The Butcher’s Son is Food With Heritage

 

NO, The Butcher’s Son is NOT a Johnsonville Promo Truck


One of the problems with coming to the dance after it begins is that you missed out on the beginning.  In the beginning of the Dallas Gourmet Food Truck community, or very nearly so, The Butcher’s Son did the unthinkable at the time.  Way back in October 2011, they launched not one but two food trucks in Dallas.  I’m just catching up with them now!

Up first was the Sargeant Pepper, a Bell Pepper grilled and stuffed with brown rice, Italian Sausage, tomato, onion, garlic & melted mozzarella cheese.  This is not your typical food truck item.  It’s a dish that covers the entire food pyramid!  Rumored to be co-owner Jonathan Wagner’s favorite menu item, at least at the time they opened, and it turned out to be one of my favorite items, too!  Considering the variety of flavors and textures, it is as entertaining to your tongue as it is satisfying to your tummy.

Sargeant Pepper

 

It would be sacrilege to go to a truck that features Johnsonville products and not include a sausage in the order and the meal was rounded out with a Sante Fe Sunset.  If you are a sausage lover, this is a sandwich you’ll dream about.  The toasted Hoagie Roll cradles a Chipotle Chicken Sausage (and a half!) garnished with black bean salsa, fried jalapenos and cilantro.  This one has a little kick that really pops the fresh flavors of the salsa, onions and cilantro.

Sante Fe Sunset

 

Since that first encounter, I’ve been back so I could broaden my experience.  The menu has added or changed a few items since that first day, including moving from these sign boards to a permanent location on the side of the truck.

The Day One Menu Boards
The Menu now – mounted on the side of the truck

 

The original menu offered three sliders:  The Longhorn, The Southern Bell and the New Frontier or one of each as The Butcher’s 3-Way.  That part of the menu had grown to 6 different choices (now 7 with the addition of the Mama Mia, a Meatball Slider) still available in your choice of combination of any three sliders as The Butcher’s 3-Way.  I’ve sampled a 3-Way but opted to mix new and old.

The Southern Bell, one of the originals, is a Chipotle Monterey Jack Chicken Sausage topped with fresh Onion, Cheddar Cheese and BBQ Sauce.  The sweetness of the sauce plays off the tangy chipotle flavor of the sausage and blends with the cheese and onion that all plays really nice together.  This is a great choice if pork is not your favorite meat.  No wonder this one is a favorite of co-owner Dain Pool.

A little Butchers Son Southern Hospitality Slider

 

The Dead Elvis lays tribute to The King by combining Nutella, Peanut Butter and Bacon.  I have to admit, I’d have preferred more bacon or at least a thicker country cut of bacon as it was overpowered by the Nutella and Peanut Butter.  Then again, maybe I was just confused and the bacon was not the main ingredient but a complement to the other items!  I confess, I’m a relentless carnivore!

The Dead Elvis features Nutella, Peanut Butter and Bacon

What food truck foodie could pass a slider that adds Mac-n-Cheese to a braised beef sandwich finished off with BBQ sauce and Cheddar Cheese.  The Mac-n-Beefy adds a BIG square of Baked Mac-n-Cheese to what would be an excellent sandwich on its own (for example, on the yet to be tried Longhorn that features the same braised beef).  The braised beef was tender and juicy, the Mac-n-Cheese was cheesy the way it’s supposed to be and the tangy sweet BBQ sauce filled out the taste sensations.  Hey, at least the Mac-n-Cheese wasn’t deep fried!

The Mac N Beefy combines braised beef with a mac n cheese square

What really sets these sliders off is the Brioche Roll they all come on.  Buttery and soft, they’re the perfect vehicle to complement each of the sliders no matter how different they may be.

 

One of the things I do is to try things that are unique and different.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and, to be fair, most everything works for somebody or it would come off the menu.  In this spirit, I ordered the Nutter Butter Tots.  I have to be honest, the Peanut-Butter Chocolate sauce and Marshmallow (sauce) drizzled over a salty Tot just fought too much to get me excited.  It was a disappointment since it sounded like such an intriguing idea and maybe more sauce would have given the balanced taste sensation I expected.

 

The review wouldn’t be complete without commenting on The Small Plate, a tribute dish to the heritage of the German Brats & Sausage that helped make Johnsonville famous.  This plate of  flash-fried Bratwurst, Homemade Currywurst Sauce and Tater Tots, is anything but small.  Trust me, you won’t miss the bread!  This is the most expensive item on the menu at $8.29.

The LIttle Plate

 

If you know anything about the Butchers Son Food Truck, you know that it is a partnership between Jonathan Wagner, son of Johnsonville Sausage founder Ralph Stayer, and Dain Pool, son of Pool’s Restaurant Group CEO Dan Pool.  The sons have left the fold and struck out on their own building on all the experience gained by growing up in the food industry but committed to making their own mark in their own market.

The Butcher’s Son is one of the easiest trucks to find around town and they’re out a lot, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night.  You can find them on Facebook or Twitter and at many events in the DFW area.

 

CedarsFoodPark TooDarnHotPoster

Changes in the Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village Schedule

Weekday Lunch Hours Postponed – More Evening Events Planned

Coming off a very successful kick-off event last Saturday night, Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village announced today that they will postpone lunch service until later this year after the heat moderates in the Fall.  This decision was announced after talking with a number of truck owners and other people involved in the local food truck community and is considered by all to be another smart decision by Brad Friedman and Steve Jordan, Cedars Food Park Media Relations contacts.

Instead, regular weekly service will begin on Thursday evening, August 16th, from 5 PM – 10 PM and continue every Thursday.  Thursday night is a busy night in the Dallas area with competing weekly events already established at Siegal’s Food Truck Experience on lower Greenville and Addison Thursday Night Bites at the Savoye Apartments.  The following in Dallas is strong and the lower Dallas location for the Cedars Food Park and the park-like setting with huge shady Cedar Elm trees is expected to draw even more participants from south and east of Dallas.

Friday Evening service will be offered starting August 31st, again from 5 – 10 PM and continue every Friday evening.

Finally, a press release indicates that food trucks will be at the site for select Saturday and Sunday times TBD and following the tremendous success of the Grand Opening, additional special events are in the planning stages for later this fall (when it cools of some!).

Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village evening pop-up food parks will continue the collaboration between the food trucks and Dallas Heritage Village.  The setting is more park-like than any other venue in Dallas with the trucks parking under shade of the Giant Cedar Elm trees with air conditioned eating areas available.  The combination of Dallas’ best gourmet food trucks, live entertainment and beer & wine available along with access to the historic grounds makes this a great place to gather family, friends and pets are always welcome.  Admission is always free and by an agreement with the participating trucks, a portion of the proceeds go to support Dallas Heritage Village.

One note:  Dallas Heritage Village is traditionally closed for the month of August and will reopen on September 1st.  Food Truck patrons are welcome to stroll the grounds; however, many of the historic structures will be closed during August.

 

 

Dallas Heritage Village is located at 1515 Harwood, Dallas, Texas 75215; just south of I-30 and the downtown Dallas city center.

You can check the schedule or weekly scheduled trucks at the website or follow them on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 6 PM, the crowd was building and the lines were filled at all of the trucks

The Big Bash Was a Smash

 

Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village Grand Opening Makes History

This is one of several flyers that went out in hard copy and bounced around Twitter days in advance of the event.

 

Somehow, it’s only fitting that the first food truck park in Dallas set up in the Dallas Heritage Village, a living museum that memorializes North Texas life from 1840 – 1910.  The buzz for this event was very high and Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village delivered in spades, making history in the 21st century.

The activities were scheduled to kick-off at 5:00 PM but by 4:30PM, the crowd had already started to arrive despite temperatures well over 100 degrees.  The trucks pulled in and circled town center reminiscent of the wagon trains that brought the first settlers to Dallas, parked under massive 150 year old oaks and surrounding an expanse of grass.  Deep Ellum Brewing Company set up in the Bandstand and Dude Sweet Chocolates set up in the Lawyer’s Office.  One of the buildings that was air-conditioned was set up with tables and chairs, to provide a place to escape the heat for a while.  An early evening taping by one of the local TV Channels projected the attendance at 2000 but the increase in patrons as the sun went down suggests the actual number may be closer to 3000.

 

The trucks arrive – the quiet before the crowds arrive

 

The crowds were good from the start and grew noticeably as the sun began to set and temperatures moderated.  Those who braved the late afternoon heat were treated to very short lines and very quick service.  As the sun set and the temperature fell, the crowd swelled and so did the lines.  The truck staffs worked hard and fast to assure the lines kept moving as quickly as possible.  For the most part, I saw few people who didn’t think the wait was worth it.  To the best of my knowledge, all of the trucks came stocked sufficiently to serve the masses and no one ran out of food completely before the scheduled 10 PM finish.  Well, no one except Deep Ellum Brewery who ran out of beer by about 7 PM and made an emergency run back to their nearby location for more with no break in service.

By 6 PM, the crowd was building and the lines were filled at all of the trucks

 

Throughout the evening, musical entertainment was provided by The Sicklies, an enjoyable three-piece group, from a stage that resembled a porch (well, except for the giant loudspeaker columns).  The music floated across the grounds loud enough to enjoy without drowning out conversation with friends, new and old.

The Sicklies provided funky mountain music crossing a wide variety of musical genres throughout the evening

 

The focus of the event was shared by the beautiful grounds of the Dallas Heritage Village and, of course, the food trucks.  There was food to satisfy virtually any craving.  The list of participating trucks includes a veritable Who’s Who of Dallas food trucks, with 18 trucks participating:  Good Karma Kitchen, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, Rockin’ Ricks, Rock and Roll Taco, Café Con Leche, Four Seasons, Jack’s Chowhound, Enticed, Free Wheel’n Café, Three Lions, Cool Haus, Nammi, Gandolfo’s, Crazy Fish, The Butcher’s Son, Ssahm BBQ, Cajun Tailgators and Rockstar Bakeshop.

This event was the kick-off for an ongoing program that will bring food trucks to Dallas Heritage Village Wednesday – Friday from 11 AM – 2 PM starting on August 1st and weekly events on Thursday nights from 5 PM- 10 PM starting August 16th.

 

Kudos to Dallas Brad Friedman and Steve Jordan who conceived Cedars Food Park and partnered with Dallas Heritage Village to create the Cedars Food Park at Dallas Heritage Village.  Created to capitalize on the popularity of food trucks to draw people to Dallas Heritage Village, the location also provides the food trucks a park-like location to set up.  There is ample free parking, no admission fee to the grounds to access the trucks, and the responsiveness to the changing situation by the Cedars staff was unbelievable, especially for a first time event.  As the crowds grew, tables and chair were added to the grounds providing adequate seating for those who did not bring blankets or chairs.  The trash cans, while maybe a bit fewer in number than ideal, were constantly emptied with clean bags put in place for the next round.

This is community – family and friend, young and old, even the dogs were welcome!

 

This collaboration epitomizes the symbiotic relationship critical to success in a joint venture where each participating member contributes value and the whole is greater than the parts.  The trucks were asked to bring out the crowd and to keep them supplied with incredible food.  Check!  The Cedars’ staff were asked to provide the support structure necessary for any successful event and did so almost transparently.  Check!  And the Dallas Heritage Village provided a beautiful, park-like setting under the shade of 150 year old oak trees in exchange for enhanced exposure to the community.  Check!  The eager, hungry fans assure great traffic and a profitable outing for the trucks.  Check! The foundation is laid to repeat the success again and again.  Check!

 

It was a WIN-WIN-WIN- WIN for everybody, including the patrons who attended!

 

But what impressed me the most is the immediate sense of community at this event.  There were families, groups of friends, and even the dogs were welcome.   People picked up after themselves and left the area as clean as when they arrived.  Tables were shared, blankets were spread on the lawn and friendly exchanges passed between complete strangers with a smile.  This is how a food truck event is supposed to be, complete with the sense of community that makes the food truck community as comfortable an old pair of jeans.

The Big Bash was a terrific kick-off to build support for future events with everyone enjoying the evening.

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I’m already perilously close to that number.  Thanks for staying with me and add to the record with your comments below.  Please enjoy the rest of the photos as they tell the story of the Cedars Food Park Big Bash at Dallas Heritage Village.

The hot temperatures made it important for everyone, including the dogs, to stay hydrated!
The benches would fill when The Sicklies performed live

Everyone including man’s best friend settled on blankets or in chairs relaxing in the comfortable setting
As darkness and the temperature fell, the crowd grew even bigger!

 

Whether you were one of the thousands that attended or one of the tens of thousands that missed out, tell us what you think about how Cedars Food Park contributes to the community and what you enjoyed or would like to see in future events.  I’ll pass your comment on to the good folks at Cedars Food Park.

You can find out about future events here, at Food Truck Connection or follow Cedars Food Park on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Escargot ... Did you bring the Chateau Margaux?

Food Traveler –Global Street Food

We are sad to announce that Food Traveler is no longer on the streets :(

John and Kendall Billbow Take You on an Around the World Food Travel Experience

 

Just sitting here, thinking about the experience at Food Traveler makes my mouth water.

The anticipation starts with reading the menu and BUILDS as you anxiously wait for your name to be called.

John Bilbow works magic in a traveling kitchen

 

Do you see that? Yes, Escargot. When I first saw that I cringed. I am not a fan of snails. But when writing, I try things that I might not otherwise order so…

 

Now really, how many trucks serve Escargot? You know you gotta have it. Just let me tell you, you need have NO fears. These snails are great. They are sautéed with mushrooms, garlic, shallots and butter. First bite is MMMMMM, buttery, not rubbery or tough, but tender, juicy and with an abundance of butter and mushrooms.  I confess, I did not share too much with my dining partner.   And, I have been back, because I kept dreaming of these little morsels.

Escargot … Did you bring the Chateau Margaux?

Up next was the Mandu (Korean Dumplings).   These are Chicken Mandu. They are bursting with flavor and JUICE!!  Tons of complex flavors in the meat dance across your palate from the spices (not HOT spicy) perfectly choreographed.  Oh, so very nice!

The Chicken Mandu Dumplings

 

When you bite into them the juice just pops out (bib warning:  you may need one).  Just in case you missed the part about the dumplings bursting with a wonderful, flavorful juiciness!

When we say BURSTING with flavor, we mean it literally!!

 

Jerk Wings. Sweet and spice and everything nice.  You get a little crunch, followed by the sweet taste from the sauce and finishing with the flavor of mild Jamaican spices.  This is a second dish that you are not going to want to share.

The Jerk Wings Food Traveler Style

Food Traveler hangs mostly in Ft Worth, but on occasion you will find him in the Dallas area.  But people, if you are in Dallas don’t wait; take the drive to Ft Worth.  Now … today!  This food is worth traveling for!  You can find them on Facebook and Twitter or check the schedule at the Fort Worth Food Parks.

 

Were you as surprised as me to find Escargot on a food truck menu?  Tell us which part of the globe you liked the most on your Food Traveler experience.

 

 

This is Four Season's Version of Comfort Food

Four Seasons by Vizion Catering

 

Crowd Favorites and Seasonal Dishes Built on 60 Years of Catering Success

The Four Seasons truck by Vizion Catering has been gracing the streets of Dallas since the end of 2012 but I caught up with it only recently.  In a market filled with colorful and fancy truck wraps, the simple Red & White Four Seasons truck is the wallflower at the dance that is easy to overlook.  But you do so at your own peril.  Rita Davis and the crew at Four Seasons truck quietly goes about dispensing Philly Cheesesteaks, Angus Burgers and a variety of other comfort food offerings depending on the season.  Serving up food choices you’d likely find at a neighborhood diner, made with quality ingredients and care, Four Seasons is a great choice for the less adventuresome diner out to give food truck eating a try.

This is Four Season’s Version of Comfort Food

 

I was all set to try the Black Angus Bacon Burger when a friend said, “You gotta try the cheesesteak.”  Dallas is not Philly but there are some pretty good cheesesteaks in town so I said, “Why not!” and ordered one up.  Since I planned to share with my son, a very picky eater and not very adventuresome, I ordered it up with just cheese, seasonings and not much else.  You can get yours with onions and/or peppers if that’s the way you like it.  My first impression is that it was good, not great, but certainly worth another try on a different day.  The meat, a generous portion, is sliced really thin. lean and has crispy edges.  Your choice of cheese comes melted and combines nicely with the seasoned meat.  Good flavor, well-seasoned, but nothing too strong.  I found the bread to be the weakest part of the combination with a slightly crispy crust but a little dry overall.  I’d rate this a solid 6 out of 10 but I suspect there are plenty of folks who like their Philly’s exactly like this and they’d rate it higher.  My personal taste is a little bolder but I think it deserves another chance.  Who knows, maybe it was me having an off night and not the cheesesteak!  The $6.75 price makes it a really good value.

The Basic Philly Cheesesteak

 

One of the southern staples I’ve been introduced to is Fried Green Tomatoes.  When I saw them on the menu, they seemed like the perfect side dish.  The point of Fried Green Tomatoes is that … well, they’re green.  I’m pretty sure these tomatoes were pink, but that’s the only place they did not live up to expectations.  The breading was light, crispy and highly seasoned, the tomato firm but juicy and the whole thing was hot.  I mean heat hot, not spicy hot.  Word of warning, they were burn your lips hot, particularly when the juices ran out taking a bite.  $3 gets you three big slices.  I recommend them, even if they weren’t green.  I’m feeling comforted.

Fried (not so) Green Tomatoes

 

I told you I planned to go for the Bacon Angus Burger and I did.  My burger craving was not to be denied.  This scrumptious burger comes loaded with bacon, a fat Angus beef burger patty and dressed with lettuce, cheese and a special sauce [OK it was really just ketchup and mayo] on a crispy roll.  It packs a lot of flavor in a big, satisfying package.  Again, there was nothing fancy or strange or exotic; just a good, satisfying, comfortable burger.  At $5.50, I thought it provided really good value.

The Angus Bacon Burger

 

The menu may be heavy on beef with the Philly Cheesesteak and a selection of burgers, but there was another trademark comfort food on the menu the night I visited – Chicken and Waffles with Pecan Honey Glaze.  As delectable as they sounded, I had to pass but not before I saw several orders pass by me.  And based on the looks on the faces of the people eating them, I’d say they were very comforting.

 

Four Seasons is the gourmet street truck from Vizion Catering, a business with a 60 year old tradition of success.  To survive that long, they learned an important lesson.  Change is good, really good.  And that pretty much sums up their strategy – keep the basics constant and change the menu throughout the year by adding in seasonal favorites.

Now that you’re a little older, you can look back and know that you missed out by not paying more attention to the wall flower who didn’t dress up in trendy attire.  Make good use of that lesson and introduce yourself to the folks in the Red & White truck at Four Seasons.

The Four Seasons Truck

 

You can find Four Seasons by following them on Facebook and Twitter.  Look for them to set up in a neighborhood near you or, better yet, track ‘em down wherever they are and relax with some comfort food.

Based on the lines I see when the Four Seasons truck in nearby, I’m not the only one that enjoyed my visit.  If you’ve met Rita and tried her style of comfort food, tell us about your experience.

 

 

It’s Food Truck Party Time at Dallas Heritage Village!

Cedars Food Park Set for Opening Bash on Saturday

 

It says something about an event when you have to go beyond page one on Google to find the event’s own website but that’s exactly what all the buzz being generated about the Cedars Food Park has done.  Come Saturday night, the place to be is at the Dallas Heritage Village for their Grand Opening Bash.  This is the food truck event in Dallas you don’t want to miss.  It marks the death of the shut out by Fort Worth in the food truck park tally.  No longer will I be able to report:  Fort Worth – 3 | Dallas – 0.

 

To celebrate the launch of the Cedars Food Park, Dallas Heritage Village is holding a food truck rally that had commitments from almost 20 trucks as of July 10th.  The trucks will be centered around the Bandstand and under the trees with tables placed around the sprawling lawn.  The list of particiapating trucks includes Good Karma Kitchen, Nammi, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe, Jack’s Chowhound, Gandolfo’s, The Butcher’s Son, Cafe Con Leche, Free Wheel’n Cafe, Crazy Fish, 4 Seasons, Ssahm BBQ, Three Lions, Rock N Roll Taco, Cajun Tailgators, Rockin’ Ricks, Rockstar Bakeshop, Coolhaus, and Enticed.

 

Cedars has reached out to local favorites Deep Ellum Brewing who will set up in the Saloon and serve your favorite brew, wine will be available and Dude Sweet Chocolate from Oak Cliff is setting up in the General Store with the selection of gourmet chocolates.  Uptown Popcorn is also participating.

 

 

Following the Grand Opening Bash, Dallas Heritige Village plans to have food trucks onsite Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 AM – 2 PM for lunch with the trucks rotating in the schedule.  Then, starting on Thursday night, August 16th, they’ll start hosting a Thursday night event.  Special weekend events may be planned in the future.

 

Dallas Heritage Village is located at 1515 South Harwood Street just south of I-30 and west of Hwy 75.  You’ll find directions and a map here.

 

Come back after you attend and tell us what you think.  Thanks!

Mid-Town Food Truck Fest header-logo

Mid-Town Food Truck Fest Misses the Mark

Owner Scot Beck Promises Changes

 

 

I eagerly anticipated the Mid-Town Food Truck Fest for weeks.  Valley View Mall invited food trucks to set up in the south parking lot on weekends throughout the Spring and I noticed they were given prime locations just outside one of the main entrances.  This initiative was topped off by the TX Food Truck Fest on Saturday, May 12th.  The reviews for that event were very positive, the food trucks busy all day and the event organization right on point.

 

But now it’s July in Texas and that means HOT with a chance of thunderstorms.  Scot Beck, the owner of Valley View Mall, comes up with what sounds like a terrific idea.  Let’s move all the trucks under cover and put them in the parking garage – out of the sun and away from any rain that might befall the event.  Genius … if it is properly executed.

 

Let’s talk about what they got right.  First, the media blitz on local CBS Radio stations reached a huge audience on a variety of musical formats that reached a broad cross –section of the population .  There was a charity benefit involved with the $5 per person entrance fee.  And, they promised world class gourmet food trucks and delivered on that in spades.  Once again, they drew trucks from the Austin food truck scene, they landed the recently opened Café Con Leche truck that participated in last year’s Great American Food Truck Race, and they had a majority of the best and favorite food trucks from Dallas, Fort Worth and points in between.  The food was fabulous, the variety unbelievable and the trucks delivered as we’ve come to expect.

 

Unfortunately, my anticipation far exceeded the overall experience for a number of reasons.  My understanding is that this event was not organized by the same people responsible for bringing us Tx Food Truck Fest.  The difference was evident as soon as I arrived.

 

The choice of location was awkward, located on the west side of the mall, where the most limited parking is available.  It appears the intent was to encourage people to walk through the mall to get to the food trucks.  It’s a really long walk through a mostly deserted mall.  I happened to arrive early and parked on the west side and while I could see the food trucks, I was forced down a narrow walkway lined with temporary chain link fence that felt like a prison yard.  The feeling was only enhanced when I emerged and saw at least half a dozen armed security guards around the entrance to the mall.  This is not exactly the atmosphere I expected for an event advertised as family friendly.

 

This event had been in planning for months.  It was advertised to start at 5:00 PM on Friday night and I arrived about 5:30 PM.  I was directed to one table to buy the wrist bracelet but they were not yet ready to take my credit card.  After 8-10 minutes of waiting for them to figure it out, I got the bracelet and then was directed to another table to buy tickets.  At least make me feel better about paying to get in and remind me at the point of sale that proceeds, or at least a portion, were benefitting a deserving organization, Dressing for Success.  I overheard a number of people who didn’t understand why they had to pay to get in and then they had to pay again to purchase the food.  Again, they weren’t set up for charge cards at the ticket table yet and it took another 10-15 minutes before I was able to complete the sale.  Meanwhile, the line is building.  One patron asked if they could turn in unused tickets since they didn’t know how many they would need and were told, “I don’t know.”  Another asked if they would be good at a later event and were told, “I don’t know.”  The staff, to their credit, was incredibly humble and apologized profusely.  It’s not their fault they weren’t adequately trained or prepped to do their job.

 

Now I was ready to cruise the trucks, see who was there and decide what to eat first.  After just a few steps, I couldn’t help but notice the garage had not been power-washed and the concrete was dirty.  I’m somewhat surprised I could tell, considering the lighting was minimal and having another level overhead, I overheard more than one person comment that it felt “dungeon-like.”  And it was just enclosed enough to trap fumes from the trucks pulling in, generators running and a general mustiness.  It’s pretty important to remember that food trucks are about food and food is about eating.  Surroundings are an important part of the experience and these surroundings really detracted from the experience.  After all, this is not concession food at the rodeo or carnival; it’s gourmet food that happens to be served from a truck.

 

The next thing I noticed is that by requiring tickets, they effectively forced the trucks to raise their prices for the event.  No longer was an ice cream sandwich from Cool Haus $5.50; now it was $6.00.  And the Philly Cheesesteak from Taste of Home wasn’t $7.50; now it was $8.00.  I don’t blame the trucks.  They provide food made with the highest quality ingredients and quality costs money.  You can’t expect them to round their prices down, especially when they’d paid a premium to participate in the event.  Dallas truck food is not cheap but usually it feels like a good value for the quality and the quantity.  I resented having to pay more simply because I couldn’t pay at the truck at ‘normal’ prices.  I finally quit buying because it was too much hassle to figure out how many tickets I needed and standing in line to get them.  At least the credit card reader was working when I went back.

 

Of course, once you got your food, you couldn’t buy beverages from the trucks.  No, you had to go to a single confined location back at the front of the garage to buy a drink.  Maybe they thought that was okay since the limited tables were set up around the Miller Lite Beer Trailer prominently parked right in the middle of things as you came into the garage but a long way from most of the trucks.  I didn’t, especially when I couldn’t buy that signature Nammi Basil Mint Lemonade that I always go for, even if I eat from somewhere else.  Or another signature drink not offered, the cool, refreshing Strawberry Basil Lemonade from Semplice Cibo Itailiano.  I could have accepted having to buy my drink from a beverage vendor if they had been placed conveniently throughout the area and close to where I bought my food.  I’m not sure if they loosened up on the rules, it was a rogue act or I just got lucky.  At least I got to try some of the fabulous Cuban Coffee and Coffee Con Leche on Saturday from the Café Con Leche truck.  Besides, beverage sales are an important part of the trucks revenue stream and the trucks can’t sell beer or wine anyway.

 

There were plenty of security guards but there were a number of things that got skimped on:  trash cans, tables, and the promised misters.  Oh, they were there but no one filled them at all on Friday and most of the ones I saw running on Saturday were filled by the truck owners.  At that, there were a few small trash boxes (again the majority of them near the front only) and a limited number of fan-misters; not nearly enough to service the area.

 

I wanted to get a good feel for the event and I spent a lot of time there over the weekend.  Eventually, nature called and it was time to go into the mall for a restroom.  On the plus side, the AC was cold but the walk to the restrooms required me to traverse at least halfway across the mall through a gauntlet of trinket vendors.  And when I got there, the ‘dirty’ experience continued.  My wife said that between the mops laying out on the floor, the trash overflowing and water everywhere on the counters and the floors, she’d have preferred using a porta-potty.  When did you ever hear a woman prefer a porta-potty over a restroom?

 

In my mind, the ‘crown jewel’ was the carnival concession trailer parked at the entrance to the garage.  Maybe it was owned by the planner?  If so, then maybe that explains why the setting for this food truck event felt more like a carnival concession than a gourmet food truck experience.  Thank goodness, the food was the quality experience I expect.  And the owners kept up a good face and were the ever-friendly bunch we’ve come to expect in Dallas when visiting a food truck.

 

I held off writing this article until the event was over.  I didn’t want my comments to keep anyone from coming out to the event and patronizing the trucks.  Our food trucks are a treasure that I want everyone to experience.  I shared my feedback with the owner of Valley View Mall, Scot Beck, privately and before publishing.  He asked for a chance to speak with me to explain his side of the story and we’re planning to talk this week.  You’ll hear his side of the story in a follow up post in a few days.

 

Dallas doesn’t make it easy for the trucks to operate in the city.  I truly appreciate the businesses that partner with our food trucks to provide locations for them to operate and there are a number of business who are strong supporters.  What all of the successful venues have realized is that it has to be a symbiotic relationship; one that benefits both the trucks and the sponsor equally.

 

Scot Beck admits there were mistakes made and says that he’s committed to making the changes necessary to make the event, now scheduled on a monthly basis, a success.

I hope he does.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

The Crunch Weiner

Weiner Man–Top Dog in Fort Worth

Hot dogs for people who don’t like hot dogs!

If you’ve only been aware of the food truck explosion recently, you may not know that the Weiner Man food truck is one of the pioneers of food trucks in Fort Worth and the DFW area, hitting the street in Fort Worth on May 2, 2011.

Weiner Man Truck

 

And if you think the term “Gourmet Hot Dog” is an oxymoron, then you’ve obviously never eaten at the Weiner Man food truck!   Serving up all-beef hot dogs on fresh artisan bread (from Empire Bakery!) topped with local produce and homemade sauces and chilis, this is not your back yard griller.   Heck, now that Weiner Man is so successful, Jean Paul Valverde is opening Bowery, a restaurant featuring what? Gourmet Hot Dogs!

The accessory du jour for today’s foodie is BACON and Weiner Man , Bryce Humberlin, offers several items featuring dogs wrapped in bacon.  If you’re a bacon fan, check out the Crunch Weiner or the Alchemist.  Both feature bacon wrapped all-beef hot dogs that are deep fried to a lightly crispy texture.

Weiner Man doesn’t leave out the Vegans among us, offering a choice of Portobello mushrooms or Smart Dogs.  Don’t see it on the menu today — just ask!

Today’s menu was limited to Chips & Gouda.   Where else can you get Gouda Cheese on your chips? I’m more of a fry guy and I’m looking forward to trying the Gouda Fries next time, assuming I don’t go for the full heart attack and order up the Junk Fries!

Like most trucks, the menu rotates and changes day to day.

 

I chose the Crunch Weiner, an all-beef Hebrew National hot dog wrapped in bacon and flash fried, topped with chips, cheddar cheese and Mustard.   The dog was firm and juicy and the bacon crispy and crunchy.   The bun was ever so slightly sweet (it’s an egg bread) to contrast the saltiness of the bacon.   More crunch from the crushed potato chips and no dog is complete without mustard.  This may not turn out to be my favorite dog from the menu but it delivered as promised.

The Crunch Weiner

 

You can’t have a gourmet hot dog without gourmet nachos.  Today’s menu offers up Chips and Gouda … yeah, smooth creamy delicious melted Gouda cheese drizzled over crisp, crunchy slightly spicy chips!   Add some of these gourmet chips and melted Gouda and you’re in Hot Dog Heaven.

Chips and Gouda – Gourmet Nachos Weiner Man Style

 

Wiener Man may have been the only game in town when he started up but he’s since picked up some competitors for gourmet hot dog fans.  In response, Weiner Man just picks up his ‘game’ and continues to set the bar as the Top Dog in Fort Worth.

Weiner Man is a loyal Fort Worth guy so unless Fort Worth is home for you, you’ll have to venture to one of the Fort Worth Food Parks to try these delicious dogs. Trust me, it’s worth the drive!  You can find the Weiner Man food truck by following them on Twitter or Facebook.

Have you eaten at Weiner Man?  Share your comments.  We want to know what you think!

 

The Hawaiian Taco uses Prosciutto and Pineapple to bring the Island feeling

Chile Pepper Grill: A Fort Worth Institution Is Also On The Street

The authentic flavors and taste of Mexican cuisine

Eat your heart out Dallas. The Chile Pepper Grill is a Fort Worth institution when it comes to authentic Mexican food and their Chile Pepper Grill trailer takes the same terrific food to the streets.  I recently re-connected with them at the newly opened 7th Street Food Court.  The food was straightforward, tasted great and was fairly priced. It was a happy reunion.

On my first visit, I ventured a little from the authentic Mexican fare. The Hawaiian Taco lines the tortilla with thinly sliced prosciutto and adds some finely chunked pineapple to bring the Island experience. The pastor, bacon, cheese, onion and cilantro blend perfectly to tantalize the taste buds. This may not technically be authentic Mexican but it’s an incredible alternative. YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY!!! My fear that the pineapple would be mushy and syrupy sweet was totally misplaced and any fear that the pineapple and prosciutto would clash never materialized. The only thing that would make this more ‘Hawaiian’ authentic would be to use Spam instead of Pastor. Spam or not, once I’d tasted the Hawaiian, I knew I’d be back.

The Hawaiian Taco uses Prosciutto and Pineapple to bring the Island feeling

 

Fortunately, having been there before, I knew what I wanted to try on this visit. It is time to try the Huarache. I opted for the small version and when I saw how big it was, I was truly glad I’d been conservative. I slid the huge oblong corn tortilla off the edge of the platter and took the first bite. Light, crispy tortilla topped with Carne Asada and all the standards – refried beans, cheese, onion, sour cream and cilantro. The carne asada was tender and juicy (but not even close to soggy) and the flavors blended together in perfect balance. Luscious! Bite two immediately follows the first one without a pause. There’s plenty of seasoning to make it pleasant and enjoyable with a mild level of heat but if you like a little more kick, the smoky red sauce is incredible, lime optional.

The Huarache is big in size and big in flavor

 

The Carne Asada Taco differs only by coming on a fresh tortilla, your choice of corn or flour. You get the same luscious flavors; just a familiar but different savory experience because of the difference in the crispy deep fried tortilla versus the fresh grilled tortilla. That’s just what Chef Noe Moya promises: turning seasonal ingredients into straightforward but elegant dishes that rely on traditional, common-sense flavor pairings.

The Carne Asada Taco

 

Wanting to continue the authentic experience? Move on to the Chorizo Taco and your taste buds are taken in a different direction. Spicier, ground, bursting with flavor. The danger with Chorizo is that it can be greasy. This Chorizo, while a little more greasy than the asada, used the drippings to saturate the flavors without saturating the tortilla. A little onion and cilantro and it’s done. All this goodness for $1.50.  Nothing fancy here – just satisfying taste that leaves you with a smile.

The Chorizo Taco

 

Another entrée item that deserves your attention is the Gordita. A puffy deep fried corn tortilla is the base and another one tops this double decker stuffed with your choice of meat, cheese, onions and cilantro. It’s a good thing you eat standing up, otherwise you’d end up with a lapful of stuffing. There’s no way to keep all that stuffing in place when you bite through the crispy tortillas. And if the $6.00 price seems a little steep, you get not one – but two – of these tasty Gorditas in your order.

Chile Pepper Grill’s Gordita

 

The menu is expansive and the options are extensive. Chile Pepper Grill offers Burritos, Quesadillas, and Tortas, all with your choice of meat, as well. If you are not familiar with the Torta, think of it as a taco sandwich. The torta will be more filling because of the bread but reputation has it that the burrito will fill you up because the 12” tortilla is STUFFED with filling. Based on the generous stuffing in the tacos, the burrito must be HUGE!

Tacos come in Regular and Delux Versions and the price is right

 

It will take some time to eat your way through the menu but with build your own tacos at $1.50 and the Delux tacos only $2.50, these tacos match fast food prices while matching restaurant quality food.

 

The menu offers so many ways to enjoy, it takes up two boards

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, then look up the location today for the Chile Pepper Gill on Facebook or Twitter or or check the line-up at one of Fort Worth’s Food Parks.

 

 

 

The Chile Pepper Grill Trailer

 

And if you live in Dallas, maybe it’s time for a road trip!

Are you a Chile Pepper fan?  Share your comments.  We want to know what you think!

 

 

White Zombie

Rockstar Bakeshop Reinvents the Whoopie Pie!

Classic Rock Inspired Whoopie Pies Go Gourmet Fashion

Denver and Kristin Leonard have incorporated their love for Classic Rock music into the lowly Whoopie Pie by naming each of their creations for a classic rock hit song or album.   And just like the glitter, glamour and lights at a rock concert where anything goes, they’ve unleashed their creative imaginations to bring DFW unexpected Whoopie Pies like you’ve seen before.

Warning:  It was too much for my photographer who was inspired by the names and intrigued by the ingredients.  My Whoopie Pies disappeared for an exclusive private photo shoot.  The pies displayed in this piece are shown with optional accessories.  Your model may not have all options shown in the photo.  Everything shown is available as an aftermarket purchase in your local store or farmer’s market.  In her words, pies this creative need to be beautiful, too!

 

Our stroll down memory lane begins with “Sweet Caroline.”  Neil Diamond wrote this song about a girl.  Just imagine if he’d met Rockstar’s Sweet Caroline first …

 

Sweet Caroline

Whoopie Pies never seemed so good

I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would …

Sweet Caroline

The good times have never been so good as when you bite into the Strawberry Cake combined with Hazelnut Vanilla Buttercream swirled with Nutella.   I always pictured Caroline as a strawberry blonde, how about you?   And she tastes so sweet when your lips meet …

 

Order a “Summer in the City” and you’ll want to make sure you get every Lovin’ Spoonful of this delectable Whoopie Pie.

 

Cool town, evening in the City

Dressed so fine and looking so pretty

Cool cat, looking for a Whoopie

Gonna look in every corner of the City.

Summer in the City

Hot summer day or cool summer night, the perfect treat is the cool Blueberry cake sandwiching a Basil Mint Buttercream and Lemon Curd.

 

If you get there too late, Rockstar Bakeshop may be sold out.  Don’t let that happen or you and your Motley Crue may want to “Shout at the Devil.”

 

Shout, Shout, Shout

Shout at the Devil

He’ll be the love in your eyes

Shout at the Devil

Depending on whose version of the lyrics you hear, I can’t make the promise later in the chorus that Shout at the Devil will put the thrill back in bed but there’ll be love in your eyes when you wrap your lips around the luscious chocolate cake paired with a Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Buttercream infused with a white chocolate Grenache.  I get it!  Devour one of these beauties and you’ll want to Shout at the Moon!

 

I admit it.  I’m the wrong demographic to be a White Zombies fan.   In fact I’m not a big fan of plain old zombies.  But even if you’ve never liked zombies before, you’re gonna want to give the White Zombie from Rockstar Bakery a try.

 

I know – you’re expecting song lyrics here unless you are a White Zombie fan (the group).  Honestly, I looked up some of the lyrics and just couldn’t relate them to anything as sweet and sumptuous as this Whoopie Pie.  You’ll just have to ask Denver or Kristin about their inspiration for the White Zombie.

White Zombie

Don’t get me wrong.  The Vanilla Cake is a great partner for the Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur Buttercream and White Chocolate Ganache.  One bite of this delight and there’s no way you’ll be mistaken for a zombie with that big grin on your face.

 

If you’ve never had a Whoopie Pie, the decision to look up Rockstar Bakeshop is a no-brainer.   You’ve got no idea that legend has it that the original Whoopie pie was little more than leftover cake batter and icing.   Denver and Kristin have worked their magic and elevated the Whoopie Pie into rock star status, a long way from its humble beginnings.   We just had a little fun and gave it the accessories to go with its Rockstar status.

Even the truck gets named after a classic by Dylan, Layla.

 

Rockstar Bakery is always on the move, literally and as they develop the business.  Check the Rockstar website for information about their brown bag breakfasts available on Tuesday & Thursday and how you can get custom labels on your order of Whoopie Pies.    Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for their scheduled locations.   Just look for the black & white checkered truck!   Denver and Kristin are waiting to unleash their creative Whoopie Pies on you.

Are you a Whoopie Pie fan or have you never heard of them?  Tell us what you’re impression of these junk food treats going upscale and gourmet!

 

If you are a bacon lover then you have to try Smoke on the Water, just look at that bacon! And the Shout at the Devil is a chocolate lovers dream.