Harriet Battle Roy-ally

2014-09-03 13_11_42-Youth Link Food Truck Battle & Rally _ Harriet Brewing - Internet Explorer

http://www.youthlinkmn.org/food-truck-battle/

So apparently Harriet Brewing is hosting a full-on Food Truck Battle on the Saturday of September 13th… and I’m gonna be working during it! Ohhhhhh the humanities!

For those like me who haven’t heard about it yet, Youthlink’s First Ever (indicating possibly more events year to year) ‘Gilded Spatula’, with a portion of the profit going to help homeless youth. The battle itself start at Noon and goes ’til Three, with each of the 8 trucks making a completely New Entrée dish, never seen before, to be judged by a panel. Entry fee during this time frame is $45, which not only allows one to watch the proceedings but to also sample each and every contestants’ food yourself along with two, count them, two of Harriet’s Beers to keep yourself amused while waiting.

Of course, if you don’t mind not being there when the judgment is called, not being able to sample the creations, or waiting a little longer in the day to start, these mobile contestants will be sticking around the parking lot until 7pm for a Free-to-Enter Rally after the show. Bands and music will of course be playing all day as-is Harriet’s custom, and beer will now need to be purchased, but it’s all gonna be a grand ole’ time like usual.

Competing Trucks will be: Cupcake Social, Big Brother Almighty BBQ, Brava on Wheels, Cave Café, GastroTruck, Gogi Brothers, Scratch Food (I’m laying my bets on them, GOOO Scratch! -holds up foam finger-), and Tru Pizza.

Tickets can be purchased Here, along with extra donations if you’re able.

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Fall Rally Roundup and some New Stuff

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                This Saturday was the second of MN Food Truck Association’s new Harriet Brewery Truck Rally events, this time with 15 Trucks showing (one of which didn’t show, but was quickly replaced with Twisted Fork). Though despite the two months wait between this and the first of the (hopefully) many events, the weather was oddly the same (truly… rainy, then sprinkling when I arrived, getting sunny, and then rainy again… so weird).

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                Despite what was, ultimately, a very cold, grey, and rainy start to the morning and afternoon, attendance to this street-side affair was a perfectly surprising boom! Talking with the guys carding at the front, about 3-4X the first rally despite notably colder and wetter conditions. And I have to say it seemed to be the PERFECT amount of people too; enough to be quite crowded and busy (particularly in the actual taproom and the one tiny tent over tables, which this year was moved over to the corner with the extra trucks occupying the middle, where it was quite cramped), but with just the amount that one could navigate around the Trucks with ease, and into the taproom with only mild difficulty.

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                That said, I’m sure all in attendance would agree this to be a very successful day, and can’t wait for the next ones; so far, two events in, both of which completely dominating the Food Truck Fairs in execution.

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                So then, I actually had more than one reason to come here; besides the need to report as an addition to the blog, along with my obvious joys in the continued visiting and exploring evolutions of our fantastic Truck and Brewery scene, I was also meeting up with a new acquaintance in the Truck scene.

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                This is Brett from Food Truck Empire, eating something on a skewer (I’ll detail that in a bit), a fellow Minnesotan Food Truck lover who started up his own blog/site. We just finished doing a fun podcast interview a couple weeks ago (which should be out in a couple more weeks, will report when it’s launched!), and after hearing he had a sadly miniscule amount of experience with ACTUAL local trucks, having only been to a few in St. Paul (so sad the city’s lunch scene doesn’t support a large amount of our mobile brethren), I just HAD to invite him down to the Rally to enjoy some beer and show him to a couple of the trucks. That said, I should probably get to what was actually experienced during the day!

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                With getting there a little earlier than him, having to wait in the cold for a while, I just couldn’t help but need something to warm me up. Luckily for me, MidNord decided to bring some Hot Apple Cider and Horchata (Mexican Rice Milk with Cinnamon), and I of course had to have a cup of the latter. So warm, spiced, and a nice simple way to warm up during the weather (certainly a great thing to grab if you still see them on the streets in the coming months).

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                After getting snuck up on by a black-hat-ed hobo in a hoodie (Ha! Just kiddin’ Brett), we slid over to say hi to my buds at Motley, which had done their own podcast with Brett just a month or so ago. I was happy cuz I was finally able to get my bag of Nuts, and Brett ordered one of their delicious Funky Phillies, which I swear was even better and gooey-er than the last one I had.

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                As for my thoughts, the nuts are definitely good; crunchy, with a thick little shell of spiced sugar on the outside, with a nice flavor of cinnamon and other notes coming out. I think I still prefer the awesome, unique pretzels they have though; the nuts aren’t really so stand-out “oh wow amazing what is this,” but to be fair it’s hard to do that with candied nuts these days (probably because we know what to expect). But they’re still made WELL and proper, and I doubt I could reproduce something close to its style that easily.

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                While eating, we headed over to the little beer stand, moved to the side wall and a bit away from the tent-covered tables instead of under it, where we, after proving our idea at the gate to get a wristband, we then moved to ONE line to then buy a beer ticket and back to the OTHER to get the beer (so many separate steps… felt odd, haha). With a few beers starting with W, I ordered the Woluptuweiss (very dark malted beer, my favorites) while he ordered their West End IPA. Such nice beers to enjoy over conversation, Nuts and Pretzels, and Food Truck traveling.

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                Next stop, to my own surprise until a saw a post of their menu before leaving, was Hibachi Daruma. From the looks of it, it seems they’ve actually took notes of some of the things mentioned in my, and possibly others, review and comments… either that or just did it on their own, but that destroys my self-esteem so I’m gonna say the former!! Besides a lo mein and rice dish, the Menu, accompanied by a set of pictures describing the items, now consists of Gyoza, Chicken Yakitori Skewers, and a Beef “Negimaki” (basically strips of cooked beef rolled up like sushi and filled). So much better potential for street-eating, and bringing in lower-priced options as well! I’ll definitely be updating my review of them shortly after this.

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                After a bit of thinking, I just had to try the yakitori (it was my main option complaint in the review afterall) which, though certainly tender and very portable, and looked pretty with the carrots (though it felt odd to have for street food), wasn’t really all THAT impressive in flavor. It was… a skewer, that’s about it. Chicken and Bell Peppers with soy sauce, meh. Stick with gyoza, those are always tasty.

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                Had to of course stop over at Café Racer while we had the chance, firstly to get my obligatory conversation in with the owner and secondly to introduce him to Brett for a potentially awesome podcast opportunity. I even got a little scoop myself that Mr. Patino might be putting together his own Late Night local Food Truck show (web-based I think) in the coming months, which I will definitely keep track of and update when I have the chance.

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                Taking a look at the slightly redesigned (visually, not in product… though I think they increased the price on the hot dogs) menu with added pictures, we grabbed one of their Arepa sandwiches. And I’m glad we did!! Much redesign and evolution has happened to this item that once was a pile of pork with cornmeal flatbreads on the side, making it into a complete, already-put-together sandwich with slightly thicker arepas and an addition of that delicious pink sauce, light greens, some thin pepper slices, and fried carrot strips. It all came together soooooo well and delicious, very complete and juicy, the pork being just as perfect in its cooking as usual to make a very, very enjoyable sandwich/arepa experience.

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                It is, however, still a bit messy, but one could easily eat it with their hand while walking and use a fork to clean up everything else, just need a napkin for afterwards. Oh, and the plantains were good, a little honey-sweet, though it didn’t wow me too much. Either way I have another Truck to update.

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                With the end of our eating experience in sight, dessert became a must-have. So we headed over to Social, only to find that 4 of the 5 offerings they had were already sold out! Thankfully, the one that was left was a “Mocha” with dark chocolate cake and an espresso buttercream; probably what I would have ordered anyway. And of course, always refined, rich, and delicious.

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                Oooooh, and I got to snap a pic of that Cupcake-Sundae thing I learned about at Lunch by the River! It sadly wasn’t what I was expecting (was hoping much more cupcake and in a long split/sundae bowl), but it still looks good…

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                And so went my afternoon that day, stuck in a brewery parking lot crammed with a bevy of trucks and bumping elbows with the crowd, everybody enjoying a beer, food, or both (much like this lady with her amazingly-plated BLT Sliders). Hopefully my wait until the next similar event won’t be as long, but even if this is the last of the year I’d have to say 2013’s had a pretty damn good run. So however the rest of this year plays out, I wish the Trucks the best of luck in the coming season of cold. With this we’ve said goodbye to the weather of warm, and usher in colored leaves and grounds of snow (of which, I think I saw the first falling of the season… at least in my area).

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                Good Luck and Good Eating to all!

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Big Mall, Little Sweets

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                Recent exploits led me down to the Mall of America yesterday, my first visit since before Christmas I believe, where I ran across one of Cupcake’s small, vibrantly orange and blue cafes/stores. So I thought it’d be fun to explore and take a few pics!

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                There’s quite the large display case of 35 different (I’m guessing standard) cupcakes to purchase, MUCH more than what we can get from the little car, and another 4 on the side. I’m assuming their seasonal, as opposed to a highlight of their winning group of cakes during one of their many Cupcake Wars spotlights, which they showcase on a flatscreen (at all times I guess) in the back.

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                Everything looked just as smooth and delicious as always, if not better; I certainly wish I was able to enjoy one of the many styles I haven’t had yet, but my money was already set on a different traditional street-based sweet treat.

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                That’s right, Gelato!! I discovered Paciugo on my last trip out here; situated in the South-Western corner (I’m pretty sure) on the 3rd floor, actually very close to Cupcake, I have to say this is easily one of the Mall’s newest and best-kept secrets. I absolutely LOVE this place! Their selection of Gelato is huge, and filled with all highly different flavors than the norm (and I’m including many a modern ice cream place in here). From vanilla and mint chocolate to traditional Italian stracciatella, hazelnut, and tiramisu; uniquely pure Italian flavors like rose(or other flowers) and black sesame to tasty sorbet mixes (cantaloupe pear, mango peach); awesome combos like chocolate-jalapeno to the completely wacky, unthinkable flavors like goldfish or durian. Everything about Paciugo’s fully embodies the feeling and elements of a TRUE Italian Gelateria, while bringing in a Modern American palette and sense of playfulness.

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                Then you get to actually ordering; for those completely stuck on the many flavors they want, they give the perfect options! Just ordering a small, one can get 3 different flavors; larger sizes can bring in 4 or 5. I decided to grab a small consisting of Hazelnut-Chocolate, Chocolate-Jalapeno, and Caramel Apple. Though what’s a really fun option, and a great tie-in to the Italian espresso tradition, is the “Cappucino con Gelato”… which is just as it sounds. A scoop of any delicious frozen goods top with a bit of hot espresso; I had it on my first trip and it was DELICIOUS!! I think I got it with the Pana Cotta, which is one I would certainly suggest, along with any sort of hazelnut, chocolate, cream-based, spiced, or other gelato (you know what would be really good? Their “Malt” flavored gelato).

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                End of the day, either of these places are a Must-go for anyone, local or tourist, visiting our well-known Mall, especially those street-food lovers among us. For those visiting the MOA sometime soon, particularly in the upcoming cold holidays, then I hope you get the chance to enjoy this fully. Good Luck and Good Eating in your travels my friends!

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Jellybean & Julia’s

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http://www.jellybeanandjulias.com/  

https://twitter.com/jellybeanjulias  

Main Location: Etc

            With an Anoka-based Deli found in the basement of a building on Main, Jellybean & Julia’s rolled onto the Streets late last year. Though most of us central Food Truck goers may be unaware of this considering how much off the beaten track they usually are. With their main Truck-sites revolving around wide-distance Wineries, and other stops with similarly-far locations, visiting the mobile operation requires a lot of either luck or dedication. I myself only found the chance to try them during an “Anoka Sidewalk Show” (which I am… relatively close to, at least compared to Goose Lake) where they parked out front of their Deli.

            A big black truck with bright pink and electric-blue logos reminiscent of certain artificially-colored candies, the imagery of the van much belies their actual menu. Kept simple for the often un-truck-seeing wineries (I’m guessing), the stark white marker board offers a couple un-complex Burgers (Cheese and Loaded), a Pulled Pork, and two Bacon-centric items (one being a Wrapped Hot Dog, the other a Grilled Cheese). All of which one can get with a side of Fries. From what I garnered from the Chef/Server, this is basically THE set menu, with little to no other changes or additions.

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            Oh, and not to be dissuaded from a lack of detail, they DO sell the Mexican Bottled Coke! I myself didn’t know that with the menu only saying “coke,” so I figured I’d at least help spread the awareness.

Food: 6

            With a limit of only one item for me that day (had a party later, I so didn’t need to eat multiple things beforehand), I limited myself to the Loaded Burger and a side of Fries. About a 1/3lb patty I believe, this little fella is topped with Cheese, Bacon (both a given), Grilled Onions and a Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise.

            Bun is toasted very nicely, and both the burger and toppings offer a moist juiciness to the palette. It ultimately is a good and enjoyable burger, however this comes in a very simple, average fashion; it’s the kind of burger one expects to find in a pub or bar. It’s definitely a good burger, with little real flaws, but again there is nothing in it that makes me really wish to rave and express the quality. Sort of like a Patty Melt… it’s all juicy and tasty and good, but really that doesn’t have too much to do with the actual burger quality.

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             Fries are highly unimpressive; though hand cut, or BECAUSE of it, they’re all soft and highly salted. I can’t tell if they’re fried only once or just not done all that well twice. They are sorta nice dipped into the Bourbon-Apple-BBQ sauce they have in the giant pump outside (though they really need the tart, sweet ketchup); would probably do well on the burger too.

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Holdability: 9

           Gotten without Fries, items seem to be easy enough to handle, sandwiches and dogs wrapped in foil to consume with one hand or two if needed.

Price: 8.5

            $6-8 for the bigger items, and a $4 Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog, the prices here are overall pretty fair and decent for the products; at least no obvious overcharging.

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Speed: 7.5

             Average speed.

The TOE: 3

              Amazingly Underwhelming… that’s just about the only two words I can think of to sum this up. I am so… disappointed in what I finally found, after months of trying to get to them. It’s not even that the menu is so boring, it’s how it compares to their actual Deli. You go to their site, you see all the things they offer from their original brick-n-mortar business; they have Paninis, and Wraps, Cupcakes, and other really delicious, tasty things, like something called the “Heart Attack.” All of these items, so perfect for a Food Truck, so EASY for them to be able to produce in that small area; they’re already doing the prep somewhere else. And how fun and awesome would it to be to finally have a truck that specializes in both sandwiches AND cupcakes?

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             But no… they serve a couple burgers and a grilled cheese, things that aren’t even on their original menu. It baffles me to think of how this decision came to be. Though however it did, this is nonetheless the final result, an odd contrast to the amusing and fun name and Truck design.

             I will say this; I can see it’s a good thing they stick to the outskirt events as opposed to the main downtown Truck venues. I don’t see how they’d survive otherwise.

                         Tally: 34/50

Final Thoughts

            IF one ever finds themselves going here, say if you’re at a winery and hungry, then I would probably say go for the Loaded Burger or Bacon Grilled Cheese. They griddle the bread and things nicely. Other than that, just go to their Deli; it’s a lot more fun and has better items… though it’s only open from 10-2.

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Food Truck Wars!!

wbearft

… okay sorry, it’s not the actual show. But starting tonight, the 2nd Annual local “Food Truck Wars” with Twin Cities Live and 107.1 begins! Every Tuesday in June, from 4-7 in White Bear Lake Minnetonka, they will be tasting offerings from 6 various Trucks and deciding a winner! The starting lineup will be A Cupcake Social, Hot Indian Food, Melch’s Meat Truck, Tiki Tim’s, Cafe Racer, and Minneapple Pie.

With this selection contrasting offerings, it’s sure to be an exciting “showdown” to go and take part in. Now if only I didn’t live so damn far away from White Bear…

https://www.facebook.com/events/168931506609705/?ref=22

2013’s First River Day and some updating Reviews

            The first Lunch by the River has come and gone, and though I can safely say it was a fun and eventful time for myself, sadly I was one of the few to show up and experience this. As we all were able to see, the weather Thursday was grey and sprinkly, so not the best weather for these little events we thus love. I half expect it’s my fault for going, considering how many times this happens with the plans I make (though I’m now considering this may simply be a side effect of living in Minnesota…).

            As mentioned in a previous post, the particular Trucks stationed consisted of Home Street Home, Neato’s, Cupcake Social, and Café Racer, who mentioned a couple interesting things during a little back-n-forth rapport. Unlike previous years, this particular set of Trucks may no longer be a random group decided week by week. This is because of plans and discussions in the works of adding two more “River Lunch” Truck gatherings to the week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from what I hear. Due to this extension, more Trucks have an opportunity to take part in the gatherings; and with the larger selection, one brings in the possibility of scheduling specific Trucks as certainties on the Weekly schedule without infringing on other Trucks’ chances of taking part. With this, we can now officially have set Truck Gatherings on given days of the week, giving us some fantastic certainties in schedule. It’s really great for those who work nearby and aren’t able to stay abreast of daily Truck-stops, allowing them days to go out and say “Oh hey, ‘these guys’ are gonna be by Robert Wednesdays.”

            I am very excited at this new idea, particularly in how much of a sign it is at not only the growing interest and culture, but organization that our Trucks have been able to form this season (thank you Food Truck Association!).

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            Back to the actual Trucks of the day, update time; I was also able to overhear that Racer will offer samples of many a menu item (definitely something unique compared to the others). But more importantly, they were out with a Full Menu, and I finally got the chance to try their Street Dog! Really one of the main, hell I still think it’s THE, highlight of the entire menu.

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            Isn’t that just one of the most beautiful hot dogs you’ve seen? Sure it takes a bit longer than other dogs in Trucks, but it’s worth the extra couple minutes. All the flavors had that perfect, subtle balance between them, making for very happy bites! I’d say it was sort of sad ruining that picturesque food, but it tasted too good for me to give a crap.

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            On another positive note, my Re-Review of Neato’s(Menu also pictured, look at those Burger options!) Duck Fat Fries has now been completed. For those who haven’t read yet, my first experience was not so positive compared to most people’s, which I later found to be due to issues with their Potato Distributor. Now having a new distributor, and set brand of potatoes, they’ve been able to crank out a more consistent product, so I can finally re-do my report on this particular item.

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            Though there’s no reason to do my report purely on them. Since I was there, I figured I’d also try one of their chocolate malts alongside; it IS a Truck based off a Diner, gotta have a Malt. Of which, though it is tasty and enjoyable like other malts, I find there’s no real special quality to it; if anything, the malt is sorta thin, a little too much milk or whatever else they add to it. As for the fries, I can happily say that I SHALL be changing Neato’s Food score for the positive. These fries were clearly better than my previous experience, and the subtle flavor of the duck fat DID come through. The texture WAS soft, but I found the pieces that had some of the potato skin still attached offered little, interesting pieces of crispiness here and there. Overall, it’s not a perfect fry, but it does succeed in differentiating itself, and in a POSITIVE way; I hold no qualms in suggesting it as a buy (oh, and don’t forget that Aioli; boy that garlic is STRONG, and it goes very well with the particular flavor transferred from the Duck Fat).

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            It’s not a Truck Day without dessert of some kind, and there was a certain little Cupcake vehicle to my right. Grabbed myself a Tres Leches, Dulce Leche frosting of course, which didn’t quite fill my leche expectations. Overall, definitely better than the “Guinness Cupcake” I had from Fork, the milk-caramel icing was smooth and delicious, but if one is going to base something off of Tres Leches, they REALLY need to get that thing soaked and infused. There was a little bit of squishy, milky cake in the middle, but they could have done more; I understand needing it to not be sticky in the hand, but they held off a little too much for my liking (I’ll admit, I have developed very high standards on certain things).

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            On a more positive note (again, the cupcake IS good, just… MORE, GIMME!), I’ve discovered a really fun, fantastic opportunity on their menu! They apparently offer a “Cupcake Sunday” made from whichever cake+cream combo you want. “For the Hot Weather,” as they said, which sadly did not come through on this trip. However, think of this: You head to Thursday’s River Lunch, greeted by two Burger trucks (one old-fashioned Diner themed) right next to a Cupcake Sunday. That, my friends, is the making of that oh-so unique Full-on Food Truck Meal. This is what so many of us Foodies look for in our searches, that amazing little something that just can’t be found elsewhere, and creates that special feeling of amazement and nostalgia.

            Or something like that, not always that good at describing these things, even through text. Anyways, that ultimately rounded out MY Lunch-by-the-River experience; if anyone else has an interesting tale (either from this or previous years) feel free to share. I myself did have one more stop at Hibachi Daruma, but that’s another post.

Warming up a Rainy Day

               Once again, the Minnesota weather patterns hit us again, from a warm spring back to a cold day of light snow (in the beginning of April no less), immediately followed by gloomy rain. Being the Minnesotans we are, though, that didn’t stop the crowds of people journeying to NE for the ARTCrank’s Saturday event at the Grain Belt Studio.

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                Don’t ask me exactly what was happening, though; you know me, I was only there for the Food Trucks. All I know is it took place in an empty warehouse with an old metal balcony and stairs, and that the walls were covered with art/posters/etc. I swear, walking around there in my trench coat, scarf, and a Food Truck Taco, I started to having aching suspicions that I might be turning into a Hipster… still don’t know how I should even think about that. Oh, and they had beer and custom glasses; not to mention one of the longest lines for a drink that I’ve seen since last year’s Food Truck Fair.

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                On that topic, as I mentioned in a previous post, we had quite a few of them set in the parking lot outside. Natedogs, Gastro, Potter’s, Fork, and Sassy all showed up; Chef Shack was supposed to, but for some reason they didn’t show (at least not while I was there). Facebook and Twitter feeds say that they were in Bay City Wisconsin last night; maybe a hitch in the travel and weather, which sucks cuz I wanted to try that new “foie burger” they had.

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                Started the night off with one of Nate’s fantastic hot dogs, my first time being able to try his Surly Mustard. I will say one thing, he knows how to make ‘em, that’s the good kind of spicy mustard. Speaking of spicy, got a bit of his relish on too. Not much more I can say, Nate’s proven to all of us the quality of his products since day one.

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                Now we move onto the real reason for my travel: Sassy Spoon. With a reply to my review and offer to attempt them again, it became my duty to find Sassy once more. As for the results… well, let’s say it wasn’t what I was hoping. I give them credit, my original review had them at high prices and limited offerings, and they HAVE lowered the prices slightly (not to mention having more than two items for choosing). However, considering the fact that their reply SPECIFICALLY said that all of their menu items were $9 or under, I found it quite amusing to see THIS menu:

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                Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

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                I went for the tacos, as it was the most reasonably priced and only REAL Street Food-esque item on display. And here I give them some more credit. They used the really good masa tortillas, griddled, and had a very tasty slaw topping for the pork (what I would expect from a health/diet-focused Truck). The pork, though, reminded me of the firm, sorta-dried variety one gets in Asian take-out (not in the worst way, though not in the best either); and part of it was burnt to charcoal.

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                From the looks of it, they’re doing a bit more cooking to order on the Truck, but still have items that require no at-moment labor other than simple assembly. Now, let me tell you my main problem with them (oh yes, I still haven’t gotten to this yet). You notice in the menu there are two interesting new items; the pork and the meatballs. The pork, as one sees, has two options: a taco version and a bowl version, the latter costing a noticeable amount more. Curious, I asked about the bowl, as I figured there HAD to be something else in there besides just pork and coleslaw; hell, even bbq joints do more than that, and that’s their go-to.

                Apparently no. It was just a bowl of sorta-dry pork and some coleslaw. Same held true with the Meatballs. No sauce, no cauliflower mash (very disappointing, because they make it well and it goes good with both), not even a piece of bread. There’s just more of it, and they decide to charge more because of this. The meatballs don’t even have the OPTION of eating in a sandwich or anything; at least the pork I could get a taco if I wanted.

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                The reason for this? They state its carbs, now you have options so you don’t have to worry about those pesky little sugars. And I respect the thought behind that, it’s good to have options for allowing people to cut that out. But that’s all it should be, OPTIONS. This is a Food Truck, they need to be focusing on STREET FOOD, and a random bowl of meat and coleslaw that is not. And when you DO have these options, I don’t want to pay more; you’re cutting something out of there, and truthfully I don’t even want to eat more of a dish that’s just two items. You have these FANTASTIC Masa tortillas that you’re using; don’t label them a nuisance, Flaunt them! THOSE are what you should have been advertising and charging a bit more for, not something that (once again) requires absolutely no (actually less) extra labor to produce. Hell, the most intense Atkins dieters aren’t going to care about two small corn tortillas, I’m pretty sure the general public won’t either as far as health is concerned (they’re probably the healthiest tacos anyway). And could you get something for the Meatballs too? They would be AMAZING in a sandwich, just ask Devil’s Advocate; especially if they’re only served with slaw.

                At the end of the day, despite their attempt to convince me of their difference, all this visit has done is further Cement my previous opinion that Sassy Spoon’s best when buying ahead of time, taking the food home, and re-heating for dinner or large lunch. Changes to my previous review will of course be made in response to both the positive and negative aspects I’ve witnessed, though they will be slight. Overall, I still respect them for their health-focused goal and the quality of the food they make, but Street Food they are not.

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                To cleanse my disappointment, I headed straight for one of my favorites, Potter’s. They had a pretty fun special that day; BBQ Pulled Pork w/ Sweet Potatoes. It’s always cool to see places like them and Midnord play with foods outside the traditional cuisine of their style.

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                As always, it was quite filling. Though, since I’d already sampled a few things, figured I would try and finish the day off with a dessert. So I got the Guinness Cupcake that Fork was offering aaaand… regretted it immediately (My fault, I of all people should have known better, no one else to blame there but me). Was hoping to at least wash it down with some beer at Dangerous Man Brewing (just happened to be right next to where I parked), but I was shocked to find they actually had a LINE outside the door. Not something I could really understand, considering the reviews like This that I’ve heard about the still-new-and-improving establishment.

                However it ended and went through, the event still made a fun amusement and distraction during this gray and rainy day. I wish ARTCrank luck on their endeavors, and hope their next get-togethers are just as successful as this one.

Top 10 Trucks, 2012!

Three seasons done, over 50 different Trucks on the streets, our Food Truck Culture has increased quickly and dramatically to all of our benefit. The Foodie nation within the cities has taken a firm hold of this new practice and started paving an even wider road towards the future.

            For now though, I’d like to celebrate the many Entrepreneurs, both original and new, who have helped boost this movement and fan base in the forward direction it’s been taking. This is the Top Ten List of Minnesota Food Trucks, 2012!*

10th Place: a big surprise for my first list, we have a THREE WAY TIE!!

            At 45 points each, Home Street Home, Rusty Taco, and Cupcake on the Go

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With each of these trucks offering a variety of their choice Menu Items (whether it be Sandwiches, Tacos, or Cupcakes) in a timely manner, they have already cemented themselves into the role of the quality, fundamental “Food Truck.”

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With a special note, offering their product at instantaneous speed and proving their focus to everyday desires, Cupcake on the Go has edged ahead of A Cupcake Social as the best Dessert-only Truck this year!

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9th Place: SCRATCH with 45.5

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            The best toasted sandwich bread in the State encapsulates their rich, often spicy flavors and sharp textures. Home of one of the few, and my second favorite, Toe Rings in the business, the Ginger Rice Crispies. Scratch skyrocketed themselves to a special place in my, and many other people’s, heart the moment I first visited.

6th Place: ANOTHER three way tie! At 46.5:

            Chef Shack, MidNord Empanada, and Tot Boss

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            A perfect example of what one can get with COMPLETELY different establishments. An organic, locally-focused Truck based off of well-made traditional Street Food; a Chef deep-frying Ecuadorian Dough-pockets filled with all variety of stuffings; and a place that only sells baskets of Tator Tots dressed however one wants. THIS is pure proof of what exactly a Food Truck scene can be, and that one doesn’t need to conform to a specific mold, just as long as they do it well.

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5th Place: Eli’s Donut Burger with 47.5

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            Rarely seen but often remembered, Eli’s offers the most guilty of pleasures one can find in any Establishment, Truck or Not. Preparing it all day, the burgers fly quickly at a low price, filling your stomach with the artery-clogging deliciousness of sweet, salty, cheesy, meaty goodness. It’s not the expected everyday combination, but it works more wonders than you can shake a bacon strip at… though that’s mostly because it ends up eaten before getting so far.

3rd Place: 48-point Tie between AZ Canteen and Vellee Deli

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            This just seems right. The two Trucks that I believe really encompass everything the TOE stands for, each offering handheld Street Food with a heaping helping of Soul. Andrew Zimmern did right in his menu and specialty items, creating that unique blend of both local and world street food cuisines. Though used often, the Asian-Mexican Fusion of Vellee offers items that one just can’t help going back for… even if they don’t have the budget for it.

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2nd Place: NateDogs at 49

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            Locally sourced with handmade condiments, Nate gives us the pinnacle of what a simple Hot Dog Cart can be. Hitting every single point of the rating system, it is no wonder that he has launched himself all the way to #2 in this countdown. I cannot wait to go back.

     And finally, the tippy-top pinnacle of the Trucks to appear so far!

(Highly-Annoying, Exaggerated, and Drawn-Out Drumroll)

POTTER’S PASTIES at First Place! With a score of 50.5!

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            The ONLY Truck so far to reach and go past the Maximum 50 points, Potter’s has it all. Good Prices, Instantaneous Speed, Easy-Holding and Eating, Fantastic Service, and Good Comfort Food that holds itself in its unique niche. It’s no wonder they built two trucks for twin city offerings. This is and always has been a Must Go for anybody who loves food (and that’s not a small group now is it?).

            This has proven to be a great starting season for our new Culture. I can confidently say that I am very happy and proud at what our Trucks have been able to achieve and come up with, and I cannot wait to see how this Top Ten Looks come the end of Summer.

            Until then, I shall dutifully enjoy my food as always.

*Note: all lists, both now and future, are purely based off the cumulative score garnered in my Ratings System. It is not based off of only one aspect at a time, though if there is interest in that I can always form a Top Ten based purely from “Best Food,” “Speed,” or others.

A Cupcake Social

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https://twitter.com/ACupcakeSocial

http://acupcakesocial.com/

Main Location: Minneapolis

            Moving to the streets in 2012, Cupcake Social is the second of Minneapolis’ dessert-based Trucks. Bigger, periwinkle blue, and presenting itself with more of a gourmet “flare,” Social really brings that oh so popular “high class cupcake” trend to the street.

            A little smaller than Cupcake on the Go’s, they’re a little more suited to carrying and eating on the street. Large variety of flavors (quite extensive, as one can see on their website’s menu), they usually offer 5 or more flavors on each trip. All of which are displayed on a hanging television for easy and convenient viewing.

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Food: 9

                Very carefully created, focusing a little more on the concept of finesse. The cake I had was light and spongy, with a very well balanced mix of frosting and filling. Not quite as “scrumptious,” at least the simple white cupcakes aren’t, they’re more that feeling of a fun little “treat” to have between lunch sessions.

                The cupcakes I saw during my visits were all of the simpler kind. Not sure if they only use those styles for the truck, or if it was just one of those days. I’m expecting and hoping for the latter.

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Holdability: 9.5

                 As I said, a little smaller than the other cupcakes, so more of that holdability.

Price: 8.5

                Low-priced item,  that idea of charging certain prices for a simple cupcake stands out more. Though this may just be due to Truck design.

Speed: 10

                Instant cupcake upon payment.

The TOE: 7.5

               Very big, well-designed truck with a snazzy way of displaying their menu and product, Social produces a really light, relaxing way of doing business. Its bright colors and smiling faces beckon with the same appeal that many successful cupcake shops seam to do.

               That, however, is where my issue seems to lie. Social has a lot of points and auras that deem it a proper Food Truck, but it FEELS like a Cupcake Shop, a business. Blame that little focus on the Gourmet, it took away from some of the feeling of the “street.”

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                         Tally: 43.5/50

Final Thoughts

            For when you feel like a little treat but don’t want to find a shop in the skyway. No particular suggestion of flavors, just look for what suits you and hope it’s there.

Cupcake on the Go

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www.cup-cake.com/

https://twitter.com/cupcakempls

 

Main Location: Minneapolis

            It’s not a food blog unless we visit desserts, and when we look at sweet-based food trucks, we’re talking cupcakes. Not only are our cities gifted with two fantastic traveling Cupcakerias (still working on my Spanglish…), one of them has proven itself BETTER than others on the National scale.

            Cupcake on the Go, the mobile orange van based off of Cupcake (now with a shop in the Mall of America!) featured itself on 4 different episodes of the last two year’s Cupcake Wars. They came in Second on the first, climbed back to First by winning the Redemption episode. Then they went on to win both episodes of Food Network’s very first Cupcake Champions show.

            Anyone else a bit weirded out that this much State Pride would be cupcake-related?

            The little orange van itself sells a wide variety of their different little bundles of joy. Displaying them with little stickers on the side of the door (sorta like an ice cream truck… but better), making it easy to switch out every now and then, which I imagine they do often. For what they are selling now, one would have to wait until they come out, or you could just go straight to the store for the full gambit.

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            Generally a combination of both simpler, well-known styles and unique creations; both well done and quite tasty. One of the more interesting items is a chocolate cupcake with a small amount of cheesecake batter poured on top before baking. I forget the name, but it is a fun little snack and easy to spot; it’s the weird looking one.

Food: 9

             Hello, they beat out 14 other top-ranked competitors in a Food Network series. If their cupcakes weren’t this delicious I would be shocked. Cake is soft, frosting smooth and not too sugary or heavy, flavors come out very well. Due to the pre-packaging, though, I can’t imagine the cakes out of the van truly being QUITE as good as those being made and sold right in the store. So a one point deduction.

Holdability: 9

              They don’t fall apart, easy enough to hold in one hand. May need to peel back with your teeth if the other hand isn’t available; who cares though, that’s just part of the fun. Can get a little messy depending on what you buy, but that’s frosting-messy, no risk of falling apart and getting on shirt/ground.

Price: 9

               To tell the truth, I’m very hazy and unsure if I’m making the right call in this grading. It always feels weird to have to pay so much for cupcakes these days; on the other hand, around $3 is still a small amount compared to other food truck offerings. At the end of the day though, these are pretty darn good cupcakes, and worth any questions of “this much for a cupcake!?” So, 9 points for a cheap purchase.

Speed: 10

               Much like Potter’s Pasties; you tell them what you want, give them the money, and they give you the cupcake ready-to-eat. Hard to get much faster than that.

The TOE: 8

                It’s an orange van that travels around and gives out cupcakes. They’re very fast, very tasty, and a perfect addition to any Food Truck-related 3-or-more-course Meal. Very close to the pure feeling of Food Truck, yet there just seems to be a little something missing… I wonder if it’s the height (small car). Though, it looks like they may be changing vehicles, so this score may change as well.

                         Tally: 45/50

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Final Thoughts

            Go out, get your lunch at your favorite Truck, and grab a quick cupcake for dessert with your extra couple dollars. If, for some strange-ass reason, they don’t have a flavor that you like, then find their shop on University or MOA to find your ideal snack. If you have the money to spend and the sweet tooth to match (or friends), grab a few different kinds and give them a full product sample.