Tiny Nibbles: Zagat’s Food Truck Frenzy

During the summers when I was younger I would always have two ears open for the neighborhood ice cream truck. Just the simple ringing would bring all of the neighborhood children outside of their houses. We would all line up for beautiful swirls of chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cones or pops shaped into cartoon characters with gumball centers. There was always something to look forward to. Beyond just being cheap and quick, going to the ice cream truck was a special highlight to the summer. It was a place to meet up with friends, to enjoy a sweet treat but most importantly to explore. It felt like there were limitless combinations to be made.

Today there are dozens of food trucks on the streets on New York City that bring diversity to what can be made on the go. Some tucks might still be serving up ice cream, but the variety that is availability today is incredibly exciting. I could not have been giddier than I was the other day when I ventured to Zagat’s Food Truck Frenzy. For my extreme interest in all things food it is surprising that I have not been to any food trucks in the city before. Once I tried to find the Luke’s Lobster truck only to be too late. (I did then have to go to the actual store itself because a Luke’s craving is astronomical). Today most of the food trucks are well connected to the general public beyond on the streets. They have their own websites and twitter accounts; The websites display comprehensive menus and the twitter accounts always tell the followers the truck’s location on any given day.

Zagat was able to bring together twenty-five of the top trucks on the streets of New York and place them between 10th and 11th avenues. There was everything you could imagine there from sliders to frozen yogurt and barbeque to tacos. For only $18 ready eaters were able to sample food from four trucks. My friend and I shared some of our items and found extra tickets that someone dropped which allowed us to try even more of the fare. The scene was set with the brightly colored trucks and speckled about groups of musicians playing while foodies shuffled about. We went early, slightly before twelve, so we did not have to wait on many lines. The event went until three, but it was in prime shape starting around twelve thirty. Considering we would have to travel all over the city to have an experience like this we were so thankful they were all there and so ready to start.

We started off at the Bistro Truck. Bistro Truck is run by Yassir Z. Raouli whose mission is to provide restaurant quality bistro food with Moroccan-Mediterranean influence. The dish they were serving out for the event was Chicken Pastilla. Their pastilla was a filo dough pie that was stuffed with organic chicken and almonds. Our portion was really generous and even came with a side salad. The filo dough was flakey and the blend of herbs and spices and rose water created a special flavor combination that was unexpected. We were crazy thrilled with this, and while it usually costs ten dollars, we got it for a steal of a price.

Next I happily pulled my friend to the Luke’s Lobster Truck. Luke’s Lobster is a recent discovery of mine. All of their rolls are fabulous but the lobster roll really takes the cake. The buns are lightly toasted with swipes of mayo and lemon butter. Secret spices on top just add to the authenticity of their Maine-style rolls. While their rolls were incredibly tiny at the event it was still worth one of my precious tickets. If you can make it to one of their restaurants or the truck get the lobster roll, I do not think there could be a more perfect roll. The lines were crazy later on at this truck so I was thankful we came early.

What was so incredible about the entire event was how a couple of steps and trucks over was like traveling to a different world. From the shores of Maine I traveled to India for a Kati roll from the Desi Food Truck.  A Kati roll is flat bread that can have different kinds of fillings and is usually spiced with hot coriander. I chose the Aloo Masala roll that was filled with a vegetarian mixture of potatoes and peas. The outer flat bread was crispy and the potatoes were so tender. I did cough a bit with the first bite because the spices are really present but the overall dish felt like really simple, on the go street fair. They might have been making smaller versions but the price is rather steep for just the few bites.

A slider. I’m intrigued. Guacamole. I’m getting excited. Brisket. I’m jumping for joy. This is just one dish from the food truck Mexicue, one that I am going to have to hunt down in the future. For the event they served a BBQ brisket with a habanero aioli slaw and guacamole. It was a crazy delicious and great example of how to successfully blend different culinary views into one vision. Their food has the flavors of both Mexican food and good old American BBQ. The brisket was tender and wonderfully spiced. The avocado and the slaw have a good amount of acidity and provided textural contrast for the slider. Their regular menu has inspired taco and slider dishes and you can even get chips and salsa. I will be hunting this truck down in the future. You should try too.

I decided to take a chance on The Cinnamon Snail truck with their Seitan sandwich. I am all for organic and vegan fare, that is if it is done really well. I want to feel tricked that there is no meat in the dish. The sandwich was spiced with Szechuan chili sauce, curried cashews, and lemongrass. On top of that all it had some wasabi mayonnaise smeared onto a grilled baguette roll. The sandwich fell short for me but then again, I have never had seitan before. With so much flavor promised the sandwich felt a bit one note. If I saw the truck again I would definitely try something else, as for an avid meat eater this might have not been the best choice after such a great slider.

Big D’s Grub Truck, oh how you wooed me. This was my last stop on the savory adventures at the truck event. At this point during the day the heavens decided to open up and explode. My friend and I were huddled under one umbrella waiting on this line but the bright personality of this truck and the dumplings we were going to eat were well worth the wait. Truck owner Big D (Dennis) presents food with great flavor influenced by the American South, Guyana and China. I had three of his pork & chive dumplings and was so happy that I proclaimed, “Those were passionate fucking dumplings!” Very lady like, yes. The dumplings were served with Big D’s Secret Sauce that added creaminess to the juicy and plump dish. Just perfect.

Now it was time for dessert. My friend tried three different dessert trucks that I tried bites of. The Treats Truck offered Pecan Butterscotch bars and Mexican Brownies. My friend was afraid she would have to choose between the two but she was offered both. A worker nearby was just gushing about the end pieces of Kim Ima’s baked goods. I had a bite of the pecan butterscotch bar and it was delicious. There was nothing fancy about it but it was sweet and oozed homemade love. Next she moved onto the Sweetery’s creation, the Macarella. The dessert was a sandwich of two crispy thin macaroon cookies with nutella in the center. It was such a no brainer. It was sweet and crunchy, and just what anyone would want in a quick treat. Also with nutella you can never go wrong. My friend also had a frozen yogurt from the Joyride truck. She was able to choose an unlimited amount of toppings just like you can do in a frozen yogurt store. On the go frozen yogurt? Yes, that is perfect.

If there were any way to end a frenzy of food truck eating it would be with Kelvin Natural Slush Co. I have wanted to have one of these for so long and I am not disappointed in any way. The slush they make is all natural and served with fruit purees and fresh mix-ins like mint and basil.  This truck won a 2010 Vendy Award for Best Dessert and it is well deserved. The customizability and the flavors of the slush are what make having one so exciting. I chose a combination of Spicy Ginger and Tangy Citrus slush flavor with a mix in of pink guava fruit puree. The flavors were tart and fresh and an incredible palate cleanser for the entire day. The pink guava had the perfect amount of sweetness. I have never had a better slush. The flavors were balanced and it was so clear the product is incredibly refined. I might need to figure out where this truck is during a normal Kelvin truck week. It was that great.

One final regret: I did not get to eat at the Big Gay Ice Cream truck! I was so full after everything that I felt like I physically could not have eaten a giant ice cream cone. Trust, me their ice cream looks amazing. The day of the event they were passing out their signature cone, the Bea Arthur. A sugar cone is filled with vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed nilla wafers. It looks perfect, along with their other cones they typically sell from their truck. I promise I will find this truck one day.

Overall the day was just perfect, aside from the rain. I felt so lucky to be able to experience all of this amazing food. I suggest that if you have a love of food you drop everything to attend special food events like this. It is so inspiring to see what passionate people are doing with food out there, even in trucks!

Featured Zagat Food Trucks:

Bistro Truck (@BistroTruck)- Chicken Pastilla [http://bistrotruck.com]

Luke’s Lobster Truck (@LukesLobsterNY)- Mini Lobster Rolls [http://www.lukeslobster.com]

Desi Truck (@DesiFoodTruck)- Kati Rolls [http://www.desifoodtruck.com]

Mexicue (@Mexicue)- BBQ Brisket Slider [http://www.mexicueny.com]

The Cinnamon Snail (@VeganLunchTruck)-Lemongrass Seitan with Szechuan Chili Sauce [http://www.cinnamonsnail.com]

Big D’s Grub Truck (@BigDsGrub)-Dumplings [http://bigdsgrub.com/]

The Treats Truck (@TheTreatsTruck)- Pecan Butterscotch Bar or Mexican Brownie [http://www.treatstruck.com/]

Sweetery (@SweeteryNYC)- Macarella (Macroon w/ Nutella) [http://sweeterynyc.com/]

Joyride Truck (@Joyride Truck)-Original Frozen yogurt [http://www.joyridetrucks.com/index.html]

Kelvin Natural Slush Co. (@KelvinSlush) [http://kelvinslush.com]

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (@BigGayIceCream)- The Bea Arthur [http://www.biggayicecreamtruck.com/]

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