Are food trucks the love child of “roach coaches” and “dirty water” dogs? Perhaps, since mobile food vending has a long history in the US starting with 17th century street food hawkers and continuing to the present with the recent explosion of food trucks. Evolving out of our burgeoning food culture – thank Julia for starting it all – mobile dining has become part of the culinary landscape. Boston though was slow getting in gear, its citizens watching hungrily as the food truck movement developed on the West Coast, particularly in L.A. and Seattle. All that’s past. Boston now has a flotilla of trucks that motors out each day to provide tasty, creative and reasonably priced food in a mobile sort of way. Food trucks are here to stay. While some truck operators go brick and mortar – Clover, Bon Me, Roxy and Mei Mei – some brick and mortar operators are going mobile – Paris Creperie, Area 4. And in a food culture that has a streak of competitiveness – “Iron Chef”, “Top Chef” and even the august “Bocuse d’Or” – why not a food truck throwdown pitting not only truck against truck, but city against city. And so in the friendly spirit of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry, The Food Truckthrowdown – Boston Alliance vs. New York STReatS came to be on a gorgeous spring day on The Greenway.
I was fortunate to be invited by Vanessa Dones, account executive at EVINS, “brand architects”, to participate in a food truck crawl. Vanessa works with Maker’s Mark Bourbon to partner that brand with food truck chefs willing to incorporate a signature Maker’s Mark inspired item into their menu. Her work has certainly been successful: fourteen of the competing trucks had Maker’s Mark offerings. And one of the categories in the throwdown competition was for best Maker’s Mark themed item. Vanessa was a great crawl guide; I sampled nine Maker’s Mark items that were as wildly diverse as the food trucks themselves. We also got to speak with several of the food truck operators for a candid look at the mobile food business. And have I mentioned that Bourbon is my favorite brown spirit? Though reluctant to admit it, I was in “foodie heaven”.
THE LOWDOWN AT THE THROWDOWN
NEW YORK strEATs
- Momos & Buns – “Drunken” Dumpling
- Big D’s Grub – Maker’s Mark Rib Eye Taco
- Munchie Mobile – Bleu Dream Burger with Maker’s Mark Carmelized Onions
- Itizy’s – Brown Butter Maker’s Mark Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Swirl
Paris Creperie – Makers Mark Creme Brulée
- Mei Mei – Liver Pâté Cone with Maker’s Mark Gelée
- Roxy’s – Maker’s Mark Peach Marmalade & Triple Crème Melt
- Bon Me – Maker’s Mark & Palm Sugar Pulled Pork Sandwich
- Kickass Cupcakes – Mint Julep Cupcake with Maker’s Mark Icing
Though I didn’t stay for the competition and judging later in the afternoon, I did pick a winner. Though partial to burgers and impressed with “The Bleu Dream Burger” ftom Munchie Mobile, I went with the home team. My fave of the day was the pulled pork sandwich from Bon Me, a most savory way to enjoy Maker’s Mark.