Food Truck Rally, Prospect Park: 6/17/2012
The June 17th Food Truck Rally @ Grand Army Plaza produced a truck-rainbow of 16 exciting flavors: Cupcake Crew, Kelvin Natural Slush, Souvlaki GR, Gorilla Cheese, Frites & Meats, Van Leeuwen, Eddie’s Pizza, Green Pirate, Treats Truck, Rickshaw Dumpling, Redhook Lobster Pound, Milk Truck, Taïm, Wafels & Dinges, Coolhaus, and new kid on the block Nuchas. The weather was beautiful @ a tick past 70, and definitely the ideal climate to get your StreetGrub on. I was met by some repeat vendors from the May 27th Rally, but more than half of today’s trucks were new to the scene.
My first stop was Cupcake Crew, for Franky’s delicious 7-layer Cookie Crumble d’Italiano. It was moist and fluffy – almond cake with raspberry jam, hiding under a pillow of frosty chocolate cream, sprinkled with colorful bits of rainbow cookie. It tasted like dessertin’ in Picolla Italia, sweet, light, almondy, and crunchy with the bits of cookie baked in and sprinkled atop. It was a stark contrast from the rich Maple Bacon cupcake from my last visit, but it was equally as decadent.
After 20 minutes of chatting and perusing, I was parched, not from dessert, but from my forgetting to bring H2O. I found myself salivating for some Kelvin Natural Slush, and although the line was still long, the sun had been so kindly burning my face that a frozen special of half tea/half ginger con guava was in order. It was nostalgic, yet new. I felt immediately refreshed, and the iciness reminded me of Slurpees from 7-11 after a game of handball with the boys, but yet had that uniquely grown-up flavor of spicy ginger and sweet guava, infused with clean, crisp tea.
On paper it seems simple – it’s just fruit-flavored frozen tea essentially, but the profile was complex, with hints of real fruit from the puree paired with the freshly-brewed taste of tea and kicked up a notch with the spicy ginger. It was just delicious, and for a lack of words more apt, it really did just taste natural.
I’d missed Redhook Lobster Pound earlier in the week and although I had my seafood-craving satisfied, I still wanted a sample of their classic Maine lobster roll. At $16, it was a splurge, but I’d imagine a trip up to Maine may end up costing more than that, so it was well-justified in my book. It was instant eye-candy – bright red lobster meat coated with a light lemon-mayo dressing, resting atop a bed of crisp greens and encased in a butter-toasted JJ Nissen bun.
I dove right into the meat of it, and was met by an entire claw. It was chilled, but didn’t taste stale like I’d imagine all seafood salads taste. They did as little as possible to disturb the natural shape & texture of the lobster, and I got gigantic chunks of it. I felt like I was nomming into meat freshly extracted from the shell even though it was cold. It was super tender and light, and the dressing gave it a zesty creaminess that wasn’t overpowering. By second bite, I’d taken it all in – lobster, fresh greens, and bun, and it was sensation overload. The soft chilled lobster, paired with crisp greens, zesty scallion, and that still-warm and buttery toasted bun made me forget my wallet was $16 lighter. Thanks Big Red for bringing a little of Maine to the BK.
Although delicious, my lobster roll left me hungry still, and I braved the longest line of the Rally at Nuchas for their empanada-serving debut. I think pockets of meat or veggie filling like dumplings, meat buns, and empanadas are just the perfect StreetGrub-type food. They’re portable, super easy to eat, and for the most part inexpensive. The Nuchas truck itself was delicious to look at – it was large, but not imposing, and planked with slabs of faux-wood vinyl. It looked like a log cabin on wheels with hints of green scattered about.
When it hits the streets of NY, it’ll be right in its element, pumping out fresh-baked empanadas to inhabitants of the concrete jungle. In an exclusive StreetGrubEveryday first-taste, I ordered a sampling of four – Portobello, Shitake Curry, Argentine, and Jambayala. Owner Ariel was kind enough to take a moment from the crowd of hungry StreetGrubbers to talk to me about my order. Check out this short clip.
My favorite was the Argentine, followed very closely by the Portobello. The Argentine features Pat Lafrieda’s ground beef (for Pat Lafrieda-newbies – they’ve been serving NY’s best cuts of meat to NY’s best restaurants for over 90 years), onions, peppers, scallions, potatoes and olives encased in white dough. The shell had that fresh from the oven taste and texture – hot, flaky, and soft. The filling was a savory mix of tender meat, flavorful veggies, and well-cooked potatoes. It reminded me of a traditional plate of steak and potatoes, but the bits of olives gave it a unique Argentine twist.
The sauce was delicious and piping hot, and will more than likely spill out all over your hands like it did mine, so be careful with your first bite! The Portobello contained mushrooms, onion, mozzarella and fresh herbs, all brought together with a creamed-spinach like filling that was buttery and sweet, yet savory. Wrapped in a spinach dough, it tasted indulgent, but yet I felt healthy eating it.
So while I’d had my cupcake earlier, my sweet tooth began feeling perplexed as to why it had been neglected the rest of the day. On the way out, I dropped by the Treats Truck and got a doggie bag o’ goodies for the road. I got the caramel and chocolate creme cookies and a humongous cran-almond rice cereal treat. When I saw all the bright red cranberries packed tightly into the marshmallowy goodness, I had to take a bite there. It was soft and crispy, and the marshmallow glue gave it that comforting creamy sweet taste and texture – but the slightly tart cranberries, with crunchy almonds and whole wheat cereal made me feel like I was nomming on a healthy, albeit decadent granola bar.
When I got home and grubbed on the two cookies, I immediately wished I’d bought more. The chocolate cookies had the taste and consistency of a delicious brownie, while the caramel creme was just wow. It was sweet, rich, and had a slight maply note, and the creme filling was frosty and buttery, with a texture that was super fun to bite and chew on. It really was just wow. I’ll be sure to visit their new store in Carol Gardens after June.
Here’s to all the hungry and awesome StreetGrubbers that were kind enough to let me capture their smiles and grub! Thanks!