The D$ Green Chili Fry Bread with Chicken

Emerson Fry Bread – Phoenix

 

Emerson Fry Bread Fuses Native American and Mexican Favorites

 

I may be a Gringo and originally from the Midwest on top of that, but I love fry bread.  No, let me correct that … I love GOOD fry bread.  And so does Loren Emerson, owner and operator of the Emerson Fry Bread food truck.  But Loren takes it so much further, fusing Native American and Mexican daily favorites, to create a menu faithful to the past and updated to today.

The beauty of fry bread is that it is so simple, so satisfying and so versatile.  We see it served with so many different toppings, both sweet and savory, that we forget it makes a fabulous snack with simpler garnishes or even plain.  On my visit at the Phoenix Public Market, there wasn’t anything plain on the menu.  Emerson tempted passers-by with a table laid out with a bounty of varied examples.

I fixed my craving with the D$ Green Chili Chicken Indian Taco.  This is a messy meal since it comes loaded with Chicken in a Green Chili Sauce, beans, and all the fixings normally found on either a taco or fry bread.  But isn’t lots of fabulous food messy to eat??  The Spring Mix takes it up a level from the usual Iceberg lettuce and the fry bread is just lightly browned.  So savory, so comforting, so satisfying.  Ahhhhh … that’s what I’m talking about!

The D$ Green Chili Fry Bread with Chicken

 

But Fry Bread also comes sweet!  If you are looking for a truly decadent dessert, look no further than fry bread loaded up with your favorite sweet indulgences. Maybe you want something simple like Honey & Powdered Sugar.  How about strawberries and cream with a drizzle of chocolate?  Or maybe you prefer bananas and chocolate??

Powdered sugar, bananas and a drizzle of chocolate. Definitely on the diet menu!

 

OK, so fry bread may not be on the preferred list for the American Heart Association but Emerson uses as much organic food as possible.  Produce like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, beans and peppers is purchased from local farms and markets.

The menu also includes burritos, carne asada, green chili, chicken and hot wings not to mention those delectable dessert versions.

 

This is one of those times where a picture is truly worth a thousand words.    I’m just gonna’ let the photos work up your appetite.

 

Muzzy

 

Flabba Dabba

 

If you’re mouth is watering now, I hope you’re not reading this late at night.  Emerson is a family man and he’s home with the wife and kids.  But if you need to look him up tomorrow for your Fry Bread fix, you can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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Q UP Barbecue is Bringing the Best BBQ to Phoenix

BBQ Done With Style

When you think of barbeque, Phoenix is not the first city that comes to mind.  When Phoenicians think about what to have for lunch or dinner, barbeque is not the first thing that comes to mind.  Devin Clough is out to change that situation by bringing high quality BBQ to Phoenix … and serve it out of a gourmet food truck.  First impressions are important and based on my first impression, he’s well on the way.

Q UP offers Pulled Pork Tacos and a BBQ Sandwich but I went for the full Monty by ordering the 3-Meat Platter, Nachos and Breaded Mac-n- Cheese Bites.  Devin uses a Kansas City style of BBQ sauce but makes it his own with layers of flavors, sweets and heat.  If your BBQ preference runs to a thick, slightly sweet sauce with the heat coming on at the end, you’ll love this sauce.

 

The Nachos may be the absolute best nachos I’ve ever had!  The “truck-made” chips are crunchy and made from flour tortillas instead of corn.  They stay crunchy even after the pulled pork, BBQ sauce and other toppings are added.  The serving is HUGE (plan to share) and the chips were still crunchy when the leftovers made for an interesting breakfast the next day!  The pulled pork is melt in your mouth tender, seasoned to perfection and moist.  The BBQ sauce provides the sweetness complement to the savory pork while the tomato and green onion make it all pretty and colorful.

 

The 3-meat plate is great for sampling or for the undecided.  Tender brisket, pulled pork and spicy sausage are provided in good-sized portions.  It’s hard to pick a favorite as each of them are good in their own way.  You know how I feel about the pulled pork (see nachos above!) but the brisket was just as tender and moist with that buttery flavor the comes from slowly breaking down the higher fat content in the brisket.  The sausage was good, but even before learning it is one of only two items not prepared by Devin, I recognized that it didn’t have the same ‘Devin touch’ of the other meats.

 

The plate comes with one side.  Darn!  More choices!  The Southwestern Tangy Slaw sounded really interesting but I picked the Mac-n-Cheese.  Your kids might like this Mac-n-Cheese but Uncle Devin’s Bacon-y Chees-y Mac is all grown up.  The penne pasta is a lighter in texture and larger sized than traditional elbow macaroni and the sauce spiced up and thinned down for a more complex, grown-up taste.  I was never a big Mac-n-Cheese fan but some of the offerings I’ve had on the various food trucks I’ve tried is outstanding and this one ranks with the best.

 

Devin is as good a salesman as he is a chef and before I got away, he convinced me to try the Breaded Deep-Fried Mac-n-Cheese Bites.  I know, I know …. You’re thinkin’ deep fried Mac-n-Cheese?  But these tasty little morsels were coated with the lightest breading seasoned with a little kick and lots of flavor.  The creamy, cheesy Mac-n-Cheese contrasted the breading perfectly for just the little bite you’re looking for to complement some of that melt in your mouth brisket or pork.

 

Q  UP Barbeque gets around but you’ll often find him hanging out with several other trucks at some of the developing hot spots for food truck gatherings in Phoenix and the surrounding ‘burbs.  You can find out where QUP is set up today by checking the Facebook page or following them on Twitter.

 

Service was fast and friendly with prices ranging from $2 – $12.  If you want Q UP all to yourself, you can get information about private catering on their Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mamma Toledo’s WILL Shut Your Pie Hole! – Phoenix

 

Mamma Toledo’s:  Life is Short, Eat Dessert First!!

I knew I liked Tonya Saida, the creative force and face of Mamma Toledo’s Food Truck, the minute I saw her standing next to the truck.  Any doubt was erased when she urged me to ‘eat dessert first.”  I may have disregarded her advice, somewhat surprising since I live by that motto, too, but there was a good reason!  No offense to the other trucks I visited that day but I clearly saved the biggest treat for last!

Some people are destined to cook, or in this case, bake.  Tonya is one of those people.  I’m looking at the pies on the menu today and I’m thinking, “Thank God these things travel!”  I love food truck menus – they’re usually short.  Why choose when you can just have one of EACH!!

I took these bad boys home, letting everything else I’d eaten settle a little, and got ready to sample.  Every bite was a little bit of heaven.  All different, all delicious!!  If a picture is worth a thousand words, get ready for some speed reading:

First up, the Chocolate Raspberry.  AAAHHHHHH!!!!  Rich milk chocolate crème and light, flaky crust make you smile all over while the tart raspberry coulis on top springs a pleasant surprise on your taste buds that keeps the fun happening through the finish.

 

Staying with the Chocolate theme, we move on to the Double Chocolate Coconut Crème.  Rich, dark chocolate filling leads the flavor experience with toasted coconut mixed in the Whipped Cream topping holding back for the finish.  A little crunch, a lot of flavor.  This one is for chocolate lovers everywhere!!

 

Next up is the Banana Crème.  You may have heard the phrase, second place is first loser, but at Mamma Toledo’s, there are no losers!  This pie stands out not for taking a unique approach – just for taking the basic recipe and making it taste GREAT!

 

Man cannot live by crème pies alone …. Well, OK, I guess you could, but then you’d miss the extraordinary Blueberry Crumble!  There are crispy crumbles and soft crumbles.  Miss Tonya uses the soft variety on this bold, blueberry filling so the juices can soak into the crumbles, infusing the great fruity taste.  What really surprised me was the cinnamon!  I can’t recall ever having cinnamon in a Blueberry pie but I liked it — a LOT!  The only way you won’t like this pie is if you don’t  like blueberries!

 

At the top of the menu today, but bringing up the rear in the tastings, is the Key Lime Pie.  This is the real deal with a pecan ginger bread crust adding texture and a touch of saltiness to the citrusy key lime filling.  Never too sweet, always scintillating.  This pie takes you away to Key West.  Just close your eyes, take a bite, let the flavors dissolve over your tongue and you can almost hear the waves and feel the sand between your toes.

 

If you want just a li’l bite, Mamma Toledo’s offers an alternative to the whole pie with her Cup O’Pies.  Today, the choices were Chocolate Peanut Butter or Vanilla Crème.  Duh!!! Of course I ordered the Chocolate Peanut Butter!!!  This is not a slice of pie crammed into a cup but a dessert that features rich, creamy chocolate and peanut butter pie filling layered in a cup with a touch of crust.

 

Tonya, no worries.  Mamma would be proud!  I’m just wondering if you could maybe add Dallas to your list of expansion locations??  What if I say, “Pretty, please?”

Mamma Toledo’s offers a wide variety of crème and fruit pies in 2”, 5” and 9” sizes.  In addition, she offers Cheesecakes, Cupcakes and 9″ layered Cakes plus an assortment of breakfast goodies like flavored cinnamon rolls, éclairs and muffins.  And if by some unbelievable chance you can’t find the flavor you want on the menu, Tonya will create your custom pie in any flavor your heart desires!!

 

If your mouth is watering now, you can find Mamma Toledo’s pies featured at the True Brew Coffee Café or the Chatterbox Café.  Those locations are fine once you’re hooked, which will be right after your first taste, but look her up on the truck.  You can find her location on Facebook or Twitter.  Do it now!  Find out where you missed her yesterday or, better yet, where she’s at today.

Then make plans to go get the best excuse to fill your pie hole you’ll ever find!

 

 

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The Gourmet Command Center – Phoenix

 

Gourmet Command Center Brings North East Cuisine to Phoenix

 

“You’ve been served!”

These words are usually associated with bad news that comes as a surprise.  When “You’ve been served by the Gourmet Command Center” it’s a good thing!

This family owned and operated food truck known as ‘The Beast’, is a former Scottsdale Swat Truck.  A recent addition to the Phoenix food truck community, GCC is taking Phoenix like a Nor’ eastern gale.  Cindy Powell-Boyle is from New Jersey, a short hop from Philadelphia and their famous cheesesteak sandwiches. Bernie Boyle and his brother Mark are from Maryland.  Their contribution is great Chesapeake Bay seafood recipes.

It’s well known that food trucks generally offer a limited and focused menu.  One look at The Gourmet Command Center Menu and you’ll quickly realize that GCC offers a much wider selection than most food trucks.  They do so successfully by rotating items from the menu into the daily menu.  It was Philly Day on the truck for our visit.

If you know cheesesteaks, you know there’s a lot of differing opinions on what makes a great Philly Cheesesteak or even what comes on one.  GCC lets you dress your cheesesteak to your preferences.  Some say Cheese Whiz is the ‘correct’ choice, others go with a more traditional Provolone and GCC throws in White American for a change.  Some argue that it has to be meat only (except cheese, of course) and some think it has to have onions and peppers.  GCC offers both plus mushrooms.  Bernie brags that their original Philly Cheesesteak is the best you’ll get in Phoenix and I’m in no position to argue with him.  The hoagie roll from John Anthony’s is soft and light, reminiscent of an Amarossa roll from Philly, gives the sandwich a great local connection.  GCC adds their own seasonings to the prime ribeye sliced super-thin to make this cheesesteak their own.

On the menu today is the Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak.  Cindy claims this one as her favorite, and while the Original Philly may be the best seller, I agree with Cindy.  While I’m purist enough to think Chicken cheesesteak is an oxymoron, this is a GREAT sandwich.  The buffalo wing sauce is hot & spicy without being over the top.  The bleu cheese crumbles melt, the chicken breast meat is tender & moist and the first bite is …. 4th of July fireworks exciting!!

Ya gotta try a side and the choice today was Fried Cheese Balls.  Imagine biting into a crispy crust seasoned with a secret blend of spices and in the center you find not one, but four, amazing cheeses blended together into a sensory experience that leaves you totally satisfied and wanting more at the same time.  Mozzarella, Provolone, Cheddar and Swiss …. with a little sour cream (the secret ingredient holding the crust together).  What an ooey-gooey scrumptious delight in a crispy deep-fried crust.

Moving away from the Northeastern cuisine, today’s menu offered the Gourmet Chorizo Burger.  A GCC special blend of lean Ground Chuck, Chorizo and Pork in a 1/3 pound patty is the heart of this sandwich nestled between a John Anthony Buttercream bun and garnished with Pepper Jack cheese, mild hatch chili’s and all the fixin’s.  Clearly, the folks at GCC understand what makes Southwestern food special.  The impact of the special blended patty and seasonings is so unique and interesting by itself, you may want to back off the fixin’s to let the full flavor shine through.

What is a burger without a milkshake?  Mister Softee of AZ was on hand to provide a dreamy chocolate shake to complement the Gourmet Chorizo Burger.  Mister Softee is a franchise truck but they’ve been serving the creamiest, dreamiest soft serve ice cream you can get since 1956.  This is not your typical ice cream truck cruising down the street!

The next visit, I’m hoping there are Maryland Crab Cakes on the menu.  Or maybe some Shrimp Grits and a Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Po’boy.  Looks to me like maybe they lingered in the Louisiana a while on the migration to  Phoenix!  This looks like a truck you can visit again … and again … and again and just keep having ‘first time’ experiences.

I found The Gourmet Command Center at the Seed & Feed location on 2nd Street but you can find where they’ll be today by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Deg Thai Food Truck – Nashville

 

Deg Thai Food Truck Wants Nashville to Thai One On!

Just like the regional differences in food across the United States, the countries of Asia use similar ingredients to come up with totally unique dishes.  Asian fusion is a huge foodie trend and Deg Thai puts out their own vision of Thai with a Twist!  All of the Thai food characteristics are there:  spicy or hot, aromatic, fresh!  The selections offered by Deg Thai twists Thai traditional dishes to please the American palate.

On a recent road trip, I hooked up with Deg Thai in Nashville.  I’ve had some pretty great Vietnamese based Asian Fusion and some killier Korean Asian Fusion but  this is the first time I’ve run across Thai food from a food truck.  The hard part was deciding what to order.  The solution?  Order LOTS of stuff!!

When undecided, order a complete meal but piecing together a little bit of this and a little bit of that ….. Here’s my Deg Thai meal.

The Tiger Tear Salad features tender strips of beef on a bed of fresh on a bed of fresh lettuce with veggies all drizzled with a spicy vinaigrette dressing. cool, refreshing, flavors bursting out all over … what a great way to start the meal.  And the leftovers presented intensified flavor that still blend together in a delicate balance!

 

The Deg Thai Massaman Wrap was voted the 2012 Best Sandwich in Nashville and one bite will tell you why.   The aroma wafts up to tease your senses, the flavors burst across your taste buds and the spiciness starts slow and build’s, never overpowering the fabulous blend of flavors and textures.  If you’ve never had a Massaman Wrap, look up Deg Thai and start with the best!

There’s an obvious reason the Deg Thai Massaman Wrap was voted Best Sandwich in Best of Nashville food trucks.

 

One of the most recognizable Thai dishes is their curry plate.  I had to have the Red Curry on the menu.  Ka-Ching!!  Another winner.  Put together some mixed asian vegetables, add some tender beef strips and cover it with a red curry sauce.  Pair it with some of the lightest, tenderest white rice I’ve ever had and … Ahhhhhh.

Red Curry

 

You have to have something special to wash it all down and the Thai Iced Tea was as colorful as it was cold and fresh.  I can’t tell you why but the color was a more intense orange than normal.  This a a sweet drink and the contrast to the spicy foods was just what the chef ordered.

Thai Ice Tea

 

If you’re in the mood for an old favorite or a new adventure in food, you can find the Deg Thai Food Truck by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

 

This is what the menu looked like the day I visited but you can get the full menu on the website for Deg Thai. Or maybe you want to book them for a private event or party.  You can do that on the website, too!!

 

 

 

Stuffed Pig - what you want for Breakfast

Queen City Cookies Truck – Cincinnati

 

Cincinnati’s Newest Food Truck: No White Elephants

 

OH my gosh. My first Cincinnati Food Truck! You know that feeling when you went to the circus for the first time? That was the feeling I got as I approached Queen City Cookie Truck. Euphoria.  There is no way you could look at that truck and not smile.

and if the outside is not enough the check out the cheery inside.

Then they put irresistible treats in the window and the diet is gone, you forget you were even on one! I so wanted to say, “One of everything please!”

 

First, I see big elephant cookies! I order and “they ask, traditional or blueberry?”  My response “Yes Please!” (OK, so I am not off to a very good start!)

 

OK, Terry would like a Sea Salt Carmel Brownie,

 

and then I can have a lemon bar!

 

WOULD SOMEONE STOP ME! I want a Chocolate Hazelnut Tart,

 

and, and, and…..I think I am hyperventilating! I take A Deep Breath and then, “a  Pachyderm Pack of Rosemary Sesame, OH, and also a Chipotle Chocolate pachyderm pack too!!”

 

I think to myself, OK, calm down you can come back. “OK, that is all for today! ….  No, wait, I need a scone, too!

 

What is in those boxes?   NO, it can’t be, … but it IS, Schnecken; BACON SCHECKEN on top of that. OH man, that explains the sticky bun on the elephant on the truck.

Schnecken is a German sticky bun.  It is the holy grail of sticky buns. Not those sticky buns you find in bakeries, they are so much more than those. Schnecken has A LOT more butter and sugar than those with the most wonderful ooey, gooey, gooey, ooey, buttery wonderfulness. Now the question is, will these hold up to that standard. Because if you remember, I only saw a box with a label. Some bakeries only prepare Schnecken at limited times like the holidays. But this is not even near a holiday, so it feels very  indulgent. Now this box of Schnecken is HEAVY.  I don’t have a scale with me but I bet it weighs 1+lbs for just three Schnecken!

After the box came waxed paper,

then a second layer.  Do you see the gooey butter and sugar leaking through the wrapping?

And finally the Schecken, yummy goodness!

 

(OK, I didn’t order everything on the menu, but I almost ordered everything they had.  But, I was not going to do that so I skipped the cupcakesJ)

Now don’t tell me you actually want to know what they all tasted like.  You do?  Okay, here’s what it tasted like:

First up, Elephant Cookies. These a a tasty treat, like a sugar cookie, but that blueberry one was off the hook. I don’t think I have ever had a blueberry cookie before.

Next was the Sea Salt Carmel Brownie. This is not a brownie for wimps! This is a dense moist chocolate, topped with sea salt and a creamy caramel. It is rich and delish. We cut it into smaller pieces to savor thoughout the day. It will keep a smile on any chocolate lover.

Lemon Bar, you have a really thin cookie bottom with a thick tart lemon filling topped with powdered sugar.  It is tart and sweet at the same time. It really was a hit with this lemon lover.

Hazelnut Tart, now this looked almost like a pop-tart, it was a rectangle, with crunched edges, chocolate on the top, but that is where any similarity ended. And you may think nutella when you hear chocolate and hazelnut together.  NOT, nutella wishes it were this good. This tart is off the chart with yumminess. Flakey pastery, filled with deep dark rich chocolate with ground hazelnuts and then topped with chocolate icing.

Pachyderm Packs come in 4 flavors (I only bought two!) They are little shortbread cookies in the shape of elephants. I chose Chocolate Chipotle which has a buttery deep chocolate flavor with a bite of Chipotle pepper. These things are GOOOOOD. And the savory Rosemary Sesame cookies, which are super good. Imagine a savory cookie, almost doesn’t seem possible, but Queen City Cookie made it possible.  It is designed to eat with wine and cheese, but they are so darn good you don’t have to have wine or cheese. Shortbread and rosemary were made for each other.  They also come in Blueberry Maple and Shortbread Bliss. Ummmmmmm!

Next was the Elephant Scone. This cute bugger tastes just as good as it looks, made even better with the crumb topping. Not too dense, not to fluffy, but just right.

And of course that leaves the Schnecken. Now you can cut it into slices or just pull a bun apart from the others and eat it that way. I am a whole bun eater.  I warm it in the microwave, then I un-twirl it, eating it one bite at a time till I get to that extra buttery and gooey center. After all, you have to save the best for the last.  This is every bit what I expect in a Schenecken and more….IT HAD BACON IN IT!!!!  The bacon with the sweet is just the way everyone should eat bacon.

And now you think I am through with my story right? Well, I confess, I distracted Miss Sammie so much when I placed my order we both forgot the Pig Pockets.  So I went back the next day and got a Pig Pocket.  What is a Pig Pocket?  First, it is the cutest little pig pastry that is full of cheese and chopped ham. I ate this one so fast that no one else got to taste it (sorry Terry). It was nice to see a tribute to Cincinnati and it’s pig history.

Stuffed Pig – what you want for Breakfast

 

I admit it, I wondered what the charges would be if I kidnapped this truck full of goodies and took it to Texas to share with all the wonderful gourmet food trucks there. I mean it is only a 16 hour drive to Dallas from Cincinnati.

 

 

 

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The Southern GourmAsian – Little Rock

 

Southern Comfort Food Channels Gourmet Asian Cuisine

 

What do you get when you combine old fashioned southern comfort food with modern Asian food trends?  When you have Chef Justin Patterson, the vision and force behind the Southern GourmAsian food truck, what you get is “OMG, I can’t believe how good that tastes.”   On a recent Saturday morning, I found the Southern GourmAsian at Hillcrest Farmer’s Market in Little Rock, Arkansas.  It was after 11 AM and Chef Justin had been dishing out a special breakfast menu that leaned toward the southern comfort end of the scale since 7 AM.  Thank God I got there when I did, because he ran out of food right after he filled my order!

 

I shoulda just bought one of each. My only complaint is that I was 200 miles away when breakfast came the next day!

 

First up was the Chicken & Waffles.  We know Chicken & Waffles in Texas but I’ve never had any like this.  Pecan crusted Chicken Breast rests atop a Sweet Potato Waffle topped with Macerated Peaches infused with ginger and molasses.  I mean, really, have you ever heard of macerated peaches??  I loved the unique combination.  The flavors and textures worked together presenting simple layers that combined into a complex, refined, sensory experience.

Chicken and Waffles Southern GourmAsian Style!

 

Next up was the Smokey Benedict.  This is not the usual high-brow big city restaurant Eggs Benedict.  This is the Eggs Benedict your Gram would make for you, if your Gram was southern born and raised.  It starts with a homemade biscuit supporting a generous cut of Benton Country Ham with a pair of perfectly poached eggs perched on top, smothered with Hollandaise sauce.  I loved this southern comfort twist on a breakfast classic.

Smokey Benedict

 

And how can you resist anything called Monkey Bread?  This was simply satisfying.  There is nothing complex or serious involved – just dough rolled in butter and sugar and cinnamon for spice – and what you end up with is something nice.  It was fun!

Monkey Bread – say that without smiling!

 

I can’t really tell you about the regular menu from personal experience, but I can tell you that it all started with the Steamed Buns.  You don’t have to read far down the Twitter history to find somebody swooning about the Steamed Buns and the rest of the menu looks just as creative, intriguing and mouth-watering.  Not a problem.  It’s a great reason to visit Southern GourmAsian again.  It’s only about 5 hours away!

Current Menu

Steamed Buns

Shredded Pork Shoulder, Hoisin, Lime  $7

Balinese Chicken, Cilantro, Honey  $7

Braised Beef Short Rib, Soy, Ginger  $8

Sandwiches

Umami Burger – Maytag Bleu Cheese, Porcini Dust, Soy Truffle Vin  $8.5

BBALT – Benton’s Bacon, AR Heirloom Lettuces & Tomatoes   $7.5

The Razorback – Shredded Pork, Arkansas Ham, Shiro Mustard  $7.5

**All Sandwiches & Buns served with Truckmade Potato Chips

& Truckmade Pickles, Mango Sriracha Slaw & Lemongrass Ketchup**

Bowls

Chicken & Dumplings – rice cake dumplings, grilled chicken, shitake mushrooms, grilled onions and ramen broth  $7.5

Country Hash – shredded pork, yukon potatoes, roasted poblanos, grilled onions, molasses & ginger, local fried egg  $7.5
Shrimp & Grits – grilled or crispy coconut & red curry shrimp, smoky grit cake, mango gastrique  $8.5

Veggie Soba Salad – soba noodles, spicy sesame peanut dressing, grilled onions, shitakes, cilantro  $6

Dessert

S’mores Cookies  $1.25

Truckmade Fried Pies  $2.5
Virgil’s All Natural Sodas $1.5 – Root Beer, Real Cola, Dr. Better

Bottled Water   $1.25

If you want to look up Southern GourmAsian, look for their location on Facebook or Twitter.

Look for the yellow truck and red dragon for your Southern GourmAsian experience!

 

Prices range from $4 – $8 with the lunch menu going up to $8.50.

 

 

 

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The Bistro Truck – Nashville

The Bistro Truck – Mi Amore Nashville

 

On a warm fall day, I caught up with The Bistro Truck in Elmington Park as I passed through Nashville on the way to Cincinnati.  The last stop in my plan to ‘eat my way to Cinci’ stopping only at food trucks was a great success.  The food truck scene is expanding in Nashville, TN, and the Bistro Truck opened for business just 6 months ago in April 2012.

The truck was just finishing the set up when I arrived.  Chef Josh Storey came out of the truck just long enough to put up the windows and check the details before manning the oven.

Bistro Truck is almost ready to open for business

 

The menu looked interesting, offering a couple of artisan pizzas, a couple of calzones and a dessert selection.  The menu offered both meat and meatless items.

The Bistro Truck Menu

 

Here’s a shot of the full Bistro Truck meal!

Red Hot Mamma Calzone, 4 Cheese & Roasted Garlic pizza pie and Banana Pudding.

 

I chatted with John Barker, the truck owner, and asked which items are the best sellers.  Without hesitation, he indicated the Red Hot Mamma.

John Barker working on my meal and answering my questions

 

This worked out good since I’d already been informed it was on our order!  It lived up to its name offering a surprising amount of spiciness for an Italian dish.  I loved the crust – tender, flaky, cooked just right – and the fresh parmesan sprinkled on top was almost powdery.  YUMummmm!  I thought the $7.25 price was absolutely fair and consistent with food truck pricing I’m used to seeing.

 

In keeping with the ‘artisan’ theme, I picked the 4 Cheese & Roasted Garlic Artisan Grilled Pizza.  This pizza met the taste challenge with a rustic, traditional hand pressed crust that was crispy on the bottom and soft on the inside.  The ingredients were all high quality, many of them locally sourced, and flavors all well balanced between crust, cheeses, red sauce and a garnish of basil.  My standard for a really good pizza is that it tastes almost as good cold as it does hot & fresh.  This one did just that.  $8 is a fair price for the size and, especially, the quality of the pie.

The Bistro Truck Four Cheese and Roasted Garlic Pizza Topped with Allenbrooke Farms Fresh Basil

 

If there was a disappointment, it was the Banana Pudding.  Forget that I saw Bread Pudding, this still fell short of the name.  There was nothing wrong with it, other than a scarcity of bananas (I didn’t taste or see any), so it was just vanilla pudding with vanilla wafers.  It did not match the quality of the other items on the menu.  At $3.50, it was over-priced and under-delivered.

Red Hot Mamma –just look at the Parmesan dusting — so much flavor the Marinara Sauce is not needed and the pudding.

 

Nashville is known for its music.  My introduction to Nashville food trucks, including Bistro Truck, suggests you should add sampling the food trucks Nashville has to offer when your travels take you there.  You can find a listing of more than 40 food trucks in and around Nashville at Nashville Food Trucks.

And to look up my  buddies John Barker and Chef Josh Storey at the Bistro Truck, you can find out where they’re hanging out by checking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large Coconut Passionfruit and a regular Mango Mojito.  The Coconut is creamy and the passionfruit provides a citrus punch while the Mango Mojito uses two sweet ingredients, the Mango and Sugar Cane, to produce a very sweet taste.

Slushworks: Masters of Simplicity

 

The Guys from Slushworks Want You to Get Slushed!

 

The art in mastering anything is the ability to break it down to the basic components necessary to achieve the desired result.  Use only what you need and leave the rest out!  The guys from The Munch Box, Inc. have taken everything they learned in, on, and while operating the now retired (dormant?) Munch Box truck and dissected it with scientific exactness to create a mobile frozen drink truck that is totally unique from anything else offered in the DFW area.  The result is Slushworks.  But what makes Slushworks uniquely special?

No, the secret is not the Slushworks Truck.   But, the understated graphics, with tone on tone detail that you have to seek out to fully appreciate, mirrors the simple complexities of the gourmet Slushes that come out of it.

 

The secret is in the syrup – there is NO SYRUP!  You won’t find extracts, concentrates or syrups used to create a Slushworks frozen beverage.  All you get is natural ingredients, cane sugar and fresh juices frozen to just the right consistency.

A large Coconut Passionfruit and a regular Mango Mojito. The Coconut is creamy and the passionfruit provides a citrus punch while the Mango Mojito uses sweet ingredients, the Mango, Mojito and Sugar Cane, to produce a very sweet taste.

 

The secret is in the SIMPLICITY!  Just look at the menu:  three basic Slushes, six Works and a massive number of combinations sure to satisfy every desire from sweet to citrus to bitter, from soothing to smooth to surprising; all sure to satisfy.

 

The secret is in the PASSION for creativity and quality!  It takes a lot of hard work to master simplicity.  Add in the commitment to using local or seasonal products and the effort increases exponentially.  The guys at Slushworks made the effort to master simplicity before ever launching the truck and the creativity goes on as they create new frozen drink masterpieces to introduce.  Wait … did I hear there may be new fall flavors around the corner?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Senor Slushworks is pretty happy with the flavors, at least for now.

The Coconut Berry Fizz: The Berry Fizz will wake up your taste buds while the smooth, creamy coconut will linger long after you finish.

 

The result is TOTAL SATISFACTION.  A Slushworks frozen beverage earns ‘gourmet’ status by delivering a frozen beverage that is always satisfying … never too sweet, always light and refreshing and never artificial tasting!  Each Slush uses only one or two ingredients that allow you to focus on and enjoy the full flavor of the fruit you select.

If you prefer your Mojito with a little more pucker, opt for the Lemon Slush!

 

Sometimes, it is the simplest idea that is most successful.  Rob Vassilakos and Eric Foster have taken their years of experience in the restaurant and hotel industry to re-invent and re-imagine a favorite childhood drink and raise it to a simple, gourmet level that is refreshing and satisfying whether you are 4 or 40 or 80.  And apparently, selling Slushes is a Chick Magnet, too!!  No comment on whether that was in the business plan!

By my count there’s at least 4 ladies cozying up to the Slushworks truck and a couple more making plans!

 

There’s plenty of Texas heat left.  Besides, I’m not so sure that a Slushworks wouldn’t be just as satisfying regardless of the temperature outside!  If you want to find Slushworks, you can find their current location on Twitter.

Prices range from $3.50 to $5.25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The_Fat_Truck_Sticky_Fingers

The Fat Truck: Latin-Asian Fusion and Modern Methods

Chef Jesse Ayala brings Fort Worth a Unique Food Truck We Didn’t Even Know We Wanted

There’s a food truck in Fort Worth, the Fat Truck, that uses a fork and a spoon that resembles a shovel in their logo.  Once you’ve tried the food, you’ll be more than happy to fork over your money for the opportunity to shovel in their food!  But don’t (shovel it in, that is), take your time and savor it!

One of the neat things about a food truck is that food truck fans are adventuresome by nature.  That willingness to try new things throws the door wide open for a chef to try new things.  And Chef Jesse Ayala AKA J. Fresco, who is inspired by the modern cookery movement, Molecular Gastronomy or MoGa as he calls it, to bring a totally unique food experience to adventure seekers on the street with the Fat Truck.

 

The Latin-Asian fusion was evident in the Special, Pork filled Gorditas with Spicy Asian Slaw, the day I ate at the Fat Truck.

 

The Gordita is puffier than a standard tortilla and it held up well to the stuffing of pulled pork topped with Asadero cheese and Asian Slaw.  The savory pork was perfectly balanced with the tangy Asian Slaw.  If anything got missed, it was the Asadero cheese, but careful attention discovered the mild smoothness of this Mexican cheese that is similar to an un-aged Monterey Jack.

Pulled Pork Gorditas with Asadero Cheese and Spicy Asion Slaw

 

The regular menu reflects the combination of Latin standards that reflect an Asian influence and a couple of MoGa items you might not recognize.  Unfortunately, there would be no Steamed Buns for me on this day.

 

Since there were no Steamed Buns to be had, I went to my next choice – Sticky Fingers.  These spicy pork riblets were super tender, bursting with flavor and perfectly complemented by the cool, tangy Asian Slaw (an ingredient used in many of menu items).  The sesame seeds were visually interesting and added to the overall texture experience nicely.  This is the half order with 3-4 riblets.  I wanted more after the first bite but duty calls and there were other trucks to visit.

Sticky Fingers and Spicy Asian Slaw

 

The service was friendly and, as much as I keep reminding myself that this is not fast food, the time taken to deliver the two items might be called leisurely.  Maybe that’s because I arrived early and there were no other customers clamoring for their turn to order or pick up.  Or maybe it was because I was in no particular hurry and they sensed it.  Regardless, it was worth the wait.

Juan Bretado prepares Chef Jesse’s creations.  Neither the heat in the kitchen or the hot temperatures outside seemed to make Juan break a sweat!

 

Service is always better with a smile like this.

The Fat Truck hit the streets in May 2012 and, so far, has limited their availability mostly to Fort Worth.  You can find them much of the time at one of the FW food parks but to be sure, check out their location by following them on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Prices range from $2.00 to $8.00 per item.