I spent my childhood cocooned from creativity. An elementary art teacher once called me an insult to art when my finger painting didn’t expertly match the bowl of rotting fruit displayed before us. Fruit that she probably forgot was in the fridge two days prior.
Food trucks are those glorious, shiny beacons of creativity to which I could only aspire. I admire the colors of the trucks, the designs, the puns in their names, the rhymes, and the art and drive it takes to make a perfectly sized, perfectly cooked 8-inch pizza pie in an open-air, wood-fired oven attached to a heavy duty truck that no doubt was once used to plow the rural roads of upstate New York.
Thus was the case at the Food Truck Festivals of New York on May 4 in Troy, NY, part of the state’s Capital Region.
Pies on Wheels boasts a 6,500-pound mobile oven that can be set up and to a temperature of 400 degrees in only 20 minutes. Its slogan: “A minute to make, a minute to bake.”
And they weren’t kidding. No sooner had I finished blurting “GIVE ME ALL THE PEPPERONI PIZZAS” did one appear fresh, bubbling and ready to sear my tongue. It was as big a hit as any item at this festival, which showcased over a dozen of the Capital Region’s finest food trucks.
Onto Eat Good Food, I said – something healthy, I thought. The menu outside the blue-blazoned behemoth was anything but healthy. Its taste bud-tantalizing fare included items aptly named: Not-so-grilled Cheese, Low ‘n Slow Pulled Pork, Nonnie’s Mac ‘n Cheese, Maine Bean Pot Baked Beans, Grannie’s Nut Fudge Brownies, Awesome Cookies, and Summer Seasoned Prime Rib – wait for it – on a waffle!
Sold! To the bidder in the grey shirt and expanding waist.
What could be better than prime rib, my all-time favorite carnivorous meal, on a waffle, my all-time favorite breakfast meal?
It turns out, a lot.
I’m pretty sure the “waffle” was no more than a blueberry Eggo Waffle heated in a microwave deep in the recesses of the Eat Good Food wagon. The prime rib was below the 75-degree heat of the day and had an inexplicable Mediterranean sauce with feta cheese on it. In conclusion: No.
I had to wash that down with something. But what?
The boys brown-bagging it at The Brown Bag, which had only been in operation for two weeks, had the answer. Its successful late-night joint in the heart of Troy transitions nicely to the food truck business, and my belly.
Behold the peanut-butter-bacon-cheeseburger-with-glazed-donut-buns burger. Its actual name: The South Troy Burger.
This artery-clogging monstrosity goes down smooth. There’s something wonderfully messy about it, too. What better food truck experience than to be hunched over, neck extended, biting into a dripping, sloppy, peanut buttery, gooey burger on a hot day? None, that’s what I say.
It was near time to head out from this festival when I discovered this: Braised Pork Cheeks.
AteOAte is a gourmet food truck that caters for businesses and sometimes just shows up near where you work. “Gourmet” is thrown around literally as much as “literally” is misused in the food truck business. AteOAte knows the definition.
Braised pork cheeks showed up on a bed of stir-fried cabbage and topped with fresh chives. The meat itself was cooked in Thai spices that elevated to dish to restaurant quality. It was sweet, spicy and literally melted in your mouth, like good gourmet food should.
Ah, a successful day indeed at the Food Truck Festivals of NY stop in Troy. As I left I had only a full belly and these parting thoughts:
The people behind these trucks – the chefs, owners, marketers – often times one-man-banding their own dreams should be commended. Food truck popularity is growing due to the ingenuity, creativity and, yes, damn good food, coming from these inspiring people.
Gone are the days of the nondescript grey truck lurching alongside a construction site selling boiled hot dogs and dry hamburgers.
Chefs are on the move, and if you just look out your window, you may see one truck, two truck, red truck, blue truck driving by your door.