 hours?

Of course you do! Welcome to Hats Off Day in the Burnaby Heights neighbourhood.  This community event isn’t a local secret anymore, with its parade along Hastings Streets in the morning followed by live street entertainment and a car show in the afternoon.  The crowd that shows up and meanders along the closed thoroughfare in North Burnaby is quite large.  If it’s a dry and warm Saturday (fingers crossed), it’ll be a sight to behold if you stand at Hastings and Gamma and look west down the street – guaranteed it will be a sea of people.

There are lots of these types of community events in region; Greek Days in Kits and Italian Day on the Drive come to mind.  I think of these gatherings as the original outdoor food fair, existing long before the night markets.  Many of the restaurants and other food related business offer up portable samples of their food stuffs for a cheap price. 

Now this is food blog and being a 17 year veteran of Hats Off Day, I’m writing to spotlight all the eating & food opportunities that can be had on this occasion.
1) The Italian Sausage in a Bun Rumble.
The Italian sausage in a bun is a staple at Hats Off Day.  Every year,
 – Rocky’s Meats (4300 Block of Hastings)
 – Cioffi’s (4100 Block of Hastings) &
 – Fortuna Bakery (4200 Block of Hastings)
grill their renditions in front of their shop.  Cioffi’s and Rocky’s, both being butcher shops, have an edge in terms of their freshly prepare sausages.  Fortuna, obviously has an advantage in terms of the bun.  The sausage in a bun at each location sell for about $3-$4 each.  Which has the best combination? My personal preference is Rocky’s since I like their level of seasoning in their meat product more, but this is a food rumble you all should try out to find the best one for you.
2) Sample food from some Restaurants that have gotten some buzz from local blogs.
Unfortunately, the Burnaby Heights Business Improvement Area website did not list which restaurants along Hastings Street had applied for a food permit to sell prepared food outside of their storefront.  However many restaurants do take advantage of the huge foot traffic generated by Hats Off Day to sell menu items that they serve or specialty items designed specifically for Hats Off Day.
Some notable restaurants that I hope will be street vending on Saturday include:
– The Pear Tree (4100 Block of Hastings)
– Broken Rice (4000 Block of Hastings)
– Chad Thai (4000 Block of Hastings)
– Sfinaki’s (4000 Block of Hastings)
– Thai’s Saigon Bistro (4000 Block of Hastings)
– So Crab So Good (3800 Block of Hastings)
– Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie (4700 Block of Hastings)
 Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionery (4000 Block Hastings)
-Handi Cuisine of India (4500 Block of Hastings)

In the past, The Pear Tree and Sfinaki’s are fairly reliable in terms of preparing something for Hats Off Day.  The other eateries have just opened (after the 2012 Hats Off Day), so I’m not sure about their participation. 

I am looking forward to see if Chez Christophe and Handi prepare something for the day as these 2 places have been on my radar.

If all these restaurants do sell their food on the street, the 4000 block of Hastings Street might be a food lovers’ paradise on June 1st
3) You can have coffee, cake and sweets too!
Even if they don’t street vend, most of the eateries along Hastings Street will be will be open for business, including all little independent Italian coffee shops in this neighbourhood. 
I am looking forward to visiting the already mentioned Chez Christophe, Glenburn Soda Shop and Valley Bakery (an oldie but a goodie) for some sweets. 
Valley Bakery (4000 block of Hastings) is a stalwart in the neighbourhood and they always prepare something unique for the day.  I miss their strawberry shortcakes which they stop making for Hats Off Day due to the unreliable of the local strawberry crop.  In the last few years, Valley Bakery has been offering up cream puffs and eclairs for the occasion.
4) Stock Up Your Italian Pantry!
The Burnaby Heights neighbourhood has strong Italian roots.  There are some stores you should visit just to pick up affordable Italian food items.
– Red Apple Market (4100 block of Hastings) This grocery store caters to the Italian families in the hood and offers a wide range of Italian goods.  Wander the aisles to see what you can find.  Bar none, Red Apple sells Barilla dry pasta and canned tomatoes from Italy cheaper than any other place in Vancouver.
– Cioffi’s (4100 block of Hastings) Cioffi’s is a very successful local business.  They have two storefronts on the block: 1 for their deli items and the other for their butcher shop.  You can’t miss their butcher shop, with their meat hanging in the window (at one point they had a whole lamb in the window – so if you or your kids are squeamish maybe walk in the middle of the shut down street to avoid that possible sight).
– Although not located right in the area, Bosa Foods (1465 Kootenay Street, Vancouver) is literally a 5 minute drive away. 

Hats Off Day is wonderful community event and I’m proud to have grown up in the neighbourhood.  There are wonderful new food discoveries to made on this day and you should come early as some places only make a limited amount of food, so it is first come first serve.
Despite a busy schedule I always make time to come to Hats Off Day and I hope you do too.  Here’s the event’s website so you can check the event activities schedule, parking options and plan accordingly. 

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