Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring is in the Aer

The year of the food truck... again. By this point in this blog's life my wild love affair with food trucks has to be painfully apparent! Food trucks are one of the closest things that I can find to the reason that I started this blog in the first place, in Kansas City. I have tried to make it to every food truck in KC (although I admit that I do have a few that I have not made it to yet), and even a few in other cities. I would love to place a link to every food truck post that I have ever made, but I feel that it may create some sort of cyclic black hole that would have a pull strong enough to crash Google's servers, so I will spare you... this time.

As it does every spring, the warmer weather peels back the blankets that Kansas Citians have taken shelter from the cold beneath and brings food truck rallies. Unfortunately, the inaugural rally each year is preceded  (and followed) by beautiful weather but often finds itself on the receiving end of a kick in the crotch from the cold winter witch holding onto that last cold breath. This was the case last year when the May First Friday was snowed out and it happened again this year. It did not snow on us this year (but I guess we still have May to look forward to - looks around for wood to knock on), but I do not feel like I should need a winter coat to walk around a First Friday event in April.

It actually worked out great for me, I gorged myself on tons of delicious food and got lots of face time with the amazing people that run these mobile eateries. However, that is pretty terrible for them, that means that they bought and prepared all of this great food for it to end up going to waste (which is always a terrible thought knowing that there are children going to bed without food in their bellies in this country and in others, but I'm sure it's also hard to get a food pantry to take prepared-perishable food at midnight). Now allow me to step down off of what I am sure some of you will think of as my "liberal, hippy, left-wing, bleeding-heart" soap box and go around the horn to tell you why you should come out the next time there is a rally so that this doesn't happen again.

Prairie Fire Oven - As I have documented before, David and Nancy White (and usually David's parents too) bring you some of the best pizza you have ever had in your life. Neapolitan-inspired, wood fired, pliable thin crust pizza that is not to be confused with that thin crust mess that they serve in that city down the river. PFO uses the freshest ingredients that they can find and even locally made sausages. But do not think that the PFO menu stops at the standard sausage or pepperoni, I mean they have that too, but you can get things like truffle oil, beets, and (one time last summer) mango on your pizza.

Street Wings Street Wings on Urbanspoon - The newest truck on the KC streets, brought to you by the owners of Little Italy, has a menu that consists of chicken wings and the like. The all-star on the Street Wing menu is something that some of you have never even heard of before (I know I hadn't): Stuffed Chicken Wings. When you read that, you probably think like I did and think it is stuffed with mozzarella, bleu cheese, or something creamy. If you think that, you would be wrong, just like I was. These chicken wings are stuffed with brisket, like the chicken that the wings are from went HAM on some cooked beef.

Little Italy - Speaking of Little Italy, the purveyors of all things Italian (including pizza when they are not at the same event as PFO). If you only have one thing from Little Italy, make it the risotto ball! Creamy goodness inside of a shell of crisp breading, you will not regret it. As you can see, with menu items like risotto balls and stuffed wings, Little Italy and Street Wings really put the extra time in to get their menu items right.

Wilma's Real Good Food - What can I say about Brett that I haven't already said? I call him The Mad Scientist, Adrian from Indios Carbonsitos calls him Brainiac, but to put it in laymens terms: He is the only man crazy enough to cook with Tank 7 while still being smart enough to pull it off! I have had plenty of items made with Tank 7 (although I have yet to have the Ale House Tank 7 doughnuts), and none of them have been up to snuff. I am a firm believer that if you are using beer to cook with then you use cheap beer, unless it is an item that you know that the flavour of the beer is going to come through. Brett makes food like fancy vinegar makers make vinegar. It may be unnerving to pour a $150 bottle of pinot into a carboy to make red wine vinegar, but they do it knowing that the finished product will show the difference.

I bring up Tank 7 because Brett was tossing fried grits and cheesesteaks out of Wilma's window that came smothered in Tank 7 cheese sauce. Do not mistake this for cheese wiz! The dishes that the sauce came on were no slouches themselves. Then, as if fried cheese grits with Tank 7 cheese sauce wasn't enough, dude was serving up frog leg street tacos with candied bacon chopped up in there too. Yes, real frog legs! - This was my wife's first frog leg experience, which is kind of funny that frog legs took this long given all of the other stuff I have gotten her to eat.

Indios Carbonsitos - Adrian brought the heat with a special that he has normally brought out for private parties: Camarones Divorciados (or Divorced Shrimp for our non Spanish speakers). Two skewers of shrimp, seasoned with a light chile rub and a little butter, one topped with Mike's Hot Honey that PFO introduced us all to and the other topped with Adrian's Mex-IQ version of a chimichurri sauce. Both of them plopped on top of some of the best cilantro lime rice I have ever tasted. Make sure that you taste the rice before the camarones or ask for some on the side because it is easy for the camarones to overpower the rice and the rice really deserves respect of its own.

You all should also know, with my love for food truckers, that I believe their hustle to be much harder than a brick and mortar restaurant. Brick and mortars believe that food trucks have an unfair advantage, but I believe that to be reversed. You can fit 3, maybe 4 workers on a food truck and they turn out way more orders than your average kitchen will during a dinner service. I do not take kindly to brick and mortars trying to encroach on the food truck game. I get it from a catering perspective. If you are going to use it solely for catering, cool. But if you are trying to capitalize on a trend, shame on you. I am a food truck purist, sue me. All of that being said, I had completely misjudged the Moose Truck!

Moose Truck Moose Truck on Urbanspoon - As you can probably guess is a truck that is put on the streets by good folks from KCHopps. When I first heard that the Blue Moose was putting a truck on the street, I expected it to serve something like deep fried, previously frozen, chicken strips from Sysco foods. Boy was I wrong, not only is this truck NOT a glorified concession stand, but the KC Hopps executive chef (Chef Ryan) cruses around with the truck. When I got a chance to talk to him about it, he said that it was probably his favorite part of his job (cruising around in the food truck), because he actually gets to cook on the truck. Chef brings his "A" game too! The Moose Truck had menu items like shrimp and grits (and you know I love shrimp and grits) and sandwiches covered in blue cheese (on Farm to Market bread). The shrimp and grits were legit too! Buttery, cheesy grits with slaw between the shrimp and grits (Where have you ever seen this? Let me answer that for you, nowhere!).

Food truck season is upon us. Get hungry!

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