New Bohemia Truck

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https://www.facebook.com/newbohemiafoodtruck/
https://twitter.com/newbohemiamn
Main Location: Minneapolis, Etc

With what’s likely my last solid truck review of the year (unless for some reason I’m actually able to find another yet-to-hit food truck in the upcoming insanely busy, hectic, and cold holiday season), I take on the result of one of the Midwest’s own growing bar concepts. Taking the heart of casual soul food that is German and Eastern-European faire, my favorite kind by the way, New Bohemia has opened at least 6 different locations based mainly around a wide selection of Beers and amazing sausages.

I’ve dined there myself a year or so ago, so I’ve seen the results of their work and atmosphere. Thus it was no surprise to chain adding a food truck to their lineup; there’s clearly both the ability and success for them to do so.

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Obviously their truck can’t shell out ice cold pints of frothy goodness, but they do have Draft Rootbeer and basically everything else! 10 different options for Bratwurst from basic Beer to unique/interesting Teriyaki Chicken to practically-insane Rattlesnake-Rabbit. These are split, grilled, and piled in a bun with the two toppings of one’s choice (Bacon Sauerkraut, Spicy Kraut, Sweet-Hot Peppers, Beer Cheese, Cole Slaw, or Beer Butter-cooked Onions); along with a veritable smorgasbord of different housemade Beer Mustards to squirt on at your leisure. Of course this also includes some Beer Cheese Curds, and… a ‘Giant Pretzel the Size of a Pizza’!? For $14, that thing better be huge!

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… yep, that’s a big pretzel. Could have eaten my food off of it… as much as I don’t care about pretzels for lunch even I’m highly curious about  what it tastes like. Moving on, then there’s the apparent chance for Fries, which similarly to the sausages gets the chance for 2 free sauces from its own group. Oh, and for whatever reason… two Salads (Strawberry Spinach and Apple Jicama).

As much as I’d like to try and think of a cutesy or informative paragraph to briefly entertain your reading, this article has been long enough coming and I need to get it out. With luck, in perfect time for the Turkey Day Season! So enjoy the last review for a while, cheers (toasts with a pretend beer since they wouldn’t give him a real one)!!

Food: 9

                Duck and Cilantro was my option of choice… because I’m too cheap to even go a dollar over for one of the ‘adventurous’ meats I love so much. Though to be fair, I DID try one of them a couple years back in the bar itself and loved it… just can’t remember which one. With a solid little snap, the skin is joined with extra flavor and texture from the ‘split-grilling’ method, whereas a link is sliced almost fully in half, spread like a butterfly, and griddled inside-down to cook for service. Always a delicious way to enjoy. Especially when the base sausage itself is just darn good, and if one can say anything about Bohemia, much like any decades-old family-run butcher/charcuterie, they’ve got their sausage recipes DOWN. Flavorful, balanced, peppery and/or herby and/or spicy and fatty where it needs to be. Num. If I remember correctly, the bun holder did not get any, or much, actual toasting, which would have helped to elevate the enjoyment even further.
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As for the toppings, of course I went for the Kraut, no complaints there! And the Beer Butter Onions seem to be quite a signature: they tasted good, but I was hoping for more cooking/grilled-caramelization, more beer flavor, and more BUTTER, I mean please it’s in the name. The sauces I tried for the fries, wasabi-ginger AIOLI and stout bbq, were both similarly well made as expected. And yes I got some fries to go with it; it’s classic, and much cheaper than getting a secondary sausage. Good texture on the outside, soft on the inside, addicting simple seasoning work, if one WANTS fries with their dog for lunch it’s definitely not an option you’ll regret.

Holdability: 7

                 For a sausage, the end-of-the-day verdict isn’t quite as ideal for holding as one would expect. Piled with that kraut and onions, or whatever toppings you choose, in a large soft bun, picking this up isn’t quite as clean and easy, so it’s good that it comes in a basket. Though of course the Curds, Pretzels, and Fries eat clean with fingers, but are again basket foods (okay maybe not the pretzel, but how often are you likely to buy that?). Part of me feels so ridiculous still talking about this… but the other part of me loves stubborn, weird consistency!!

Price: 8.5

                  A range of $6.50-$8 depending on your selected ‘level’ of sausage, which comes at a decent size so can be a nice stand-alone lunch. That said, if you want fries will have to fork over $3-4, so might as well get the larger option, making a complete meal not so bad considering (especially since they ARE good fries). We’ve already mentioned the $14 Pretzel (oh look there it is again), then there’s $8 for the Beer Curds (there better be a lot), and finally $5-8 for the Salads… which shouldn’t even be worth mentioning, guh.
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Speed: 6.5

It’s been a while since the visit, but I remember wondering why it took more than five minutes to grill a sausage, which should have been pre-cooked already and simply needing the searing. I know the fries weren’t an issue, I saw that they do batch-frying so that it was ready to just scoop into baskets as needed. Sides and sauces should similarly be heated and needing scoopage. That said it wasn’t truly a ‘long’ wait, just a bit more than I expected considering.

The TOE: 9

                  Though it’s from a pre-existing chain, the business itself has developed enough identity, feel, and uniqueness that it easily transfers onto the food truck to separate its own ‘air’ distinctly from others; if anything, it’s ideally suited for a mobile business.
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Tally: 40/50

Final Thoughts

Despite not having it myself, one should keep Bohemia in mind for one of the strong possibilities in acquiring quality drink consumption for your street-based lunch with their Local Draft Root Beer. I forget where it was from, but it wasn’t something I was immediately familiar with and sounded damn good. Speaking of unique things to them, though I find great curiosity and excitement in the idea, at the end of the day the ‘Giant Pretzel’ is just something kitschy, and likely not really worth it, especially for fourteen dollars. If they offered it for less, maybe at ten, then certainly consider it; but I know how much it costs to make, just ignore for now unless REALLY wanting some fun group snack to slather in mustard and various side sauces.

Truly, I cannot pick your guides in the world of all things linked, especially with all the little ‘categories,’ but a suggestion from each sounds fun right? Definitely do a Macaroni and Cheese-stuffed for the heavily affordable Classics, the Duck w/ Cilantro in Premiums (just solid goodness), and for those feeling experimental (which you really SHOULD be) the Rattlesnake-Rabbit is a rare white-meat treat. The Fries are NOT a bad decision, especially alongside Jalapeno Beer Cheese, Wasabi-Ginger Aioli, or Stout BBQ.

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Very much would I like to go back and ask what beer is in the Curds batter for yet another potential truck to get a good version from.

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MoonDog

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https://www.facebook.com/MoondogFancyMeats

Main Location: St Paul, Farmers Markets, Lift Bridge/Alternative Breweries

Either I completely forgot about this guy, or I hadn’t heard about him at all until I saw info on a Food Truck Rally for the U of M’s ‘Bee Research Facility’ (or whatever it was) opening party this past Monday! I wanna say I forgot, simply to give myself at least SOME credit that I had paid attention to his existence for at least one point in time… anything to make myself look better…

Either way, I got to stop over and officially visit Moondog for a long-awaited visit, as the guy normally trucks his shiny metal specialty Hot Dog Cart out to the more out-of-the-way Breweries like Lift Bridge and Hammer Heart, amongst many other locations not normally so close to my Twin Cities stomping grounds. I feel I should also say that I was heavily debating just doing a Quasi-Review for this, small dog cart where most of the stuff speaks for itself; but if Natedog gets a full review than so does this guy! I show no favoritism, except when I’m biased! (Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right…)

And this little silver box on wheels has some interesting facts unto itself. Firstly the fact that 10% of all sales goes to the 2nd Harvest Heartland charity.

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Though they aren’t handmade by the food slinger himself, all Hot Dogs and Brats ARE produced locally by Big Steer Meats in St Paul. They use All-Natural, Grass-Fed, Hormone + Antibiotic Free meats, all of which are Smoked for cooking/curing purposes; the tastiest form of preservation (don’t tell Gravlax I said that, she’s still bitchy I haven’t called her in forever). The specific wurst selection is sometimes changing, for instance I overheard him mentioning having a Jalapeno-Pepperjack brat on that day, they usually keep a staple selection of: Hot Dog, Pork Bratwurst, Beef Bratwurst, and Bison (+ a bit of pork) Bratwurst. These are then topped with choice of classic fixings; you know, onion, hot peppers, relish, kraut, ketchup, regular+brown mustard, with an option of sriachi for the hipsters (and yes I debated it… while wearing a fedora… you shush), none of which I’m sure is made by himself besides the diced onions, but what hot dog vendor does one expect them to be?

AND of course there’s the typical options of bags-o-chips and cans-o-soda for sides + refreshment, all standard, though at least the chips are semi-interesting and not just Ruffles or Lays. I think I’ve run out of things to say now, I feel I had SOME thoughts on the philosophical side of mixed spiced meat, the nirvana of casing and excitement for local food carts… but who wants to read about that?

Food: 9

                Best parts of a Dog and Wurst are a good snap, which they have, and a tasty interior, which they also have. The hot dogs used aren’t of the same purely-pink, emulsified mold as we’re most familiar with; not that there’s anything wrong with that when it’s done well. Instead it’s blended with other spices and goodies, reminiscent of a seasoned Italian pork sausage, giving a more personality-focused wiener to which to enjoy our toppings; of which I chose the giardanera-like hot peppers.
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Sauerkraut and brown mustard topped my Bison Bratwurst, since I’m always a fan of the Germanic classics. Again the flavors were good, the wurst didn’t quite wow me as MUCH as I wanted to, was hoping for that deeper, denser Bison/Beefy flavor; there felt a ‘thinness’ to the flavor, almost like a good drink that’s had one extra ice cube added, and I myself would have heavily enjoyed some added seasoning in which case to bolster.

Holdability: 10

               What can I say? There’s a REASON hot dogs are classic street food.

Price: 8.5

                This is why I partially wish I started this blog at the same time as the trucks came out; go back to an old post to compare menu prices for scoring, and it was of course in the time where I wasn’t taking damn pictures cuz I had nothing to take them for! Thank god for Google Images right?

With dogs at $4, Brats at $5, ‘Meals’ (+chips and a soda) $1 extra, and ‘2 Dog/Brat Meals’ basically just double the price of a single wiener in each category, the costs are a buck or two higher than competition and local sausage god Natedogs, a guy who makes his own amazing condiments mind you. The meal deals are better priced, in fact cheaper, but then again they don’t have the specialty sodas. Apologies for doing this via comparison, btw, but in this situation it’s a very effective and direct measure. Oh, and obviously prices are still rather awesome for street food as-it-is; especially when one of the items can be made from Bison.

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Speed: 10

Technically it takes like half a minute if getting toppings and/or multiple dogs, something I would normally bop down to like a 9.5, but that IS up to us; one can have instantaneous if needed.

The TOE: 8

                Normal hot dog stands have a hard time excelling in a section like this I’d imagine, there’s too much of that ‘mass production/see-it-everywhere’ feel. Having your own and outfitting it with a unique name and your select sausages from a local place, however? That does pretty damn well, especially when you clearly communicate through signage and personality how special and awesome these products are, which Moondog does. In my opinion I think it’d be nice if the cart itself got some extra decoration/paintjob, and if one went the extra step to get some unique and special, ideally homemade, toppings in addition to the dogs themselves. Little things like that round it down from something purely distinctive and experienced down a few pegs, but it still stands out strong as an independent cart, there’s no way I’d mistake any memory for that of the often-boring ‘vienna wiener’ carts.

Tally: 45.5/50

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Final Thoughts

Wanting something portable? Want it at a good price? Want a classic piece of Americana street food? Want it to satisfy your soul a little? Want to not have to wait for it? Well it sounds like you want a hot dog or bratwurst. And if you’re at a brewery or event that Moondog happens to be at, a visit there will fit any of these qualifications; not that anyone has needed an excuse to buy a hot dog, from what I’ve seen. Do I need to even promote something like this?

I’d say the main interest for me would come in seeing what different Bratwurst selection he’s got for the day, getting something interesting and special in that category, or just enjoying the classic but unique Hot Dog. But at the end of the day, everyone has solidly developed their own preferences on what kind of sausage and toppings they get at carts like these, so I’ll leave the final decision to you, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

SFC: The Deep Pickle, Part 2

              Well, my classes have dragged on, tests are taken, studies come to a close, finished a trip to Kentucky, the Food Trucks are starting to wind down for the season, and the cold, bitter threats of “before ‘Winter’” are hanging on my mind… but my Sauerkraut has finished its pickling!!

                Okay, so “pickling” isn’t really the proper term, as I came to learn when researching recipes for this fella. There are, of course, multiple “quick/easy” kraut recipes that involve actual pickling of the cabbage, but I just couldn’t help wanting to do the true, original method for this sour treat: Fermentation (… no, this has absolutely no tie in to my interest in alcohol… none at all…).

                http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sauerkraut-2/

                This is my favorite site on the method in question, the author going a bit detailed into the process of how to start and control the “Wild Fermentation” (basically making use of the natural yeasts hanging in the air as opposed to introducing a produced, created, controlled product found on a supermarket shelf). If you decide to try making them yourself, it’s a great link to go to for checking up on the little details.

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                Overall though, it’s a fairly simple process. We start with a tight, compact head of cabbage, white or red (the author likes to mix the two for a fun, pink-colored product) and slice or chop it up however you want. Can be thing strings, rough squares, shredded in a grater or torn apart with your hands… so long as it can be packed into a bowl later.

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                I always like keeping these things thin, so Mandoline it is! Once shredded, mix the veggies with salt: kosher or sea salt works great. Avoid table salt, and though many recipes CALL for special Pink Pickling/Curing salt, it’s not a stringent requirement. What’s important is how much you get in; the main ratio is ABOUT 3 Tablespoons of rough salt to 5lbs of Cabbage (2 heads, ish). Though lead no worries in trying to measure about specific weights and TBs, the author reveals that it’s not too set, and actually changes depending on the season. In summer he’ll add some more, and in winter a little less (most likely due to fermentation speeds with temperature changes).

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                From here come the additions! Any sort of herb, spice, aromatic, or veggie you want to customize your own Kraut mix! I kept things simple with a crushed clove of garlic and bay leaves, but one could shred some carrots or peppers, get in some coriander for the classic European flavors, or whatever else one thinks of.

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                And that’s it. That’s all the ingredients we need for this. Just need to pack it (tight and HARD) into a clean, sanitized high-sided bowl. The author suggests a ceramic crock, but also any safe plastic bowl should work fine as well.

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                Top the vegetables with a flat, firm covering, like a small plate or lid, and place a weight on top of that (I stuck with a bowl of water, though soup cans could work well too). The important thing is that one is sure ALL of this is clean and ideally sanitized; a little dip in screeching hot water a while beforehand should do the trick.

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                Cover this with a fine cloth towel, or cheesecloth; making sure to keep out insects or solid matter while allowing yeast particles in.

                No matter what the season, one should start the first day in the warmest section of the house (not HOT), or even outside if the weather is nice enough. Keep this here for 24 hours, occasionally pushing down on the weight. By now, the salt has started to draw out the cabbage’s fluids, while also controlling the yeast’s fermentation once activated.

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                After the first day, the ”Brine” SHOULD be covering the veggies in a thin layer at least; it’s hard to imagine once you start with the dry, crunchy bundle, but it will happen. If it doesn’t, could be due to an old cabbage, add some salted water to cover. From here, move to wherever you want so it’s out of the way, should be a stable temperature. Cooler basement temperatures aren’t required, but would work well if one wanted a long, slow fermentation.

                And now we wait. How long depends on kraut, temp, humidity, salt, and other such factors, but at least a week and up to 3 or more. All we have to do is check the stages of fermentation, maybe push the weight down now and then, and deal with “scum.” This is basically a combination of little particles that float up to the surface during the fermentation and possible light, yeasty molds that develop.

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                It can look like this depending. Don’t worry if you see it, it’s absolutely safe (despite some smells), you just need to check every couple days and skim it off the top with a slotted spoon or something. It’s only if you start to see the blue or fuzzy mold when there’s a problem…

                But after enough time, it’s done and you’re ready to consume. If the moldy scum was pretty well present, I might suggest rinsing off the top layer of fermented cabbage before storing, otherwise we can eat directly from the bowl.

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                A little sour, surprisingly crisp from the salty protection, and aromatized with whatever veggies one chose, this offers a high contract compared to the soft and pungent product found in the green bags and cans. I myself wonder how off I really am from the original recipe’s ideal, but I like the outcome! It went great on this Wild Rice Sausage Brat Sandwich (with Mustard! and yes that’s a pretzel bun… we had leftover).

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                Before I finish, there’s one last step in the process for those looking to continue their Kraut-making sessions. After shredding and salting up your next batch of cabbage (I thought I’d see what happens if I used Napa/Chinese Cabbage, since I had nothing else to do with it), pour the already-fermented Kraut on top before pressing. This will hopefully help the new cabbage to begin a steady, controlled fermentation, while also melding the flavors somewhat. If continued for multiple years, the resulting continually-developed kraut should have a deep, complex subtle flavor to it.

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                So whether one decides to start their own batch of the European Fermentation (or continue it… apparently I’ve found out there are a lot more people who make this than I thought) or not, I hope this recollection and recipe link helped to inform and inspire your insight (wooh, three i-words) to this product. As for me, I’m starting to think about more Napa Cabbage… I’ve been getting an urge to try making Kimchi… (look for a 3rd part to the Pickle Saga sometime in the coming months)

Mr. Mustachios

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https://www.facebook.com/mrmustachios

https://twitter.com/mrmustachios  

Main Location: Minneapolis

             Co-owned by the Manager of Nomad World Beer/Pub, where it’s been taking up residence for quite a while before now, Mr. Mustachios premiered just recently within the Downtown area. Among this recent change is also a new chef, as mentioned to me by Alcohol by Volume’s Paige. As for the name itself, apparently it came upon a long-lived joke of the owner’s inability to grow any mustache at all.

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                  Painted as if it came right out of the 1920’s and covered in framed photographs of those bully, grand Mustache Men of old (and of course a giant Handlebar), Mustachios offers a supposed variety of pub-style grub to tastily season your lip-hair (or just eat regularly if thou hast none). Though mention of Fish Tacos and Sliders abound in various pages, it seems (at least for now) that the main Menu Item focus revolves around a variety of dogs and brats.

                 And what a selection of dogs it is. Naming them with a nod toward the various streets and areas of the Twin Cities, each item uses its own quality-sourced, unique dog/brat with the properly accompanying toppings. From Nordeast’s Kramarczuck Polish to a Bacon-Jalepeno for the Lyndale (topped with guac of course). Even a purely vegetarian “dog” makes an appearance, basically a carrot length that’s simply been simmered and marinated in a rich sauce (don’t ask me what, they wouldn’t divulge the secret), labeled after our “Seward” community of course.

              Almost makes you want to grow a handlebar mustache just so you can properly visit them doesn’t it? Well, that and a certain Jimmy Buffet song… or watching a Geraldo Rivera episode… or an old-timey boxing match…

 

Food: 8

                  Of the options to me, I decided to stick with the standard All-Beef Hotdog of the Nicollet. Almost reminiscent of something a stoner would put together late at night, this well-sized creation is covered in Nacho Cheese, smeared with BBQ sauce, and then covered in various teepees of Flaming Hot Cheetos and Fritos.

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                Doesn’t this just hold the epitome of the Hipster Street Food movement? Not only is it formed of all pre-made condiments that go together deliciously, but one eats it at a place that encourages one of the oldest facial trends in popular history. The hot dog itself, for a sourced all-beef, is quite tasty; I very much enjoy the style of preparation, splitting each of their dog’s (well, the ones made of meat) down the middle and griddling. Creates an interesting presentation, spreads the dog’s volume out a bit, but ultimately I just love a grilled wiener (if I didn’t put the grilled in I think that would’ve sounded dirty… okay it still does a bit).

                Bun is nice and soft; I can’t tell if they make it themselves or source it (probably source), but either way it’s a very good quality hot dog bun. Though it brings up that oh-so-common and sore subject again that I wish they would actually toast the thing; if the dogs were simpler and more traditional, I would probably argue in the other direction (it’s just plain nostalgic, old-school rules; I couldn’t think of Natedogs in a toasted bun), however with the larger, upgraded meat and kicked-up toppings, the other components should follow through just as well.

                Sadly, I did not have the previous knowledge and foresight to order a side of fries, and I am now highly regretting it. Forming quite the reputation purely on these lovelies, Mustachios supposedly takes quite the twist and batters the thick potatoes before their final cooking phase. Though I try my best to base my opinions purely on personal experiences and logical conjecture, I can’t help but think this idea heard from word-of-mouth would yield anything but an interesting, tasty side to get with one’s dog.

Holdability: 9

                 … they’re all hot dogs, what else is there to say? Well, besides the fact that the toppings may be a BIT messy and, of course, ordering with the fries requires the use of two hands. Also, serving in a small basket immediately requires holding in one hand while eating with the other, but it’s almost completely unnoticed.

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Price: 6.5

               The one really weird thing about this truck (and considering this is a truck with a giant Mustache painted on all sides, that’s saying something), they didn’t put prices on the chalkboard menu. Well, not for the dogs; Fries had a $3 tag next to it. The Nicollet itself is $6, and though I can’t prove it I assume the other dog-based options are the same. At the very least, differences in price should only span up to $7 maximum, probably $5 max for the Carrot-Dog (at least it should be… it’s a freakin’ carrot for god’s sake). It’s quite a bit of money for  dog, but the sausages used ARE bigger than average, and the buns are nice. However, comparing to Nate’s (Handmade) at $4, one logically starts to weigh the two back n forth.

              Mustachios stands out uniquely as one of the few (actually, I think it’s the only… to somewhat of a surprise) Trucks to offer a Fry-Drink Combo package with one’s meal. With a $2.50 pricetag, its competition with fast food may be… well fast food beats everyone, but for our Street culture it’s quite something.

Speed: 9

                Pretty darn fast, the dogs have… practically no real weight to them, just gotta get those toppings on. Fries are likely to take a little bit of time though, considering.

The TOE: 10

                 One of the very few times I feel I need to actually explain this; again, it’s called Mr. Mustachios and has giant handlebar mustaches displayed all around it. If one can’t go here and feel they’re taking part in the Foodie/Hipster/Unique-and-Quality-Street-Food culture in any way, then they just won’t be able to feel it anywhere.

                      Tally: 42.5/50

                       

Final Thoughts

            Good both for those looking at a quick, small meal at lunch or more of a complete meal, grabbing a dog or dog+combo respectively. Far as I can see, all dog options are great and suggestible depending on one’s flavor interests, and if I were stretched to suggest certains I would deem it as such:

            The Nicollet is the main, and a great way to get a feeling for their entire idea on Pub Dogs; ultimately the option if one’s looking for something really fun. If you just want the best thing on the menu… I would probably go the Nordeast, Polish with Stone Mustard and Coriander-Sauerkraut, always fantastic; also check out various seasonal dogs. Also probably one of the best and most interesting options for Vegetarian street-goers; can’t say many (well, any) other places turn a carrot into a full-on delicious hot dog experience.

            Definitely one of the ideals to focus on when looking for a Side Dish in a Truck Day/Lunch, particularly in the Fry department (reasons are as previously stated).

            On one last note, I’m not sure if their Street menu (not including parked outside of Nomad) will ever include those other Pub Foods, but if they do I suggest staying away; already I cannot think of experiencing this truck without some delicious sausage between those soft buns… not to mention a hot dog (BOOM BABY!… okay I’m sorry…). Of course though, this is an opinion that may easily be changed upon experiencing it, which I certainly shall upon the soonest chance I have for a non-dog option from them.

            Until then, don’t forget to groom your (real or pretend) mustache and “Put some MEAT in your Mouth!”

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To Elevate the Simple

(Alright, THIS is my last post before I leave, I swear!)

            When we take a look at some of the most iconic, some of our favorite items offered out of the various Food Trucks throughout the country, we tend to see a hodge-podge of different approaches taken to elevate the food to such heights. Some keep purely traditional to their style, just doing it fantastically. Others look to fuse and twist, add a little extra something, while others purely take certain dishes and channel it to the Street styles. They work hard, do a lot, and come out with a fantastic product.

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            Of these different approaches, there is one more that has recently been standing out to me, and which I think many may not be giving the credit it’s due. That is, leaving something as it is, but in its best version (yes, I will explain what I mean here). Taking a very simple, very staple menu item, not changing it in any sense, and making sure each element is of heightened quality. This particular style has been seen in a few of my recent burger reviews, such as Melch’s extremely simplified burger, elevated purely by the quality of the meat and the fantastic pretzel bun. If anything, though, my last post on AZCanteen’s burger offers an almost perfect example.

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            The use of goat may be debatable, but it has no differing in burger flavors and formula in any sense besides that. Onions and Tomatoes are just roasted, the bun is Brioche, and the handmade Pickles are still of the traditional variety. Already this combination is fantastic, yet somehow this strategy, this ideal, of sticking to the true nature of the dish itself with only changes of quality, is somehow able to increase the quality of it all in an exponential way, creating an eating experience at the same level, if not even higher, than some of the other previously mentioned.

            Though I didn’t really start thinking about this until dinner last night. We decided to do a good ol-fashioned Chili Dog meal, as we already had a can of Hornel in the pantry, and it was my job to grab the dogs and buns.

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            Yeah, not homemade or anything, but it’s still chili. As this was one of our last meals before vacation leave, however, I wanted to make it a little special, so my eyes were peeled in the store.

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            My first find was a Jalapeno-Cheddar stuffed bratwurst. Grilled up, it offered a simple, juicy brat with flavors to match the traditional chili.

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            And what is a chili dog without its bun? What did I happen to find but a small 4-pack (exactly what I needed) of Pretzel Roll Buns. Sliced and toasted, these offered a fantastic way to eat these awesome dogs, while still keeping in the whole “bar food” feeling.

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            Didn’t have everything I’d need to TRULY elevate these (would love queso fresco on top, then make my own beer chili) in the same style as AZ, but it turned out tasty, and we both ended up very satisfied at the end.

            So next time you’re on the street, or at the store, and you wanna try a new version of a particular craving (burgers, dogs, taco, etc), maybe edge away from something “different,” and think about finding a way to make it as-is, just better.

            And yes, this shall be the last strange and oddly-worded post that you’ll have to read through for at least 12 days

Natedogs

nd1

natedogs.com/

https://twitter.com/Nate_Dogs

Main Location: Minneapolis, Markets, Etc

            What kind of blog focused on Street Food would this be if we didn’t talk about hot dog carts sooner or later? And when we have a certain cart named Natedogs, skirting around the topic becomes blasphemy.

            When I first saw that bright orange cart with the umbrella just sitting randomly on a corner, my legs walking fast as I move myself to the current job, my first thoughts were “hot dog cart… what the hell?” Later I find out it’s an official addition to the rest of our entrepreneur Street Vendors, and my curiosity is peaked; but still not that much. All I could think of was “how good could a hot dog and bratwurst cart be?”

            Ahhhh, how cute, innocent and moronic I was back then.

            Nate Beck has created the epitome of what a Hot Dog Cart can ever be. Every single ingredient and item on the cart is either locally, quality sourced or made by himself, mostly with local ingredients. Pork wieners and brats are made from family farmed, hormone-free pigs. He makes his own Beer Mustards, having quite the passion for mustard and brats, along with any other fantastic and fun condiment (apparently there’s a bacon jam…). Soda is from Spring Grove, and the soft buns are local.

            It is quite the combination for a fun visit.

            Oh, word of advice… don’t EVER mention ketchup when you stop by, not unless Nate decides to make his own.

natedogs2

Food: 9

                Bratwurst and Wiener heaven, the flavors and toppings tend to reminisce the hometown comforts of peppers, onions, sauerkraut , mustard, and so many others. Toppings are great, but we eat for the meat; the sausage mixes are rich and juicy, with that nice snap from the earlier-grilled skin. Local and organic products always do make for better food, especially when one gets to the simpler pleasures such as these.

Holdability: 10

                It’s a hot dog, ‘nuff said.

Price: 10

                 Certainly higher priced than other bratwurst and hot dog options, but not by much. In the whole scope of quality street food, this still provides a higher affordability while holding the high worth of the product.

Speed: 10

                 No reason to detail, straight from the cart and into the bun, garnish with favorite sauces.

natedogs-hot-dog

The TOE: 10

                Hot Dog carts are an iconic symbol of the street; by dressing it up and turning it into a high-quality, local-driven mirror of its former self, Nate has taken the familiar and ramped it to Legendary. Not only is this Street food, this is Good food, one which any brat lover will be going back to anytime they see it standing on that random corner on their way to work.

                        Tally: 49/50

Final Thoughts

            This cart is a must stop; not the least because it is quick, cheap, and one doesn’t have to worry about it filling up when not hungry. There is no real menu item suggestion, both the simple brat-mustard and the unique options have their high points. Just choose to your taste.

            Certainly ideal for days of visiting multiple Trucks for menu sampling.

            Oh, and if I ever get the chance to visit New York, I’m gonna visit as many good hot dog stands I can find just to say “Yeah, sorry, but we have a better guy up in Minnesota.”

nate-beck

           Cuz that’s pride right there.