Food trucks are the new hunter-gatherer diet; hunt down the truck, gather delicious food, and consume. Now that's a diet I can subscribe to! Food trucks are bringing forth a new wave of dining experiences in Tampa, and I'm glad I'm around to see it all unfold (and maybe taste a few of the yummy offerings). In a time when we are so divided (did you see the popular vote?), what can bring people together more effectively than food? And what can provide enough options to keep everyone happy? A food truck rally, of course!
This past weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in two food truck gatherings, and I’m still nursing a satisfying food hangover. I can’t think of a better way to live, than to live as a food truck devotee.
|A preview of what's to come!|
The third Thursday of every month is Flicks and Food Trucks in Channelside. Short films, food trucks, and a bar boasting a brag-worthy draft selection, now we're talking! Kerry, writer of Snark and Pepper and the mastermind behind the Twice-baked Goat Cheese Sweet Potato, joined me on this venture of the heart and stomach.
When you start a food truck rally, I recommend first going around, and taking it all in. You don't want to fill up on tacos and realize there are deep-fried sandwiches a few trucks down (oh, we'll get there...). I can guarantee you'll be overwhelmed, but your salivary glands will let you know when you have found the right truck for you. For us, that truck was Wicked ‘Wiches. It's owners take pride in their ability to pump out decadent, and outrageous, dishes from their tiny kitchen. I'm proud, too! You may recognize them from Eat St. on the Cooking Channel, or as Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay. There fame is no fluke!
This truck helped us kick off our adventure with a bang. I ordered the lobster poutine (I’m pretty much a sucker for poutine) and Kerry went with the Thanksgiving-inspired Monte Cristo.
The Thanks! Cristo was served with a pumpkin gravy and we were like kids in the sandbox, dipping our deep-fried sandwiches, filled with dressing, turkey, and cranberry sauce, into its luscious liquid. I had fun eating this sandwich, and I fell in love with the mouth feel of this sandwich. The textures really played off of each other well, from the smooth dressing to the crispy outer crust; plus, who doesn’t like a sweet/savory combo like the dressing and the cranberry sauce.
|Fresh-shaved turkey, homemade stuffing, and cranberries, served with a pmpkin, bacon, cheddar sauce for dunking!|
The poutine was delicious as well; the cheese curd was soft and creamy, and sauce reminded me of yummy lobster bisque. I was happy with my choice.
|Rich, sherry infused lobster bisque, with cream, feta cheese, and fresh cut fries.|
We moved on and visited my friends over at Stinky Buns; well, we aren’t friends just yet, but I feel our friendship growing with each bun I consume! I love these little pillows of love! I mean, who doesn’t want a Korean steamed bun, stuffed with a meat of your choice, and then topped with kimchi? Add a couple sweet buns, dropped in the fryer, then generously covered in powdered sugar, and you have yourself a pleasant little meal!
Sufficiently full, we returned to the pour house to get a Shipyard Pumpkin and give our stomachs a break from solids; that didn't last long. The aroma of fried rice seduced us, and we were off to Two Asians and a Grill. We shared the vegetable fried rice, served with what reminded us of the mustard sauce at Hibachi grills. Yes, please!
When we weren’t enjoying the food and libations, we made the rounds and met some interesting people, like Farrah, who is raising money to support male cancer research in honor of her father. Check out her site and make a donation!
Overall, we had a delicious time! Be on the lookout for the next Flicks and Food Trucks, December 20th!
For my next rally, I was joined by Kelsey and Garrett, both graduate students in my lab at USF. Just across from the USF campus, this rally was back by popular demand, and I could see why; imagine food trucks, drinks, and the exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry, all at your convenience. In other words, if you would like to have a beer, a hand-held snack, and then zip-line over all the action, you can do that here.
After surveying the situation, we all dispersed to seek out our treats of choice. I ended up in front of the Not Your Ordinary food truck, which lives up to its name. If you are interested in an ostrich burger, foie gras fries, and wild boar bacon, this is your new Mecca.
I order the NYO Blue Burger, an indulgent conglomeration of ostrich meat, Amish blue cheese, arugula, and ancient red peppers, accompanied by the hand-cut fries dressed with sriracha, bleu cheese, and bacon. Altogether, $18 out my pocket, but this isn’t a typical experience, and I’m willing to pay the extra money and have an ostrich burger, if only for a nice conversation starter.
|Did I mention all of their burgers come with complimentary wild boar bacon?|
If I hadn’t been told it was an ostrich burger, I wouldn’t have known; the meat was tender, not tough or gamey, which I would have expected from my inexperienced standpoint. The fries were all that the description promised, earthy from the bleu cheese, salty from the bacon, and of course, there was a pleasant heat from the sriracha! It’s no wonder this truck was the first to put up their ‘Sold Out’ sign.
Kelsey headed over to Rollin’ Zoinks to pay tribute to her southern roots with the Southerner wrap, a down-home combination of fried chicken, green beans, roasted corn, risotto, romaine, and buttermilk bacon gravy. Essentially, Sunday dinner in the south (well, the risotto doesn’t fit, so we’ll just pretend your family adopted an Italian kid at some point).
Garrett and I couldn’t resist the offer of a generous bite of this glorious combination (Kelsey loves to share, aka, I love me some Kelsey). It was so tasty, and I really couldn’t get over how great the gravy was, mmmmm! I had the pleasure of watching them assemble this beauty; my eyes were bulging out of my head and I couldn’t help doing a happy food dance. All I have to say is, Paula Dean, you better watch your back.
Garrett was craving seafood, so we made our way to Keep’n It Reel. This food truck is so dedicated to fishing, that the fishing channel is broadcast on a TV on the side of the truck. They are devoted to their cause, and I can assure you that it is not in vain. Garrett ordered the Shrimp Po’boy with sweet chili aioli… my mouth is watering just thinking back to it. The shrimp were cooked to tender perfection and the batter was so crispy, and not greasy. Add the sweet aioli, and you have a wonderful sandwich.
The only thing that could make this trip more successful would be cupcakes from Unforgettable Cupcakes. Oh yes, we went there! Kelsey ordered a Vanilla Dulce de Leche and a Kit Kat cupcake, and I got the Hava Java coffee cupcake. I took mine home and had it with a glass of wine. It’s probably one of the most pleasing things I have done in a long time. Washing down a cupcake with bold Cabernet? That’s the closest I’ll ever be to royalty. Let them eat cupcakes!
I cannot wait to check some more food trucks off my list, and hopefully share the tasty finds with you. For more information on where to find the food truck rally closest to you, check out Tasting Tampa’s website; they help support and put together these rallies for us, so in essence, they are awesome! Thank you, Tasting Tampa!